According to research, osteoarthritis pain-related fatigue can be combated by improving sleep habits. Osteoarthritis pain can contribute to fatigue by keeping the sufferer awake at night. The result is groggy mornings and all-day fatigue, which can accumulate over many nights of restless sleep.
It’s estimated that nearly half of osteoarthritis suffers have trouble falling or staying asleep. Rates of insomnia and daytime fatigue are much higher in those with osteoarthritis than in those who do not have joint pain disease.
Osteoarthritis is a joint disease that affects cartilage. Cartilage is found between our bones and joints and works as a cushion. Healthy cartilage means bones can easily glide, and movements are pain-free. When osteoarthritis develops, movements become stiff and painful, and constant movement can lead to lingering pain. This pain is what keeps sufferers up at night.
Effects of Osteoarthritis Pain on the Body
Osteoarthritis can occur in the body anywhere cartilage is present. Here is how osteoarthritis pain affects the different parts of the body.
Osteoarthritis knee pain is the most common form of osteoarthritis pain. It can be commonly felt walking up and down stairs and can progress with each hour of the day. Losing weight can help alleviate osteoarthritis pain by decreasing the amount of pressure placed on the knees. To put it into perspective, losing 10 pounds will alleviate 30 to 60 pounds of added pressure on your knees.
One-third of people with osteoarthritis will feel pain in their hips. Stair climbing, too, can worsen hip pain, but resting can help ease it. Weight loss and not overusing the hips are two ways you can help improve hip osteoarthritis pain.
Ten percent of those with osteoarthritis will experience the pain in their hands. This type of pain often occurs in those who use their hands in repetitive motions such as writing or playing an instrument. To make using your hands hurt less, use devices to assist you, such as a can opener or adding pull tabs to zippers.
Neck and Spine
Common in the elderly, neck and spine osteoarthritis pain increases with movement. An affected bone can press on a nerve, causing weakness or additional pain in other areas.
Lifestyle changes are necessary in order to alleviate neck and spine pain, such as sitting properly and not overusing the joints. Medications, too, may help to ease neck and spine osteoarthritis pain.
How Osteoarthritis Pain Causes Sleep Deprivation and Fatigue
When you’re in pain, it becomes difficult to sleep. That seems like the most direct reason osteoarthritis pain can contribute to fatigue, but research has found it to be more complex than that. Insomnia and osteoarthritis have been found to coexist, not so much one leading to the other.
In a 2012 study published in Sleep, researchers uncovered two things:
- Pain felt prior to bed had little association with how well they slept.
- Sleep quality was linked with the next day’s pain level. Poor sleep was linked to more pain the following day.
But how does insomnia promote joint pain? Well, researchers believe that insomnia creates inflammation pathways that worsen osteoarthritis pain. Furthermore, poor sleep can make you more sensitive to the feeling of pain.
While being in pain and not being able to sleep is bad enough for the sufferer, it has also been shown to affect the partner sharing the bed as well. From studying the spouses of 138 osteoarthritis patients, researchers found the spouses felt less refreshed in the morning. Additionally, the closer the spouses were, the worse the non-osteoarthritic spouse felt, leading researchers to believe that spouses feel more empathy.
Natural Remedies for A Good Night’s Sleep
Clearly, the solution to osteoarthritis pain is to get more sleep, but if pain keeps the individual awake, how are they expected to achieve more or better sleep? Well, believe it or not, a good night’s sleep is possible even if you have osteoarthritis pain. Here are some effective tips to improve sleep and reduce osteoarthritis pain.
Kiwis are often hailed as a superfood thanks to their high nutrient content and numerous health benefits. According to recent studies, kiwis may also be one of the best foods to eat before bed. The sleep-promoting effects of kiwis are sometimes attributed to serotonin, a brain chemical that helps regulate your sleep cycle.
In one study, participants who ate two kiwis an hour before bedtime fell asleep more quickly and enjoyed a better sleep quality than those who didn’t eat kiwis. Kiwis are also a good source of vitamins C and E, which have been linked to improved sleep quality. So if you’re looking for a natural way to get a good night’s sleep, reach for a kiwi instead of a sleeping pill.
If you are struggling to get a good night’s sleep, you might want to try eating fatty fish. The omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin D in fatty fish have the potential to enhance sleep quality.
Omega-3 fatty acids have been shown to increase the production of serotonin, a hormone that helps to regulate sleep. Vitamin D is also involved in the production of serotonin, and it has been shown to improve sleep quality in people who are deficient in this vitamin. While many factors can influence sleep quality, adding fatty fish to your diet may help you get the rest you need.
A glass of milk before bed has been a traditional sleep remedy for generations, and there may be some truth to the folk wisdom. Dairy products are known sources of tryptophan, an amino acid that promotes relaxation and sleep.
In one study, older adults who drank milk before bed slept better than those who didn’t. The milk drinkers also felt more rested in the morning. The study also found milk was more effective when paired with light exercise. The combination of tryptophan and physical activity may help promote deeper, more restful sleep. So if you’re having trouble nodding off, a glass of milk might do the trick.
