Sleep and Pain. 3 things to do to help ease arthritic pain and get a good night sleep.

Sleep and Pain Problems.

How well did you sleep last night?

Well, mine wasn’t too good.

As well as waking up with a small child, I have Arthritis. And some days my dear friend Miss Arthritis likes to turn up unannounced. In the small hours of the day, she appears inflicting pain by pounding on my lower back and hips.

Is this you too?

Is pain ruining your sleep?

It’s hard, isn’t it? For many of us, sleep deprivation is usual. Lack of sleep due to pain, unfortunately, works hand in hand with our conditions.

Now, last night was particularly bad for me. But it’s not always bad. There are many days when I get a decent night’s sleep without pain (even if I’m awoken by a one-year-old).

My pain relief is.

Exercise.

Not all the time, I must say. It’s not easy fitting it in, but exercising (simple movements and stretching) a couple of hours before bedtime seems to do the trick.

It’s a huge healer for me.

Now, I know I’ve disappointed some of you by mentioning the ‘E’ word. And I’m sorry if you’re expecting a miracle potion. But yes, exercise is the number one helper for me.

But there are other little things that are helpful too.

What could you try to get better nightly sleep and less pain

For lots of us, painkillers and anti-inflammatory drugs are the answer. This is not for me. I’m not a huge fan of relying on painkillers to solve my discomfort.

I will always seek alternatives to help manage my pain, but if the pain is too much for me, I will succumb.

It’s not necessarily the issues of using them for pain. For me, it’s the other issues that accompany long term use of anti-inflammatory drugs. Issues such as ulcers and internal bleeding are often seen with long term use. And I’d rather avoid them. I have enough issues to deal with, don’t need those as well!!

If like me, you’d rather seek alternative pain relief to painkillers. You could try some of the suggestions below. Unlike painkillers, the results will not be instant. In fact, some results may take some weeks and months. But like me, I bet you’re willing to give anything a shot.
[1]https://www.healthline.com/health/osteoarthritis/arthritis-natural-relief#exercise

This is what I’m working on to help relieve my pain. Maybe it could work for you too.

Sleep and Pain. Less pain at night, more sleep at night

So here goes.

#1 Weight and Diet

After having my last child (18 months ago) the pain in my back and hips has been unbearable at times. As much as I don’t want to admit it. I know this has to do with carrying a few extra pounds.

Losing weight can be hugely beneficial for arthritic joint pain. Carrying extra weight puts a lot of pressure on our knees, hips, ankles and feet. Reducing weight will put less stress on these joints. Which in turn provides more motility and gives us less pain.
[2]https://www.arthritis.org/about-arthritis/types/fibromyalgia/articles/obesity-fibromyalgia.php
[3]https://www.healthline.com/health/osteoarthritis/arthritis-natural-relief#exercise

The link with foods and pain

I’ve been extremely careful with my diet for many years due to having immune and hormonal issues. I’m forced to eat healthily most of the time, to avoid issues with my health.

I, like most people, enjoy eating out. And when I eat out I’ll eat differently to when I’m at home. And this is definitely noticed by my joints. The pain is caused by a change in food and the addition of alcohol.

According to John Briffa, a diet of omega 3 fatty oils is needed for arthritis sufferers. And we should limit red meats and dairy products

“Certain foods, namely red meat, dairy products, and processed and fried foods tend to encourage inflammation in the body, and sufferers of osteoarthritis should give such foods a wide berth.” John Briffa.
[4]https:www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2002/may/19/foodanddrink

So we need to make that decision. Is it worth the pain you experience to continue eating certain foods? Or is it time to give up said foods and experience less pain.

#2 Get more exercise

There are more benefits to exercise than just weight loss. It can help with joint pain especially to relieve stiffness. And for many of us, muscle wastage will accompany joint pain, and we don’t want this!! So it’s a must to keep moving to maintain strength in the muscles and maintain our flexibility.

I do stretches and gentle movement to get my joints moving, nothing strenuous. Strenuous is not in my vocabulary!! The days when I don’t exercise it is very noticeable. And my friend (Miss Arthritis) will most definitely let me know about it.

If you’re also looking to use exercise, it’s best to do low impact exercises such as swimming, tai chi, yoga and pilates. This is a lot easier on your joints. So give exercise a go. There are lots you can do at home with the plethora of youtube videos, so we don’t even need to leave our homes!! Bonus!!

[5]https://greatist.com/fitness/take-it-easy-21-unexpected-low-impact-workouts
[6]https://www.healthline.com/health/osteoarthritis/arthritis-natural-relief#exercise

#3 Use hot and cold therapy.

A must for me are heat pads and a good old fashioned hot water bottle. I use them in the evenings and at night. And they really help to ease stiffness and keep my joints nice and loose.

Hot water therapy as showers or baths is recommended in the morning. For me, my pain seems worse at night and when I wake in the morning. If you’re like me you might benefit from a long soak in the bath at night. The warmth really helps with stiffness. You can also use an electric blanket.

Use cold therapy if your pain causes inflammation, this could be seen as swelling, pain and redness to the area
[7]https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/248423.php. Cold therapy involves placing something cold to the area to reduce pain. This can be in the form of an iced gel pack or a bag of vegetables wrapped in a towel. I’ve not tried this, but it can help to give you quick relief.

Conclusion

Doing the above almost daily has really helped me and I hope this can help you too.

I’ll be honest and say that at times this can be a huge chore.

There are days I’m totally wiped out and I’ll miss my evening yoga practice and boy Miss Arthritis lets me know about it.

But I don’t feel guilty about it. If I’m tired and need to be in bed by six-seven PM then so be it!!!

I just have to accept the pain to follow.

This possibly sounds crazy to lots of people, but when you’re a sufferer of chronic illness (I have three). These are choices we have to make. And some days I have to choose rest over exercise. And rest can result in pain!!

So like me. You’ll have those days when you have zero ounces of energy.

You know, those days when brushing your hair feels like a mammoth task. When you experience days like this, don’t exercise. Don’t push yourself to do exercise or prepare the healthiest foods. It’s just not worth it!!!!

But, when you’re having a good day, go for it, get that exercise in. prep some healthy foods and have a long soak in the bath. Your joints will thank you for it!!!

 

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References

References
1, 3, 6https://www.healthline.com/health/osteoarthritis/arthritis-natural-relief#exercise
2https://www.arthritis.org/about-arthritis/types/fibromyalgia/articles/obesity-fibromyalgia.php
4https:www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2002/may/19/foodanddrink
5https://greatist.com/fitness/take-it-easy-21-unexpected-low-impact-workouts
7https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/248423.php