Waking Up is Hard to Do

Waking Up is Hard to Do

Open eyes. Check.

Stare at the ceiling for five minutes. Check.

Make sure pets are still alive. Triple check.

Consider everything I have to do that day. Yup.

Try to get out of bed. Nope, not yet.

Blink a few times.

Now comes the hard part, actually moving my body.

I haven’t even attempted it in the first 15 minutes I’m awake because I know that it’s a futile effort. If you have Rheumatoid Arthritis/Disease you know what I mean. Mornings are hard.

Probably harder than any other time of day because we’ve just spent somewhere between three to eight hours laying down (theoretically in the same position but we know that’s not possible) and now we’re meant to move our stiff, swollen bodies out of a laying position to a sitting or standing one? Yeah right, good luck to us.

Really, in the morning, the only thing I’m good for is blinking my eyelids. I can’t move my fingers, let alone my arms, shoulders or hips. I don’t know if I need help getting out of bed because I haven’t even attempted the first move.

But, I do have some tips and tricks I use to make the morning more manageable.

Note I say “manageable” not great, or even better; because my main goal is to just get out of bed.

After I blink a few times and stare at the ceiling for a while I rotate my head to the left. I check for spiders on the wall. (Side story: there are two spiders that live behind my bookshelf. We have come to an agreement that as long as they stay out of view during the day – I am deathly afraid of spiders – they can come out whenever the lights are off. Every so often when I wake up super early they are still out and about but they quickly scurry back to their corners). I then rotate my head the other way. I do this maybe 5-10 times depending on how stiff my neck feels before I move on to snow angels.

Yes, you read that right. I said snow angels! Well, more like sheet angels. I literally just make the movements I would make for snow angels and loosen up my arms and legs a bit. I play this by ear because some days I am not as capable of doing those motions.

I swing the comforter or blanket off me and onto the cats who also need a little push to wake up. I swing my legs over the side of the bed while bringing my torso and upper half as well. As my Physical Therapist says, make sure my torso is straight and always sit up like a see-saw. As your legs come down, your upper half goes up. Gravity is your friend!

A few more stretches follow.

I raise my arms up to my ears. I never push myself too much at this stage because I just want to stand up. I kick my legs out a few times (the same motion that happens when your doctor checks your reflexes) and slowly bring my feet square with the floor.

I slowly hinge my hips and stand up. On my bad days I use my bed, bedside cabinet or even a walker to help me straighten out.

Honestly once I’m up and walking a few paces everything “thaws” and I’m ready for my day.

Waking up is hard to do but you know what really gets me out of bed? Coffee. You thought I was going to say my pets, right? No! They are even worse at waking up than me and wait until I’m done in the bathroom before they even open their eyes.

Coffee. I make the best coffee but unfortunately, the machine is in the kitchen and somehow, some way I need to get there!

What tips do you use to get out of bed? Let me know in the comments!

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The RheumatoidArthritis.net team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

Comments

View Comments (36)
  • nuReality
    3 months ago

    Rest comes too easily: my regimen just 4 years ago was rise and shower by 5:30 for the commute to the office for 10 hours of designing networks.
    Coffee is truly a goal. So is 350 calorie Ensure with 5 pills and a space heater as I wiggle toes and fingers.
    Rest now is just passing out in the Lazy Boy or post-waddling in/out of the facilities toward the goal; the memory foam mattress.
    Yoga poses (who am I kidding) and stretching take the majority of the day, when I’m not being bled for liver enzymes twice a month an visits to the specialists at Natl Jewish – Denver.
    I hand wash dishes and vacuum, and I’m the bookkeeper and the liaison to the youngest son.
    I penned how the body feels: like I’ve been seal-a-mealed in packaging – for later. I’ve listened and felt how the body is decaying and have tried desperately to describe in words those feelings.
    I am awake 18 hours from 9 AM to 3 AM (to ensure tomorrow does arrive)
    Be Best! Have Hope!

  • Monica Y. Sengupta moderator author
    2 months ago

    Hey @nureality!! Thanks so much for sharing your story on my article! Sometimes it still amazes me how much rest my body needs just to get through a day.

    I used to stand on my feet for 12 hours as a veterinary technician and just the idea of it makes me want to take a nap.

    May I ask, are you awake for so long because of pain or insomnia? I go between being asleep most of the day because I can’t stay awake to being totally wired because of insomnia! ~Monica

  • Jo J
    3 months ago

    LOL COFFEE! It takes me at least 30-60 minutes to get out of bed. I have a sunrise simulator light that gradually starts lighting up at 7:00. I’m usually mostly awake and watching a morning TV show when a very soft alarm goes off at 7:30. I do best if I creep down the stairs and have my coffee before I even shower, otherwise, even in the warm shower, I can’t bend over well enough to wash my legs or feet. (Honestly, I just drop my puff on the shower floor and rub my feet over it)
    Seriously, the sunrise simulator has been an awesome tool for me for years. When I was still working it helped immensely in the mornings. I set it to start lighting up the room 30 minutes before my alarm. I use it 7 days a week to try to improve my sleep cycle.

