Why is my arthritis so much worse at night?

Notice That Your Joint Pain Is Worse At Night? Here’s Why!

Many people notice that their arthritis symptoms get worse at night. When this occurs, it can be hard for people to sleep, leaving them exhausted in the morning and potentially contributing to daytime pain or fatigue.

It is common for pain to get worse at night. 

It could be that levels of the anti-inflammatory hormone cortisol are naturally lower at night; plus, staying still in one position might cause joints to become stiff. Less distractions in the evening could also turn your attention inward on your joint pain, making your symptoms seem worse.

Other processes may also intensify RA pain, including the nighttime release of pro-inflammatory cytokines, an increased number of cells traveling to inflamed tissue, and changes in the body’s immune response.

Additionally, the body releases higher levels of melatonin and prolactin at night, both of which can cause an increase in inflammatory cytokines.

Avoid falling into the cycle of poor quality of sleep > workday fatigue >increased levels of pain.

What can be done to help ease pain?

  • Avoid late exercise and meals:

After a strenuous workout the body needs time to recover; the stimulation from the workout can keep you from falling asleep. Same goes for eating late. Your body needs time to digest and sometimes eating and drinking too late can keep you up during the night.

  • Make sure you have a good mattress: 

A mattress that is too firm can be a detriment to those with OA. A good mattress should support your body, but also relieve pressure and conform to your body shape.

  • Use extra pillows for joints:

Placing a pillow under your knees can help to take the pressure off them.

  • Run a bath:

Try running a warm bath using Epsom salts and lavender to achieve a spa-like and restful mood before bed.

Epsom salts have been found to naturally relax your body’s muscles and therefore can ease muscle and joint-related tension.

  • Avoiding stimulants such as caffeine and nicotine:

Especially in the afternoon and evening
  • Set your bedtime:

Be firm about your sleep schedule. Make a commitment to reducing your screen time or turning off your devices (phone, tv, and tablets) at least an hour before bedtime. Going to bed at the same time each night and establishing a bedtime ritual, such as taking a bath, meditating, or doing another calming activity will re-direct your focus away from any subtle joint pain while easing your mind for sleep

  • Wake up and make a pot of tea:

Green and white teas are rich in polyphenol, a compound that has antioxidant effects. Green tea is generally viewed as the most beneficial of all because its active ingredient is a polyphenol known as epigallocatechin 3-gallate (EGCG). EGCG has been shown to be as much as 100 times stronger in antioxidant activity than vitamins C and E. Studies have shown it also helps preserve cartilage and bone. Add in a bit of local honey for an added boost of antioxidant and antiviral properties. Avoid these types of teas at night because of the caffeine content.

Night time arthritis pain is common. However, having arthritis does not mean that a person has to live with chronic sleep deprivation. The right combination of medications, sleep hygiene practices, and lifestyle adjustments may help a person sleep better.

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