People with rheumatoid arthritis may find that pain or discomfort prevents them from falling asleep. However, there are some things people can try that may help with insomnia.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), adults over 18 require a minimum of
Lack of sleep can worsen RA symptoms and lead to a flare-up of the disease. Fatigue can make the pain more difficult to manage.
RA can cause pain, which may cause stress or worry and prevent a person from falling asleep. Some people may find that their symptoms cause them to wake from sleep.
The following tips for preventing or reducing insomnia involve making lifestyle changes rather than taking medication.
Gentle exercise is a meaningful way to reduce or improve RA symptoms. Exercise can also help a person fall asleep and improve their mood and well-being.
The CDC recommends that a person does
Walking, swimming, cycling, and stretching are all examples of exercises that will not put too much strain on a person’s joints or body.
Exercise can also help keep a person’s joints flexible, which should improve the range of motion they have in their joints. People should avoid activities that put too much pressure on their joints, for example, twisting or jumping.
RA can also cause disability in the long term, and exercise can help prevent or delay this.
Reduce or avoid caffeine
Caffeine can prevent people from falling asleep.
People with RA should reduce or avoid drinking caffeine in the hours preceding their bedtime if it affects their sleep.
Drinking alcohol before bedtime can prevent a person from falling asleep easily. It may also mean a person wakes from sleep or does not sleep as deeply.
Drinking alcohol alongside some RA medications could also pose a health risk.
Try not to nap
Some RA medication can cause drowsiness and napping or falling asleep throughout the day can make sleeping more difficult at bedtime.
People should try to avoid napping for this reason. Getting fresh air or doing stretching exercises can help a person feel less drowsy and avoid napping.
Living with RA can be stressful, and taking time to relax, particularly before trying to fall asleep, can help.
Try creating a bedtime routine that is the same daily. People may choose to read a book, light a candle, or play some quiet music.
Sometimes, when a person is trying to get to sleep, worries or concerns often intrude on their minds. Keeping a notepad or dictaphone by the bed to record these concerns can help keep them out of mind.
Practice good sleep hygiene
Sleep hygiene means adopting good habits for better sleep, including:
- going to bed and getting up at the same time every day
- making the bedroom a quiet, relaxing space
- keeping the temperature cool in the bedroom
- using blackout blinds to ensure the bedroom is dark enough for sleep
- switching off electronic devices 30 minutes before getting into bed
Good sleep hygiene can help the body recognize when it is time for sleep. A relaxed person with no distractions should be able to fall asleep faster.
Research on mindfulness meditation suggests that it can help treat insomnia.
Meditating can make it easier to fall asleep or help a person go back to sleep if they wake from sleep.
Not overeating before bed
Going to sleep with a too-full stomach can prevent a person from falling asleep.
Try to eat at least a couple of hours before going to bed. Any snacks before trying to fall asleep should be light.
According to an article in the journal Arthritis Care & Research, people with RA, who also have moderate to severe sleep problems, tend to
Sleep is essential to a person’s well-being. For people with RA, sleep is particularly crucial for lessening symptoms and helping them cope with their pain or discomfort.