Treating Psoriatic Arthritis

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Why Psoriatic Arthritis Makes It Hard to Sleep

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Almost 30% of people with psoriasis, an autoimmune disease affecting the skin, eventually develop psoriatic arthritis, a type of arthritis causing inflammation, pain, and stiffness in the joints. In most cases, psoriatic arthritis develops in people between 30 and 50 years old, typically within 10 years after psoriasis symptoms first appear. Many people living with psoriatic arthritis also experience sleep problems, which may, in turn, lead to complications like extreme fatigue and reduced quality of life.

But it is possible to manage psoriatic arthritis to promote better sleep. If you have joint pain when sleeping, your doctor can help determine which treatment options may be most effective for you. Your doctor can also help you decide which at-home methods can help you relax more and sleep better at night.

5 Tips For People With Psoriatic Arthritis From People With Psoriatic Arthritis

Psoriatic Arthritis and Sleep

Several studies have already identified the link between psoriatic arthritis and sleep. Research shows up to to 85% of people living with psoriatic arthritis experience significant sleep problems that interfere with their quality of life. Many patients report diminished sleep quality and duration, as well as frequent sleep disturbances and, as a result, daytime dysfunction. Problems such as depression and anxiety, which are common for people with psoriatic arthritis, may make sleeping more difficult for many people living with the condition. Also, sleep problems may result from any of the symptoms of psoriatic arthritis, such as:

  • Lower back pain
  • Pain in the fingers, toes, and feet
  • Reduced range of motion of a joint
  • Stiffness, swelling, or tenderness in a joint

The fact that the majority of people with psoriatic arthritis also have psoriasis can add more sleep challenges as well; people with psoriasis may struggle to fall or stay asleep due to itching and pain, and research links psoriasis to sleep disorders like obstructive sleep apnea. In most cases, people living with obstructive sleep apnea stop breathing multiple times throughout the night, which makes it difficult to get a restful night’s sleep–and if untreated, sleep apnea can increase your risk of high blood pressure, stroke, and other problems.

Tips for Sleeping Better

Fortunately, it’s still possible to sleep well, even if you live with psoriatic arthritis. First, have a conversation with your doctor about any specific symptoms, like joint pain, that interfere with your ability to rest comfortably. Your doctor can prescribe medications to help you manage your pain and any other symptoms so you can get a better night’s sleep.

After talking with your doctor, you can also try certain strategies at home to promote relaxation and sleep, such as:

  • Avoiding alcohol, nicotine, and heavy or large meals before bed.
  • Avoiding electronic devices, such as TVs, for at least one hour before you go to sleep.
  • Creating and maintaining a sleep schedule, including going to bed and waking up at the same time each day.
  • Keeping your bedroom cool, dark, and quiet.
  • Performing gentle exercises and stretches, such as yoga, which may help lessen joint pain and stiffness.
  • Using other relaxation techniques, such as aromatherapy or a hot bath, before you sleep.

The Importance of Sleep

Sleep is important for a number of reasons. Getting enough sleep helps your brain function better, promotes emotional well-being, makes you more physically fit, and helps you perform throughout your day. Sleep deprivation, which is common for people with psoriatic arthritis, can have serious consequences.

If you don’t get a good night’s sleep, your body doesn’t have the maximum amount of time it needs to make hormones, form new connections in the brain, and repair tissues throughout your body. As a result, conditions like heart disease, kidney disease, diabetes, and high blood pressure are more common in people lacking adequate sleep.

But it isn’t just about what happens inside your body. Regularly missing out on good quality sleep makes it harder to remember information and learn new things. You may be less likely to react quickly in certain situations, making events like car accidents more likely. And people who don’t get enough sleep are generally less productive throughout the day; research shows sleep-deprived individuals make more mistakes and take longer to finish tasks compared to those who sleep well.

You can still achieve a good night’s sleep, even with psoriatic arthritis. Working with your doctor is essential for managing any symptoms that interfere with your sleep, as well as helping you prevent complications from sleep deprivation. And other techniques, such as gentle stretching, may enable you to keep your symptoms in check so you can rest easier.

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Medical Reviewer: William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS
Last Review Date: 2020 Apr 17
1. Psoriatic arthritis. Mayo Clinic.
2. About Psoriatic Arthritis. National Psoriasis Foundation.
3. Screen Patients with Psoriasis for Obstructive Sleep Apnea, Researchers Say. American Journal of Managed Care.
4. Sleep disorders in patients with psoriatic arthritis and psoriasis. Rhumatologia.
5. Tips for better sleep with psoriatic disease. National Psoriasis Foundation.
Sleep Deprivation and Deficiency. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute.
Where Are You Most Affected by Psoriatic Arthritis?
senior woman holding painful hand
Hands and feet
Neck, spine and back
brittle nails
Skin and nails
Hands and feet
Neck, spine and back
Skin and nails

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