Psoriatic arthritis is a chronic condition that affects the joints. It can also cause inflammation in other parts of the body. It most often develops in people who have psoriasis, which is an autoimmune condition that affects the skin.
Many people with psoriatic arthritis have trouble sleeping. In a small 2018 study, about 68% of people with psoriatic arthritis had poor quality sleep. Another larger study found that nearly 60% of people with psoriasis or both psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis experienced sleep difficulties.
Joint pain and other symptoms of psoriatic arthritis may keep people with the condition awake. In some cases, a sleep disorder may also play a part in sleep difficulties.
Keep reading for more information on how sleep disorders may affect people with psoriatic arthritis.
According to a large Danish study, people with psoriatic arthritis have a higher-than-average risk of experiencing sleep apnea. People with sleep apnea are also more likely than the generation population to have psoriatic arthritis.
Sleep apnea is a condition in which a person stops breathing temporarily several times while asleep. One of the common symptoms is chronic, loud snoring. Sometimes, a choking sound may interrupt the snoring.
Other potential symptoms of sleep apnea include:
- mood swings
- trouble concentrating
- morning headaches
- a sore throat or dry mouth in the morning
- frequently going to the bathroom in the middle of the night
More research is necessary to understand the link between psoriatic arthritis and sleep apnea.
Restless legs syndrome causes an uncomfortable sensation in a person’s legs and an urge to move them. It most often affects a person at night, but they may notice symptoms at any time when they are at rest.
In a recent study in Turkey, researchers found that 64% of people with psoriatic arthritis experienced restless legs syndrome. They also found that these individuals were more likely to have this sleep disorder than people with psoriasis alone.
In a review article on sleep disorders in people with psoriasis, the authors reported that about 15–18% of people with psoriasis experience restless legs syndrome.
According to a review article that featured in Sleep Medicine Reviews, there is no clear evidence that people with psoriasis are more likely than other people to have insomnia. The authors also found no clear link between psoriatic arthritis and the risk of insomnia.
However, the authors did find evidence that getting treatment for psoriasis or psoriatic arthritis may help people who also have insomnia sleep better. In people who received treatment in the form of biologic medications, reduced joint pain had an association with decreased fatigue.
In addition to sleep disorders, several other factors may affect how well a person with psoriatic arthritis sleeps. These factors may include:
- body weight
- tenderness of the joints
- severity of pain
- extent of inflammation in the body
- presence of anxiety, depression, or other emotional distress
If the person has psoriasis, uncomfortable skin symptoms may also disrupt their sleep. For example, they might experience itching or burning sensations in their skin.
The person’s sleep routine, bedroom environment, and other lifestyle factors may also affect how much high quality sleep they get.
If a person has psoriatic arthritis, getting treatment for the condition may help relieve uncomfortable symptoms that could keep them up at night.
If they also have psoriasis, sleep apnea, restless legs syndrome, or another health condition that may be affecting their sleep, they can seek treatment for that condition.
Making some lifestyle changes may help improve sleep quality, as well.
For example, the National Psoriasis Foundation recommend:
- going to bed and waking up at the same time every day
- sleeping in a room that is cool, dark, quiet, and free of distractions
- using the bed only for sleeping, and avoiding reading or watching TV in bed
- avoiding caffeine or other stimulants close to bedtime
It might also help to adopt an overall healthful lifestyle by:
- eating a well-balanced diet
- getting regular exercise
- taking steps to reduce stress
If a person has already taken these steps, and they are still having trouble sleeping, their doctor may refer them to a sleep study. The results may help the doctor diagnose and treat the cause of the person’s sleep difficulties.
People with psoriatic arthritis often have trouble sleeping as a result of their condition.
In some cases, they may also have a sleep disorder that keeps them from getting the rest that they need. For example, researchers have associated psoriatic arthritis with an increased risk of sleep apnea and restless legs syndrome.
Getting medical treatment and practicing good sleep habits may help a person get more rest.