Rheumatoid arthritis can make it tough to sleep.
Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) affects more than 1.3 million Americans. Pain, discomfort, and the side effects of medication can make it harder for a person with RA to fall asleep or stay asleep throughout the night.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), adults over 18 should get a minimum of 7 hours of sleep per night. Getting less than this on a regular basis can have an impact on a person’s health. Lack of sleep can make RA symptoms worse, and could lead to a flare-up of the disease. Fatigue can make the pain more difficult to manage.
RA and insomnia
RA can cause pain, which may cause stress or worry and prevent a person from getting to sleep. Some people may find that their symptoms cause them to wake during the night.
Some medications, such as prednisone and hydroxychloroquine, also have the side effect of causing sleeplessness. It is a good idea to take these drugs earlier in the day to reduce this effect.
Tips for dealing with insomnia
Tips to deal with insomnia include making lifestyle changes rather than taking medication. Ways to prevent or reduce insomnia include the following:
Gentle exercise is a meaningful way to reduce or improve RA symptoms. Exercise can also help a person to sleep and can improve mood and well-being.
The CDC recommend that a person does 2.5 hours of moderate exercise every week. However, people with RA should start slowly and build up the amount of activity they do according to their ability. It is better to do a small amount of exercise than nothing at all.
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