When you live with joint pain, getting a good night’s sleep can be difficult. At least half of all patients with osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, and similar conditions have issues falling asleep or staying asleep during the night. Many find that their joints hurt more at night, preventing them from drifting off.
Recent studies have revealed a complex relationship between insomnia and joint pains like those caused by arthritis. In fact, the relationship between the two can contribute to more pain. This can lead to increasingly less sleep every night, creating a vicious cycle that’s hard to break.
In this post, we’ll explore the relationship between nighttime joint pain and insomnia, and see what you can do to banish the sleepless nights for good.
Why does insomnia make joint pain worse?
Adults usually need between seven and 10 hours of sleep a night to be fully rested. But getting the right kind of sleep is just as important to your health and wellbeing.
Sleep comes in cycles that play out in roughly 90-minute segments throughout the night. The most important of these are the deep sleep and rapid eye movement (REM) cycles, which make up the restorative part of the sleep cycle.
During REM sleep (so named because of the darting eye movements that occur throughout this stage), the brain becomes more active, and dreams can occur. During deep sleep, the brain releases hormones that encourage the growth and repair of damaged tissues, which is important for helping the body to heal. This phase of sleep also allows you to feel rested and re-energized for the new day.
Unfortunately, studies show that people with arthritis thrash and writhe more at night than those without the condition, causing them to spend less time in the curative stages of deep slumber. This prevents the body from doing vital maintenance on sore joints, and leaves you feeling more tired throughout the day.
Researchers believe that insomnia may trigger inflammatory pathways that heighten arthritis pain. A 2015 study published in Arthritis Care & Research also found evidence showing that lack of sleep causes central sensitization, which intensifies pain signals to the brain.
All this results in more pain, making it harder to sleep night after night, and preventing your body from getting the rest it need.
Overcoming insomnia and relieving sore joints
Doctors recommend a number of strategies to help you overcome your insomnia. Eliminating caffeine, especially late in the day, abstaining from alcohol, and avoiding large meals before bedtime can all provide more favorable sleep conditions. It’s also a good idea to try going to bed and waking up at the same time every day. This establishes a rhythm that will help you to start feeling sleepy as bedtime approaches.
If joint pain is getting in the way of a full night’s rest, it may be time to explore alternative treatment options. Techniques like stem cell therapy are safe and minimally-invasive, and have helped many patients experience significant relief from joint pain. To find out if stem cell therapy is right for you, get in touch with us today.