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Sleep Deprivation and Seborrheic Dermatitis: 7 Tips To Help

Medically reviewed by Steven Devos, M.D., Ph.D.
Posted on June 17, 2024

Living with seborrheic dermatitis sometimes means missing out on much-needed sleep. “I don’t sleep very much. My head itches all the time, day and night,” said a member of MySebDermTeam. For some people, the symptoms of seborrheic dermatitis (especially itching) prevent them from sleeping well. Others struggle with sleep for different reasons, only to notice that their skin condition gets worse as a result.

Although there isn’t much specific data on sleep problems and seborrheic dermatitis, research has linked other skin conditions like atopic dermatitis to higher rates of sleep disturbance. For adults, sleep troubles can affect every aspect of life, from personal relationships to success at work.

If you’re sleep-deprived, you already know that working on your sleep is one of the best things you can do to improve your quality of life. Here are some helpful tips you can try.

1. Get a Handle on Anxiety

Anxiety is one of the common issues that keeps people awake. Whether you’ve always struggled with ongoing stress or there’s a recent concern on your mind, anxiety makes for a restless night. With seborrheic dermatitis, it’s essential to find healthy ways to reduce anxiety. Flare-ups and stress go hand in hand, and not sleeping well only makes the problem worse.

Some of the basic recommendations for managing anxiety include deep breathing, exercising, listening to calming music, and surrounding yourself with supportive people. However, if the lifestyle tips for stress management aren’t cutting it, ask your health care provider for more support. A mental health professional can help address your specific stressors and tailor treatments and strategies that work for you.

2. Move Your Body Early in the Day

Physical activity is good for the body and mind. It also promotes a better night’s sleep. Unfortunately, some people with seborrheic dermatitis avoid working out because sweating aggravates their skin condition. If possible, arrange your schedule so you can exercise early in the day, followed by a shower and your skin care routine. Even if you didn’t sleep well the night before, a brisk morning walk or workout will give you some energy and boost your mood. It’ll also help regulate your circadian rhythm (body clock) so you’re on track for bedtime in the evening.

3. Try Mindfulness Meditation Before Bed

Studies show that mindfulness meditation can be just as effective as proven sleep treatments. You can practice meditation before bed by counting your breaths, visualizing a serene space, or progressively relaxing each of the muscles in your body. There are lots of different techniques, but the basic principle is to focus your attention rather than letting your thoughts run away.

Some of the added benefits are that it’s free and you don’t have to worry about mindfulness interfering with your seborrheic dermatitis treatment plan. It’s even recommended by members of MySebDermTeam. “Maybe try some meditation,” said one member. “You can start by closing your eyes and remembering a time and place when you were very happy. Immerse yourself in that moment and let the feelings of joy and happiness flow over you and fill your soul.”

4. Keep a Bedside Journal

Journaling can be an effective way to put your mind at ease before bed. Writing down your plans, worries, or the things you’re grateful for can help organize your thoughts and let your mind relax. “I have gone back to my gratitude journal,” said a MySebDermTeam member. “My life has been very stressful and traumatic, and I’m aware that stress is the underlying cause of all my health issues. I know this sounds like something that won’t or can’t help you, but trust me, it does.”

Writing down your thoughts gives you a chance to express yourself without fear of judgment from others. If you find yourself tossing and turning at night, keep a notebook and pen by the bed. You can always turn on a dim light and unload the thoughts that are running through your mind. You may find that putting them on paper offers some relief.

5. Keep Up With Skin Treatment

It’s crucial to manage seborrheic dermatitis by following your recommended treatment plan and skin care routine. Otherwise, itchy and uncomfortable flare-ups can be the cause of poor sleep. Fortunately, there are many treatment options for seborrheic dermatitis, including dandruff shampoos, cleansers, topical antifungal creams and lotions, ultraviolet light therapy, and oral antifungal medication.

To get a flare-up under control, your dermatologist may prescribe corticosteroids, like prednisone. Corticosteroids decrease inflammation quickly, which is helpful for rashes. Unfortunately, trouble sleeping can be a side effect of steroids. Discuss your concerns with your dermatology provider if you feel like this may be a problem for you. They’ll help you weigh the pros and cons of treatment and suggest ways to prevent side effects (such as using them in the morning or for a minimal number of days).

6. Maintain a Cool and Comfortable Bedroom

Sweating through the night can make seborrheic dermatitis symptoms worse. That’s why it’s so important to wear breathable and loose clothing to bed and maintain a cool room temperature. Use a fan to keep the air circulating, and avoid heavy blankets or irritating fabrics. Avoid washing your sheets in laundry detergent with added fragrances if that’s a common trigger for your skin disease symptoms.

7. Consider Sleep Medication

If you struggle to get a good night’s sleep despite trying the tips above, it might be time to discuss other options with your health care provider. There are various medications that can help you get to sleep faster and sleep more deeply so you feel restored in the morning. Before prescribing, your doctor may recommend that you do a sleep study to monitor your sleep patterns and figure out what’s waking you up at night.

Some of the sleep aids that researchers have proposed for people with certain skin conditions, like eczema, include antihistamines, benzodiazepines, and melatonin supplements. However, each comes with limitations and side effects. Check with your doctor to help you make an informed decision.

Find Your Team

MySebDermTeam is the social network for people with seborrheic dermatitis and their loved ones. On MySebDermTeam, more than 12,000 members come together to ask questions, give advice, and share their stories with others who understand life with seborrheic dermatitis.

Do itchiness, dry skin, or other symptoms of seborrheic dermatitis keep you up at night? If so, have you developed any self-care routines that improve your sleep and well-being?

Share your tips in the comments below or directly on your Activities page.

    Posted on June 17, 2024

    A MySebDermTeam Member

    Hello, how you doing?My name is ronald myers and I like to apply for section eight

    posted July 6
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    Steven Devos, M.D., Ph.D. received his medical degree and completed residency training in dermatology at the University of Ghent, Belgium. Learn more about him here.
    Anastasia Climan, RDN, CDN is a dietitian with over 10 years of experience in public health and medical writing. Learn more about her here.

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