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How To Sleep Better When You Have Arthritis

Oct 21, 2022

woman in desperate and anxiety sitting along | How To Sleep Better When You Have Arthritis | Featured

Struggling to figure out how to sleep with arthritis? Joint pain is a nightmare and could make it difficult to get cozy. Here’s how to do it.

RELATED: What Is The Best Sleeping Position For Lower Back Pain?

Quick Tips on How to Sleep Easy with Arthritis

smiling woman lying in bed with eyes closed | how to sleep with arthritis

How to Sleep Better with Arthritis | Your Bed

1. Check if Your Mattress Is up for the Job

interior designed bedroom | mattress

A bad bed leads to a bad back. And a poor mattress also leads to poor sleep, which could also worsen your pain.

Make sure your mattress is in the best shape to support you:

  • Is my mattress sagging at the edges?
  • Is there a permanent depression? Will flipping your mattress help?
  • Does it have a sturdy foam encasement?
  • Are the pocket springs creaking?
  • Does my mattress keep my spine aligned from neck to tailbone?

If your mattress doesn’t pass the test, it may be time for a new one.

2. Use Bolster Pillows

a woman lying in bed | pillow

Bolster pillows are designed to support you in whichever way you need.

Place them strategically to improve your posture or support the sleeping position that helps ease the pain. You can also use your bolster pillow to isolate and elevate your aching joints.

For back sleepers, you may use them under your:

  • knees
  • waist
  • arms

For side sleepers, position them between your legs or underneath your:

  • neck
  • waist
  • arm of the aching shoulder

We wouldn’t recommend sleeping on your stomach. Lying on your belly may worsen your body pains or cause muscle and joint pain in otherwise healthy people.

But if you can’t kick the habit, place a cushion under your hips to prevent it from dipping into your mattress.

Keep in mind that, while bolster pillows can help secure your sleeping position, it’s still important to be able to move around freely.

Sticking to one position throughout the night might stiffen your joints and leave you worse off in the morning.

You may end up using one or multiple bolster pillows until you find the most comfortable and pain-relieving position.

The objectives of bolster pillows are to:

  • support the natural position of your spine
  • support the curves that get less support depending on your sleeping position (e.g. lumbar area, curve of your waist)
  • elevate painful parts of your body

3. Lay a Heated Pad

woman sleeping in bed near smartphone | sleep better

Heat can help prevent your joints from stiffening on locking into position while you rest. It can also help you manage pain temporarily, soothing the inflammation while you fall asleep.

Turn off your heated pad after 20 minutes. While heat can ease the pain, a cooler temperature makes for a better sleeping environment.

4. Upgrade to an Adjustable Bed Foundation

a woman in pink spaghetti strap top | osteoarthritis

An adjustable bed foundation is a bed accessory that can electronically or manually lift the upper half, lower half or both sections of your bed.

Electronic foundations usually come with a remote that you allow you to manipulate your bed with a push of a button. Elevate the upper half of your bed when you want to get up in the morning. Slightly lifting both the upper and lower halves while may even give you a zero-gravity experience.

5. Install Bed Rails

a person wearing gray pajama | joint pain

Bed rails on either side of your bed can help you get up from bed more easily. It can also help you shift into a more comfortable position in the middle of the night without help from a family member.

RELATED: Which Mattress To Choose When You Have Chronic Back Pain?

How to Sleep Better with Arthritis | Sleep-Improving Habits

6. Stay Active

woman practicing yoga | health

Most people with arthritis that they can no longer—or should no longer—get some exercise. In fact, people with arthritis could greatly benefit from getting active.

One small study showed that yoga helped improve the sleep quality of women with osteoarthritis. Some studies even showed that yoga could help manage pain.

A gentle yoga session may also prevent your joints from stiffening. It may also help improve the flexibility and physical function of your aching joints.

7. Take a Warm Bath before Bedtime

a person wearing a bathrobe in the bathtub | sleep tips

A nice hot bath before bed is a great way to soothe both mind and body.

A warm soak can help melt your worries away, reducing your stress and loosen up those tight joints and allow them some more flexibility.

8. Practice Proper Sleep Hygiene

calm woman resting on bed with smartphone | poor sleep

Make sure your body follows a regular schedule, letting it know when it’s time for some shuteye.

Adhere to a strict schedule that allows you at least seven hours of sleep. Creating the perfect sleeping environment—dark room, cool temperature, and silent space included—also helps your body go into sleep mode.

Other sleep hygiene habits and practices also include:

  • avoiding using your gadgets within two hours of bedtime
  • limiting how much you drink before bedtime
  • enjoying a light dinner

How to Sleep Better with Arthritis | Pain Management

9. Apply an Ice Pack before Bed

ice pack on persons foot | joint pain

Keep an ice pack handy when your joints are acting up.

The cool can help alleviate inflammation, ease potential swelling, and may help tone down the pain.

Make sure to get a cold pack that doesn’t condense and is sealed tightly shut.

10. Take Oral NSAID or Apply NSAID Gels

person holding pills in hand while sitting on bed | sleep better

Ask your doctor for a prescription for a non-steroidal anti-inflammation drugs (NSAID).

These are drugs that help treat pain caused by inflammation like arthritis pains.

These are over-the-counter (OTC) drugs, but it’s best to clear this with your doctor. NSAIDs are meant to be taken over a short course unless otherwise prescribed by your doctor.

Sleep Better—and Painlessly—with Arthritis

You can still get amazing slumber even with creaky joints. It begins with evaluating whether your bed may be up for the job or worsening your condition. There are other bed accessories you can use like a bolster pillow and a heating pad to help you feel more comfortable and ease the pain.

You might also find that improving your sleep hygiene helps you get the best, deepest sleep possible. And when the pain is especially worse at night, you may also take some pain killers or apply an ice pack to soothe your aching joints.

Do you have your own tips and tricks on sleeping better with arthritis? Did we miss out your favorite hack? Share it with us in the comments section below! We’d love to hear from you.