Older man sitting at table enjoying a hot beverage. Behind him is a giant wall clock with symbols representing parts of his long morning routine.

Tips on Mornings with RA

Mornings are difficult, especially with RA. I’ve found lately that I’ve had a lot more trouble staying asleep, and at first, I thought this was stress-related—and it might still be. But, I’ve also noticed that my RA has been worse lately, almost like I’m in a constant flare. And when this happens, my sleep is negatively affected.

Worsened RA symptoms in the morning

For instance, for the past two nights, I’ve fallen into a routine where I fall asleep relatively quickly. However, once 3:30 am to 4:30 am strikes, my body and mind spring awake. My mind is spinning, my joints are stiff, and I have a headache. It’s uncomfortable.

Given these recent flares and uncomfortable feelings, I’ve had to find new ways to make mornings easier. I wanted to write today about what I do to mitigate the negative side effects of morning fatigue and pain.

Managing mornings with RA

First, I give myself plenty of time to wake up in the morning. This means setting my alarm earlier than normal so I can lay in bed longer and prepare myself to get up. One of the best things in life for me is to lay in bed under the covers and rest.

It feels comfortable and cozy and, although I am in more pain in the morning with headaches, joint stiffness, etc., I try to incorporate some time experiencing this feeling every morning. I’ve found that it helps calm and relax me, even if it means waking up earlier.

Drinking a glass of water before starting my day

Once I feel relatively steady enough to wake up, I then drink a big glass of water before doing anything else—including eating, drinking coffee, or responding to emails. I’ve found that this helps me stay hydrated and gives me a little bit more energy. It also serves as a great reminder to take my medications for the day.

Stretches to help with morning stiffness

In addition, I’ve been trying to incorporate stretches into my morning routine lately. These can be significantly affected by the degree of my joint pain or stiffness, but gentle stretching—particularly of my hands, shoulders, neck, and hips—really helps alleviate some of the pain and achy feeling that can accompany those joints in the morning.

From my own personal experience, I can say that you have to be careful not to stretch for too long or with too much intensity, as this can negate the benefits of stretching.

Peppermint tea to calm my stomach

After stretching, I usually like to have a cup of peppermint tea. This either comes before or after my much-needed cup of coffee—but usually after. I think I’ve talked about this before in a previous article, and I’m not sure what health benefits peppermint tea has, but from my personal experience, I’ve found that it helps calm my stomach and gets me in the right frame of mind for the upcoming day.

Mornings are tough with RA

To be clear, this is a very ideal routine given that I am currently working from home. I’m not sure how practical this would be to carry forward into a routine that involved traveling to my office again.

Regardless, I’m hoping that by sharing my perspective on mornings and what I do to alleviate the brunt of the pain/stiffness/annoyance that arrives as dawn breaks, community members can feel that their own experiences are heard and validated.

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