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Tips For Combatting Sleep Struggles

Tips For Combatting Sleep Struggles

Sleep doesn’t always come easy for those of us with PsA. We suffer from insomnia, painsomnia, and sometimes our bodies would rather sleep during the day rather than at night. For the first twelve years of my chronic life I only slept 2-4 hours a night and that was on a “good” day. I felt and looked like a zombie. To reach the point of where I am at now, which is sleeping 8-10 hours a night; I had to address each of the above mentioned reasons.

1. Painsomnia

If you’re not familiar with the term painsomnia, it is the inability to sleep due to high levels of physical pain. It’s not that we aren’t tired, in fact we are exhausted. Instead, it is not being able to get comfortable or to relax because of pain. Sometimes we get lucky and find a position that is less painful. However, one wrong move or if we stay in that position too long our pain level spikes. Painsomnia occurs when our minds want to drift off to dreamland, but our chronic illness is screaming and punching us. To combat painsomnia I had to address my pain. I had to find the true sources. This wasn’t easy as my entire body throbbed with pain. Many adjustments and changes needed to take place with my treatment plan. Once I found a plan that made it possible for me to feel each area that my pain was stemming from I was able to address them. While I couldn’t remove them, I could reduce the inflammation that fueled them and make an effort to not aggravate them.

2. Insomnia

Insomnia comes in many forms. Both physical and mental stimulation is what keeps me up. I have learned that I need a good 2-3 hours to start preparing myself for a good night’s sleep. I start by changing into my nighttime pajamas and washing my face. Since my evening pain medication can take up to 2 hours to take full effect I make sure to take them at least 2 hours before I want to be asleep. Some nights I follow one of my evening yoga routines to relax. No matter what I do it is imperative that my mind and body aren’t over stimulated by loud or upbeat music, excitement, or stress. I have also had to accept that my bedtime will be delayed when I do go out for an evening of fun.

3. Day sleeper

In my post, Soaking Up Moon Beams and Watching the Sun Rise, I shared how my nights and days get mixed up a few times a year. Sleeping during the day can be difficult. The phone rings, friends text, the doorbell rings, and the sun shines bright! To get a better day’s sleep, I turn off the phones. I turn on my cellphone’s do not disturb function and program it so that only one or two people are able to ring through in case of an emergency. If there is no one at home to answer the door, I put a sign on it. My sign says “Do not knock or ring doorbell if you wish to live, baby is sleeping, mother is a (word that rhymes with stitch). Come back later”. So what if my baby is 15 and I am actually the one who is sleeping??!! It works! And last but not least I had to block out the sun. I close my blinds and use a sleep mask. Don’t like sleep masks? Try blackout curtains instead.

What helps you sleep?

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.


  • berad79
    2 years ago

    This is one of my worst challenges of living with PsA. First is pain; second is fatigue; third is insomnia. At least one night a week I don’t sleep at all. I’m lucky to get four hours on a “good” night, but then often have no problem sleeping during the day. It’s so frustrating because I cannot function on no or little sleep. My pain and stiffness worsens. Then I feel like such a jerk because even the best laid plans, I have to cancel. I’ve always been a bit of a night owl, but this severe insomnia- I don’t know if its from the disease, or the treatments? Just hope it goes away, or at least gets better some day.

  • pbarry23
    2 years ago

    It’s so hard sleep when I’m in severe PsA pain . . . it’s impossible. Sometimes the pain goes into my dreams; I’ll be dreaming that I’m dragging my bloodied and broken legs behind me for example. Then I wake up and I’m in excruciating pain . . . Again.

    Does that ever happen to anyone else?


  • kathunt8
    2 years ago

    Thanks for the helpful article Cynthia. I am struggling with painsomnia right now. How were you able to determine the source of your pain? Thanks!

  • Cynthia Covert author
    2 years ago

    First I need to disclose that I am not a medical professional and am not issuing medical advice. Ok, so I stopped treating my pain with pharmaceutical pain medication and began using medical marijuana and PEMF therapy. Instead of feeling numb like I did from prescription pain medication I experience relief but am left with a tingling in the areas that are the source of my pain. This has helped me reduce how much or often the rest of my body reacts to the pain source, plus reminds me of what I shouldn’t do to aggravate it or how to help it. I discuss both treatments on my personal blog which you are welcome to check out, the link is in my author bio. Painsomnia is no fun!! I hope you can find some relief and get the rest you need. HUGS!

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