Lack of adequate sleep is a common problem for many people with rheumatoid arthritis. Most healthy adults need 7-8 hours of uninterrupted sleep. People with RA can need up to 10 hours of rest. There are several factors that can contribute to sleep issues for people with RA. Medications such as steroids can interfere with sleep. Chronic pain is another common reason for insomnia. Too little sleep can weaken your immune system, increase fatigue and lower the pain threshold which increases your perception of pain.
To improve the outlook for sleep:
- Set a routine; go to bed and get up at the same time each day.
- Prepare your room for sleep; make sure the temperature is comfortable for sleep
- Keep your room free from stimulating activities such as television, video games, or computer
- Limit caffeine, alcohol, tobacco, chocolate to 6 hours prior to bedtime
- Try meditation to calm and center the body/mind before sleep
- Try milk with honey: Milk has a natural sleep inducer (tryptophan)
- I found myself having difficulty moving and turning at night. What worked for me is silk pajamas. I can move and turn easily because the covers don’t stick to my pajamas
If you have tried all these things and you are still experiencing a restless night’s sleep, talk to your doctor. It is important to communicate with you physician any difficulties that you are experiencing.