Hi! I struggle throughout the day just to get around my house with a walker. I can barely walk, but I push through the best I can. Late at night, after 11pm, I can move about SO much easier with my walker. It's a noticeable shift in how my MS is affecting me. This "relief" comes at the worst possible time because I try to get a decent amount of sleep. Sometimes it's so tempting to stay up to enjoy my body's attempt at letting me walk again. Why do you think this shift might occur at night? Thank you for your time!
You are not alone. Other MS patients have described a similar experience to me. One patient even provided me with videotaped evidence of her experience since I couldn’t believe she could walk at all when I would see her in my afternoon clinics in Boston; this was a patient who got around in an electric wheelchair during the day but found herself able to walk remarkably well during the middle of the night.
This experience is related to the normal circadian rhythm in your body temperature. The lowest body temperatures are between 10 pm and 6 am every day and this is why your mobility and walking is better in the middle of night. Electrical conduction in the nervous system falters when your body temperature rises even 0.5 degrees in the afternoon. This experience of MS symptoms emerging in the afternoon when your body temperature is at its highest is just more dramatic in some patients than others.
This is reason cooling vests, collars and hats are so popular with MS patients.
Revere (Rip) Kinkel MD
Director of the Multiple Sclerosis Program
Professor of Clinical Neurosciences
University of California San Diego