Sleepless nights are an unfortunate reality for many people with rheumatoid arthritis. Poor sleep contributes to far more than fatigue. If you’re not getting enough rest, you’re also at a higher risk for depression, functional disability, and more intense pain. Don’t succumb to a pattern of restless nights. Fight back with these solutions.
Adjust Your Medication
Sleep disruptions associated with RA are typically caused by pain. Inflammation in the joints can make it difficult to get comfortable. The first thing you should do when you’re battling these sleep troubles is talk to your doctor about adjusting your pain medication. You may benefit from taking medication closer to your bedtime so you can get enough pain relief to fall asleep. Some medications make it more difficult to sleep, so you’ll want to readjust your schedule and make sure you’re using prescriptions such as thyroid supplements or estrogen earlier in the day.
Pursue Stress Relief
Sleep quality and depression go hand in hand, with a close correlation that works both ways. RA and lack of sleep can both increase your risk of depression, and depression in turn can make it difficult to sleep. Battle this cycle by practicing some stress relief measures before bedtime. This might include drinking a cup of chamomile tea, using a lavender pillow spray, taking a warm bath, or reading. Experiment with different approaches to find the most soothing one.
Be Careful with Bedtime Snacks
A small evening snack can help you sleep if you have a grumbling stomach before bed or wake up with hunger pangs in the night. However, you need to be careful about what you eat in the evening. Avoid anything with caffeine, alcohol, or sugar. Try foods that are known to help you sleep, such as walnuts, dairy products, lettuce, kale, turkey, shrimp, and hummus.
Lighten the Bedding
Heavy bedding can put added pressure on painful joints. Opt instead for lightweight sheets and blankets that are easy on your body. Find alternate solutions for a cold sleeping space. If you’re caught in a thermostat battle with other members of your household, you may want to consider a more localized option like a ductless heat pump which heats one room at a time.
Cozy Up with Pillows
Careful pillow placement can help ease the pressure and pain on troublesome joints. This is particularly useful if your RA impacts one area of your body more than the others. Memory foam pillows are one of the gentlest options available. You can purchase affordable pillows in varying sizes to offer added support for specific areas of the body. A well-placed pillow can help reduce your sleepless nights.
Physical activity will help you keep your RA under control. Try to include a moderate amount of activity in your schedule every day. This will help you avoid painful overextending that you might experience with just one or two longer sessions in a week. With regular activity, you can approach bed feeling tired but not overwhelmed by discomfort.