Hacks to help achieve a good night’s sleep

Dr. Henry Averns
Annette McKinnon

There is a lot more to sleep than dreaming. Explore how sleep is vital to your overall wellbeing.

Sleep is often overlooked when you are trying to improve your overall health and wellbeing. It is as fundamental as a good diet and exercise. As we have all experienced, performance reflects sleep quality. Our daily routines and lifestyle choices can often result in fatigue and sleep disturbance, which can also make it more difficult to cope with the pain of arthritis.

You may already be aware (from your own experience) that people with RA are more likely to suffer disturbed sleep than the general population. Sleep disturbance is often worse when the pain is worse, and can also be linked to increased anxiety, depression as well as morning stiffness and fatigue.1

The following section aims to help you to improve your sleep and energy quota! Why not build in some of your favourite points into your routine and help to maximize your energy and improve your wellbeing.

Tip 1: Synchronize your body's sleep-wake cycle1

Harmonizing with your body’s natural sleep-wake cycle is a key strategy for promoting improved sleep. Maintaining a practiced sleep-wake routine will make you feel energized and refreshed! Try to go to bed and get up at the same times every day.

However, enticing it may be to watch Netflix, try to go to sleep and get up at the same time every day – this programmes your body’s internal clock and optimizes sleep quality.

Don't be tempted to sleep in, even on weekends –the more your daily sleep schedule differs, the worse your tiredness symptoms will be.

Tip 2: Control your light exposure –the science behind your body rhythm cycle1

Elements of our modern life can significantly alter melatonin production and interfere with natural body rhythm:

Try to avoid viewing bright screens, especially ones emitting blue light and backlit devices, within 1-2 hours of bedtime; be strong and ignore that addictive social media feed.

At bedtime, make sure room darkness is maximized – utilize heavy curtains or blinds to block out light, or perhaps try a sleep mask. Keep lights low if you get up during the night, ensuring a quick, uninterrupted return to sleep – incorporate a nightlight in the hall or bathroom, or use a low energy flashlight.

Tip 3: Exercise during the day2

Regular aerobic exercise can help deliver many benefits including reducing fatigue, keeping weight under control and alleviating stress.

Tip 4: Be smart about your diet cycle1

Your daytime eating habits can play a notable role in sleep performance, particularly in the critical hours prior to bedtime.

Eliminate caffeine and nicotine – both are stimulants which can disrupt sleep.

Avoid large meals at night – try to eat earlier in the evening, and avoid rich foods within two hours of bedtime.

Similarly, avoid alcohol before bed – this can also interfere with your sleep cycle.

Tip 5: Wind down, relax and clear your head

Any residual stress or irritability from your day can make it very difficult to sleep well, if at all. A ruffled mind makes a restless pillow.

Try to locate and promote your inner peace. Incorporating relaxation techniques, such as deep breathing, into your nightly routine is a fantastic approach to winding down naturally. Many people find the inclusion of sleep music to be beneficial.

If you find it difficult to switch off from the day's stresses, take 30 minutes before bedtime to do something relaxing. Read, listen to soft music, or have a warm bath, whatever works for you.

Improve your sleep environment. Remove any likely distractions. Keep your space cool, quiet and above all comfortable.

The inclusion of either all, or some of these tips into your daily routine, will help secure that elusive perfect night's sleep and bolster your body's natural restorative powers. Sweet dreams.

References: 1. Arthritis Foundation. Rheumatoid arthritis and sleep. Accessed May 3, 2018 at:https://www.arthritis.org/living-with-arthritis/comorbidities/sleep-insomnia/rheumatoid-arthritis-sleep.php

References: 2. Arthritis Society. Rheumatoid Arthritis: what is rheumatoid arthritis. Accessed May 3, 2018 at:https://www.arthritis.ca/about-arthritis/arthritis-types-(a-z)/types/rheumatoid-arthritis

Life Hack #7

Take time to stretch and move around regularly –it stops you from stiffening up.

Keeping active has multiple benefits for your joints.

Life Hack #7

Take time to stretch and move around regularly –it stops you from stiffening up.

Keeping active has multiple benefits for your joints.

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