Poor sleep is associated with numerous health issues, and most adults in the United States don’t sleep enough. If you have arthritis, you’re much more likely to struggle with sleep than an average person.
The providers at Apex Medical Center often see arthritis patients who have fallen into a difficult cycle of pain causing poor sleep and poor sleep increasing inflammation and leading to increased pain. We’re always happy to provide advice tailored to your specific situation, but until then, here are five tips that can improve sleep for anyone.
1. Exercise during the day
If your knees hurt, you probably don’t feel like taking a walk, but finding some kind of exercise that you can tolerate is going to benefit your health. People who exercise regular, whether they have chronic pain or not, tend to sleep better than those who are more sedentary.
It’s a good idea to exercise at least four hours before you go to bed. If you’re not sure how to start exercising safely, we can help. Many arthritis patients find that swimming, water aerobics, pool walking, or other forms of exercise in the water is comfortable.
2. Create a soothing routine
Build an evening routine for yourself that is calming and helps you mentally and physically prepare for sleep. A hot bath or shower may ease your joint pain, but make sure you give yourself plenty of time to cool off afterward.
You may find it helpful to begin turning down the lights as it gets closer to bedtime, and stop looking at screens at least an hour before turning in. Reading, listening to music, or working on a hobby are all good, calming options.
Your bedroom should be designed for rest. Keeping it a few degrees cooler than the rest of the house, using dark curtains to keep out light, making sure you have pillows for propping aching joints, and keeping the lighting low and soothing may help. You might even want a sound machine or fan.
3. Manage your day-to-day stress
Learning to meditate can help you manage pain in general, and it can also help you sleep better. If meditation doesn’t work for you, consider yoga, tai chi, or therapy.
Regardless of the approach you take, managing your day-to-day stress is likely to help lower inflammation levels, help you manage your pain, and also improve your ability to sleep well.
4. Eat and drink with care
A cup of coffee in the morning, or a glass of tea at lunch is unlikely to disrupt your sleep, but a serving of chocolate just before bed may. Be aware of the caffeine content in anything you consume in the evening.
Eating just before bed is associated with poorer sleep in general. You may also need to make sure you’re adequately hydrating during the day so you don’t drink too much near bedtime.
5. Evaluate medication timing
Medication is likely part of your pain management program. You want to time your medication so that it’s working best around bedtime. Going to bed with joint pain is unlikely to result in a restful night.
Ask for help
If you’re struggling to get adequate, high-quality sleep, talk to your provider. We can offer additional advice based on your situation, give you guidance on when, how much, and what type of exercise is most likely to help you, and help you understand the best timing for your medication.
Don’t fall into the cycle of poor sleep increasing pain and pain reducing sleep. Schedule an appointment at Apex Medical Center today.