Sleeping is tricky: Finding a comfortable position is key

Today I got asked a question about how I sleep, and which sleeping positions I find most comfortable so I thought I would share my answer with everyone.

To be honest there is no quick or easy answer to this, and as many of you know I am not the best sleeper in the world. There have been only a few times where I have fallen asleep before 1AM since Easter and most nights I still wake up. But just because sleep doesn’t come easy to me anymore doesn’t mean that I can’t find the most comfortable position possible.

I find that depending on which joints hurt and how much, the way I sleep changes. For example, if my SI joints are hurting then I will lie on my side. But this is where it gets complicated. If I lie on my right side then the bursitis in my hip starts to play up so even though my SI joints are comfier than before now I can’t sleep because of my hip. So I will lie on my left side instead. But then my knees hurt because they are touching each other so I try lying on my stomach which is a total fail with my neck, knees and ankle screaming at me. I told you it was complicated didn’t I?!

So here is my advice… Pillows! Lots and lots of pillows! In my bed on any given day I can guarantee that you will find at least 4 pillows. I find that you can make your own joint padding with pillows although blankets do work too.

Every night, I will have use one pillow that I put half under my right side so that means there is no pressure on the bursa in my right hip. Although this does mean that I sleep on an angle. I have one pillow under my head and another one next to this one so I can lean my head against this one because I find that this helps to relieve the strain on my neck especially since I don’t need to turn my head. It is almost like a stand for my head. Then comes the knees, if I am lying on my back I have one pillow under each knee unless I need more, and then I need a pillow under my ankles too so the odd angle they are at doesn’t hurt them too much. If I am sleeping on my side I use a long pillow that I can put between my knees and ankles so the joints aren’t touching each other any more. I find that this is more important since I have developed ligamentitis [I should add that “ligamentitis” is not a technical term for the inflammation of ligaments].

I have found that this pillow is really great for going between your knees and your ankles because it is so long.

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I would also suggest that it isn’t a great idea to curl up into a ball when you are going to sleep, even though it might be comfy at the time, purely because in the morning when you have to get up, you have to uncurl yourself and anyone with stiff joints will know what a job that is!

Everyone has different joint involvement and to different extents, and I know a lot of my friends use night splints for their joints but I find that whatever joint is hurting, there is usually a way to make it feel the slightest bit better. Be that resting your hand on a pillow or finding a very odd position to sleep in. Whatever you find works best, do that. Personally, I find pillows are a great help but that might not be the case for you. You have to explore the possibilities that are out there, ask your rheumatologists and physiotherapists. Take a hot bath before bed and use an electric blanket. Wake up earlier in the morning so you have time to get moving.

Sleep is tricky, and lack of sleep can make our bodies flare and make our general fatigue worse but you have to get to know your body and somehow find a comfy way to sleep.

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