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Osteoarthritis and Sleep Hygiene

Though it's well known that osteoarthritis can cause decreased mobility and pain, its effect on sleep is often overlooked. The average adult requires 6-8 hours of sleep a night, but many people with osteoarthritis experience disrupted nights or poor quality sleep. In the short term, this can exacerbate the pain associated with the condition, and over a longer period it can lead to more serious problems such as anxiety and depression.

Osteoarthritis and Sleep Hygiene

Sleep hygiene is an often-overlooked – but central – component of getting a good night’s sleep. Good sleep begins with a good bedroom. Ideally, your bedroom should only be used for two things: sleeping and sex. So a good start to getting a good night’s rest is to ban all other activities from the bedroom.

Smartphones, tablets and TVs are all particular offenders. They don’t just keep you up past your bedtime, but they can actually interfere with your rest once you do go to bed. The blue light emitted by these devices can interfere with your body’s production of melatonin – a chemical that aids your body’s sleep patterns. So switch them off well before bedtime!

If you drink coffee or other caffeinated drinks, make sure you don’t have any within several hours of bedtime – caffeine is a stimulant, intended to keep you awake. It’s a good idea to maintain similar practices with alcohol and cigarettes too. Though some people find that a “nightcap” helps them get to sleep more easily, the sleep that follows is often not of high quality, and can be quite fitful over the course of the night.

Investing in a good mattress is also essential. There’s no set sleeping position that is best for osteoarthritis, as everyone’s joints are affected differently, but your mattress should be firm while having some give in it. This will allow pressure on the affected joints to be relieved.

The temperature of your room is also quite important. Too cold and you won’t be able to relax enough to sleep effectively through the night. Too hot and you’ll find yourself either restless from the heat, or waking up as a sweaty, dehydrated (and exhausted) mess. Experts suggest that around 17°C is the ideal temperature for a good night’s rest.

Ruling out sleep apnoea is also advisable. Obesity is a common factor that contributes to osteoarthritis symptoms and sleep apnoea – so if you’re currently overweight, it’s a good idea to speak to your doctor and determine whether this may be one of the causes behind your sleep issues.

Consistent bedtimes and waking times can also help you develop a better sleep cycle. Because of work or other commitments, people typically have a regimented sleep pattern during the week, which often goes out the window once the weekend arrives. But it’s a good idea to stick to your bedtime routine for the whole week. As tempting as it may be to stay up late on Saturday and have a lie-in on Sunday, it can disrupt your weekday sleep pattern and leave you feeling exhausted once the start of the week arrives.

Getting a good night’s rest isn’t just nice – good sleep is an essential part of life. Although it’s become popular to think of sleep as “optional”, that’s nothing more than an urban myth. So relax, rest up and help your osteoarthritis symptoms feel better!  

Visit Panadol’s website for more information on osteoarthritis and pain management.



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