After being diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis, it's important to find ways to manage the inevitable pain you will experience, and to learn how to cope living with arthritis . For those with severe forms of rheumatoid arthritis, pain management and lifestyle changes are often the most important forms of treatment.
Sleep and Rheumatoid Arthritis Pain
Studies have shown than approximately one-third of those with R.A. experience disrupted sleep or a poor quality of sleep. You may find you need to adjust your position every half hour or hour because your joints become stiff and sore. Or pain may wake you in the middle of the night and make it hard to fall back asleep. Whatever you may be experiencing, you'll need to develop strategies to improve your sleep quality so you can fully enjoy your time awake.
Managing Rheumatoid Arthritis Fatigue
It's important to manage your energy levels. Many people with R.A. experience a higher level of fatigue than those without, often due to frequently disrupted sleep.
- Prioritize Daily Tasks - Choose the highest energy tasks when you feel you're most alert.
- Schedule Naps or Resting Periods - By planning for a brief nap or rest, you can keep your energy levels up and still accomplish what you need to.
- Change your diet - The Mediterranean Diet has been shown to greatly help with arthritis pain.
- Set A Regular Schedule - Get your body used to a routine. Set a regular sleep schedule to ensure you have enough time to get plenty of rest.
- Atmosphere - Keep a relaxing, comfortable atmosphere in your bedroom. Be sure to avoid doing stressful things like paying bills or watching TV in bed. Keep that space exclusively for sleep.
- Quit Smoking
Lifestyle Changes to Manage Rheumatoid Arthritis and Sleep
Many people find relief through therapy, whether it's one on one with a counselor or in a group setting. Therapy can help you see your condition from a different perspective and will teach techniques to handle the condition and your attitude towards it. Managing stress will go a long ways to ease your feelings toward your R.A., as well as improve sleep. Since there is no way to cure R.A., those who have it must learn how to accept it and live a full life despite its setbacks. Relaxation techniques can help prepare you for sleep. Exercise will ease symptoms of R.A. and help you feel and sleep better. Exercise has been shown to keep bones strong, muscles flexible and alleviate stiffness. Be sure to consult your doctor before starting an exercise routine, but know that even with rheumatoid arthritis you can exercise, and it will alleviate some symptoms. Be sure to exercise at least three to four hours before you plan on sleeping.
Photo Credit: MaryLane