If you’re not getting a good night’s sleep, you have plenty of company. Insufficient sleep is a common problem globally and in the United States, where it’s been identified as a “public health epidemic.”
Many issues can interfere with sleep, including a really common cause: joint and muscle aches and pains. Worse, while aches and pains can make sleeping difficult, research also shows insufficient sleep makes chronic pain worse.
At Orthopaedics of Atlanta and Aesthetic Institute in Atlanta, Georgia, W. Joseph Absi, MD, helps patients manage joint pain so they can finally catch up on those all-important Zs. Here’s what you can do to relieve joint pain while you sleep.
Many people have aches and pains during sleep because lying still for so long interferes with the body’s normal alignment, increasing strain on joints and muscles. You may be able to alleviate a lot of that discomfort by using pillows and other supports.
If you’re a side sleeper, try placing a pillow between your knees to relieve hip and knee pain. For back sleepers, a pillow under your knees can work wonders for keeping your hips, knees, and lower back more comfortable.
For shoulder pain, a sling or brace gives your shoulder a little more support and prevents you from sleeping with your arm in an uncomfortable position.
Your joints are designed to move. Regular movement keeps joints lubricated and well supplied with oxygen-rich blood. While you sleep, your joints are still, and over time, they can become stiff and sore, too.
Doing some gentle stretches before bed gives your joints and muscles an “extra dose” of lubrication and improves circulation, two factors that can prevent pain during sleep. Just don’t overdo stretches, or you could wind up exacerbating pain, especially if you have arthritis.
Extra physical activity during the day can help you feel drowsy when bedtime rolls around, and it also helps relieve stress. Plus, a little additional aerobic activity, like walking during your lunch hour, keeps joints lubricated, and it can even help you shed extra pounds that could be increasing strain on your joints.
Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medicines (NSAIDs) help with both pain and inflammation, a common cause of joint and muscle pain. But many medicines are only designed to work for a few hours. Consider switching to an NSAID designed to last for 12 hours or more to help you stay pain-free during the night.
If your mattress is too soft, it might not provide the support your joints need to stay comfortable. Likewise, a “too-firm” mattress could cause extra stiffness. A good compromise: Consider a somewhat-firm mattress and add a pillow topper for added comfort without losing joint support.
Insufficient sleep increases your risks of many chronic health problems, like obesity, high blood pressure, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, depression, and anxiety. If your sleep is disrupted by aches and pains, Dr. Absi can help. Call 404-334-2929 or book an appointment online with Orthopaedics of Atlanta and Aesthetic Institute today.