Psoriasis is a chronic autoimmune condition that causes skin cells to build up on the skin’s surface. Psoriasis symptoms like inflammation, pain, and itchiness can affect many aspects of your well-being, including the quality of your sleep.

Many people with psoriasis experience sleep problems related to their condition. Some studies have estimated up to 85% of people with psoriasis deal with issues related to sleep.

In this article, we’ll take a closer look at how psoriasis may affect sleep, as well as tips for how you can get a better night’s sleep with psoriasis symptoms.

Psoriasis is a chronic condition that affects the whole body, not just the skin. Itchiness can make it hard to fall and stay, but many other aspects of the condition can also affect sleep quality.

People with psoriasis may have pain that wakes them up at night, and fatigue caused by psoriasis may disrupt normal sleep-wake rhythms.

People with psoriasis are also more likely to develop other health conditions that can affect their quality of sleep, such as:

  • depression
  • sleep apnea
  • psoriatic arthritis

The likelihood of sleep problems appears to increase with worsening psoriasis symptoms.

According to a National Psoriasis Foundation study that included over 3,100 participants, people with moderate psoriasis symptoms were 59% more likely (odds ratio 1.59) to have difficulty sleeping than people without psoriasis. People with severe psoriasis symptoms were 140% (odds ratio 2.40) more likely to have sleep problems.

Similarly, in a study involving more than 5.5 million Danish citizens, people with mild psoriasis were 30% more likely (odds ratio 1.30) to have sleep apnea than those without psoriasis. People with severe psoriasis were 65% more likely (odds ratio 1.65) to have sleep apnea.

Poor sleep can affect many aspects of your mental and physical health, including your psoriasis. In the Danish study mentioned above, people with sleep apnea were more likely to have psoriasis. They were also more likely to have severe symptoms or psoriatic arthritis.

These results suggest that there may be a bidirectional relationship between sleep quality and psoriasis symptoms. That is, sleep problems can also contribute to psoriasis symptoms.

Although you may have challenges getting a good night’s sleep with psoriasis, there are steps you can take to help improve the quality of your sleep.

Develop a sleep routine

Keeping a consistent sleep schedule can help your body physically and mentally prepare for sleep. Sleep experts recommend going to bed and waking up at the same time every day, including weekends.

You can also help your body wind down at night by developing a calming nighttime routine, such as reading before bed. Try to avoid stimulating lights from cell phones, computers, or televisions before bedtime.

Exercise regularly

Exercise helps you maintain your overall health, which can help you better manage psoriasis. Regular physical activity can help promote a good night’s sleep, especially for people with psoriasis.

Both the National Sleep Foundation and the National Psoriasis Foundation recommend aiming for 30 minutes of physical activity a day for at least 5 days a week. If possible, avoid exercising within 3 hours of bedtime.

Get some sunshine

Natural light helps regulate your body’s circadian rhythm and melatonin production to promote a regular sleep cycle. In a 2021 study of U.K. adults, each hour of exposure to daytime light was linked with:

  • less frequent tiredness
  • an easier time waking up
  • fewer insomnia symptoms
  • an earlier chronotype, or natural inclination to sleep

People with psoriasis should take extra precautions to protect their skin during sun exposure because their condition or medications may increase the likelihood of sun-related skin damage. Mineral-based sunscreens containing zinc oxide or titanium with an SPF of 30 or higher are generally recommended for people with psoriasis.

Examine your diet

Certain types of foods can increase the likelihood of inflammation in the body, which can lead to both psoriasis symptoms and sleep problems. These include foods rich in saturated fats, trans fatty acids, and refined carbohydrates.

As a result, experts have suggested that a diet high in red meat, dairy, and sugar and low in fruits and vegetables may contribute to both sleep disorders and skin symptoms in people with psoriasis.

Results from a French study involving nearly 36,000 participants found that greater adherence to a Mediterranean diet was linked to less severe psoriasis symptoms. Another study also found that improved adherence to a Mediterranean diet was linked with improved sleep in young adults. These young adults didn’t have psoriasis.

People with psoriasis who are having sleep problems may therefore want to consider a Mediterranean-style diet rich in fruits, vegetables, grains, legumes, nuts, and olive oil to help manage their symptoms.

Talk with your healthcare team

Psoriasis symptoms such as itchiness and pain can lead to sleep problems, so it’s important to have a treatment plan in place to keep your symptoms under control. If your current medications aren’t working, talk with your dermatologist to determine if a different approach may be needed.

A sleep professional can also help manage clinical sleep problems such as insomnia or sleep apnea that contribute to poor sleep in people with psoriasis.

If you have any concerns about the quality of your sleep, your healthcare team can help you determine if other medications or treatments are needed to complement your current psoriasis treatment plan.

Sleep problems are common in people with psoriasis, but there are steps you can take to promote optimal sleep health. Research suggests a bidirectional relationship between psoriasis and sleep. Psoriasis may cause sleep problems, and sleep problems may lead to more severe psoriasis symptoms.

Lifestyle adjustments like developing a sleep routine and exercising regularly may help improve your quality of sleep. You might also assess your treatment plan if symptoms are disrupting your sleep.

If you have sleep problems with psoriasis, your healthcare team can help you identify the cause and steps you can take to improve the quality of your sleep to help you get a good night’s rest.