If you’re one of the 42 million people diagnosed with some form of arthritis, you know that arthritis pain can make it difficult to fall asleep and cause you to awaken during the night. Insufficient rest can then make your pain harder to manage during the day, and quality sleep even harder to come by at night.

This vicious cycle is far too common among those who suffer from arthritis, an umbrella term used for a group of more than 100 medical conditions. The common thread among these conditions is that they all affect the musculoskeletal system and specifically the joints. A recent Center for Disease Control study finds that arthritis is the most prevalent chronic condition and the most reported cause of disability in the United States. Arthritis-related joint problems can include pain, stiffness and inflammation. Arthritis also is a common form of back pain.

While dealing with the pain can be one of the hardest parts of having arthritis, the pain is your body’s way of telling you that you need to rest. Sleep is necessary to restore your energy so that you can better manage pain; it also rests your joints to reduce pain and swelling, according to the Arthritis Foundation.

“Good quality sleep can be an important part of an arthritis pain management plan,” says Pete Bils, senior director of sleep innovation and chair of the Sleep Advisory Board for Select Comfort. “During deep, slow wave sleep, human growth hormone reaches a peak level to perform critical tasks necessary for bodily restoration.” In support of the Arthritis Foundation’s proclaiming May as National Arthritis Month, Bils offers the following timely sleep tips for arthritis sufferers:

Choose a mattress that alleviates pressure points on your body

“Beds that are too firm do not support properly and create uncomfortable pressure points — a discomfort that causes excessive tossing and turning, activities that are counterproductive to arthritis pain relief and recuperation,” Bils says. “Consider switching to an adjustable firmness mattress to minimize pressure points that might be aggravating your pain.”

One mattress to consider is the Sleep Number Bed by Select Comfort which has dual air chambers that allow each side of the bed to be independently adjusted so each sleep partner can choose his or her ideal level of comfort, firmness and support — even if one sleeper has arthritis pain and the other does not. Unlike innerspring mattresses, the Sleep Number bed cradles the body and evenly distributes weight to minimize painful pressure points and reduce body pain and stiffness.

Choose pillows for optimal spinal and neck alignment

If you suffer from arthritis back pain, consider replacing your pillow. Choose a pillow that naturally places your head, neck and shoulders in a straight spine and head position (closely matching a proper standing/sitting posture).

Take a warm bath

A soothing soak before bed can relieve muscle tension, ease aching joints and help you get a good night’s sleep.

Clear your head before bed

Find ways to decrease other stresses in your life that could be aggravating your sleeplessness. Read for pleasure instead of trying to absorb work-related material. Before tucking yourself in for the night, make a list of all the things you need to do the next day to avoid having a last minute thought disturb your slumber.

Follow your doctor’s recommendations

Keep up with arthritis exercises and pain medications as recommended by your doctor. If poor sleep is a continual problem, seek your doctor’s advice.

By: Morgan Evans

To learn more about sleep and arthritis, the Sleep Number bed or to find a retailer near you, log on to www.selectcomfort.com or call (800) 535-2337. – ARA

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21 Jun 2007