7 Tips To Get A Good Night's Sleep When You Have Arthritis
Struggling to get a good night's sleep? Studies have shown that a whopping 80% of people with arthritis find it hard to nod off at night, so if you’re reading this with sore, bleary eyes you’re not alone.
It’s really frustrating when your chronic pain makes it hard to fall and stay asleep, but there are things you can do to make the process easier.
Read on for 7 tips on getting a good night's sleep when you have arthritis.
How can chronic pain affect sleep?
Anyone who has lived with pain knows it can have a huge impact on sleep. What makes it even harder is getting a bad night's sleep actually makes pain worse. Which leaves you in a vicious cycle.
Pain can prohibit us from getting to sleep quickly and then staying asleep. So how can you get to sleep when you have arthritis?
Don’t just lie awake in the dark
When it comes to going to sleep we know how hard it can be when you simply can't. You lie in bed wide awake hoping you'll get to sleep. This can be made even worse when you're tossing and turning and every turn causes your joint pain to flair up.
The more you stress about how you’re not sleeping and stare at the clock counting the hours until you have to get up, the harder it will be to get the night's sleep that you need. Sometimes, it’s best to call it quits for a bit and accept that you’re awake.
Set yourself a limit of how long you're going to lie in bed without falling asleep. If you go beyond that time, 20 minutes is a good timeframe, then studies have shown you are often better off getting up and sitting quietly for a while. This can often lead your body to start to destress and can help prepare you for sleep.
Why not keep a good book next to your bed? Scrolling through your phone may make it harder to fall asleep, but reading a good old fashioned book can help distract you - and you may soon find that you can’t keep your eyes open anymore!
We all know that drinking a double espresso before bedtime is a bad idea, but tea, alcohol and sugar can also make it harder to fall asleep.
In this day and age there are endless stimulants in our lives but caffeine is often the main culprit for people being unable to sleep at night. It's also a misconception that alcohol can help you sleep, in fact studies have shown the opposite to be true and actually lead to poor sleep rather than the deep sleep you need.
It’s also a good idea to avoid heavy meals before bedtime, as this can lead to indigestion and heartburn.
Make sure your bed (or your partner) isn’t making sleep more difficult
Finding the right pillow and mattress is essential to a good night's sleep. It might sound obvious but if you're struggling to get to sleep then try looking at whether or not it's time for new bedding. It's worth consulting shops on this as people often assume they need a harder mattress when often the opposite can be of huge benefit.
Sleeping with a partner is great, but they can sometimes make it harder to sleep - especially if they snore! There are things you can do to help this. See if earplugs can help or perhaps a bigger mattress upon which you're less likely to feel your partner move at night.
There's no shame in trying sleeping in a bed without your partner from time to time to see if that helps.
Establish a routine
Finding a little bedtime routine can be essential to reminding your mind and body that it's time to turn off. Key to this is going to bed at a regular time. You don't have to stick to this every night but at least five nights a week start to go to bed at the same time. This can let your body know what is going on. There is a reason that people with young children try to get thier children into a sleep routine, it builds good habits and as adults it's easy for us to forget this.
Our bodies like repetition, which is why when you’re used to getting up at a certain time you may find yourself waking up sooner than you’d like on your day off! It’s a good idea to establish a realistic bedtime that you can stick to, so your body starts letting you know it’s ready for bed without you having to force it.
Avoid using screens before bed
In the age of smart phones and large home televisions we spend a lot of time starring at screens. This can have an impact on sleep. If you are struggling to get to sleep try to make a discipline of turning off all screens a good 30 minutes before going to bed.
It’s not a good idea to get really into a new Netflix show or start scrolling through social media when you should be sleeping, so maybe try putting your devices away and not checking them till morning. Many phones have a ‘night time’ option where you can input the time you want to go to sleep and wake up and your phone will be on ‘do not disturb mode’ during your sleep hours.
During these cold nights, you may want to wrap up as warm as possible. However, this can make you overheat which can be uncomfortable and make it harder to sleep.
It might sound odd but our bodies actually thrive in colder temperatures when asleep so don't wrap up too much and think about finding a lower tog of duvet if you find yourself getting too warm in the night.
Try these stress-reducing techniques
Stress can make it harder to sleep, as it can make you feel more awake and contribute to racing thoughts. Self-help tips like taking a warm, relaxing bath, doing some gentle yoga and finding a calming distraction - like a sleepy podcast or a sleep playlist - can really help.
Some simple stretches or meditation can help relax the mind before you go to bed. Many people find that white noise can help as it blocks other sounds out that might otherwise interupt you trying to fall asleep.
How do you fall asleep when you’re dealing with arthritis pain? Let us know on Facebook!