If joint pain is keeping you up in the wee hours of the morning, tell your doctor so that she can determine if your arthritis meds are properly managing your symptoms. While your doctor may prescribe stronger pain meds, such as opioids, for short-term use, they come with many downsides and can leave you feeling sleepy the next day. For some people with chronic pain, low-dose antidepressants can help them sleep better by interrupting the pain cycle. You may have to try several medications before you find one that works for you.
Tammy Applegate dreams of sleep – when she dreams, that is. Most nights, she can’t sleep soundly; pain rousts her four or five times. She turns over, repositions the pillow under one shoulder – the only position that offers some relief – and waits for slumber to overpower her discomfort. “Sometimes it takes me so long to get comfortable that I stay awake anywhere from 30 minutes to a couple of hours,” says the Fort Worth, Tex., mother of four, who has mixed connective tissue disease and requires sleep treatments to resolve her issues with pain and sleep.
She’s got plenty of company. Insomnia – broadly defined as having trouble falling or staying sleep – affects anywhere from 10 to 40 percent of American adults, at least intermittently, according to population studies. It’s estimated that some 10 to 15 percent have long-term sleep problems (lasting more than a month).