Have you stayed awake at night thinking about how much pain you're in from arthritis? Did you know that poor sleep often creates stress, which in turn can induce pain? If you have arthritis, this isn't news to you. According to Arthritis.org, nearly "80% of people with arthritis have trouble sleeping". Stay tuned, friend, because there is hope to regain better sleep and a happier you.
Painful nights caused by arthritis produces sleep deprivation and the side effects are not fun. They include: fatigue, stress, more pain and irritability (in no particular order). It's hard to relax at night and find your comfort zone in bed when you're irritated from not sleeping, in pain from arthritis and stressed out because of the pain.
Those are just the side effects caused naturally. If you're currently taking medication for your arthritis or sleep deprivation, you can probably add more to the list of unwanted outcomes.
If you have swollen joints, they're most likely inflamed and you should use an ice pack to reduce the swelling. Remember not to put ice directly on the skin (put the ice in a plastic sandwich bag and wrap the bag in a washcloth), and never leave it on for too long. Take breaks and repeat the treatment until relief is found.
On the other hand, if your arthritic joints aren't swollen but you're still stiff and achy, Heat Therapy is a practice you should make as part of your wellness routine. Heat is "an easy, inexpensive, and medication-free way to relieve some types of arthritis stiffness and pain".
What Makes Heat Therapy So Effective?
WHEN TO APPLY: As long as the joint is not swollen, anytime is a good time!
WHAT TO USE AND HOW TO APPLY IT: Many are familiar with the heating pad. They're relatively cheap and can be applied to just about any achy area of the body. Their flexibility allows you to wrap, let's say, your elbow to envelope it with warmth until the pain subsides. The downside to heating pads? They have automatic shut-offs, so finding consistent warmth is . . . well inconsistent. Also, a single heating pad covers one area, while an arthritis sufferer is typically affected in more than one joint. To learn how you can feel better from whole-body, consistent warmth with Heat Therapy, click here.
HOW HEAT THERAPY HELPS: When you're cold, your blood vessels are constricted, reducing blood flow throughout your body. This process may be ideal to bring down swelling, but in most cases being chilled over your entire body typically produces feelings of stiffness and achiness.
Warmth, on the other hand, opens up your blood vessels, allowing it to flow easily throughout your body. Blood carries oxygen and nutrients to muscles and tissues to aid in recovery and healing.
As Brandon Kambach, MD tells us in his 2015 ARTHRITIS-health article, warmth also encourages the "pliability of the muscles and connective tissue, which increases joint flexibility and decreases joint stiffness". Ba-da-bing! Flexibility is probably the word your joints have been looking for.
With Heat Therapy, synovial fluid production gets a good kick-start. Synovial fluid is the natural lubrication in your joints that help reduce friction (i.e., the pain, the pain, the pain!).
Relaxation is also a key part in Heat Therapy. Now that your blood is flowing easier, tissues are mending and joints are feeling a little more pliable, your brain will send signals throughout your body that you're starting to feel more relaxed and less tense. When pain is subsiding, you're happier.
Endorphins are natural painkillers, and now that your brain is allowing it to pump out, you start to feel at ease. When you achieve this state, your parasympathetic system (the fight-or-flight response system that constantly keeps you alert) dials down, giving you a chance to let go of that tension and stress that was originally induced by arthritic joint pain. Bingo-bango-bongo, you finally get deeper sleep! Why? You're not bringing that LEVEL 10 stress, tension and arthritic joint pain with you to bed.
SHOULD HEAT THERAPY BE USED IN CONJUNCTION WITH OTHER TREATMENTS? The short answer is absolutely! To achieve faster recovery times, it's best to be well-rested and relaxed on a regular basis, not just when you're sitting in the recliner with a heating pad draped over your hands.
Don't go on wondering if you could have better sleep . . . take these steps as part of your wellness routine and start feeling and sleeping better. Here are some tips to help you get deeper sleep and relaxation so you can get the full benefits in conjunction with Heat Therapy:
MUSIC - Search YouTube or your music app on your phone for quality Delta or Theta State music, which promotes creative thinking and relaxation even in the middle of your hectic day. Here's an example to get your started.
TRY BROAD-SPECTRUM CBD - Why do we suggest broad-spectrum? It's THC-Free or, in other words, it does not have psychoactive ingredients. CBD is not for everyone. As a seller of CBD oils and balms, we speak from experience with our clients that experimentation is the key to finding what works best for you. Be patient and observant of what is and isn't working.
TRY SHOWERING BEFORE BED - Showers often help one relax, so this is just an extra step you can take before slipping between the sheets to help you find a relaxation point that supports deeper quality sleep.
DIFFUSE LAVENDER - Lavender essential oil has been proven to help people feel more relaxed and sleepy. You could also try lavender-infused aromatherapy pillows to promote proper alignment for your neck and have a touch of lavender scent throughout the night. Learn more about the benefits of "Lavender and the Nervous System" from the National Center for Biotechnology Information by hopping on over to their site right here.
START A WELLNESS ROUTINE that fits in line with promoting relaxation. We're not talking about relaxing in front of the TV. We're talking about relaxation that's actually going to benefit you. This could be from exercise, Float Therapy (which has been shown to help arthritis sufferers reduce their pain levels), and Massage Therapy. Discover deeper sleep with whole-body Heat Therapy on a Floatbed, which is pressure-free (meaning blood flows easier throughout your body) and is heated to your ideal temperature like one large, conforming heating pad with consistent warmth during the entire night so you don't wake up with stiff, achy joints.
We're not called Rest & Revive for no reason. It's one of our goals to help you live a better life with less stress, less irritability and less pain from arthritis.
 Arthritis Foundation. Sleep and pain. Arthritis pain can ruin your sleep and sleep problems can make your pain worse.
 Arthritis-health. When and Why to Apply Heat to an Arthritic Joint.
08/21/2015. Brandon Kambach, MD