When your rheumatoid arthritis is affecting your sleep, increase your chances of getting some quality shut-eye with these healthy sleep hygiene hacks.
When you’re living with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) there’s a good chance that you have experienced some difficulties in falling asleep, staying asleep, or feeling rested even after getting some sleep.
When you have RA, your immune system is erroneously attacking healthy tissues. This can lead to inflammation, pain, and decreased range of motion. The discomfort of these symptoms of RA can keep you awake at night or disrupt whatever sleep you are getting.
In addition to the physical symptoms, living with RA can take an emotional toll. This can also contribute to your sleepless nights.
There’s no doubt that medical professionals focus a lot of attention on sleep and its benefit for your overall health. Sleep affects nearly every single system in the body. Sleep is when you heal, reset, and recover. Deep sleep is when the immune system replenishes itself and inflammatory factors are reduced.
Sleep becomes even more essential when you have RA because your immune system works in overdrive. Your body needs that time to heal and recover from the additional inflammation that has built up throughout the waking hours.
It’s not always easy to get enough sleep, though. A study from 2018 which surveyed 95 people diagnosed with RA found that those with moderate to severe disease activity also reported shorter than optimal sleep duration. The researchers also noted that increased pain intensity correlated with increased sleep disturbances.
A 2017 study noted both short and long-term results of sleep disruption. In healthy adults, even short-term sleep disruption contributes to “increased stress responsivity, somatic pain, reduced quality of life, emotional distress and mood disorders, and cognitive, memory, and performance deficits.”
For those with underlying conditions and long-term sleep disruptions, researchers noted the bidirectional way they may interact. In other words, each may affect the other, creating a circle wherein sleep disruptions worsen chronic conditions and lead to increased sleep disruptions, or the other way around, with chronic conditions negatively affecting sleep.
How much sleep is enough? 7 to 8 hours a night, for most adults, is recommended in this handy guide from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). This can be a hard goal to hit when you’re tossing and turning.
When it comes to getting enough rest, there are several elements to consider.
The pain and anxiety caused by RA symptoms can make it difficult to fall asleep or to stay asleep.
Medications you take for your RA can impact sleep too. You may use steroids, prednisone, or methylprednisolone, for inflammation and flare management. These medications can make it harder to fall asleep at night. You can talk with your doctor about whether taking your dosage early in the day may help.
How do you get enough high quality sleep when you have RA? One way to work toward better sleep is to focus on your sleep hygiene.
Sleep hygiene has to do with cleaning up your habits and environment to establish the best environment and preparation for healthy sleep.
When you look at the big picture, where you sleep, what you do to prepare for sleep, and even how you spend your day can impact the quality of your rest. If you’re interested in boosting your sleep hygiene, here are some great tips to get you started!
Sleep is an essential part of your quality of life. Taking the time to think about your challenges and improve your sleep hygiene can have daily benefits.
Medically reviewed on October 21, 2022
Have thoughts or suggestions about this article? Email us at email@example.com.
About the author