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RAmblings Blog/Sleep and RA/Sleepy Head, Go to Bed!

Sleepy Head, Go to Bed!

Tuesday, July 11, 2023

RAmbling 

Information to help you make the best choices for YOU!

Go To Bed, Sleepyhead!

Sleep disturbances are the bane of RA existence!
But there are MANY ways to help get your sheep jumping in the clouds again!
Read below as I navigate through the importance of it and some tips and tricks for better sleep. 

Sleep and RA can be like oil and water! Insomnia is a common problem among RA sufferers, with many factors contributing to sleep disturbances such as stress, erratic schedules, and level of caffeine intake. Our population as a whole is greatly affected by sleep disorders. Nearly 40% of us experience issues. Besides the travesty of not being able to connect with the spirit realm and dream, we can also experience physical and mental issues!

Studies indicate reaction time, endurance, and coordination are impaired which may lead to injuries such as falls or car accidents. Not that we need another obstacle in our life! A recent study by Li et al, showed that pain and depression each independently increased the chance of falls in 2,558 older adults. Almost 25% reported insomnia issues. This study did not include other sleep disturbances but many other studies have evaluated the increases in falls due to issues with sleep.

Not counting your sheep may cause you to struggle to perform at your best during the day and with a condition like rheumatoid arthritis, it is hard enough! If you can pinpoint where your symptoms, like brain fog, are coming from you can attempt to correct it if possible.

Sleep is your brain's time to process the day. It becomes the mom that cleans the whole house while the kids are snuggled in bed. Unimportant stuff gets chucked in the trash and other information is organized neatly. If you are deprived of this level of rest your memory can start to really suck! Think about what that would be like...forgetting tasks, appointments, important events. This causes added stress. It also can feel like a betrayal of the mind. "How could I forget that?" Do I really need another mutiny of a body part?

Sleepless nights create a longer time to recover from soreness or overuse. This increases the risk of injuries. Fatigue and lack of focus, difficulty concentrating, and mood disturbances can be greatly increased. This in turn creates more risk for injury especially chronic issues such as tendonitis and bursitis which occurs from a body part's inability to heal as quickly as it is being utilized.

Insomnia or sleep disturbances add up and can negatively impact academic/work performance, and overall health. Studies have shown increases in anxiety and depression as well as increases in risk of chronic health conditions such as obesity, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease.

"Painsomnia" is a coined term to describe our struggle of not being able to sleep due to pain. I have struggled with what to do when this occurs. Do I take a pain pill? Do I take a sleeping pill? What if I don't want to take either? There is good news and much hope in this category. A case study by Verma et al in 2022 showed significant improvements in sleep, depression, anxiety and muscle pain in one month of a yoga and naturopathic program. Improvements were still noted in the following month after the study was completed.

A 2021 study from Vitello et al, showed significant improvements in pain and depression when short term sleeping habits improved (60+ age group). Fatigue also improved in this study of 327 people with chronic osteoarthritis. It utilizes this time void of outside stimuli to recover and literally regenerate. Nerves, blood cells, muscle cells and other parts of your body benefit from this crucial time.

Take a moment to visualize your body as a healthcare manager. It is in a state of bliss! No distractions! Heart is beating stable and lungs are in a rhythm (minus other issues like COPD or apnea). The ears, eyes and balance systems are on their coffee break. Your body is using this time to detox through breathing (and other means), process and assess all systems. (How efficiently can your body do this awake? Think about trying to fix a car while it's cruising down the highway at 70 mph.) According to Dr. Judy Orloff, your body even becomes paralyzed at one point in the dream stage!

So what can you do? There are some many things to try! Just don't give up or give in!

Here is a list of immediate and longer term actions to take:

🛏️Establish a regular sleep schedule, and try to go to bed and wake up at the same time every day. (Even on your late start days.) Keep trying this, even if it seems futile.

🛏️Schedule an appointment with an acupuncturist, massage therapist and or naturopathic doctor. These avenues can help same day and long term.

🛏️Limit caffeine, especially leading up to bedtime (preferably by 2p). Twenty-five percent of the caffeine you put in (or on) your body is still in you 12 hours later.

🛏️Avoid electronic devices (ex. TV, phone, computer) before bed, as the blue light can disrupt the natural sleep-wake cycle. Your brain sees the light and registers it as daytime.

🛏️Earthing mats or earth! If you can get outside in bare feet (in natural water or dirt) for at least 20 minutes a day you will significantly help your body and mind. I have used electrode pads or a mat for my bed for about 3 years now. I notice the difference when I don't use them. I take the electrode pads when I go to a hotel or use them if I am having trouble sleeping. (I also use them on my patients, I've noticed improvements in recovery time and stiffness.) The mat and pillowcase are always on my bed. Here's a link to check them out! Earthing

🛏️Try looking up Binaural Beats for sleep or stress on You Tube. 

🛏️Keep all electronic devices at least 3 feet away and consider turning WiFi off. EMFs (Electromagnetic fields) given off from electronic devices are very harmful and disruptive to the body. (FYI: the FCC bases their safety levels on a 250+# adult so if you are less than that or a child/elderly it is even less safe.) Dr. Janine  and Dr. Michael give you a little insight on EMFs and help with sleep, respectively. Here is the PEMF device and link I use to limit EMFs: Qi coil.

🛏️Try stretching or a calming yoga pose like child's pose. I noticed that just a few shoulder hip and neck stretches made me much more relaxed in bed.

🛏️Use a diffuser with relaxing essential oils such as lavender, cedarwood, vetiver, or roman chamomile. I've noticed the best quality oils have the best effect! (My friend with PTSD notices a huge difference compared to the cheaper ones.) Here's a link for some oils I trust.

🛏️Consider talking to a healthcare provider if insomnia persists despite these efforts. There may be underlying medical conditions contributing to sleep disturbances. 

Sleep Wyld, 
Andrea Dunn

Long-term improvements in sleep, pain, depression, and fatigue in older adults with comorbid osteoarthritis pain and insomnia; 
Michael V Vitiello, Weiwei ZhuMichael, Von Korff, Robert, Wellman, Charles M, Morin Kai Yeung, Susan M McCurry; Article2021 in SLEEPv45 n2 (20210913)

Li Y, Liu M, Sun X, Hou T, Tang S, Szanton SL. Independent and synergistic effects of pain, insomnia, and depression on falls among older adults: a longitudinal study. Bmc geriatrics. 2020;20(1). doi:10.1186/s12877-020-01887-z

Verma A, Shete S, Prasad R, Badave A, Pathak S. Yoga and naturopathy treatment for insomnia: a case report. Journal of primary care specialties. 2022;3(1):13-16. doi:10.4103/jopcs.jopcs_22_21

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