Poor sleep and joint pain often come hand-in-hand, and it’s a problem many people living with osteoarthritis will be all too familiar with. Not only can joint pain keep you awake at night, but a lack of sleep can exacerbate pain and discomfort during the day. It’s a vicious cycle.

You may find that you have trouble getting to sleep in the first place, or you could be waking up throughout the night. Some people seem to sleep through the night but wake up feeling as though they didn’t get any sleep at all. Whatever problem you’re experiencing, there are lots of things that can help.

Keeping a sleep diary may help pinpoint the factors that are causing you to lose sleep. This is because sleep disturbance is usually triggered by a combination of issues. You should include details like the time you went to bed and when you woke up, whether you got to sleep easily or not, and any factors that may have caused a sleep disturbance such as your mood, pain or fatigue, any caffeinated drinks and your daytime activities. Review the diary after a few weeks to see if there is a pattern or any recurring features.

You may have already heard the term ‘sleep hygiene’. This is really just means things that you can do to improve the quality of your sleep. Good sleep hygiene includes avoiding daytime naps, going to bed and waking up at the same time each day, and avoiding caffeine and alcohol if they’re affecting your sleep. Doctors also recommend making your bedroom a place for sleep and relaxation. This means you should avoid working or watching tv in bed. It can also help to establish a relaxing routine in the lead up to going to bed, perhaps by taking a warm bath or listening to some soothing music.

There are also some practical changes you can make. For example, how comfortable is your mattress and pillow? Your mattress should conform to your body shape and be firm, but not hard. A good mattress will help relieve pressure on the body. Some people also find placing a pillow under a sore joint can help relieve pain.

If you’ve tried these techniques and are still struggling to sleep, have a chat to your doctor. They may recommend certain drug treatments, such as painkillers or sedatives.