10 Ways to Sleep Better With Psoriatic Arthritisby Tracy Davenport, Ph.D. Health Writer
When you live with psoriatic arthritis, getting the rest your body needs is paramount. Adequate sleep helps us manage our emotions, maintain steady energy levels, and even helps us heal. There are several lifestyle changes I have made over the years to help my body sleep better, from changing where my pets sleep to what I wear to bed to how I prioritize bedtime. Try some of the following strategies if you are struggling to get the rest you need.
Make sleep a priority
According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), we need more than seven hours of sleep a night. This number is not a guess: it’s based on science and what happens when we do not get the rest we need. Inadequate sleep is linked with Alzheimer’s disease, heart disease, depression, and obesity. If you are living with psoriatic arthritis, sleep is not a luxury. It is a requirement to stay as healthy as possible and feel our best each day.
Invest in the best sheets
I have psoriatic arthritis and also have psoriasis (at least 30 percent of people with PsO also have PsA). Some bedding materials can be irritating, so I spend a little extra money on bed sheets. I prefer sheets made of 100 percent cotton and I wash them frequently. You may need to experiment to find the best bedding for you. You can find more information here that may help your search.
Wear bed clothes that work with you, not against you
I wear the same thing to bed each night: light sweat pants and a long sleeve cotton yoga top. My outfit is far from stylish, but it feels super soft on my skin and it is breathable. With psoriatic arthritis, we need to always be thinking about the big picture. We need to continually ask, what is going to help me feel my best so that I can be as productive as possible and live my best life? Fashion rarely is the first consideration.
I am in a strong marriage of 32 years. Part of our success is that we sleep in separate beds. We are not alone. According to the National Sleep Foundation, nearly one in four couples does the same. If I am having a bad night with sore joints, I do not want the pressure of worrying about waking my spouse. If I am having a good night, I do not want to be disturbed. This trend of sleeping separately is on the rise with one in three house hunters looking for dual master bedrooms according to AARP.
Make sure your overall health is good
There are many reasons for not sleeping well besides psoriatic arthritis. For me, perimenopause was initially to blame for not sleeping well. Sitting down with my doctor and really explaining what had happened to my nighttime routine was key to getting the help I needed. After two weeks of being treated for my hormonal fluctuations, I slept more soundly through the night. If you are not sleeping well for whatever reason, let your doctor know and push to get the treatment you need.
Reduce your caffeine consumption
Espresso is my drug of choice. Left unchecked, I could drink it all day long — especially in the winter months. However, if I drink caffeine after the morning hours, I really notice it at night. Caffeine not only can prevent us from going to sleep, but it can also make it more difficult to stay asleep according to the National Sleep Foundation.
Establish a bedtime routine
As parents, we know that our babies and children need a routine to help settle them before sleeping. It should be no surprise that we also need a bedtime routine. Each night I am very regimented about putting on comfortable clothes, turning off my computer, and watching something that makes me feel good on television. Having a relaxing routine at the same time every evening signals to our body that it is now time to slow down in preparation for sleep.
Pursue the treat to target concept
While psoriatic arthritis is not curable, it is treatable. A treat to target strategy allows you and your doctor to work together to develop a target, either remission or minimal disease activity, and work toward that goal at a speedy pace. I mentioned this strategy to my doctor about six months ago and we began treating my itchy skin and sore knee aggressively, which has helped me to sleep better.
Have an animal free zone
I have two cats that I absolutely adore. However, when it is time for bed, they are closed into our laundry room that doubles as their suite until morning. While some people feel they sleep better with their pets, it is important to do an honest assessment. Ask yourself if your pet frequently moves around or jumps up and down from the bed, disrupting your sleep. If your pet interrupts your deep sleep even once a night, it could have long term health consequences.
Have sleep medication on hand
Sleep medication can vary from herbal supplements to a prescription drug such as Ambien. Having a sleep medication on hand to use occasionally can be one more tool in your toolbox to help you get the rest you need. Just knowing that I have something to try if I am tossing and turning can help me relax and fall asleep naturally.