It is thought that almost a third of those over 45 have arthritis, and almost half of people over 65 have the condition. For those who do, 80% report having trouble sleeping at night. Because of this, sleeping with arthritis can be a vicious cycle. The inability to sleep because of the pain means that tiredness makes pain worsen.
While you will know from your medical history what actions make pain worse and what medicines bring relief, there are many tips that can make or break your sleep. Once you are able to get into a good sleep routine, you can change your pain and your ability to manage it forever.
Avoid Eating Before Bed
It may sound like an unusual connection, but there is one. Eating too soon before bed is known to cause gastric problems, such as arthritis. When you are already sensitive to pain, you are hyper-aware of changes to your stomach as you try to sleep. You may have to sleep on your side to keep reflux at bay, which can further aggravate your arthritis.
It is recommended that you eat your last main meal at least three hours before bed. That way, you have digested at least most of your meal before lying down. It is important you have a good meal before bed so you won’t snack too much if acid reflux is an issue.
When pain is part of your daily life, keeping regular with your sleep is your strongest defence. Having a regular bedtime will help you get to sleep with more ease, no matter how tired you are. When you go to sleep at a regular time, your sleep-wake cycle will be able to shift modes.
The right sleep hormones, such as melatonin, will be released by your body as the clock approaches your designated bed time. This will, in the long run, help you fall asleep faster than feeling especially tired on some nights. When you do this, you will find it easier to catch up on sleep and ease your arthritis pain.
While exercise may feel like the last thing you want to do when you’re in pain, it’s essential for pain relief. Regular exercise that doesn’t aggravate your joints too much is the key to achieving a good night’s sleep.
Lack of movement will only make joint pain worse. Muscle and tissue strength is important to support your weak joints and not worsen wear and tear. See our guide to gentle exercises before bed for exercises that will help send you off to sleep.
Heat Therapy for Arthritis
It is important to set your arthritis limbs up for a night of various sleeping positions. Engaging in heat therapy is a great way to achieve this. A heating pad can be applied for approximately half an hour before you get into bed, or a hot bath for a similar effect.
Applying heat can cause the blood vessels to dilate, helping with oxygen. On the joints, this will increase flexibility before bedtime and ensure joint fluid lubricates the joints well.
Ensuring your joints are pain free will mean that when you lie down for hours, they aren’t in position to be easily inflamed. This is an important starting position to be in to ensure sleep comes quickly and in good quality.