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Medically reviewed by Dr. Samuel Sarmiento, M.D., MPH on August 3, 2023

Mindfulness meditation is beneficial for sleep and improving quality of life in multiple sclerosis patients.

Between 20 and 50% of multiple sclerosis (MS) patients have chronic insomnia (CI). Mindfulness meditation has been shown to improve CI. A study in the journal BMC Neurology compared the effectiveness of a mindfulness-based stress intervention for insomnia (MBSI-I) to a sleep hygiene (SH) program for treating CI in MS and their impact on measures of sleep and quality of life (QoL). The study found that mindfulness meditation could potentially benefit some subjective measures of sleep and QoL.

Study Participants

Fifty-three participants were enrolled and randomly assigned to the MBSI-I or SH groups. Out of these participants, 43 completed the study. Participants were predominantly female, with an average age of 51 years. Baseline characteristics were comparable between the cohorts. Ultimately, SH participants were offered MBSI-I training and analyzed as the expanded MBSI-I cohort (eMBSI-I).

Sleep Efficiency Comparison Between MBSI-I and SH

MBSI-I did not demonstrate superiority over SH regarding sleep efficiency at 10 or 16 weeks. Sleep efficiency did not improve over the course of the study, either within or between cohorts.

Effects on Bedtime Duration in MBSI-I and eMBSI-I Cohorts

The MBSI-I and eMBSI-I cohorts spent significantly less time in bed at 10 weeks vs. the SH cohort, relative to baseline. The time spent in bed was significantly reduced within the MBSI-I cohorts at 10 weeks compared to baseline, which extended to 16 weeks for the eMBSI-I vs. the SH group.

Lack of Improvement in MBSI-I Cohort’s Self-Reported Sleep Quality

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The MBSI-I cohort did not show improvement in the self-reported Global Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index (PSQI) compared to the SH group. However, improvements in Global PSQI scores were significant within MBSI-I groups at 10 and 16 weeks relative to baseline.

Improvements in Insomnia Severity and Sleep Quality

The Insomnia Severity Index was significantly improved relative to baseline at 10 weeks for the MBSI-I cohorts and at 16 weeks for the SH cohort. Substantial improvements were observed for other PSQI components: sleep latency and overall sleep quality within MBSI-I cohorts at both time points, daytime dysfunction due to sleepiness within the eMBSI-I cohort and relative to the SH cohort at 10 weeks, and within both MBSI-I cohorts at 16 weeks. Daytime dysfunction was significantly improved in the eMBSI-I vs. SH group at both time points.

Improvements in MBSI-I Cohorts Compared to SH Group

The MBSI-I cohorts showed significant improvements vs. the SH group in bowel control, vitality scale, and the positive affect subscale of the Mental Health Inventory at 10 weeks, and Modified Fatigue Impact Scale components (total score, cognitive subscale, and the modified fatigue 5 items scale) and the planning organizational subscale of the Self-Reported Cognitive Dysfunction scale at 16 weeks. MBSI-I cohorts showed significant within-group improvements in bowel function and the Expanded Disability Status Scale (EDSS) at 10 weeks and the planning organizational subscale of the Self-Reported Cognitive Dysfunction scale and EDSS at 16 weeks.


Guarnaccia, J. B., Njike, V. Y., Dutton, A., Ayettey, R. G., Treu, J. A., Comerford, B. P., & Sinha, R. (2023). A pilot, randomized, placebo-controlled study of mindfulness meditation in treating insomnia in multiple sclerosis. BMC Neurology, 23(1). https://doi.org/10.1186/s12883-023-03309-0