The Trouble with Sleep and Psoriatic Arthritis
Last updated: June 2023
Does psoriatic arthritis affect your sleep? I have found that psoriatic arthritis often gets in the way of good quality sleep. Many nights I lie in bed, sleepy, wishing I could fall asleep, but unable to because of my pain or anxiety.
I do occasionally manage to get a decent night's sleep, with a little bit of planning.
The beauty of the bed...
My husband, Scott, and I sleep in a king-size Sleep Number bed. We bought the bed because I had not slept in so long that we decided it was worth it to try something outrageous.
It is definitely more comfortable than our old mattress but it is not the magic potion that allowed me to drift off into blissful slumber I was hoping for. It turns out even the best new bed can’t cure pain.
Quality bedding is a must for me. My sheets and blankets have to be very soft and they must keep me cool. I’m a bit like The Princess and the Pea in that my bed also has to be perfectly made and turned down. A wrinkle in my sheet will keep me awake all night.
Bringing in extra support...
My arms require a lot of support because of nerve pain in my shoulders and elbows. Because of this, I keep a pillow on each side of my body to hold my arm. Otherwise, my elbow will start throbbing and I will have pins and needles in my hand.
I use one of two favorite pillows under my head, depending on what my needs are that night. My two favorites are Eli & Elm cotton side-sleeper pillow, and the Beckham Hotel Collection soft, cooling, luxury gel pillow.
I often need some pharmaceutical assistance to sleep, but I am not able to take sleep medicines. Those don’t help me sleep, they just make me sleepy and frustrated. I often require pain or anxiety medicine, since those are the issues keeping me awake at night.
When the anxious thoughts creep in...
Some of the anxiety I feel at night stems from the fact that I can't sleep. I know that I need sleep so badly, and I become so anxious about not sleeping that I have anxiety attacks in the middle of the night.
Anxiety has always been part of my life and having anxiety over a lack of sleep has been problematic enough that my doctor prescribed something especially for it. Lately, though, the pain has become a bigger concern than anxiety with regard to my sleep.
Still, there are some things I can do to help sleep come more easily. A hot shower is my go-to when I need to relax and prepare my brain and body for sleep. If I shower at night, that can often help me relax enough to drift easily into a decent slumber.
I’ve also discovered guided meditations for sleep. My favorite is the podcast Tracks to Relax.. Putting down my phone and going technology-free for an hour or so before bed is a bit of self-care that often helps me relax, as well.
Quality sleep can make all the difference
Quality sleep is such an important part of getting psoriatic arthritis under control. When you aren’t sleeping at night, the days are even harder to tolerate. I appreciate that all of my doctors, including my psychiatrist, have taken my inability to sleep very seriously.
They recognize the importance of quality sleep and how much the body needs that sleep to heal. None of my providers have treated this problem as if it is my fault or that I should be able to fix it on my own. I understand that this is not everyone's experience, although it should be.
If you aren’t sleeping, make sure to mention it to your doctor. It is an important part of your disease and something that your doctor can – and should – help you with. If all else fails, sleep whenever you can. If you start to feel drowsy and you have time to nap during the day, take advantage and allow yourself to drift off.
Do you have any questions about PsA?