Sleep can often be a big challenge for arthritis sufferers and periods of inactivity can further compound the issue. We talked about some less conventional tips for sleeping with arthritis that could be useful additions to your sleep routine in our previous article, but what about the recommended basics to sleep better?
Sleep on your back to ease symptoms
This can be an effective position, particularly if you suffer from Ankylosing Spondylitis. It’s important to try and maintain the natural curvature of the spine to optimise comfort. These steps can help:
- Don’t underestimate your mattress. An expensive adjustment to the bedroom but well worth it if within affordable reach. Old mattresses typically lose their shape and create uneven surfaces as they drop in places. After about 5 years you should start to keep an eye out for wear and tear. In terms of type, a firm mattress is usually the appropriate option for arthritis and most shops provide a return option so if it’s not working for you, take it back.
- Avoid elevating your neck. The concept of sleeping without a pillow these days sounds bonkers, but it has the potential to provoke joint pain with arthritis. Try sleeping without one, or get yourself a thin pillow if you really don’t want to let go.
- Don’t give up. It can be a difficult and uncomfortable transition in the early stages, especially if you’ve become used to sleeping in a favoured position. Old habits die hard. Stick with it for a couple of weeks, and if you are still struggling, try something new.
Take a break from sleeping
As counter-intuitive as it may seem, trying to force yourself to sleep will induce stress and frustration. Getting out of bed and taking your mind off things can often make a big difference and stop you from aggravating your symptoms.
Why not get creative with this small amount of time and develop new interests and hobbies? Keep it relaxing and non-stimulating.
- Read a book
- Try stretching exercises
- Listen to calming music
- Get your partner to give you a massage (only the lucky and brave will try this!)
What you don’t want to do in this situation is over-stimulate the mind. Avoid switching on lights, social media, playing with your phone or watching television. It’s also best to avoid eating or engaging in any sort of rigorous exercise to try and wear yourself out.
Watch out for sleep apnea
There have been many studies that suggest rheumatic diseases can actually cause sleep apnea, meaning your sleep is interrupted, but not directly because of pain from arthritis. Sleep apnea basically means that your airways can be restricted resulting in difficulties breathing. Behaviours to be aware of include:
- loud snoring
- noisy and laboured breathing
- repeated short periods where breathing is interrupted by gasping or snorting
If you believe these symptoms could be the reason you’re not getting a proper night’s sleep, it’s always good to consult with your doctor.
For further tips on sleeping, see: Can’t sleep with arthritis? Try these less conventional tips or let us know your successful techniques in the comments below.