Insomnia is a prevalent sleep disorder, particularly in people who suffer from rheumatoid arthritis. However, insomnia is actually more than just a disease symptom; it's a co-existing illness. Fortunately, there is an effective way to battle arthritis-induced insomnia.

Inflammation is associated with heightened pain throughout the body. However, despite advances in treating pain and inflammation, rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis patients still report discomfort and poor sleep quality. Studies find that insomnia is associated with pain threshold and even activates cellular signaling for inflammation.

Treatment for Insomnia

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is a type of psychotherapy that emphasizes the important role thinking plays in how we feel and what we do. The premise when treating people with pain and sleep disorders is that psychosocial factors influence the perception of pain, which in turn influence psychological well being and social participation. CBT isn't just a single therapy, but a classification of therapies and training in coping skills.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is effective, especially for older patients with arthritis and co-existing insomnia. CBT patients learn to change their thoughts and actions by recognizing false beliefs and reprogramming the part of the brain that governs the sleep-wake cycle.

Researchers find that patients can learn about, and access, basic medical care for arthritis. However, high-quality information about the psychosocial aspects of living with arthritis is not as prevalent. By arming arthritis patients with knowledge, they learn techniques to improve self-sufficiency and coping, decrease feelings of helplessness, and reduce the tendency to turn minor miseries into catastrophe, which reduces perceived pain.

A study published in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine reports that patients who received CBT experienced both immediate and long-lasting results. They fell asleep faster, woke up less, and reported significantly less pain and more restorative sleep.

In addition to producing great results, CBT offers other benefits as well. It's short-term and focused on immediate results, unlike other forms of therapy that may continue for years. The psychosocial improvements patients gain from Cognitive Behavioral Therapy enhances the effectiveness of their medical care.

An alternative to formal CBT are community-based Arthritis Self Management Programs in which trained lay leaders conduct a series of training classes that teach participants competency skills for managing arthritis symptoms and pain.