Lyme disease sleep disorders

woman awake in bed with lyme disease and a sleep disorder

Patients with post-treatment Lyme disease syndrome (PTLDS) may experience sleep disturbances, according to a study by Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. Researchers found, “PTLDS participants reported significantly worse global sleep and sleep disturbance scores and worse fatigue, functional impact, and more cognitive-affective depressive symptoms compared to poor-sleeping controls.” [1]


Dr. Robert Bransfield, a New Jersey-based psychiatrist who specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of tick-borne illnesses, has seen a broad range of sleep disorders in Lyme disease patients treated at his practice. He describes the various sleep disorders in the article “Neuropsychiatric Lyme Borreliosis: An Overview with a Focus on a Specialty Psychiatrist’s Clinical Practice.” [2]

The patients experienced:

  • Non-restorative sleep
  • Early insomnia
  • Middle of the night insomnia
  • Early morning insomnia
  • Excessive daytime sleepiness
  • Loss or reversal of circadian rhythm
  • Restless leg
  • Paroxysmal nocturnal limb movements
  • Sleep apnea (central and/or obstructive)
  • Sleep paralysis
  • Hypnagogic hallucinations
  • Sleep attacks
  • Cataplexy
  • Narcolepsy

The combination of “non-restorative sleep and chronic unremitting stress appear to play a significant role in disease progression,” explains Bransfield.

Lyme disease patients may experience a broad range of sleep disturbances. Click To Tweet

“Both non-restorative sleep and the chronic unremitting stress seen in these chronically ill patients contribute to disease perpetuation and progression and are associated with fatigue, cognitive impairments, decreased regenerative functioning, compromised immunity, decreased resistance to infectious disease and neurodegenerative processes,” he writes.

Editor’s note: I have also found that Lyme disease patients can suffer from a broad range of sleep disorders. However, it can be difficult to determine whether Lyme disease or a comorbidity is responsible for the sleep disturbance. I have found that antibiotic treatment often improves sleep disorder symptoms.

  1. Weinstein ER, Rebman AW, Aucott JN, Johnson-Greene D, Bechtold KT. Sleep Quality in Well-defined Lyme Disease: A Clinical Cohort Study in Maryland. Sleep. 2018.
  2. Bransfield RC. Neuropsychiatric Lyme Borreliosis: An Overview with a Focus on a Specialty Psychiatrist’s Clinical Practice. Healthcare (Basel). 2018;6(3).

5 Replies to "Lyme disease sleep disorders"

    10/12/2020 (2:20 pm)

    the lyme illness and epstein barr have been present for me since July of this year. In the last two months Ive had insomnia related problems ongoing. I have been on several antibiotics, changed my diet, yet still cannot function to work full time. I have night sweats, and pretty much might get four hours of sleep on a good night. I am implementing self help tools such as meditation, eft, tapping, and other personal development work, but I remain unable to sleep through the night. My body tingles and wakes me up regularly. I have a coaching business and can barely run this at the present time. I am taking suggested herbals, and am about to try another sleep aid since trazedone has not worked that well. Before the lyme and epstein barr had hardly been sick very rarely. Yet I am aware that these infections ht at cross road times and don’t happen always at the bite of the tick for lyme. Any help would be great!

    • Dr. Daniel Cameron
      10/12/2020 (3:15 pm)

      I have found treatment for Babesia helpful for some patients. The sweats sometimes suggested Babesia. I also look for other illnesses. I also evaluate for other illnesses and seek consultations for other illnesses. Call my office at 914 666 4665 if you have any questions.

  • Missy
    09/23/2020 (10:59 pm)

    I have had Lyme Disease for 20 years and am dealing with all of the symptoms that everyone else is dealing with, but, I can’t seem to overcome the depression. Does anyone have any suggestions on natural treatments for Lyme related depression?

    • Rachel
      04/17/2022 (6:31 am)

      5 htp helps me some

  • Since have a long disease I can’t seem to fall asleep and wake several times during the night I am over the top trying to find sleep remedies
    09/14/2020 (7:42 am)

    This has been a problem for me. Since have a long disease I can’t seem to fall asleep and wake several times during the night I am over the top trying to find sleep remedies

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