A woman sitting in bed stretching to keep her inflamed joints loose at night.

Night Exercises

I still remember the good old days when I could sleep anywhere, any time, and extremely deeply. In a previous article, I shared the story about the time my college roommate found me fast asleep in my under bed storage. In this article, I will share the story about the time I fell asleep in the middle of the floor of my house.

My biggest issue now is staying asleep

I had just gotten home from school and my dad decided he wanted to eat out for dinner. While I waited for him to change, I played with my dog on the floor. We must have been wrestling or playing tug of war because my dad found us fast asleep in some sort of weird knot. Apparently, I had fallen asleep on to the top of my head and my arm was stuck under Saachi, our Bullmastiff.

Thankfully, I can still fall asleep pretty quickly, even if not in the position. The biggest issue for me now is staying asleep. Even with sleeping pills, I wake up multiple times during the night.

Embracing my sleepless nights

I love sleep. I’ve written multiple articles on my love for sleep, my lack of it, and how much I rely on naps. I like sleeping and I love a full night’s rest. But, as with so many things about my rheumatoid arthritis, I got annoyed that I wasn’t sleeping, I wasn’t sleeping well, and I had to spend precious daylight hours napping. It was not productive and made me feel worse.

I had to change so, just like I embraced the nap, I also embraced my sleepless nights.

Let me explain.

Nighttime exercises

I am going to wake up during the night. I am going to wake up multiple times during the night. Instead of fighting it, I might as well use those wakeful moments to my advantage.

During the day, I have to stay active and mobile. Otherwise, my joints seize up and I become stiff and painful. The same applies to bedtime. On the VERY rare night, I sleep through, I may feel rested when I wake up but I also feel more painful.

Simple stretches while I'm up

I need to move at night but I am certainly not setting my alarm every hour to walk around my room. I just use those times I am already waking up to do simple stretches like snow angels with my arms and legs, stretch my neck my bringing my head to my ears, and bring my knees up to my chest. Then, I roll over and go back to bed.

Gentle exercises help to loosen joints

I am lucky that I can still fall asleep quickly after waking up (except during flares), and my biggest tip for that is just not to get out of bed completely. If I "wake up," I might as well start my day. If I find that I can’t doze back off, I read until my eyes become unfocused and I quickly go with the flow.

For me personally, I wake up because I am feeling stiff and painful. Doing a few exercises, like the ones above, loosen my joints and relax my body so I can go back to sleep.

My joints are less stiff when I wake up

Yes, it’s not good that I am waking up that much, but it’s going to happen so I might as well make that productive time. I now wake up more rested and energetic because I don’t feel like the tin man!

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