Unfortunately, joint pain and poor sleep are a duo that like to cause mischief and mayhem. Of course, joint pain can cause a whole bunch of sleeping problems such as preventing us from getting to sleep and staying asleep but, did you know that poor sleep can actually increase our sensitivity to pain as well? The pain/sleep relationship is complicated and frustrating to say the least, which is why we’ve come up with some handy tips to help stop pain from stealing your sleep.
How does pain affect your sleep?
Joint pain can cause a whole bunch of sleep problems including:
- Difficulty getting to sleep
- Waking up repeatedly during the night
- Waking too early in the morning
- Non-restorative sleep that leaves you feeling groggy when you wake up
Research has indicated that sleep deprivation can make you more sensitive to pain and that sleep deprivation can result in an increased production of inflammatory chemicals called cytokines. What’s more, our joint pain usually becomes worse at night because your body stiffens up from lying in the same position.
Why is this the case though? Movement helps to circulate the synovial fluid in the joints which helps to keep swelling and inflammation down. Therefore, when we aren’t moving so much at night our production and circulation of synovial fluid is restricted meaning that our pain can intensify. At night we also become more aware of any wear-and-tear that we’ve accumulated throughout the day that can often make our joint pain worse.
How to prevent pain from stealing your sleep
Understanding your pain for effective pain management
When it comes to joint pain, effective pain management is important. This means understanding your pain, whether it is from a past injury or from a health condition such as arthritis, as well as having a sound knowledge of potential triggers that can make your joint pain worse. Potential triggers that cause flare-ups can vary from person to person depending on the initial cause of the pain and what you do from day to day. However, some areas to watch out for are diet, weight, posture, daily activities and routines, as well as how much you move.
Change your sleeping position
If you experience pain at night you’ll know that finding a comfortable sleeping position can prove to be challenging. If you sleep on your back you may find that the lower back arches too much thus increasing the pressure on your spine. To relieve this pressure, bend your knees upwards slightly and try popping a few pillows underneath your knees to keep this position throughout the night.
Sleeping on your side is usually the most desired position as it helps to keep the spine in the best alignment, but watch out for curling in on yourself too much! Similarly, pillows can help here too; place a pillow between the bottom leg and the top to help keep the spine and pelvis in the best alignment, this will also help to provide more comfort for the knees.
Simple stretches help to improve flexibility and can also ease joint pain, they can also help to lubricate joints and maintain full range of motion. Avoid stretching cold muscles where you can, a warmed up muscle can stretch for longer and you will be less likely to pull a muscle. So, be sure to do a 10 minute warm-up prior to static stretching, or alternatively, try placing a hot water bottle on the muscles you intend to stretch to heat them up.
Exercise can make you or break you when it comes to joint pain – too much can put too much pressure on the joints and too little can cause stiffness and reduced range of motion. If the word ‘exercise’ sends you (metaphorically) running for the hills don’t worry you’re not alone! But exercise doesn’t mean you should pound it out intensely at the gym (as I have mentioned this can actually be counterproductive to joint pain) in fact, low impact exercise can be extremely beneficial for joint pain.
It can help strengthen muscles surrounding the joint which, in turn, helps build stability in the joint itself. What’s more, exercising helps to maintain bone strength and can even help you to get to sleep at night. Walking, stretching and swimming are among the best low-impact exercises for joint pain.
Here at A.Vogel we believe that a natural approach is always best wherever possible. That’s why we’d recommend our herbal sleeping aid Dormeasan over conventional sleeping medications as these can often leave you feeling drowsy and more groggy than before. Dormeasan, on the other hand contains fresh extracts of Valerian and Hops to help you drift off to a natural sleep.
For the pain-related side of things we’d recommend our Atrosan Devil’s Claw tablets. Made with extracts of organically cultivated Devil’s Claw this remedy can help to relieve muscle and joint pain..