Why does RA flare up at night? We take a look at the science

If you or someone you love suffers from rheumatoid arthritis, you’ll know how painful it is to live with. It’s particularly bad at night, when many sufferers say it gets worse. There’s actual science as to why this happens and, luckily, mattresses that can help to ease the symptoms. In this article, we’ll take a look at both.

Why does rheumatoid arthritis get worse at night?

There are a number of theories as to why rheumatoid arthritis gets worse at night. Though doctors don’t know completely why things worsen, they have a pretty good idea.

One theory is that the body’s circadian rhythm plays a role in this pain, because people with rheumatoid arthritis have bodies that release less cortisol, the anti-inflammatory, at night, increasing inflammation related pains.

The body also releases pro-inflammatory cytokines and there are changes in the body’s immune response that might make rheumatoid arthritis feel worse. The body also releases higher levels of melatonin and prolactin at night, both of which can increase cytokines, all of which creates the perfect storm to make inflammation worse.

What makes rheumatoid arthritis worse at night?

There are certain things that make rheumatoid arthritis worse at night. They are:

  • already being in pain when you go to bed,
  • mattresses or pillows putting pressure on joints and irritating arthritis,
  • other risk factors for insomnia being present, such as high stress levels and drinking caffeine before bed.

How arthritis disrupts sleep

Studies show that arthritis pain peaks between 11pm and 4am. People with arthritis tend to report frequent difficulty falling asleep and staying asleep, because their condition presents pain that is difficult to ignore. This makes getting comfortable a laborious and exhausting task.

A 2021 study of 133 people with arthritis found that 54.1% of people with arthritis reported sleeping poorly. They said they had greater difficulty falling asleep, shorter periods of sleep, poor sleep quality, and more daytime problems related to poor quality sleep. It’s not the first study to conclude as much. In 2018, a study proved that insomnia is significantly more prevalent in people with rheumatoid arthritis, affecting 71% of the participants with the condition who took part in the study, versus 33% of the general population.

Does lack of sleep make arthritis worse?

A lack of sleep can make rheumatoid arthritis worse. That’s because a lack of sleep is linked to stress, stress releases cortisol, and cortisol is known to make arthritis worse. People with poor quality sleep and forms of arthritis are also reportedly more likely to ruminate on their pain, which can make it worse. It’s an endless cycle of pain and it leaves many sufferers feeling extremely frustrated.

There’s also a link between people with arthritis and poor mental health. People suffering with rheumatoid arthritis are more likely to report problems in their marriages and depression.

Tips for getting better sleep with arthritis

There are some ways you can try to bring on sleep and help ease your arthritis symptoms. These include:

  • Creating a sleep routine, so that your body knows when it is time to go to sleep. Consider taking a bath, meditating, or taking part in another calming activity.
  • Avoid daytime naps.
  • Incorporate exercises that ease arthritis symptoms into your daytime routine. Avoid exercising four hours before bed.
  • Avoid caffeine and nicotine in the afternoon and evening. Avoid alcohol.
  • Eat food that is nutritionally dense.
  • Use your bed to relax in only, not for watching television or doing work.
  • Keep your bedroom cool and dark.
  • Try different pillow positioning, such as under your knees or hips to ease pain.
  • Buy a copper mattress.

The Copper Tech mattress for RA

The Copper Tech mattress by Hugh Beds relieves back pain, stiff joints, and restless nights, all of which are experienced by people with rheumatoid arthritis. The mattress copper activates in line with your body’s needs and eases pain, as well as decreasing inflammation in your body generally.

Copper has been proved to decrease inflammation in the body generally, as well as reducing joint damage and muscle cramps. In some cases, it is even preventative.

Resting better means your body and mind can naturally heal, which will help you with your energy levels and stamina. You can finally break the sleep deprivation/stress circle.

For more information on the Copper Tech mattress and its wonderful benefits, please visit our website.

Choose Hugh Beds for better sleep

Your Hugh Bed comes with a 30 day sleep trial, free 2-person room choice delivery, free UK delivery on all orders over £300, plus a 10 year warranty and 0% APR finance options available.

For more information, please email info@hughbeds.com, or call 0330 113 5750, and a dedicated member of our team would be happy to talk through your options.

Menu