How can sleep be improved?

Back to Sleep and arthritis

Keeping a diary of your sleep pattern can help you identify the factors that disturb your sleep. It can include:

  • what time you go to bed and wake up
  • whether you got to sleep easily or not
  • any causes of disturbance, such as your mood, pain or fatigue
  • any caffeinated drinks 
  • your daytime activities.

If your sleep is disturbed by pain, drug treatments may help. However, sleep disturbance is often caused by a combination of factors, which can be more difficult to deal with. Healthcare professionals will usually suggest you think about 'sleep hygiene' – things that you can do to improve your sleep pattern.

You could try the following tips:

  • Avoid sleeping during the day because this can make it more difficult to get to sleep at night.
  • Avoid caffeine (for example tea, coffee and chocolate) after midday.
  • Eat sensibly to so you don’t feel hungry during the night but avoid eating and drinking large amounts just before bedtime.
  • Avoid drinking alcohol if you experience serious sleep disturbance.
  • Don’t smoke before bedtime or during the night.
  • Take regular exercise during the day, but not within three hours of going to bed.

Try not to use your bedroom for stimulating activities, for example watching TV, working or eating. It’s best to make your bedroom a peaceful and pleasant environment, dark and quiet and at a comfortable temperature.

  • Try to get into a relaxing routine and go to bed at the same time every day, ideally when you’re sleepy. If you can’t sleep after about 20 minutes, get up and do something that’s not overstimulating (for example, listening to some soothing music). Only go back to bed when you’re sleepy. Try to get up at about the same time every day.
  • Take a warm bath before you go to bed as this may help ease stiff or painful joints.

If your mattress is old or uncomfortable, you should probably consider replacing it. Changing the number or position of your pillows or choosing a soft or moulded pillow may be helpful if you have neck or upper back pain. Some people find it helpful to sleep in a narrow soft foam collar.

Read more about finding a new mattress.

Previous Next
Back to Sleep and arthritis

Search arthritis information

Support Us

Find out how you can support Arthritis Research UK.