It can be difficult to fall asleep or get a quality night of sleep with joint pain. According to the Arthritis Foundation, nearly 80% of people suffering from arthritis have sleep-related issues. Waking up in the middle of the night to a stiff neck or an arthritic flare can completely ruin rest. It makes going back to sleep challenging and waking up dreadful. Without a good night’s sleep, days become even more difficult with joint pain. Furthermore, a bad night of sleep can result in even more joint pain the next day.
Plan for more sleep (10+ hours)
If you often struggle to fall asleep, try planning for more sleep time. Go to bed earlier than normal, just in case it takes a while to fall asleep. Doing so can help reduce the stress of needing to fall asleep by a certain time.
Keep a regular sleep schedule
Many studies and sleep specialists stress the importance of keeping a regular sleep schedule. With good sleep habits, it’s easier for the body to fall asleep and stay sleeping soundly through the night. Try to go to bed at the same time every night and wake up at the same time each morning.
Reduce artificial light before bed
Cut down your time with laptops, TVs, phones, or any other electronics that produce artificial light before bed. Researchers have shown that exposure to artificial light before bed affects melatonin levels, subsequently lowering sleep quality.
Try putting away electronics 2 hours before bed to see if it improves your quality of sleep.
Avoid caffeine & alcohol
Caffeine is a natural stimulant that wakes the body up. It also has a half-life of 5-6 hours, meaning it takes 10-12 hours for all the caffeine to be eliminated from the body. Reducing caffeine intake, especially in the afternoon and evening, helps to improve sleep quality.
Drinking alcohol before bed prevents people from falling into REM sleep and increases sleep disruptions. Avoiding alcohol before bed can reduce the chance of waking up in the middle of the night.
Researchers have found that individuals with Rheumatoid Arthritis have improved sleep and fewer levels of fatigue when participating in an exercise program. Making a routine of exercising daily can lead to less fatigue and pain while increasing the overall quality of sleep.
Meditate before bedtime
Many researchers have shown the correlation between increased joint pain and lower quality of sleep in patients with Arthritis. Recent research has shown how mindfulness meditation can improve sleep quality in individuals.
People struggling with joint pain may find daily meditation practice as an effective treatment for improving the quality of sleep.
Use ice packs before bed
Ice packs might be a better way to reduce soreness and pain for some individuals instead of heat. Additionally, it can help reduce any swelling that might be present. Try experimenting with ice packs in bed, or before bed, and see if it helps decrease your joint pain.
Take a hot bath before bed
Taking a warm bath can be good for joint pain and stiffness, but it also helps to relax the body. A nice, warm bath is something many people claim to be their ultimate form of relaxation. Give it a shot before bed and get ready for some deep sleep!
Experiment with different pillows
Neck pain is an all too common reason for restless sleep, so finding the right pillow is important. Some may find a thin pillow the best, whereas others may need something more firm. Some individuals report using a towel or prop to keep their neck straight results in the best sleep.
Alternatively, researchers from John Hopkins found water-based pillows to be the best at reducing pain and improving sleep.
Use a heated mattress pad or blanket
Heat may be an effective remedy for easing joint pain and stiffness. It’s best to use a heating pad for 20-30 minutes before falling asleep, rather than to sleep with the pad on. Set a timer so the heating pad turns off automatically in case you fall asleep quickly!
Try a memory foam mattress pad
Another important spect of getting good sleep is having a proper mattress or mattress pad. Memory foam pads are known to be great at relieving pressure, thereby helping to reduce any stiffness or pain. The memory foam itself adjusts to the curves of the body, which can help any joint discomfort.