  • Monica Y. Sengupta moderator author
    2 months ago

    Thanks for sharing Jo!! I’ll be honest, I totally do that loofah trick too..It definitely beats trying to bend over and wash my feet that way.

    I need to look into a day light simulator. I am lucky that I have an east facing window so I get a good amount of light in the morning but during the winter I will sleep in much later than I should because it’s so dark.

    Thanks for sharing on my article!! ~Monica

  • WintersNoni
    3 months ago

    Thank you so much for this article! I thought I was quite alone in feeling this way about getting up in the mornings. I have to sit for awhile and do ankle rotations before I put my feet on the floor, but even with that the shock of pain is horrible when I stand up. I have to look past it to the coffee pot calling my name. 🙂

  • Monica Y. Sengupta moderator author
    3 months ago

    I am so happy I am not the only who thinks coffee just makes everything better! And I am really glad you liked my article, @wintersnoni!!

    Do you mind if I ask, how long does it take you get out of bed? For me, it can be anywhere between a few minutes or 15/30 before I put my feet on the ground!

    Thanks for commenting!! ~Monica

  • Mary Sophia Hawks moderator
    3 months ago

    This rings so true!!!! I agree with you that coffee is my best morning friend! Getting out of my warm bed is so tough. I have a barometer of sorts: 1) If my upper body comes up when my legs come down, then I’m hopeful. 2) If my feet don’t hurt badly when I slip on my shoes, then I’m hopeful.
    The best tip I have is to have a good bed. I bought a memory foam mattress 4 years ago. I can actually sleep comfortably all night without pressure points.
    Like you, once I am up and moving, things seem to get better.

    MS

  • Monica Y. Sengupta moderator author
    3 months ago

    Thanks for always commenting on my articles, MS, I really appreciate it!

    I recently bought a mattress topper for my bed and I agree, it’s made all the difference!!

    ~Monica

  • sue
    3 months ago

    Hello ! My name is sue .I have not been on the site for many months now..but I have a question, you say your from Indiana, so am I!! I read you said your insurance paid for you a hot tub ,could you be so kind as to tell me how I go about doing / getting a hot tub paid for by insurance..please and thank you !

  • DianeTX
    3 months ago

    I set my alarm 2hrs earlier than I need to get up. I have my morning meds in a shot glass with another glass of water on my nightstand. I take the pills and then munch on 6 saltines, more water. Go back to sleep until get up time. Then the stretching begins. Life is complicated and that’s just getting out of bed

  • WintersNoni
    3 months ago

    I love this idea. And I’m always trying to think of what I could keep in the bedroom to eat with my meds. Crackers are an excellent idea – thank you!

  • Monica Y. Sengupta moderator author
    3 months ago

    Ooh! That’s a great idea, Diane! I get distracted by things and sometimes don’t take my morning meds as soon as I wake up. I need to do something like this so I don’t forget.

    Thanks for sharing!

  • rockcandi
    3 months ago

    When my son was in his first almost 2 years my doctor dubbed him my “anti-stiff” bc getting up with him every 2-4 hours (in addition to the number of times I wake up and have to pee!) kept me from being too stiff when we got out of bed bright and early. His sleep schedule changed when he was almost 2 and he’s able to sleep more hours straight through. Then it changed again when we visited family in a different time zone during his 2nd year at Christmas time last year and he now stays up later, sleeps pretty well through the night (he wakes up often but not all the way and goes back to sleep quickly as soon as he’s cuddled up to me or his dad) and then he doesn’t wake up for the day until after 10 most mornings. It’s really hard to make myself get out of bed besides the 1-3 times I wake up on my own bc I want to sleep. So now I’m back to pre-baby morning stiffness. I can’t remember what I did before! I have to sit up straight away when I wake up around 8:30-9:30 a.m. bc my body is hurting so badly, but I usually fall back to sleep sitting up. So then my legs from hips to toes are numb by the time I wake up again in an hour or so. Then I’m slowly climbing out of bed so I can stand and deal w the horrible pain of the numbness leaving my legs. I think what I’ve found works best for me is the few mornings when I have to get up and get moving as soon as I wake up. I’m not stiff and inflexible for as long on those mornings. I try to make myself do that every morning but if I don’t have anywhere to be or my son doesn’t get up right away, I find it difficult to make myself get moving bc it’s so painful.

