Between normal stress and worry, too-much screen time on smartphones and tablets, staying up late, having to get up too early and many other reasons, getting a good night’s sleep can be elusive. Add arthritis pain into the mix and you just might find yourself on the short end of the sleep equation too often.
Studies show that pain and sleep are closely connected. Pain during the day can negatively impact your sleep at night and a poor night’s sleep can increase your pain the next day.
To fall asleep, the mind and body must calm down. When you are in pain, it can be hard to relax and unwind. Also, it’s common for some people to wake up during the night. While many go right back to sleep, those with arthritis pain often find it difficult to stay asleep.
Getting Better Nighttime ZZZ’s
You can set yourself up for a good night’s sleep. Here are five tips to help you sleep better.
Avoid naps: While a catnap every once in a while, probably won’t hurt, sleeping during the day, especially in the late afternoon, can disrupt your sleep cycle.
- Get your daily exercise: Think about that day you took a long walk or swim or had a good workout at the gym and remember how well you slept that night. Even light daily exercise can make for a better night’s sleep. Just don’t time your workout within two-three hours before you go to bed as the increase in heart rate and body temperature may keep you from falling asleep.
- Watch what you eat: Heavy, fatty foods and things like coffee, chocolate or alcohol close to bedtime may stimulate the brain making it difficult to fall and/or stay asleep.
- Create a nightly ritual: Develop a soothing nightly routine. Read a book; do some gentle stretches or yoga; meditate – anything that helps you power down and signal to your body and your brain that it is time to rest and go to sleep.
- Stick to a schedule: Yes, your mother was right – going to bed and getting up at the same time everyday really does make a difference in how you sleep. The regulation helps your body’s internal clock. It knows when to switch off and on each day. Try to get between six and eight hours of sleep every night.
Everyone is different and everyone’s relationship to sleep is different, so experiment to see what works for you. If a lack of sleep is a chronic problem, talk with your doctor about it.1
For more information on arthritis, visit the Arthritis Foundation website!
1“Five Ways to Get Better Sleep If You Have Arthritis.” Living With Arthritis, 18 Jan. 2019, blog.arthritis.org/living-with-arthritis/five-ways-get-better-sleep-arthritis/.