I honestly couldn’t think of a better title for this article so here it is, a very straightforward one.
With the lockdown and a recent bump in Prednisone, my sleep schedule has gone for a toss. I still sleep relatively well (‘relatively’ being the operative word), but I’ve just become obsessed with getting a good night’s sleep.
Sleep positions that don't cause discomfort
Now, I am considering the positions in which I sleep because I found they are just as important to my sleep hygiene as anything else. I came to realize there are some positions that don’t cause me discomfort during the night.
We all know that we often feel pain during the night, whether it is from flaring or just being in the same position for far too long. We have to move and stretch and fidget.
Searching for comfort while sleeping
Finding comfortable positions was a difficult task for me because I had very definite ways I slept (read: the fetal position). But, they did a serious number on my joints by morning.
After some trial and error, I have found a handful of positions and the aid of many pillows that don’t make my symptoms worse by morning, and I can actually sleep relatively well through the night.
Disclaimer: I still have to move around a lot, but I have found that I can hold these positions for a “significant” amount of time. Also, I have a memory foam topper that was a total game-changer and I use multiple types of pillows.
Better sleep positions with RA
Bear with me as I name the different positions. Apparently, I am not feeling creative this time around.
1. The flamingo
I lay on my side (either side is fine), with my body completely straight. I then bend the leg on top to the same angle a flamingo holds its leg when it is standing if that makes sense. This position eliminates my legs laying on top of each other which gets uncomfortable after a point, keeps my spine straight, and allows me to hook my hand on my calf and comfortably keep the fingers bent and relaxed.
When I need to stretch, I just straighten that leg a few times and return to neutral.
2. The starfish
This one is pretty self-explanatory. I sleep on my back and stretch out my arms and legs. If I need to stretch, I do my “sheet angels” and return to start.
3. The crab claw
I find my hands and fingers are the most comfortable when they are “at rest”, or, the natural position they fall into when I am not using them. There is a slight bend in the fingers.
I have a pillow filled with husk shells. I swear by this pillow. It is the only thing that helps me sleep during a sinus headache. The pillow conforms to my body and applies gentle pressure. It supports the natural position of hands/body evenly without becoming too hot! If I don’t use my husk pillow, I just use a regular one. I rest my arm (up to the elbow) on the pillow and let it just chill.
4. Thumb war
Okay, bear with me again.
I hook my hand and thumb over my dog’s knee like I’m about to play Thumb Wars with someone. It’s actually a surprisingly comfortable position. When my fingers are naturally curled they fit perfectly around my dog’s leg and the thumb falls perfectly on her muscle. I know, this one is weird but I promise it makes sense once you try it.
Affie sleeps right next to my head between two pillows so I am able to rest my shoulder on the “her pillow”, bend my elbow (also resting on the pillow), and bring and hook my hand on her which is roughly ear height. To be honest, though, this doesn’t last long because Affie doesn’t like the body heat and also doesn’t like to be touched.
I found out about this position by accident when I was checking her pulse during the night! If Affie is really not having it, I just hook my hand on the edge of a pillow and let my thumb hang over the edge.
P.S. Want a fun quarantine drinking game? Count the number of times I wrote the word “naturally” or “position” and take that many shots. You’re welcome.
Are there any sleeping positions that lessen your symptoms? Share in the comments!
After the past 2+ years, how do you feel about telehealth appointments to manage your RA?