Sleeping with psoriasis: is itching causing a poor night’s sleep in the ‘scratcher’?

Sleep is vital for our everyday functioning and is important for our physical and psychological wellbeing. However, disrupted sleep may be caused by a number of issues ranging from physical, lifestyle and environmental factors (family responsibilities, occupational duties) to psychological issues, e.g. stress and anxiety. Sleep disruption can have a negative impact on quality of life.

Studies in sleep disturbance in people with psoriasis

A recent study in Denmark found that 25% of patients with psoriasis (179 participants) had difficulty in sleeping and over half of them could be classified as poor sleepers. Similarly, another study in 2017 in the British Journal of Dermatology reported that poor sleep is common in patients with psoriasis, affecting 75% (186 participants).

Itch and sleep

One common cause for poor sleep revealed in both of these studies was itch.  Not everyone with psoriasis will experience itch however it is a common symptom of psoriasis. The authors of the Danish study suggested that improved control of psoriasis with treatment will decrease itch and improve sleep for some.

Tips to address the itch

  • Apply psoriasis treatments as prescribed.
  • Take shorter showers/baths with lukewarm water and wash with a soap substitute.
  • Moisturise, moisturise, moisturise!
  • Keep fingernails short with no sharp edges.
  • Select cotton sleepwear as cotton is a breathable fabric, and is less irritating on the skin.


Some tips that may establish good sleep habits (sleep hygiene)

  • Try to have a regular sleep schedule, e.g. go to bed at the same time most nights and rise at the same time most mornings.
  • Avoid long naps close to bedtime.
  • Turn off screens such as TV, computers or phone devices earlier.
  • Find a comfortable temperature for your bedroom, also a dark quite room maybe more conducive to sleep.
  • Avoid alcohol before bedtime. Alcohol may make it easier to fall asleep, but this effect will wear off and may interrupt overnight sleep.
  • Avoid caffeine before bedtime, this includes, coffee, tea, some soft drinks and chocolate.
  • Find a way to wind down in the evening, some relaxation techniques to consider may include yoga, meditation, listening to soothing music or reading a book.



Lastly, if you have problems or concerns about your sleep patterns, speak to your GP.

For more information about psoriasis, visit our Psoriasis Section to download our booklet, What you need to know about Psoriasis or contact the ISF Helpline for one-to-one information and support.