Some researchers claim that walnuts are one of the best food sources of melatonin, a hormone that helps regulate sleep. Studies have shown that people who eat walnuts before bed fall asleep more quickly and sleep more soundly than those who don’t. Walnuts are also a good source of tryptophan, an amino acid that helps the body produce melatonin.
Chamomile tea is a popular herbal tea made from the Chamomile plant, which has been shown to have many health benefits, including improved sleep quality. Chamomile tea contains apigenin, an antioxidant that binds to specific receptors in your brain, which may promote sleepiness and reduce insomnia.
Chamomile tea also contains other compounds that may improve sleep quality, including linalool and bisabolol. Chamomile tea is a safe, natural way to enhance the quality of sleep and is easy to make at home. Simply brew chamomile tea using loose chamomile flowers or chamomile tea bags, and enjoy it hot or cold!
The glycemic index (GI) is a measure of how quickly a food increases your blood sugar. Foods with a high GI, such as white rice, are absorbed more quickly by the body and cause a more rapid spike in blood sugar levels. It’s been suggested that eating foods with a high GI before bed may help improve sleep quality.
The theory is that the increase in blood sugar caused by the food helps to trigger the release of insulin, which in turn promotes the production of tryptophan. Tryptophan is an amino acid that is converted into serotonin, a hormone that plays an important role in regulating sleep. Some evidence supports this theory, but more research is needed to confirm it. In the meantime, if you’re looking for ways to improve your sleep, you could try eating white rice or other high-GI foods 1 hour before bedtime.
Many people are aware of the harmful effects of smoking tobacco, but many don’t realize that nicotine, the active ingredient in tobacco, can also have adverse effects on the body. Nicotine is a stimulant that can increase alertness and energy levels.
For smokers, this may mean smoking more cigarettes throughout the day to maintain their desired energy level. However, this can also lead to difficulty sleeping at night. Nicotine can make it hard to fall asleep and stay asleep, leading to fatigue and other health problems. For this reason, it’s important to avoid smoking 45 minutes before bedtime to get a good night’s sleep. While smoking is always harmful to your health, avoiding it before bed can help you get the rest you need to stay healthy and strong.
Avoid Taking Sleeping Pills
According to a recent study, around 60% of people who struggle with insomnia turn to sleeping pills for relief. Although sleeping pills can be effective in the short term, research shows that they are not a long-term solution for insomnia. In fact, sleeping pills can actually lead to harmful physical and psychological health consequences.
Studies have shown that people who take sleeping pills are more likely to experience side effects such as drowsiness, headaches, and dizziness. Additionally, sleeping pills can be addictive, and long-term use can lead to dependency. In extreme cases, sleeping pill use can even be fatal. So if you’re struggling to sleep, it’s essential to talk to your doctor about other options.
Avoid Drinking Alcohol
While alcohol may initially help you fall asleep, it can disrupt your sleep later in the night. Alcohol is metabolized in the body into stimulating substances, which can cause you to wake up during the night. In addition, alcohol prevents you from getting into the deep, restful REM sleep that is so important for mental focus, concentration, learning, and memory. As a result, alcohol is not an ideal way to get a good night’s sleep. If you’re struggling to get enough rest, there are better ways to cope than turning to alcohol.
Avoid Eating Late at Night
It’s well known that eating late at night can lead to weight gain and disrupt your sleep. However, if you find yourself feeling hungry before bed, there are some healthy late-night snack options that can satisfy your hunger without ruining your sleep.
Instead of a heavy meal, choose something light, like a small glass of milk and a low-fat non-sugary snack. This will help you avoid indigestion and late-night cravings. If you’re looking for a late-night snack that will give you energy and help you sleep, try some whole grain cereal with milk or a small bowl of oatmeal with fruit.
These snacks are high in complex carbs and fiber, which will help you feel fuller longer and sustain your energy throughout the night. With a little planning, late-night snacking can be part of a healthy diet.
Osteoarthritis Pain Relief
Aside from a good night’s rest, there are other ways to experience pain relief from osteoarthritis. Here are some tips for osteoarthritis pain relief.
- Lose weight – as mentioned, our joints feel the pressure of weight much more, so losing excess weight can help reduce that pressure and reduce pain.
- Exercise – even though osteoarthritis causes pain, exercise is still important to strengthen muscles. Try activities like water aerobics, which have less impact on your joints.
- Use hot and cold compresses – movement of joints can cause inflammation throughout the day. Hot and cold compresses can reduce inflammation and ease achy muscles.
- Take medications – over the counter pain medications are generally safe when the pain becomes too much. Just be careful of your usage as too much can result in kidney and liver problems.
- Use braces, splints, and physical therapy – removing the pressure or load on joints and immobilizing them can help alleviate osteoarthritis pain. Physical therapy can also teach you how to use the joints effectively in order to reduce pain.
- Surgery – if natural techniques are no longer working, your doctor may suggest surgery. Surgery may involve realigning the joint, fusing the bones together or replacing the joint completely.
Osteoarthritis is a lifelong condition, so the more you educate yourself, the more you can better live with it. Speak with your doctor if you have concerns about your osteoarthritis or want to be made aware of available treatment options.