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Osteoarthritis Health Center

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Arthritis Pain and Sleep

7. Use Sleeping Pills Sparingly

Sleep medications may be useful for people who have acute insomnia. But if you’re suffering from chronic insomnia, which is often true for many people with arthritis, the first-line treatment should be better sleep hygiene, says Pigeon. “Medications treat the symptoms. Behavioral medicine can actually cure insomnia,” he says. In fact, some studies show that behavioral medicine may be more effective for many people. In a 2006 study, researchers at the University of Bergen in Norway compared cognitive behavioral therapy with a prescription sleep medication. Volunteers who took part in behavioral therapy were sleeping better six months later than the matched group who took pills. “Sleep medications are often useful for helping people get through a bad patch of insomnia,” says Pigeon. “But when people stop taking them, the insomnia often returns -- unless they learn to practice better sleep habits.”

8. Put it All Together in Good Sleep Hygiene

Basic tips on how to promote good sleeping habits are sometimes called “sleep hygiene.” Together, they can have a dramatic effect on improving sleep quality. In a study published in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine in 2009, older volunteers with osteoarthritis who took part in a program of sleep hygiene reported significantly better sleep and less pain. The benefits were apparent even a year after the program ended.

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Reviewed on March 12, 2014

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