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Arthritis: Getting a good night's rest

Everyone benefits from a good night's sleep.

But if you have arthritis, quality sleep is even more important. Sleep helps restore your energy so you can better manage arthritis pain, and it lets your joints rest, which reduces pain and swelling.

Steps to better sleep

According to the National Sleep Foundation (NSF), most people need at least seven hours of sleep a night. But only you can know for sure how much you need.

A simple way to measure your sleep needs is to listen to your body. For instance, if you start to feel tired and achy during the day, you might take a brief 15- or 20-minute nap. A quick nap can restore your energy and help lift your spirits. But keep in mind that regular naps can make nighttime sleep difficult, so try not to nap later than mid-afternoon.

It's best to try to avoid daytime sleepiness altogether by getting plenty of good rest at night. These tips from the Arthritis Foundation and the NSF can help:

  • Keep a regular sleep schedule. Try to get up and go to bed at the same time every day.
  • Try to wind things down with relaxing activities one hour before bedtime. You might try taking a warm bath, listening to soft music or reading a book.
  • Make sure your bedroom is as quiet and comfortable as possible.
  • Avoid eating a large meal before bed. If you're hungry, have a small snack instead.
  • Steer clear of alcohol, caffeine and tobacco, especially in the afternoon and evening. These substances can disturb your sleep.
  • Exercise regularly, but not within three hours of bedtime. According to the NSF, regular, moderate exercise such as walking can be very helpful for improving sleep quality and controlling aching muscles.
If these approaches don't help and you have trouble sleeping, or if arthritis pain keeps you awake, talk with your doctor. You may be able to take a medication that can help.

Reviewed 7/3/2023

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