How Sleep and Arthritis Are Connected 

Expert Insights From Dr. Pope

Hello, everyone. I am Dr. Pope, a board-certified physician and regenerative medicine specialist. Today, I want to talk to you about the relationship between sleep and arthritis, and how you can improve both aspects of your health. 

Why is sleep important for people with arthritis? 

Sleep is essential for everyone, but especially for people with arthritis. Sleep helps your body heal, repair, and regenerate. It also helps your immune system function properly and regulate inflammation. When you sleep well, you feel more energetic, alert, and positive. 

However, when you have arthritis, sleep can be a challenge. Arthritis can cause pain, stiffness, and discomfort that make it hard to fall asleep or stay asleep. Arthritis can also affect your mood, causing anxiety, depression, or stress that interfere with your sleep quality. Additionally, some medications for arthritis can have side effects that disrupt your sleep, such as insomnia, nightmares, or daytime drowsiness. 

Poor sleep can worsen your arthritis symptoms, such as pain, fatigue, and inflammation. It can also increase your risk of developing other health problems, such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, obesity, or cognitive impairment. Poor sleep can also affect your daily functioning, your work performance, your relationships, and your quality of life. 

How can you improve your sleep if you have arthritis? 

The good news is that there are many ways to improve your sleep if you have arthritis. Here are some tips that I recommend to my patients: 

– Follow a regular sleep schedule. Try to go to bed and wake up at the same time every day, even on weekends and holidays. This helps your body clock adjust to a consistent rhythm and makes it easier to fall asleep and stay asleep. 

– Create a comfortable and relaxing sleep environment. Make sure your bedroom is dark, quiet, cool, and comfortable. You can use curtains, blinds, earplugs, fans, or air conditioners to block out any noise or light that might disturb your sleep. 

You can also use pillows, mattresses, blankets, or sheets that suit your preferences and support your joints. You can also try aromatherapy, meditation, or soothing music to help you relax before bed. 

– Avoid caffeine, alcohol, nicotine, and heavy meals before bed. These substances can stimulate your nervous system, keep you awake, or disrupt your sleep cycles. Avoid consuming them at least 3 to 4 hours before your bedtime. Instead, opt for a light snack, a glass of milk, or a cup of herbal tea to help you sleep better. 

– Exercise regularly, but not too close to bedtime. Physical activity can help you reduce pain, improve mobility, and enhance your mood. It can also help you sleep better by making you more tired and reducing stress. However, exercising too close to bedtime can have the opposite effect, as it can raise your body temperature, heart rate, and adrenaline levels. Aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise per week, preferably in the morning or afternoon, and avoid exercising within 3 hours of your bedtime. 

– Manage your pain and inflammation. One of the main reasons why people with arthritis have trouble sleeping is because of pain and inflammation. To reduce these symptoms, you can take your prescribed medications as directed by your doctor, apply heat or cold therapy to your affected joints, or use topical creams or gels that contain anti-inflammatory ingredients. You can also try natural remedies, such as turmeric, ginger, omega-3 fatty acids, or CBD oil, but consult your doctor before using them. 

– Seek professional help if needed. If you have tried these tips and still have trouble sleeping, you may have a sleep disorder, such as obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) or restless legs syndrome (RLS). These conditions are common in people with arthritis and can significantly interfere with your sleep quality and your overall health. To diagnose and treat these conditions, you may need to see a sleep specialist, who can perform a sleep study and prescribe appropriate treatments, such as CPAP therapy, oral appliances, or medications. 

Sleep and arthritis are closely connected, and both affect your health and well-being. By following these tips, you can improve your sleep quality and your arthritis symptoms, and enjoy a better life. If you have any questions or concerns, feel free to contact me or leave a comment below. Thank you for reading and stay healthy!