How can arthritis affect sleep?

Last Updated on March 15, 2022

The term ‘arthritis’ is used to describe several conditions that cause concerns, most often including pain and stiffness, for your joints or tissues around the joints. All these joint pains and body aches can affect the quality of your sleep.

The pain and discomfort your experience makes it difficult to fall asleep and stay asleep during the night. The inability to get enough rest then makes managing the pain even more difficult, and that in turn makes sleep harder.

In today’s article, we’ll try to explain how can arthritis affect sleep and discuss some tips and advice that will tell you what can you do about it.

How can arthritis affect sleep?

How can arthritis affect sleep?

Even though most people won’t necessarily associate the two, there is a strong link between chronic joint pain and non-restorative sleep.

If you have arthritis, you are experiencing aches and pains, because of them it might be hard for you to fall asleep. You may experience fatigue and different mood swings throughout the day. Sometimes you can even be sensitive to temperature, motion transfer, and noise.

The best thing you can do is pick a mattress that provides a flat, even surface that can alleviate pain and pressure in your sensitive areas and, by doing so, give you the comfort you need to sleep. If you don’t know how to choose one, make sure you check our best mattresses for arthritis guide.

Tips for better sleep with arthritis

The pain of arthritis makes it tough for many individuals to get a good night’s rest. Worse yet, tossing and turning at night can even increase pain perception. That’s why we’re going to show you some of the tips and tricks that can help you improve your fragmented sleep.

Avoid going to bed in pain

Managing your arthritis pain is necessary at all times, but it’s particularly vital before you go to bed. If you lay in your bed while you are in pain, you’re almost certain to have trouble sleeping. 

What you can do is try to arrange your medication schedule in a way that provides peak relief around bedtime so you can fall asleep with ease and no pain disturbances. We also recommend avoiding activities in the evening that might cause flare-ups of arthritis pain.

Tips for better sleep with arthritis

No stimulants before bedtime

As you probably know, having coffee, caffeinated or sweet beverages late in the day or before going to bed can interfere with sleep. 

However, many individuals aren’t aware of other hidden sources of caffeine, such as coca-cola and even over-the-counter pain relievers and medication. That’s why you should always check the labels to ensure you’re not consuming caffeine.

Another stimulant containing caffeine is black tea, which can keep people wide awake at night. Alcohol is also a beverage that can prevent you from falling asleep, leaving you wide awake and tossing.

We highly advise you to try a drink like herbal tea in the evening, as it can help you if you’re having trouble sleeping.

Relax before bed

Stress in our everyday lives is inevitable, but it can disrupt our sleep. You can’t eliminate all stress factors, but you can avoid stressful activities or thoughts before sleeping. 

You can do so by avoiding the news if it gets you irritated, or you can pay bills in the morning instead of doing it before bed. If making a list of things you have to do tomorrow stresses you out, don’t do it at night. 

Instead, arrange your schedule to relax in the hours leading up to bedtime. A great way to do so is to listen to relaxing music or read a book. You can also try meditation or progressive relaxation.

Exercise during the day

If you ate active as possible during the day, you’ll not only strengthen your muscles and joints, but it might get you tired enough to fall asleep easily. 

Generally speaking, activity has been shown to ease stress, promoting a night of restful sleep. We understand that being active isn’t always easy when suffering from arthritis. Still, some activities like swimming, water aerobics, and moderate walking are doable workouts for most people with arthritis.

advice on sleeping with arthritis

Create a calming bedroom environment

An easy way to improve your sleep quality is to reserve your bedroom for sleep and watch your bedroom environment. What we mean by that is to avoid doing other activities in the room you sleep in because you’ll start associating with getting under the covers.

It would be best if you also stayed clear of TV,  working on your computer, or doing other stimulating activities in your bed. Putting up heavy curtains or shades in order to eliminate distracting lights and using earplugs to cut off outside noises will also be quite beneficial for your rest.

Avoid sleeping pills 

Sleep medications might be useful for individuals who have acute insomnia. But if you have chronic insomnia, which is often the case for many people that suffer from arthritis, the first-line treatment should be adequate sleep hygiene. 

Yes, sleep medications can be useful for helping people get through a bad patch of insomnia, but when you stop taking them, insomnia will most likely return. To avoid that, you can learn to practice better sleep habits.

Practice good sleep hygiene

Basic tips on promoting good sleeping habits are often called ‘sleep hygiene. Together, they can have a dramatic effect on improving the quality of your sleep. 

You can do so by setting a sleep schedule, following a nighttime routine, developing healthy daily habits, and optimising your bedroom environment.

Bottom line

Arthritis pain disrupts sleep, and poor sleep exacerbates arthritis pain. Common symptoms of both chronic pain and sleep disorders are fatigue and depression.

Overall, chronic pain can impact rest, and poor sleep will most definitely increase pain and heighten mood problems.  Most individuals don’t get the recommended eight hours of sleep every night, which can worsen their joint pain. 

If natural supplements are improving your sleep hygiene aren’t helping you, we highly suggest you involve your healthcare provider in treatment decisions. They can help find the right treatments, so you get more sleep, less pain, and all the benefits that go with both. Don’t let sleep difficulties increase your pain and decrease your quality of life. 

We hope we were able to answer the how and why when it comes down to ‘How can arthritis affect sleep?’ and now it’s our turn to hear from you if any questions regarding the subject were left unanswered. If you want to share some information, we would gladly hear about it in the comments below.

Isabelle Harris
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