Q & A – Sleep and Arthritis


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In this edition of Q&A, we discuss how to optimize sleep through proven methods for improving both sleep quality and quantity. We also discuss the potential of training safely and effectively with arthritis. 


Let’s dive in. 


Sleep Questions

How do you fall asleep faster? Before we answer this question we should make the distinction between falling asleep and staying asleep. We will try our best to help everyone who reads this fall asleep more effectively. 


Q: How Can I Fall Asleep Faster?

A: Sleep patterns can be a little complicated to get right but it all comes down to the daily routine you have. Are you drinking too much coffee? Are you exercising? Are you eating anti-inflammatory foods? What time do you eat? 


Our recommendation for falling asleep faster (and staying asleep) is to limit your caffeine intake, try to exercise daily, stay hydrated and try not to eat before bed. You would do well to limit the amount of alcohol consumed before bed as well. 


Above the routine you have in the day there are some effective natural remedies to sleep. Melatonin supplements can help aid sleep cycles and valerian root (botanicals) have some evidence to show they help with relaxation. 

Here are some quick tips to try and help anyone sleep better:


  1. Try to wake up and fall asleep at the same time everyday – sleeping in can disturb your natural cycle
  2. Limit your caffeine intake to 2 cups of less of coffee before noon.
  3. Melatonin and Valerian root can help aid in relaxation and sleep.
  4. Try to exercise daily. This does not have to be intense exercise – any moderate-intensity exercise can help.
  5. Consuming potassium-rich foods like bananas as they can help to relax the muscles and help you enter sleep cycles faster.
  6. Reduce screen time before bed. At least 30 minutes before bed shut down all your devices and avoid TV, mobile phones and tablets as the blue light can disrupt your natural rhythm.
  7. Make sure your room is dark and set the temperature to the high 60s or low 70s. 


Arthritis – Can You Train With it?

Arthritis, or the swelling of one or more joints, can put a damper on your workout and might slow down your recovery. It is important to make the distinction between the two forms of arthritis; osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. 


Osteoarthritis: Swelling of joints due to “wear and tear” on the joints. It can be caused by repeated movements or stress and usually results in the wearing down of the protective cartilage surrounding a joint. 


Rheumatoid arthritis: Somewhat less common, rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune condition where the body’s immune system does not function properly and results in pain and swelling similar to osteoarthritis. 


Now that the distinction has been made let’s address the question… 


Q: Can you Train with Arthritis?


A: The simple answer to this is yes, you can train with arthritis but let’s discuss how. 

1. Try Heat Before Exercise

Before exercise heat can help to reduce the amount of pain in the affected joints.


2. Keep the Impact Low. 

Exercises like biking, low-impact strength training and isometric exercises help to train the muscles without putting repeated stress as other isotonic exercises do. 


3. Get Your Diet in Check

Many forms of arthritis can be controlled with a well-balanced diet. Whole foods like lean protein sources, fruits and vegetables, whole grains and legumes tend to be anti-inflammatory which can help reduce the swelling in your body – including your joints. 


In contrast, foods like fatty meats, processed cereals, high sugar foods and transfat foods (baked goods) tend to be pro-inflammatory – or in other words, make your body more swollen. 


Specific foods like blueberries and leafy greens are especially good for reducing joint pain as they contain plenty of antioxidants and phytonutrients which help to clean blood and reduce swelling. 


Did we answer your questions? If you have further comments be sure to leave them below or shoot us a message through our contact page. 


Detric Smith, CSCS, ACSM EP-C, Precision Nutrition Level 1 Coach