  • Monica Y. Sengupta moderator author
    3 months ago

    Hey @rockcandi!!

    Thank you so much for commenting on my article! I am sorry it took me so long to reply..

    I’m the same way. The later I wake up the worse I feel. Do you think it has something to do with the fact we’re immobile for longer?

    This is not the ideal situation but could you set an alarm and get up at those inopportune times? It may break up your sleep but it would help in the morning?

    I’ve actually been doing alright in the AMs because the last two weeks I’ve been waking up at 2am *UGH* and puttering around for an hour.

    But, let’s be real…We can’t have it all with RA…I feel like we’re always sacrificing something!!

    Are you feeling better now? Some days we just have to sit in our chairs and enjoy some TV R&R!

  • rockcandi
    3 months ago

    I for sure think it’s the immobility for so many hours straight that makes mornings so bad. Even though I’m not getting up and moving around every 2-3 hours with Pax anymore, I still wake up and move a few times a night. Ex: Say we go to bed at 11:30, I wake up about 2, walk to bathroom and go out back to smoke (ugh, I’m so TIRED of smoking!) go back to bed, up again about 4 to bathroom and out to smoke, up again by 7:30 to bathroom and out back again. So I’m still getting up and around a few times a night most nights but it’s not made a bit of difference on how stiff, numb, and painful I am when I get up with Pax about 9:30-10. Feeling a little better now but only bc I’m taking more Prednisone since we are in process of moving: cleaning, packing, etc. I’m so excited about finally getting into a home that’s all our own that I’m not too upset about having to take more Prednisone. How are you feeling, especially w the cold weather starting to settle in?

  • Mamawsherbear
    3 months ago

    Hello all hope everyone is having a good day ,just like the author getting up is not fun my comment is not so much about getting up ,since i got my new mattress its HELPED ALOT (LOOM@LEAF)but getting my day started i get my coffee first then and sit for about an hour let my meds kick in then i start my day i always make my dr appts after 11am at least by now im up and going and at least for me mornings are the hardest and then towards the end of the day because im worn out by then.I know this sounds depressing but is there anyone else who sometimes just doesnt want to get up somedays i just dont want to get up because i know its going to be a long pain ridden day and pain is exhausting its so tiring fighting day in and day out ,and good old Indiana it can never make its mind up about whether its going to be 90degrees or 70 degrees the constant temp changes kill me grrrrrrrrrr.Well everyone try and have a good evening and a good sleep love you all my fellow pain warriors

  • Mary Sophia Hawks moderator
    3 months ago

    I am so sorry your days are so pain-ridden. You have probably tried a myriad of medications. However, a visit to your rheumatologist with a really frank discussion about your limitations and your feelings should happen soon. If you detail the things in your daily life that you cannot do, that will help the MD understand the extent of what’s going on. You are in my prayers.
    MS

  • rockcandi
    3 months ago

    I know the feeling of not wanting to get out of bed bc the whole day is going to take SO MUCH EFFORT! And it’s hard to not occasionally get so tired of the fight. My son is the reason I fight now and I haven’t spent a day in bed since he was born. My grandma (whom I lived with on a few occasions while growing up) spent much of her days in her chair and taking long naps on the couch. I don’t want my son to see me do that. Today I’ve spent most of the day in my chair watching TV (just like my grandma) but it’s a very rare occasion that just can’t be helped today. Keep fighting the fight, if even just for yourself! We have good days and bad days, let’s make the good days count! 🙂

  • traynak
    3 months ago

    This is such a great article! It explains how I feel every morning exactly. Thank you for the reassurance I’m not the only one!

  • Monica Y. Sengupta moderator author
    3 months ago

    Thanks so much for commenting, @traynak!!! I really appreciate your kind words. ~Monica

  • starscream
    3 months ago

    I get up all night long to move. I can’t stand being still. Maybe that makes getting up in the morning easier? My mornings are not this bad. Or rather if I am still and stiff it hurts not to move so I have to move. I do get like this sitting in a chsir at work if something caught my attention and I stay still too long. My dr suggested setting a bell to remind me to move. At night I move more often just tossing and turning but often standing up and pacing. My dr also forbid coffee for me but dark chocolate works as a wake up.

  • Monica Y. Sengupta moderator author
    3 months ago

    I wonder if my pain and stiffness are not as bad because I also move around a lot at night. I’ve been better in the last couple of years where I stay asleep for a few hours at a time but I’m still not capable of sleeping eight/nine hours a day.

    The bell is a great idea! I use a timer on my phone to get moving every 30 minutes or so.

    Thanks for sharing on my article!!

  • starscream
    3 months ago

    Also my version of RA likes cold not heat and I keep my bedroom cold and my body temp down. Sometimes I am literally shivering at night but it hurts less.

