Good sleep can help people with RA
Many people with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) sleep poorly. Research studies indicate that good sleep is linked to reduced disease activity and quality of life. In addition, there is research showing that people with RA who sleep poorly also experience more pain.
Modern drug treatment has improved quality of life in many ways for patients with rheumatic disease, but despite active drug treatment, patients often suffer from sleep disorders, fatigue and long-term pain. There is not yet any fully developed treatment for this. Sleep problems occur in 54-70 percent of all people with rheumatoid arthritis (RA). Poor sleep quality is associated with illness activity and reduced quality of life. This is known, but research does not yet know why. (1)
The relationship between sleep quality and disease activity
In a study published in the Expert Review of Pharmacoeconomics & Outcome Research, researchers looked at the relationship between RA's disease activity and sleep quality, and how treatments can be developed to improve sleep quality for people with RA.
In the study, researchers evaluated data collected from 147 adults with RA who visited primary care in Athens, Greece, between January and April 2017. Every patient was asked to fill out a questionnaire with questions about sleep quality, fatigue, RA symptoms and how they experienced their physical and mental quality of life.
The conclusion of the study is consistent with results from other studies that show how RA activity is related to sleep quality.
People with RA and poor sleep can benefit from treatments to help them sleep better. The study encourages doctors to help patients with RA improve their quality of sleep in order to achieve a better quality of life. (1)
Another study assessed the sleep quality of 95 people with RA. There was a clear connection between poor sleep quality and increased pain. Of the people participating in the study, 56.8 percent reported having sleep problems. Compared to those who reported a good sleep, the group that had poor sleep quality experienced a higher level of pain.
The researchers suggest that both sleep and pain assessments should be included in a clinical assessment of RA. Physicians should also be aware of these problems and consider pharmacological and psychological interventions that may affect sleep quality. (2)
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Kontodimopoulos N, Stamatopoulou E, Kletsas G, Kandili A. Disease activity and sleep quality in rheumatoid arthritis: a deeper look into the relationship. Expert Review Pharmacoecon Outcomes Res. 2019:1-1-8.
Grabovac I, Haider S, Berner C, et al. Sleep quality in patients with rheumatoid arthritis and associations with pain, disability, disease duration, and activity. (2018) J Clin Med. 2018;7.