Sleep and Arthritis: How to Sleep Better with Joint Pain
Do you suffer from chronic pain in the joints? You are not alone.
Arthritis is the most common cause of disability in the United States according to The Center for Disease Control and Prevention. There are about 46 million self-reported cases among adults, according to a national health interview survey.
Its effect on getting comfortable rest and sleep has not gone unnoticed, either. 'Painsomnia', a colloquial term created by patients describing the inability to sleep due to pain, is a common symptom for those living with various kinds of arthritis.
As many as 80% of people with arthritis have trouble falling or staying asleep because of the frequent jolts and disruptions they experience throughout the night.
Why does arthritis cause sleep issues?
There are several factors involved, but for three main reasons:
- The perception of pain may be heightened at nighttime, when your focus is to fall asleep and you're not distracted by anything else.
- On a physiological level, levels of cortisol, the hormone that regulates inflammation, are lower at night.
- Lying down can also cause inflammatory agents to pool in the fluid that cushions around the joints, causing them to stiffen.
Lack of sleep is proven to make pain worse, down to the central nervous system pathways in the brain and spinal cord, and sleep disruptions can have a negative impact on your overall long-term health.
Since pain, sleep and inflammation are inextricably connected, treating insomnia is an essential step in managing arthritis.
Achieving restorative sleep starts with developing a healthy sleep hygiene -- simple steps such as avoiding reading from light-emitting devices in bed, cutting back on stimulants like caffeine, and adhering to a strict bedtime schedule are helpful.
During the evening, find time for yourself to do things that help you relax. Engage in soul-soothing activities such as yoga, meditation or enjoying a walk outdoors. Also Read: How Sleep Affects your Mental Health
Sleep Positions for Relieving Joint Pain
Not all sleep positions are going to work -- but if you suffer joint pain, you already knew this!
Stomach sleeping is not advised, especially if you have neck pain. Back and side positions are generally good -- with a few modifications to alleviate pain. Experts recommend the strategic use of pillows to align the normal curves of your back.
For side sleepers, add a small pillow beneath the curve at your waist and one between your knees. Lie on the hip that isn't painful and place one or more pillows between the legs. You can opt for a taller pillow under the neck to have the spine align with the head.
If you are a back sleeper, a thin pillow is best to make sure your spine is aligned while you sleep. When sleeping on your back, you can place pillows underneath your knees. If you wake up in the middle of the night to find you have kicked the pillows around, simply reposition them for comfort and go back to sleep. Also experiment with adding a thin pillow underneath the small of the back.
To protect your neck, use a Majestic Pillow. The goal is to keep your neck in a neutral position. Another alternative is to use a U-shaped travel pillow or rolled-up towel to assist your neck.
The Best Mattresses for Joint Pain
Since sleep is so essential in alleviating the daily limitations associated with arthritis and joint pain, we highly recommend you take a closer look at what you sleep on.
Your mattress dictates your sleep quality -- it is just as important as the need for medications, natural remedies, and self-care measures intended to relieve pain.
When was the last time you replaced your sleep surface? If your mattress sags or has depressions where you sleep, it's probably time for a new one.
For those with arthritis, we recommend the following mattresses with the most pressure-relieving design and adaptive support:
Majestic Plus, Ergo Comfort, and Majestic Solution 1. Originally designed to aid in recovery from hip & shoulder surgery, our Solution 1 mattress is also used to minimize painful counter-pressure on susceptible joints.
Our mattress design utilizes the thickest comfort layers to enhance support. The clinically proven, pressure-relieving Ergo Gel Layer absorbs excess body heat to help you sleep cooler and more comfortably throughout the night.
This technology helps sleepers suffering from the symptoms of severe hip and shoulder pain from arthritis or injury, fibromyalgia, diabetes, circulation issues, and more.
Sleep Tips & Reminders to Fight Joint Pain
Just because these pains are familiar and common doesn't mean you have to accept the resulting restless nights. Develop a plan to get good quality sleep:
- Find a way to soothe sore joints. If night sweats and hot flashes aren't a problem, try having a warm bath or shower before bed.
- Apply topical analgesics or microwavable hot packs on joints. If your joints are already inflamed, apply a freezable gel pack wrapped in a towel to provide cooling relief.
- If foot-swelling interferes with your sleep, consider wearing compression stockings during sleep.
- For pain from carpal tunnel syndrome or arthritis in the wrist or hand, splints may help. Have a splint fitted by an OT -- if the fit is not right, you could end up causing more pain. Compression gloves may also help if the pain is chronic and gets in the way of slumber.
- While some therapy devices can reduce pain and aid sleep, it is generally advised to not use devices that confine you to one position overnight. The key is to allow yourself to move around in bed. If you don't have the freedom to move, your joints are likely to be very stiff.
Learn More about Sleep
Knowledge is power. Learning more about better sleep will help you find and make the adjustments that will work for you. Check out our other blog posts to enrich your information on sleep:
- Ageless Active: Health - a Majestic Bed
- How to Sleep Better When You Travel
- How Pressure Mapping Can Benefit Your Sleep
Our Majestic Beds Team Sleep Experts would be more than happy to advise you about relieving pain or discomfort and getting a better night's sleep. We can help you find the best solution to your sleep needs.