How does arthritis affect sleep and how do you cope?

Woman asleep with arthritis

Arthritis can be an extremely painful and uncomfortable condition to live with, impacting your body in a significant way. As a result of arthritis, quality of life can be severely affected, impacting a person’s ability to do day to day activities and even get something as simple as a good night’s sleep. The relationship between arthritis and sleep is the topic we are going to dive into today.

We will start by discussing how arthritis impacts sleep while also presenting some fascinating findings from a recent survey we have conducted. We will then offer tips and advice for how to sleep with rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis, highlighting sleeping positions, best practices, and helpful sleeping products to use.

How does arthritis impact sleep?

Arthritis is a term used to describe a number of conditions that causes pain and stiffness to the body’s joints or to the tissue around the joints. Whatever type of arthritis you have, the thing they all have in common is causing pain and discomfort, which makes it difficult to fall and stay asleep.

If you have arthritis hip pain while sleeping, for example, you might find that the discomfort caused wakes you up in the middle of the night or that you find it tricky to get into a comfortable sleep position to start with.

But how specifically is sleep impacted by arthritis and what effect does this have on the individual? The ramifications can be wide-ranging and vary from person to person. A recent study on the subject sheds some light and you can discover the results below.

Facts and stats about arthritis and sleep


Here at Arthr, we have conducted a survey among those living with arthritis and similar conditions regarding how their sleep is impacted. With over 700 respondents, some interesting stats and insights have been revealed. These findings play an important role in understanding how much impact arthritis has on sleep quality. Below are some of the key findings:

  • 23% of people say that joint pain (that is a result of arthritis) disrupts their sleep.
  • 23% say that their sleep is disrupted every night as a result of joint pain due to their arthritic condition.
  • 91% of people say they lose between 3 and 8 hours of sleep a night due to joint pain. With 75% losing between 1 and 8 hours of sleep.
  • 88% say that sleep loss as a result of arthritis negatively affects their day-to-day life.
  • 06% say that the sleep lost because of their arthritis negatively impacts their mental health.
  • 39% are worried that a lack of sleep due to arthritis will affect their quality of life.
  • Apart from medication, a hot bath (27.54%) and products that keep the joints warm (23.94%), are the two most effective methods for easing pain caused by arthritis.

Tips for how to sleep with arthritis

Woman with arthritis pillow

Now that a clearer picture has been painted about how arthritis impacts sleep, it’s time to offer some helpful tips and suggestions for sleeping with arthritis. Below you will find a collection of tips, such as the best sleeping position for rheumatoid arthritis, great products to use, and general advice to make life easier.

Sleep positions for arthritis

Conditions like rheumatoid arthritis and sleep unfortunately aren’t a pleasant match but there are sleeping positions that you can try to help make things easier. It depends on which area of the body you are experiencing joint pain but below you will find some examples:

Neck – If you have arthritis in your neck, it’s best to avoid sleeping on your stomach. Instead, try lying on your back with a thin or special support pillow under your head to keep your spine aligned. Or sleep on your side but with a pillow under your neck so the neck is aligned with the head.

Knees – If you want advice on how to sleep with arthritis pain in the knees, try either sleeping on your back with pillows beneath your knees or instead sleeping on your side but this time with a pillow or two between your knees.

Hips – One of the best positions for sleeping with arthritis pain in your hip, is to lie on the hip that isn’t painful and place one or more pillows between your legs to reduce stress across your hips. If it’s more comfortable to lie on your back, place a pillow under your knees as this can release tension from the front of the hips.

Back – For those who suffer from back pain but like to sleep on their back, put a pillow beneath the small of your back and under the knees as this entire area is connected. When sleeping on your side, add a small pillow under the curve of your waist and keep one between your knees.

Shoulders – Try to avoid lying on the shoulder that is painful and keep the bad shoulder elevated, if possible, with a pillow under the arm. If lying on your back, consider placing a pillow under each arm for a more comfortable shoulder position.

Of course, different sleep positions can help make you more comfortable, but arthritis pain might still keep you up. Keep reading for more tips.

Choose a bed that offers support and comfort

In you’re on a quest to get a good night’s sleep, choosing the right bed should certainly be high on the agenda. What is the best bed for arthritis? You may want to consider a bed that can be adjusted, with different parts of the mattress being raised or lowered at your control to provide relief and support to affected joints. They may make it easier to find a sleeping position that works for you, provide support, and get in and out of bed with less discomfort.

Take your medication

According to our recent survey (mentioned above), 37% find that taking their medication is the most useful method for easing arthritis pain. That’s not to say that medication will solve your sleeping issues but by listening to your doctor’s advice and taking your prescription as requested, you can better manage the discomfort.

Have a hot bath

Person in bubble bath

Our survey found that 27% find that a hot bath is the best method for easing joint pain so why not consider adding a nice long soak to your nightly routine. Run a hot bath, put on some music, and relax your body before heading to bed. When combined with other tips, it might just make all the difference, allowing you to drift off into a good night’s sleep. Be careful when getting in and out the bath, if you have pain in your hips and lower back, consider using a support to help assist you.

