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The majority of people who have a moderate or severe form of atopic dermatitis report that itch can delay falling asleep and can also wake them up during the night.1

“Just trying to fall asleep can take up to 2 hours because of itching and general restlessness. Staying asleep is another issue, 4 hours is all I can manage most nights, once I’m awake, the itch continues. The quality of sleep is never very good either; I’m always tired during the day.”



of patients claimed that their skin condition
affected their sleep

“My partner now sleeps in our spare room which is heart-breaking. I keep him awake with my scratching - he said I shake the bed as I scratch so viciously.”

It is widely acknowledged that atopic dermatitis affects a person’s sleep, with delays in falling asleep and itching known to keep someone awake or wake them several times in the night. If you are struggling to sleep due to your atopic dermatitis, it is important to share this with your healthcare professional.

Why does atopic dermatitis or eczema get itchy at night?

For many, AD can flare up during the night, with the itch and the urge to scratch the itch getting more intense2. But is there actually something that is making the itch worse at night? The answer is yes. Here are some of the scientific reasons why your itch can in fact be worse when you are trying to get some sleep:


Reason 1

Everyone has an internal natural body clock, known as your ‘circadian rhythm’. This is the part of your body that tells you when to sleep or stay awake. This internal body clock however can also cause night itches which are known scientifically as ‘nocturnal pruritis’ or ‘night-time itch’3


Reason 2

At night a lot goes on inside your body! Your body temperature and the blood flow to your skin rises, the production of inflammatory molecules increases whilst the production of corticosteroids decreases. Corticosteroids are hormones (a particular type of chemical) that reduces inflammation so with less of these to fight the raise in other inflammatory molecules, inflammation in the body increases3. This increase in inflammation will lead to more itching.


Reason 3

At night, the skin loses more water than it does during the day. This can make it both drier and itchier3


Reason 4

When lying in bed, there are much fewer distractions and therefore, the itch becomes a lot easier to focus on!3


Reason 5

Finally, if it’s a warm and humid evening our body sweats more. This sweating, like when someone exercises can dry the skin and cause an itch4.


Sleep top tips

  1. Take a 5-10 minute lukewarm bath, then thoroughly moisturise within 3 minutes of getting out.
  2. Wearing all cotton, or mostly cotton blends can lessen skin irritation for some people.
  3. Keep nails short or wear light cotton gloves at night to help reduce scratching.
  4. Make your bedroom a sanctuary for sleep by keeping the room dark, comfortably cool, quiet and free from dust and allergens.
  5. Maintain a consistent bedtime routine. Set aside electronic devices, instead do some light reading or relaxation exercises.
  6. Don’t forget to talk to your doctor if you still need help.

Relationships and intimacy1



of patients said that their atopic dermatitis affected their sex life "frequently" or "very frequently"


of patients found it hard to be intimate with their partner when their skin condition was bad



Over half (57%) of patients interviewed said that their romantic and dating life was directly affected by their atopic dermatitis


  1. Sanofi Data on File. March 2018.
  2. Chang YS et al. Sleep disorders and atopic dermatitis: A 2-way street? J Allergy Clin Immunol. 2018; 142: 1033-1040.
  3. Healthline. Itchy Skin at Night? Why it happens and what you can do about it. Available at: (Accessed May 2024).
  4. Murota H and Katayama I. Exacerbating factors of itch in atopic dermatitis. Allergol Int. 2017; 66: 8-13.

MAT-XU-2400602 (v2.0) | May 2024

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