If you find yourself tossing and turning half the night due to your arthritis, you’re not alone. Research has shown that there is a clear correlation between sleep quality and arthritis pain. It can send you into a frustrating spiral where constant pain interferes with your sleep and then exhaustion intensifies your pain. The good news is that you can break the spiral by following these effective sleep tips for arthritis sufferers.
- Check your sleeping posture.
If you suffer from arthritis in the neck, it’s recommended that you sleep with your head in alignment with your spine. This can help with arthritis in all other areas of the body as well, and it comes down to your pillow. The right fitting pillow should hold your head straight, making sure it doesn’t sink down into plush foam, or hold your head at an unnatural angle due to excess firmness.
There are a few ways to achieve proper posture while remaining comfortable:
- Invest in an adjustable bed. Raise the top of the bed so that your head and spine are straight throughout the night.
- Switch to a pillow that allows you to shape it and then maintain proper placement. The Hospital for Special Surgery recommends down feather pillows.
- Talk to your doctor about securing a collar that holds your neck in proper alignment while you sleep. Neck pillows may help if you tend to fall asleep while watching television in the recliner or on the couch.
- What you do during the day affects your sleep at night.
It’s natural to rest more during the day when your arthritis pain is severe. Unfortunately, what you do during daylight hours could make it more difficult to fall and stay asleep after sunset. The Arthritis Foundation recommends the following lifestyle changes to promote more restful sleep:
- Eliminate caffeine
- Avoid napping
- Increase your daily activity level
- Stick to a routine bedtime schedule
- Reserve your bedroom for sleep only
- Eat lighter meals for dinner
Treat these ideas as suggestions to aim for rather than restrictive rules. For instance, if you don’t think you can give up coffee and don’t want to switch to decaffeinated, limit your consumption to the first half of the day.
- Use a journal to identify patterns regarding your pain and your sleep habits.
Writing in a journal each day can help relieve stress, and that in turn can clear your mind so that you have an easier time falling asleep. If you take the time to track the following data daily, your journal will prove even more useful:
- Times that you sleep with notes on the quality of your sleep and how long it took you to fall asleep. You may find that it’s easier to fall asleep when you go to bed an hour earlier, or that you sleep longer if you go to sleep at a particular time.
- Times during the day that you feel tired. This may help you schedule activities, naps, or even meditation to cater to your body’s natural sleep patterns.
- Intensity of your pain throughout the day. You may find that there are times of the day when your pain is worse, and those patterns may change depending on the season.
- Foods that you eat and mealtimes. You may find that certain foods disturb your sleep, and you can alter your mealtimes to encourage better sleep.
In addition to following these sleep tips for arthritis pain, you should work with your doctor to create an effective pain management plan. The better you manage chronic pain in general, the better you’re likely to sleep at night. With the support of a comfortable mattress and a supportive pillow, you can break that spiral that leaves you sleep deprived and crippled with pain.