According to the Arthritis Foundation as many as 80% of people living with arthritis have sleep problems, including insomnia from chronic joint pain, stiffness and joint swelling. Some research also suggests that the cycle of poor sleep may actually cause worsening of these symptoms especially the next day and may even result in depression and disability over time.
Individuals may complain of:
- Early rising
- Problems initiating sleep
- Waking up in the middle of the night
Some studies have also shown that there may be abnormal signaling in the pathways in the brain and spinal cord that make up the central nervous system which help regulate pain. Other studies have also demonstrated increase in inflammation markers even in healthy individuals with sleep deprivation. Poor sleep can also result in increased levels of cortisol or stress hormones which may trigger disease flares. Also growth hormones which are often released during deep sleep to help repair muscle and tendon microtears may be in shortage with chronic sleep problems.
There have been investigations looking into whether lack of sleep may be associated with transitioning to lupus independent of early symptoms. It is well known that people with Fibromyalgia report sleep disturbances.
For the last few months, my sleep has suffered due to the anxiety and stress felt watching the election day results coverage, coverage about racial inequality in this country as well as the coronavirus pandemic that has disrupted and taken over our lives. #NationalStress Awareness Day is in November and sleep deprivation/insomnia can contribute to our rising stress levels.
How much can sleep really affect your health?
Sleep plays such an important role in your physical and emotional health.
Sleep is a huge contributing factor that helps to heal and repair things like your heart and blood vessels which are vital to the body.
Ongoing sleep deficiency has been proved to be linked to an increased risk of heart disease, kidney disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, and stroke. It can also result in a weakened immune response, brain fog, mood changes and depression.
Causes of insomnia and sleep disorders include:
- Anxiety disorders
- Depression causing early awakening
- Caffeine, nicotine and alcohol
- Poor sleep habits
- Heartburn from late meals
- Medications (antidepressants, asthma and blood pressure medications)
- Medical conditions such as Chronic pain from arthritis, Hyperthyroidism, GERD/reflux disease
- Increase age and female sex (hormonal shifts during menopause)
- Sleep apnea (episodes in which you stop breathing during sleep)
So how much should you be sleeping each night?
While sleep requirements vary slightly from person to person, most healthy adults need seven to nine hours of sleep per night to function at their best according to the National Sleep Foundation.
Children and teens need even more.
FACT: A lot of people believe that as we age, our sleep needs decrease but that is a myth. No matter the age, we still need at least seven hours of sleep to maintain a healthy lifestyle and well-functioning brain.
– Eat an early dinner, EXERCISE, Limit alcohol.
– Limit late-day napping
– Shut down electronics one hour before bedtime.
– Warm shower and decaffeinated chamomile tea in the evening.
– 5-10 minutes of prayer and meditation before bed.
– Make sure the room is pitch black.
– Use the white noise or Calm app for background soothing noises.