How bone and joint issues can affect your sleep

Since World Sleep Day® is on March 13, this is a great time to talk about how bone and joint issues can affect your sleep. This annual event is “designed to raise awareness of sleep as a human privilege that is often compromised by the habits of modern life.” Organized by the World Sleep Day Committee of World Sleep Society, it “aims to lessen the burden of sleep problems on society through better prevention and management of sleep disorders.” 

The impact of poor sleep on health

Quality sleep is an essential component of good health for a variety of reasons. Healthy People 2020 lists a number of them, noting that adequate sleep is necessary to: 

  • Fight infection
  • Prevent diabetes
  • Perform well in school and on the job
  • Work and function in a safe manner

The timing and duration of sleep affect a number of endocrine, metabolic, and neurological functions that are essential for optimal health. That’s why untreated sleep disorders and chronic lack of quality sleep are associated with an increased risk of:

  • Heart disease
  • High blood pressure
  • Obesity
  • Diabetes
  • All-cause mortality

The National Sleep Foundation offers numerous resources that highlight the relationship between sleep and disease—and researchers continue to add supporting evidence, including these recent studies:

How bone and joint issues play a role in healthy sleep

There are many things that can create sleep disturbances—including pain related to bone and joint disorders. According to the Arthritis Foundation, up to 80 percent of people with arthritis have trouble sleeping. Research regarding this dynamic indicates that individuals who have osteoarthritis pain and sleep problems are also more prone to depression and increased disability over time. 

There are a variety of factors involved here—including a suspected back-and-forth dynamic in which joint pain causes sleep disturbances and sleep disturbances cause more joint pain. “Patients often attribute sleep problems to pain. While pain can certainly contribute to sleep problems, the more we learn about sleep, pain and inflammation, the more we find the relationships are likely to be multidirectional,” says Yvonne Lee, MD, Assistant Professor of Medicine at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston in an Arthritis Foundation post. 

Tips for getting a good night’s sleep

The good news is there are things you can do to deal with sleep disturbances, like following good sleep hygiene practices—such as:

  • Maintaining a consistent schedule
  • Clearing your mind by writing things down so you don’t lie awake and worry
  • Keeping your room dark and quiet
  • Turning off your TV and not using electronic devices late in the evening 
  • Avoiding stimulants like caffeine, alcohol, and tobacco before you go to bed

Specific to joint pain and sleep, you may want to consider the following strategies to help you get a better night’s rest: 

  • Use the right mattress and support pillows to address back, hip, and knee pain. 
  • Take appropriate medication (in consultation with your doctor) that will last through the night.  
  • Do low-impact exercises on a regular basis and early in the day.

 

If you’re having difficulty sleeping, bone and joint issues may be partly to blame. Our experts can evaluate your situation and discuss available options that will work best for you. Contact us today for an appointment.