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What Causes Insomnia? Why is Insomnia Prevalent in People With Arthritis?

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Updated November 26, 2008

Question: What Causes Insomnia? Why is Insomnia Prevalent in People With Arthritis?
Insomnia is prevalent in people suffering with chronic arthritis. The cause of insomnia in people with chronic medical conditions, such as arthritis, is often due to more than one factor.
Answer:

What Is Insomnia?

Insomnia is a general term for poor quality sleep because of one or more of the following:

  • difficulty falling asleep
  • waking up frequently during the night with difficulty returning to sleep
  • waking up too early in the morning
  • unrefreshing sleep
  • The use of the term insomnia is not dependent on the number of hours slept, or how long it takes to get to sleep, but instead on multiple factors which describe the sleeping pattern. Insomnia may be classified as either:

  • transient (short term)
  • intermittent (on and off)
  • chronic (constant)
  • An In-Depth Report: Insomnia
  • What Causes Insomnia?

    There are many causes of insomnia. Many people with chronic health conditions also have problems with insomnia. In addition, advanced age and female gender, make individuals more likely to experience insomnia. The cause of chronic insomnia can be complex and often results from a combination of factors.

  • Insomnia at About.com
  • Why is Insomnia Prevalent in People With Arthritis?

    Although women and the elderly are more likely to experience insomnia, it has been reported in a high percentage of arthritic patients. This may be due to:

  • chronic pain
  • arthritis related stress
  • one of the many medications required to control the disease
  • Fatigue Can Be Problematic For People With Arthritis

    In addition, many arthritics are fatigued at bed time but not physically tired. This is due to reduced physical activity because of joint immobility.

  • What is Chronic Fatigue?
  • I'm Tired Of Being Tired: Tips For Controlling Fatigue
  • How Can I Cope With Insomnia?

    Transient and intermittent insomnia may not require treatment since episodes last only a few days at a time. Coping with chronic insomnia may require complex treatment including:

  • diagnosing and treating underlying medical problems
  • stopping or reducing behaviors that may worsen insomnia
  • use of sleeping medications
  • (patients taking sleeping pills should be under doctors supervision to evaluate effectiveness and minimize side effects)
  • behavioral techniques to improve sleep, such as:

    • relaxation therapy (techniques that reduce anxiety and body tension)
    • sleep restriction therapy (some people suffering from insomnia spend too much time in bed unsuccessfully trying to sleep, they may benefit from sleep restriction therapy)
    • physical reconditioning (people with insomnia are reconditioned to associate the bedroom and bedtime with sleep. For most people with insomnia, this means not using their beds for any activities other than sleep and sex)

    Related Resources

  • Dealing With Sleeping Problems
  • Arthritis Patients Need More ZZZZZ's
  • Sleep Medications / Sleeping Pills
  • Dealing With Fatigue
  • Sources: Interview With Dr. Raymond Federman, Facts About Insomnia, NIH Publication No. 95-3801, National Institutes of Health, National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute

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