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Texas Orthopedics, Sports & Rehabilitation Associates

Monday, November 20, 2017

RA and Sleep

With shorter days, longer nights, and the hint of a chill now finally in the air, conditions are ripe for some sweet slumbering.  Sadly though, that may not be in the cards if you are one of the 75% of people with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) who report sleep problems.
RA is an autoimmune deficiency causing painful inflammation of the joints and surrounding tissues. Stiff joints can keep you awake at night and make it difficult to find a comfortable sleeping position.
One big way to alleviate sleeplessness at night is to exercise during the day. Physical activity can help lubricate joints so that they are not as stiff and tight. And, exercise actually tires you out so that you are more relaxed and restful by the end of the day.  (Avoid working out within three hours of your bedtime because the adrenalin boost that you get can keep you awake.)
Check with your rheumatologist or physical therapist about which type of exercise is best for you and your condition. Good options for those suffering from RA include low-impact activities like walking, swimming, yoga, tai chi, and Pilates.
Here are some other tips to help get some Z’s:
  • Stick to a sleep schedule, and go to bed and wake up every day at close to the same hour.
  • Limit caffeine and alcohol consumption, especially later in the day. 
  • Wind down before hitting the hay. Read, take a warm bath (which can also soothe joint pain), or enjoy a cup of herbal tea.
  • Outfit your bedroom for optimal sleep—cover windows, limit electronics displaying disruptive bright lights or noise, and adjust thermostats so you’ll be comfortable all night, especially as the temperature drops.
If you still have serious sleep issues and are not getting at least six to eight hours per night, due to your RA symptoms, please contact us for an appointment with one of our rheumatologists.
(Adapted from Healthgrades)

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