Getting the Right Amount of Sleep is Critical to Your Joint Health – Here’s Why

Getting the Right Amount of Sleep is Critical to Your Joint Health - Here's Why

Studies find that as many as 80% of people with arthritis have trouble sleeping, whether it be falling and staying asleep, or getting deep, restorative rest. For pain sufferers, this isn’t just a frustrating inconvenience, as poor sleep can exacerbate multiple pain conditions, making the sleep/pain cycle a contributing factor to overall health like depression and disability. Why is good sleep so critical to joint health, and what are some tips for establishing a better sleep routine?

Sleep: Nature’s Elixir

When it comes to understanding the importance of sleep for health, it would be hard to find a system in the body that is not improved by restorative respite. According to Dr. Matthew Walker, Ph.D., sleep expert and professor of neuroscience and psychology at UC Berkeley, even one night of poor sleep can have detrimental health impacts:

  • Poor sleep disrupts hormone activity, leading to weight gain and increased pressure on joints.
  • Sleep deprivation compromises the immune system, doubling your risk for certain cancers.
  • Lack of deep sleep can affect balance and coordination, making you more prone to falls and physical accidents.
  • Lost sleep contributes to memory issues, problems with concentration and decision making, and mood changes that can contribute to increased anxiety or depression.

Sleep and Pain

Restless sleep can be even more detrimental to those living with chronic pain conditions like arthritis. While we’re awake, the brain is responsible for around 20% of our average energy expenditure, but when we sleep, much of that is diverted to cleansing, repair, and regenerative processes in the body, like healing small muscle tears from exercise or directing injury repair in joints. Besides delaying healthy repair, studies show that sleep loss contributes to heightened pain sensitivity and increased levels of inflammation.

How to Score More Shut-Eye

Re-teaching ourselves how to settle in for a restful night may require some effort, as it’s easy to form bad habits that compromise our ability to fall and stay asleep. So which “sleep hygiene” methods can we use to achieve better sleep for better joint health?

Keep a Regular Sleep Schedule

Most of our biological processes, including sleep, are regulated by hormones released in the body that follow our circadian rhythm. Therefore, sticking to the same bedtime and wake time every day (including weekends!) can help create biological support for better-regulated sleep patterns.  

Consider an Afternoon Respite

A 15-minute early-afternoon nap or meditation can take the edge off of an overstimulated nervous system and make it easier to settle in at night. Keep rest periods early and under 20 minutes to avoid feeling groggy.

Limit Caffeine Consumption After Noon

Many of us hit the 2pm slump and reach for a coffee refill or an afternoon cola, but the impacts of stimulants like caffeine can last long into the night, especially for older adults. So limit consumption to your morning beverages for an easier time falling and staying asleep.

Keep the Bedroom for Sleeping

The bedroom is the appropriate location for very few activities, which don’t include using mobile devices, watching TV, or even reading. Location cues greatly support habits, and if you pair the habit of mental stimulation and alertness with your bed, it will be harder to fall asleep when the lights go out.

Get the Pain Support You Need

If pain conditions keep you from finding restful, restorative sleep at night, it’s time to break the cycle with help from MAPS Centers for Pain Control. Our double-board certified interventional pain physicians will work with you to create a balanced and responsible plan for the fastest and longest-lasting joint pain relief possible. Call us today to schedule an informative consultation appointment and get on the path toward restful sleep.