Arthritis can be a drag — on your physical activities, on your work, and even on your sleep. Here at GLX3, we have received may questions from customers regarding the best sleeping positions for arthritis, and what they can do to minimize the pain while they sleep.
It’s a tricky topic, because you aren’t always aware of exactly what your body does while you’re sleeping. But it all starts with sleeping in the right position and providing necessary aid to the joints that need it. Not only will this help you fall asleep faster, but it can also even offer a more thorough night’s sleep.
Here are the best sleeping positions for arthritis, and tips on how to make your nights smoother.
Best practices for sleeping with arthritis
Let’s start with the process of getting into bed. Assuming you won’t have to get back up (at least not until that midnight tinkle creeps in), the first thing you can do is to get into bed with purpose.
By this we mean that you should be conscious of your joints both in how you sit and how you lie. Sit down before you lie down, and once you’re firmly seated, only then should you twist into the sleeping position or move into a rest spot to watch some television or read.
Another thing we recommend is to begin the relaxing process before you ever get into bed. Some great ways to do this are with meditation, as it calms the mind — which in turn can calm the body, and by drinking chamomile tea or another calming nighttime beverage. The more relaxed your body is feeling, the easier time you are going to have in falling asleep.
Best sleeping position for hip pain
This one’s short and simple — don’t sleep on the painful side. It can be tempting to do so, especially if on a soft mattress, but this is only going to make the morning that much more painful. If you can, train yourself to sleep on your back. If you aren’t also suffering from back pain, sleeping on your stomach can work just fine, too. And if you are a #sidesleeperforlife, just be sure to sleep on the opposite side of the hip.
Best sleeping position for shoulder pain
Those with pain in their shoulders should follow the same protocol as those with pain in their hip — sleep on the pain-free side and avoid putting pressure on the ailing joint. Sleeping is all about being relaxed and free of pressure, and no matter how comfortable you may be in the moment, sleeping on top of pain is never advisable.
Best sleeping position for degenerative arthritis of the knee
Following our continued strategy of relieving pain while sleeping, one of the key culprits of nighttime knee pain (in addition to ongoing pain and heavy repetitive pressure during the day) is people rubbing their knees together while they sleep.
There are a couple options for preventing this harmful action. First is to sleep on your side with padding — like a pillow or similar soft object — between your knees. This is most advised for those who tend to fidget during the night and who may subconsciously rub their knees together.
Another option is to sleep on your back with your legs spread apart. Bringing them together to rub on each other or on other parts of the body is far less likely if you’re sleeping like this. For those familiar with basic yoga poses for arthritis, try to sleep in your best Shavasana pose. Rested, relaxed, and far removed from fickle friction of the knees.
The same line of thinking goes for ankle pain — prevent the ankles from rubbing against other bones and build a comfortable sleeping position from the ankles up, instead of from the head down.
Best sleeping position for wrist pain
When it comes to your wrists, the position of the rest of your body is far less important than the position of the wrist — or wrists — itself. If you suffer from the carpal tunnel in addition to arthritis, you are likely keenly aware of the fact that this condition likes to flare up at night, often just as you try to unwind and lie down after a long day.
So long easy rest, eh?
What you can do when this happens is to keep your wrist elevated and lifted — don’t let it sag by your side or slump off the side of the bed. If you are a stomach sleeper, try placing the wrist on a pillow or pad that keeps it elevated, though you may have a tough time getting comfortable. Back sleepers can prop their arm up, or at the very least, try sleeping with the arm up above the head.
What you may find helpful is to keep your bed a bit removed from the wall, and to get rid of the headboard if you have one — you definitely want to avoid slamming the wrist against the headboard or wall while you sleep. We recommend putting six inches or so of space between the top of your bed and the wall so that you can stretch your arm comfortably out, whether you are on your front or backside.