Surprising Reasons You Can’t Sleep If You Have RA

Cranky, tired and foggy because you can’t get your eight hours of shut-eye due to the aches and pains of rheumatoid arthritis? We’re here to help!

Gabrielle Lichterman
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Too smelly
Bothered by frightening or stressful dreams that wake you up? Dirty socks lying on the floor could be the culprit! In a small study at Germany’s University Hospital Mannheim, volunteers who were exposed to the odor of rotten eggs as they slept had more negative dreams, while nearly all who were exposed to the aroma of roses had positive dreams.
Easy fix: It can’t hurt to remove anything from your bedroom that may be giving off a foul smell, such as dirty laundry, a pet bed or musty rug. Then, place a bowl of scented potpourri in your room or spray a scented deodorizer in the air before going to sleep. 
Why it work: Scents are processed by your brain and affect your mood whether you’re awake or asleep. As a result, the aromas can change the emotional tone of your dream, says the study’s lead author, Boris Stuck, MD.           

More tips to help you snooze better:

Time for a new pillow
Been holding onto your favorite pillow for a year or more? “It may be too old to offer the proper support. That results in neck, shoulder and back pain that keeps you from getting deep sleep,” says James B. Maas, PhD, a sleep researcher at Cornell University and co-author of Sleep for Success! To test your pillow, do the “fold test”: If you fold your pillow in half and it doesn’t spring open right away, it’s time for a replacement.

More detail = better sleep
Folks who picture detailed images—e.g., the foam on waves as they hit the beach or a single leaf floating down a stream—to bring on slumber tend to fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer than those who picture general images, say University of Oxford researchers. The more you can focus on relaxing thoughts, the more likely you’ll be able to enjoy quality sleep. 

Drift off faster by feeling thankful
People who regularly count their blessings—for instance, the good health of their family or support of their friends—doze off faster, sleep more deeply and have higher energy levels during the day than those who don’t, according to a study in the Journal of Psychosomatic Research. The link? Thankful thoughts prompt positive feelings, which short-circuit stress, a main culprit behind lousy sleep, the researchers explain.

April 2013