Sleep Tips for People With Arthritis

Poor Quality Sleep and Waking Pain Can Become a Cycle

Woman asleep on sofa.
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Disrupted sleep is an often overlooked problem associated with arthritis. The combination of arthritis pain and sleep problems is a tough problem to solve. If poor sleep quality and waking pain persists, a cycle can develop which affects mood and fatigue levels. Follow these tips to improve your sleep.

Keep regular sleep habits

Try to get to bed at the same time and get up at the same time every day.

Stick with your routine even on weekends and vacations. Your body will adjust to the routine and falling asleep should become easier.

Avoid caffeine and alcohol in the late afternoon and evening

If consumed too close to bedtime, caffeine in coffee, soft drinks, chocolate, and some medications can keep you from falling asleep or sleeping soundly. Even though it can make you feel sleepy, drinking alcohol around bedtime also can disturb sleep.

Avoid daytime naps

Sleeping in the afternoon can interfere with nighttime sleep. If you feel like you can't do without a nap, set an alarm for one hour or less. When the alarm goes off, get up and start moving. In other words, try not to nap, but if you must, limit the time.

Reserve your bed for sleeping

Watching the late news, reading a suspense novel, or working on your laptop in bed causes your mind to be active, making it hard to sleep. Avoid things that require your focus and attention within the hour or two before going to bed.

Do whatever will calm your mind instead. Meditation is one suggestion.

Time your exercise

Regular daytime exercise can improve nighttime sleep. But, you should avoid exercise within 3 hours of bedtime because it can actually be stimulating at that time and keep you awake. Exercise provides several benefits for people with arthritis, including muscle strengthening, better mood, and as mentioned, if done at the right time, it can help you sleep.

Keep your bedroom dark, quiet, and cool

If your bedroom is hot, noisy, or hot, it can make it harder to sleep. Most people sleep better in a cool environment. Determine your optimal temperature for sleep and keep it consistent in your bedroom.

Avoid liquids and spicy meals before bed

Heartburn and late night trips to the bathroom are not conducive to good sleep. Avoid any meals that will possibly upset your stomach, don't eat too late at night, and drink less as you get closer to bedtime.

Wind down before bed

Avoid working right up to bedtime. Do relaxing activities, such as listening to soft music or taking a warm bath, that get you ready to sleep. An added benefit of a warm bath is that can soothe aching muscles and joints.


NIH Publication NO. 04-5326, June 2004

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