Did you know that as we age, our sleep needs and patterns can change? According to the National Sleep Foundation, it’s common for older adults to experience changes in the quality and duration of their sleep due mostly to changes to the body’s “internal clock”. Other factors can also impact changes in sleep patterns, such as chronic joint pain, other health conditions, hormone production, and shifts in daily schedules (such as waking up earlier, eating earlier, etc.) And, as we get older, it simply takes our bodies longer to adjust to significant changes to sleep schedules – making it difficult to get the restorative and restful sleep we need to recharge our bodies and minds each night.
According to AROmotion’s founder, Dr. Robert Dean, prioritizing sleep is one of the biggest keys to healthy aging – especially for his patients living with chronic joint pain.
“The myth that we need less sleep as we age is just that – a myth,” he says. “Of course, sleep is essential to healthy cognitive and immune system functionality, and when we don’t get enough of it, it causes a ripple effect on our health. And, for those with chronic joint pain, lack of quality sleep can have an adverse effect on pain levels and the body’s ability to recover daily.”
Thankfully, there are some simple steps that we can follow to help our bodies adjust to changing sleep needs. And the key according to Dr. Dean is treating sleep with the same priority as diet, exercise, and leisure activities.
“When we are younger, our internal clocks often allow us to go to bed later, wake up later, and so on,” he says. “As we age, that changes, but we cannot sacrifice the quality and quantity of sleep as a result. By making sleep a top priority in life, you can improve your daily energy levels, feel more alert, and also give your body the fuel it needs to manage health conditions including chronic joint pain.”
Here are Dr. Dean’s 4 Tips for More Restful Sleep that can help those struggling to adjust to new sleep patterns:
- Make Your Bedroom a Sanctuary for Sleep: Your bedroom should be set up so that sleep is its main purpose. Furniture should also be functional to promote sleep, including a comfortable and supportive mattress and pillows. If you are sleeping on an old, worn-out mattress, consider replacing it – especially if you have joint pain and your mattress is making it worse! Use blackout curtains to ensure that artificial light is blocked out during the night. And…put your smartphone out of immediate reach while you sleep to avoid the temptation of the “nighttime scroll”.
- Create a Relaxing Bedtime Ritual: Treat yourself to a soothing activity that helps unwind your body and mind before bed, so you can fall asleep faster. Ideas include taking a warm bath, drinking decaffeinated herbal tea, reading a chapter of a new book, or making time to talk distraction-free with a loved one.
- Exercise: Studies have shown that individuals who get movement during the day tend to fall asleep faster and get a higher quality of sleep. For those managing joint pain, exercise options may be limited, but even getting in a 20-minute brisk walk will help. Need a little encouragement? Enlist an exercise buddy to move with you and hold each other accountable!
- Manage Joint Pain: If joint pain is consistently disrupting your sleep, then it’s important to speak with your doctor about your options. Home remedies such as over-the-counter pain relievers, topical creams for pain, CBD, or massage wants can help release muscle and joint tension to help you fall asleep. Most importantly, do not suffer alone- always talk to your health care providers and your loved ones if joint pain is making it difficult to sleep.
“I always tell my patients that quality sleep is the essential ingredient in the recipe of a happy, and healthy life,” says Dr. Dean. “Other factors are very important as well, such as staying active and connected with loved ones, eating a balanced diet, and of course managing the aches and pains that come with aging.”
With Dr. Dean’s simple tips for more restful sleep, you can get the restorative shuteye you need to feel and perform at your best every day. And, for those living with chronic joint pain, sleep is essential to your daily pain management so you can stay moving and keep doing the things that you love.
If you are living with chronic knee, hip, or shoulder pain and have been told that joint replacement surgery may be your only option, AROmotion can help. Contact us today to schedule your free consultation with Dr. Dean to see if you are a candidate for our non-surgical treatment that has helped more than 1,800 patients stop their joint pain fast.
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