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Sleeping With Arthritis

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One of the more common side-effects of arthritis is sleep troubles. When joints are inflamed and painful, it can really disrupt the sleep pattern – or prevent you from being able to fall asleep at all.

We all know how badly a day can start when the prior night’s sleep was less than desired. Fortunately, there are a number of ways to go about minimizing the effects of joint pain and inflammation on your sleep routine.

Sleeping with arthritis: Form a routine

It really does come down to that one word – routine. If you can, stick to a sleep schedule that includes similar bed times and waking times each day. This even includes weekends, when many feel justified in lounging around for that extra hour in bed.

When you have a routine like this, your body is able to program itself to the schedule and falling asleep becomes more natural. You’ll find that you won’t have to try as hard to shut your brain off and drift to sleep. If you’re coming off a night of bad rest, instead of trying to cram that extra sleep into one night, spread it out over a few consistent nights of sleep. Not only will you feel more rested, but you’ll be sticking to the routine as well.

Keep active each day

Burning off pent up energy and nerves is a key factor in being able to sleep at night. Even those with arthritis should strive to move and be mobile throughout the day as much as is comfortable for them. This wears you out and makes it easier to shut off once you lie down. There are a number of exercises that you can still do to help with your arthritis pain.

As a general rule, being active means getting the heart rate up – if you can do this for twenty minutes per day (minimum) you’ll be in much better shape when bed time hits.

Sleeping with arthritis: Put the screens away

Our addiction to cell phones and electronic devices is having increasing impacts on our ability to sleep well at night. Challenge yourself to get off your phone at least one hour before bedtime each night, and focus on something like reading or a board game.

In addition to sleeping better, getting away from the screen is good for the eyes. In books and printed materials, the letters you read on a page have solid, defined boundaries that the eyes and brain recognize. On a screen, even though you can read the words, there are no solid boundaries that separate what your eyes are picking up. This means that your eyes must focus harder to determine letters and words than they do when reading printed materials.

No coffee in the afternoon

Notice how we clarified ‘in the afternoon.’ We love a good coffee in the morning as much as anyone else, but it is important that its place stays in the morning. This is especially true for those of us with joint pain and inflammation that are already struggling to sleep through the night.

Sleeping with arthritis: Keep track of your drinking

If you enjoy a drink in the evening, that’s not necessarily a sign of a rough night’s sleep ahead. But if you notice trouble staying asleep, and in falling back asleep once you wake up in the middle of the night, on nights that you drink there is likely a correlation there. It’s hard to have a normal night’s sleep when the body is dehydrated and detoxing the entire time, and when those burning wrists or ankles start throbbing it’s only going to get tougher. Try to keep drinking to a minimum (or practice moderation), and drink water before going to bed.

Define the role of your bed

Now this one might sound confusing at first. But think about it – your bed, and bedroom in general, are supposed to be bastions of the nether world, a place where you go to recoup and dream. Bringing stressful activities like work, or distracting habits such as television, into the bedroom can have a negative impact on sleeping. You won’t settle into a sleep mode when coming into the room, and that is part of the issue with sleep for many of us.

Try meditation or yoga

Yoga or mediation, two activities which focus on relaxation and breath, can do wonders for getting the body ready to call it a night. With yoga in particular, the body will feel loose and relaxed along with the mind. Meditation allows you to center your thoughts and clear the head of stress and negativity.

Best Sleeping Positions for Arthritis

Let’s start with the process of getting into bed. Assuming you won’t have to get back up (at least not until that midnight tinkle creeps in), the first thing you can do is to get into bed with purpose.

By this we mean that you should be conscious of your joints both in how you sit and how you lie. Sit down before you lie down, and once you’re firmly seated, only then should you twist into the sleeping position or move into a rest spot to watch some television or read.

Best sleeping position for hip pain

This one’s short and simple — don’t sleep on the painful side. It can be tempting to do so, especially if on a soft mattress, but this is only going to make the morning that much more painful. If you can, train yourself to sleep on your back. If you aren’t also suffering from back pain, sleeping on your stomach can work just fine, too. And if you are a #sidesleeperforlife, just be sure to sleep on the opposite side of the hip.

Best sleeping position for shoulder pain

Those with pain in their shoulders should follow the same protocol as those with pain in their hip — sleep on the pain-free side and avoid putting pressure on the ailing joint. Sleeping is all about being relaxed and free of pressure, and no matter how comfortable you may be in the moment, sleeping on top of pain is never advisable.

Best sleeping position for degenerative arthritis of the knee

Following our continued strategy of relieving pain while sleeping, one of the key culprits of nighttime knee pain (in addition to ongoing pain and heavy repetitive pressure during the day) is people rubbing their knees together while they sleep.

There are a couple options for preventing this harmful action. First is to sleep on your side with padding — like a pillow or similar soft object — between your knees. This is most advised for those who tend to fidget during the night and who may subconsciously rub their knees together.

Another option is to sleep on your back with your legs spread apart. Bringing them together to rub on each other or on other parts of the body is far less likely if you’re sleeping like this. For those familiar with basic yoga poses for arthritis, try to sleep in your best Shavasana pose. Rested, relaxed, and far removed from fickle friction of the knees.

The same line of thinking goes for ankle pain — prevent the ankles from rubbing against other bones and build a comfortable sleeping position from the ankles up, instead of from the head down.

Best sleeping position for wrist pain

When it comes to your wrists, the position of the rest of your body is far less important than the position of the wrist — or wrists — itself. If you suffer from the carpal tunnel in addition to arthritis, you are likely keenly aware of the fact that this condition likes to flare up at night, often just as you try to unwind and lie down after a long day.

So long easy rest, eh?

What you can do when this happens is to keep your wrist elevated and lifted — don’t let it sag by your side or slump off the side of the bed. If you are a stomach sleeper, try placing the wrist on a pillow or pad that keeps it elevated, though you may have a tough time getting comfortable. Back sleepers can prop their arm up, or at the very least, try sleeping with the arm up above the head.

What you may find helpful is to keep your bed a bit removed from the wall, and to get rid of the headboard if you have one — you definitely want to avoid slamming the wrist against the headboard or wall while you sleep. We recommend putting six inches or so of space between the top of your bed and the wall so that you can stretch your arm comfortably out, whether you are on your front or backside.

Sleeping with arthritis: Try a supplement like GLX3

For those of us with arthritis, joint pain and inflammation are often a big part of why we have a hard time sleeping at night. By adding a New Zealand Green Lipped Mussel Oil supplement to your daily routine, you can fight inflammation and get back to sleeping like you used to – free of pain and those pesky flare ups that wake you up in the middle of the night.

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