Utilise specialised products for keeping joints warm

You could consider utilising products that are designed to keep your joints warm, such as a hot water bottle. Nearly 24% of respondents to our survey found this to be their most useful method for relieving joint pain. By keeping aching joints warm, they can relax, and stiffness will be reduced. So, try something like a hot water bottle, heated wraps, wheat bags, pads and gel packs on the affected area before or even in bed.

Exercise and make use of physiotherapy

Getting exercise is a very helpful way of strengthening joints, increasing flexibility, supporting your bones, controlling weight and reducing fatigue, all of which can contribute to managing pain from arthritis. Of course, stiffness and painful joints might put you off wanting to exercise but you don’t need to do anything too intensive. Light exercises with weights, range-of-motion stretches, walking, cycling, swimming and yoga are all options to consider. Just take it easy and ask your doctor about what type of exercise is best for your specific condition.

19% of respondents to our survey said that exercise or physiotherapy was their preferred method of reducing pain caused by arthritis, so it’s well worth considering. Physiotherapy is another helpful tool at your disposal with treatments targeting specific parts of your body to bring you relief and build up your strength.

Use specialised arthritis sleeping products 

Arthritis sleep pillows

There is a range of wonderful products available that can help ease joint pain, including the collection of specialised arthritis sleeping and bedroom products available at the Arthr shop. 11.58% of arthritis sufferers prefer this method to ease the pain so take a look below at some helpful items to make your life easier and help you get a good night’s sleep.

Support pillows

Arthr Royal Pillow

The Arthr Royal Pillow is specifically designed with neck and shoulder support in mind. Its contoured design will help your spine remain correctly aligned during sleep, while also reducing pain when asleep and upon waking. Unlike traditional pillows, its foam core allows it to retain its structure and it supports both back and side sleeping.

U Shaped Support Pillow

The U Shaped Support Pillow is incredibly versatile. Not only does it provide valuable support during sleep, but you can use it to prop yourself up into comfortable positions when not sleeping. Its dual side supports allow you to separate your legs and keep your hips aligned, thus relieving pain, making it a welcome addition to the bedroom.

Butterfly Pillow

Getting into a comfortable position for your arthritis inevitably involves a strategically placed pillow. The Butterfly Pillow is an excellent choice here, providing valuable neck and spine support when placed under the neck. It can also be used for pelvic and hip alignment when placed between the knees.

Knee Pillow

A well-placed pillow between the knees can make a big difference to a night’s sleep for someone with arthritis pain in the knees and hips. This Knee Pillow is designed specifically with this function in mind, reducing discomfort in the knees and hips by redistributing pressure as the legs are spaced further apart. Made from high-density foam, it nestles between the knees and its Velcro straps keep it in place between your legs.

People using Arthr products

Zeez Sleep Pebble

If you are having trouble falling asleep as a result of your arthritis, a product that can induce a deep, long sleep will likely sound attractive. The Zeez Sleep Pebble might be just what you are looking for, being a little device that sits under your pillow, emitting a frequency that mimics the brainwaves of a good sleeper. Give it a go and see if it improves your sleep quality. 86% of users with poor sleep report considerable improvements after 6 weeks!

Long Hot Water Bottle

Hot water bottles can be very helpful for warming up joints and reducing pain before sleep. Though they often come in very unfriendly shapes, making it hard to apply them to specific joints. The Long Hot Water Bottle solves this issue, allowing you to wrap it around the area in question and it even comes with an extendable strap to keep it in place. Not only does it help soothe aches and pains, but you can also save on your energy bills by using the hot water bottle to keep you warm rather than heating your whole home when the nights get chilly.


Marylehome Easy Zip Up Fitted Bed Sheet

Here at Arthr, we also have a range of bedding products that you might be interested in. One is the Marylehome Easy Zip Up Fitted Bed Sheet, the first zip up sheet in the UK. If your arthritis makes changing the bedding a literal pain, this three in one option (two sheets and a mattress protector) allows you to whip off the bed sheet in seconds for an easier process.

Koa easy change duvet cover

In the interest of making changing your bedding easier, you might also want to consider the Kos Duvet Cover. Having to reach over to the corners can put unwelcome stress on joints when all you want to do is quickly refresh your bedding. This duvet sports an inventive central opening for ease of access, making life easier and giving you a comfortable 100% cotton duvet to enjoy.

A look into arthritis and sleep

As you can see, sleep can be significantly impacted by arthritis pain, to such an extent that it should not be taken lightly. Our sympathy is certainly with all those who struggle to attain a good night’s sleep due to their joint pain and we hope that our range of products and the tips suggested above can help in some way.

Feel free to browse our website for even more arthritis products to find the right solution for you.

Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published