Waking Up Early when You Have RA Can Be a Struggle, But I Like It
I, and many other RheumatoidArthritis.net contributors and moderators, have written extensively on problems with sleeping when you have rheumatoid arthritis (RA). From joint pain to waking up constantly throughout the night to random body aches and pains, sleeping is a problem.
So it might sound weird for me to say that I have recently been getting up earlier in the morning, and even weirder to say that I have actually really enjoyed getting up early in the morning lately. And, at least in my experience, it has helped me and my RA feel better.
I have always been an early riser
Before getting up early, which for me is about 6:15-7:15 AM, I would normally get up around 8-8:30 AM (remember that I am still working from home so the commute for work starting at 9 is relatively small!).
I think I felt justified in waking up that late for work because we were in a pandemic; things were scary and uncertain. And, honestly, I think I was in a time where I needed more rest. We all needed (and continue to need, it's still not over) more rest. But, when I think back throughout my life, I have always been an early riser.
Changes in my wake up patterns over the years
During high school, I would have to wake up at 6 in order to be at school by 8 (I had a pretty long commute over to the high school I attended). And before then, I would normally wake up around 6 — my mom will attest to this.
It was only once I got into college that that changed: I started sleeping later (except when I had an 8 AM class, which was only in my last semester) and consequently felt more tired. I think I also wanted to try something new since I had been getting up at 6 for over 18 years.
I kept going until very recently because I realized that I kept waking up exhausted and stayed exhausted and tired throughout the whole day (which is in addition to the fatigue and malaise associated with having RA).
Benefits of waking up early
But what does this have to do with RA? Well, since I've started waking up earlier, I've noticed that a lot of my energy is back that had previously been sucked up by RA and fatigue.
To be clear, I still do have fatigue — especially after taking my Humira shot — but it is much less. I think this is because I'm going back to the routine that my body had been so accustomed to for years.
Feeling more productive
I also think there's a mental benefit for me, too. When I wake up earlier, I feel more productive (possibly related to having more energy to do said things to feel more productive). This is a feeling that I love to feel daily, even when I haven't been the most productive.
Getting to bed at an earlier time
Of course, it's not just that I'm waking up earlier. I'm also going to bed earlier to make up for getting up earlier. That way, I'm still getting enough sleep. Basically, I've just shifted my sleep schedule up an hour, and I'm amazed at the world of difference it has made.
I think what this experience has really taught me is how important it is to listen to my body and what it needs/wants, which is something that anyone with a chronic illness knows and fully realizes every day.
Do you struggle with insomnia?