The aggravation of arthritis makes it tough for many people to get a good night’s sleep. Worse yet, tossing and turning through the night could actually increase the awareness of pain.
“There’s a reciprocal relationship between pain and poor sleep. The poorer people sleep, the more pain they tend to be in,” states Kevin Fontaine, PhD, assistant professor of rheumatology at Johns Hopkins University. “If people with arthritis can improve the quality of their sleep, they can usually reduce their day-to-day pain.”
Here are eight tips to get better sleep from arthritis experts.
1. Do not Go to Bed With Joint Pain
Managing arthritis pain is significant at all times, but it’s especially essential before bed time. “If you go to bed in pain, you’re almost certain to have trouble sleeping,” says Fontaine. Try to arrange your medicine schedule so that it provides peak relief round the time that you wish to have in bed. Avoid doing activities in the evening that trigger flare-ups of arthritis pain. “Some people with arthritis find they sleep better after taking a hot shower before bed time or using an electric blanket to ease joint pain,” says Andrew Lui, PT, DPT, assistant clinical professor, University of California, San Francisco.
2. Steer Clear of Stimulants Before Bedtime
It’s hardly news that using coffee or other caffeinated beverages late in the day can interfere with sleep. But many men and women are not aware of other hidden resources of caffeine, including colas and some over-the-counter pain relievers. Always check labels to make sure that you’re not becoming caffeine. Black tea also contains stimulants that can make some people wide awake when they would like to sleep. Herbal teas in the evening are a much better choice if you’re having trouble sleeping. Alcohol can help some people today fall asleep, but too much can disrupt sleep halfway through the night, leaving you wide awake and tossing.
3. Deal With Everyday Stresses
The inevitable stresses of everyday life can also disrupt sleep. You can’t remove all of them, of course, but you can set them in their place. “One strategy is to avoid stressful activities or thoughts before bed time,” says Fontaine. “Don’t watch the news if it gets you irritated. Don’t pay bills. Don’t make a list of all the things you have to do tomorrow.” Instead, arrange your schedule to do something relaxing in the hour or two leading up to bedtime. Listen to music. Read a book. Work on a hobby, provided that you find it calming. If you still find yourself fretting, practice some relaxation techniques such as meditation or progressive relaxation.
4. ) Exercise to Help Your Arthritis and Your Sleep
Be as active as possible throughout the day. This may strengthen your muscles and joints — and it can make you drowsy enough to go to sleep. Action has also been proven to ease stress, which promotes a restful sleep. Getting busy is not always easy when you’re experiencing arthritis. Still, activities such as swimming, water weightlifting , and medium walking are achievable for many people with arthritis. “The common wisdom is to exercise earlier in the day, since exercise itself can be arousing,” says Fontaine. “But some of our patients like to do a little light activity in the evening — a walk around the neighborhood, for instance — to tire themselves out. The best advice is to find what works for you.”
5. Produce a Sound Sleep Chamber
Reserve your bedroom for sleep. This way, you’ll associate getting under the covers with falling asleep. “Avoid watching TV, reading, working on your computer, or doing other stimulating activities in bed,” says Wilfred Pigeon, PhD, assistant professor of psychiatry at the University of Rochester Sleep and Neurophysiology Research Laboratory and author of Sleep Manual: Training Your Mind and Body to Achieve the Perfect Night’s Sleep. “Make the bedroom as conducive to sleep as possible. Put up heavy curtains or shades to eliminate distracting lights. Use earplugs if sound is a problem.”
What’s the best form of mattress? Experts say a medium-firm mattress is frequently better for low back pain. “If you suffer from knee pain, try positioning a pillow under or between your knees to take some of the pressure off your joints,” says Kimberly Topp, PhD, professor and chair of the department of physical therapy and rehab services in the University of California, San Francisco. “A small cushion under your nec