Sleep problems!

I have RA, osteoarthritis, type 1 diabetes, underactive thyroid, osteoporosis and high blood pressure (all being treated except for bisphosphonates for the osteoporosis, which I'm currently thinking through!) For several years now I've not been able to sleep through the night. I wake at least a couple of times each night, often more, and sometimes I just can't get back to sleep and lie awake for hours on end with worries going round and round in my head. So I'm wondering how to improve things. Before my health got worse I always slept like a log, worries or no worries. My feeling is that the root cause is maybe the RA as I've only had these issues since it flared up quite badly two or three years ago and was (finally) diagnosed, as it means it's hard to stay in one position comfortably for too long and possibly this is waking me up.

Does anyone have any sleep tips? Mattress topper (which one)? Electric blanket? Different pillow?

Many thanks for any help as I get sooo tired xx

13 Replies

  • Hi sleep is a problem for me also and we got a new adjustable bed which is more comfy but as you say it's not being able to settle in 1 position and tossing and turning doesn't help, then morning comes and you don't feel like getting up

  • I have terrible sleep problems and have had since being diagnosed. I have no solutions though, apart from finally getting about 5 or 6 hours straight when I am so exhausted I feel I will collapse. I hope you find something that helps you, it is so frustrating.

  • I have a heated mattress topper. It is lovely to get into a warm bed! Also do relaxation exercises to relax my joints before I go to sleep. This doesn't always work as I have bad nights still but I think it helps. If yours is an ongoing problem , you might need to ask your GP for help. Amitryptiline was brilliant for me. Unfortunately , it caused side effects for me so I can't take it. It might be fine for you or the doctor may suggest something else.

  • Hi Ranne21

    When I was in a dreadful pain cycle, awake during the night, sleeping in the day because of rib pain my Rheumy prescribed Amitriptyline. It was brilliant. I started on a low dose of 10mg and it did make me groggy next morning for a while but I slept well on it and after a while was able to drop the dose to 5mg. I'm not off it completely but I was in it for about 3 years. Anitriptyline is widely used for chronic pain so may be worth having a chat about sleep with your GP. Very important with it is make sure you take it 2 hours before bed, not as you go to bed.

    Also google sleep hygiene and make sure you are following good practices.

    Take care Kiki

  • Another here having problems sleeping. I drop off fine but wake up lots aching from being in one position for more than a couple of hours.

    My RA is pretty much under control, my problem is OA in my hip joints.

    My GP prescribed strong cocodamol and naproxen before bed. It has helped a lot, more inntgat when I wake (usually 2-3 times)I can get back to sleep again. I'm usually up before 5 am having given up the fight!

    It is much better than it used to be though.

  • I also have similar sleep problems too. I find the more tired I am the harder it is to sleep. I'm now on Amitriptyline 20mg which was originally started for shingle pain in January 2015 now it's being used to aid rest and sleep. However it's not always effective.

    I needed something to help me sleep as was working full time in an active and stressful job. Now reduced to part time as couldn't cope with the hours.

    Hope you find something to help you sleep soon.


  • I have a 4inch thick mattress topper which is fab, but I always take my hot water bottle with me to bed. I don't have a guy so that has to be my "cuddle-in replacement ha ha ha. If I wake up in the early hours I will refill my hot water bottle to see me through to morning and it always works for me.

  • I can relate to this - being unable to find a position that is comfortable for long enough to drift off to sleep is impossible some nights. Being very thin with thinning skin adds to the fun as I also have a couple of pressure sores to avoid! Strangely, after tossing and turning all night I do eventually fall into a deep sleep around 6-7am, probably cos by then I'm so exhausted! Luckily I'm retired as I'll often then sleep till 9am. Friends and family know not to expect any sense out of me before 10 am!

    I did get myself a mattress topper from John Lewis which I found amazingly comfortable. It's a couple of inches thick, a layer of memory foam covered in a layer of soft padding. I have had it for a couple of years now, and it is not quite as good as it was, being a bit squashed down in places, but I will definitely get another. Well worth it even though it hasn't lasted as long as I'd hoped.

    Oh, and listening to audio books on my tablet - downloaded free from local library. I almost always fall asleep during the story, so at least get a bit of sleep before waking again!!

  • Hi . I too used to sleep fine but now wake around 3. Bones ache even with memory foam topper. I sometimes take couple paracetamol or (not approved by medical lot) have a glass of brandy then I sleep well. lol.

  • Used to have sleep problems but since started taking LDN, no more! Sleep is deep and refreshing again. More info😊

  • Hi Ranne - One thing I wanted to mention is that it is my experience that wi-fi, cordless and cellular phones, tablets, and other things electrical aggravate insomnia (and in my case, restless leg syndrome). Be careful of electric blankets. you would be better off with a hot water bottle, and several soft blankies :-).

    There is also a breathing method that works for me sometimes is the 4-7-8 method - Inhale for a count of 4, hold it for 7, then exhale for 8.

    Good luck. Sleep is one of the best healing agents we have for RA, and general functionality

  • Hi ranne. On lots of meds, but find 2 Paracetamole before bed work for me, and if I can't get off again when I go to the loo in the night, just take 1 and off again. X

  • Many thanks for the very helpful replies. You are such a lovely supportive group of people and I'm very glad I found you!!

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