sleep-arthritisThose who suffer from arthritis symptoms may have great difficulty falling asleep, staying asleep, and feeling rested in the morning. The inflammation and pain from arthritis can cause discomfort already, but there are many ways to help better your sleeping situation. While many feel trapped with their symptoms and feel as if there is nothing besides sleep aids and painkillers to help them fall asleep, there is still a variety of factors that can attribute in getting a good night’s rest.

Many are unaware that they are practicing poor sleeping habits, with or without arthritis. The things you might not know about preparing for sleep may surprise you. Simple ways to make your sleeping experience not only more enjoyable, but easier to come by. Sleep is a big deal as it is the only time our bodies can fully heal itself, which is especially important for arthritis. Lack of sleep may cause further pain, and even create new problems of its own. Such as fatigue, depression, irritability, unnecessary inflammation, and a number of other complications. 

Even if you are used to taking your showers in the morning, a hot shower or bath 1hr-30mins before bedtime may do wonders for your sleep at night. Not only is it a nice way to release the stress of the day, but the heat from the water is like your own personal hydrotherapy session for your muscles, bone, and joints. A bath can allow your joints to soak longer and help take the pressure off, but even a short hot shower can help you get the rest your body requires while you sleep. You can even add relaxing, aromatherapy oils to your bath to further relieve stress. The best aromatherapy oils to help with relaxation and sleep are lavender, jasmine, lemon, bergamot, clary sage, and ylang ylang. You can add these oils to bath water, or if taking a shower, you can find candles with these scents.

While taking a hot shower is a great way to get a little heat therapy before sleep, it doesn’t have to stop there. Heated pads and blankets are also a great way to sooth stiff and swollen joints while you rest. If you like, you can even go as far as buying a heated water bed. There are numerous devices that keep your body heated properly while you sleep, and they have special pads that are designed for long-term use. The older style of heating pads was often dangerous if you left them running while you sleep; commonly causing skin damage or even worse, an electrical fire. Newer models are built with timers or power off and on while keeping the same temperature. Safer heating blankets and pads are helping millions sleep with arthritis every night, and most of these products won’t cost you an arm or a leg.

The room and bed you sleep on should be your sanctuary, designed only for sleep and rest. This means you should keep from watching TV, playing on your phone/tablet, or sleeping with your pets. There has been a little research showing a correlation between using your phone before sleeping and sleep disorders at night. The same goes really for any electronic device. Not only is it bad for your eyes to stare at a bright screen while in the dark (the way a lot of people do), but the added distraction can stimulate the brain when it needs to be shutting down for sleep. Those who ABSOLUTELY must watch TV before they go to bed, are encouraged to watch peaceful, non-violent programs, (avoid anything over-stimulating) because what you see right before you go to bed, may disturb you during sleep and can cause nightmares. The best activity seems to be reading before sleep. However, keep in mind to read something that won’t keep you up at night (no Stephen King novels).

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