  • Monica Y. Sengupta moderator author
    3 months ago

    I am more sensitive to cold but in recent years extreme heat also affects me!

    Do you use ice on specific joints?

  • starscream
    3 months ago

    In the winter I walk around in a tshirt and feel good but in the summer I am barely able to walk more than 1/20 of a mile (one block) before I am swollen and in pain but can last swimming in a cold ocean (but not a warm lake)

  • Lawrence 'rick' Phillips
    3 months ago

    I often use a crane. I have a nice 1/2 ton installed next to the bed. Of course since it is getting colder I will need a nice hot tub installed next to the crane. I amen getting out is only half the battle. A nice 99 degree hot tub is just as important.

  • Monica Y. Sengupta moderator author
    3 months ago

    Don’t give me any ideas, Rick!! Now I want a hot tub in my bedroom. I could probably right it off as a medical expense come tax season, right?

  • Mamawsherbear
    3 months ago

    You can actually get a hot tub thru insurance my dr wrote me a script for hot tub therapy and my hubby designed one had it built and insurance reimbursed us

  • MaryB
    3 months ago

    Hi Monica,
    Hoping this day is better. I guess what I do is take inventory, and I have a new med that seems to be helping. Only took three to get here. Also, if things hurt I don,t feel as guilty now because I know I’m not alone. One or more of you are having the same issues, so I say a little prayer that we all get through this. Had the problem the other morning and explained to my husband in “his” terms. Told him my feet and legs were like a door without hinges. Blocks of wood put together but something was missing, and he understood. Guess that is an idea you might try, because as we have learned, if people haven’t gone through this they don’t understand. And as well meaning as they might be “move more, take a walk, it will get better” may not always work. Hope these ideas work for you, and that you have a better day. Sunshine on your face, gentle winds and kind words to surround you! Blessings.

  • Monica Y. Sengupta moderator author
    3 months ago

    I’m glad you’re feeling better as well 🙂

    That’s a great way of explaining how we feel in the mornings. I just tried imagining moving a wooden figurine and it doesn’t bend…Like us!

    I’m still working on not being hard on myself but I’m slowly being kinder.

    Thanks so much!! I hope you continue to feel better on this medication! May I ask, what is it?

    ~Monica

  • Daniel Malito moderator
    3 months ago

    @mysengupta I have recently come to view my mornings as waking up “frozen,” almost as if I’m in a block of ice or frozen solid. It then takes me hours to “thaw” out, and sometimes that doesn’t happen until evening or after dinner. I haven’t figured out yet what triggers a long thaw or a short one, maybe one day I will. Keep on keepin’ on, DPM.

  • betharooski
    3 months ago

    Great article! Here is my worst time when I don’t wanna crawl out of bed —-
    I have a tough time getting up on a cold, wet winter morning. I have a heated electric throw that I use to warm up cold bones and muscles. I do turn it down when I am warm at bedtime. Too much heat starts up a hotflash. Ha! It fits mostly over me and doesn’t heat up my hubby or my cat. I have one that sleeps near my feet unless I kick around too much on a rough night. I stretch my ankles and toes too. Wiggling and moving helps a little too. Hey, you are a good author! Keep it up!

  • Richard Faust moderator
    3 months ago

    Hi betharooski. My wife, Kelly Mack (a contributor here), also has an electric blanket (AKA the heatalator) that covers just her half of the bed. So, just like your situation me and the cat don’t get heated up. It certainly works well for us. She uses it year round. Best, Richard (RheumatoidArthritis.net Team)

  • Monica Y. Sengupta moderator author
    3 months ago

    !!! Thank you so much, @betharooski!!! I really, really appreciate the kind comment!!

    I need to get an electric blanket but I move around a lot at night, kicking and tossing (things I’ve done since I was a kid) and am terrified I’m going to get tangled or bend the blanket in the wrong way! I could just use it the morning though…That would be very helpful!

    What is your cat’s name? Does he stay with you during flares?

    Thanks for sharing!! ~Monica

  • MaryB
    3 months ago

    Really liked this article. It sounds so foreign to anyone who does not have RA, but it is “normal” to those of us with this problem. I do so much of the same things and have learned some that I can try. Thanks for putting this on. I now may have some mornings that are “lighter” because of knowing I’m not the only one!

  • Monica Y. Sengupta moderator author
    3 months ago

    Hey @maryb! Thanks so much for commenting on my article!!! I really appreciate it!! It definitely makes it easier for me to know I’m not the only one waking up in the mornings feeling the way I do.

    What do you find helps you out in the morning? I’m always looking for ideas to make the AM go smoother 🙂 ~Monica

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