“You need sleep to be well rested and well-equipped for the day ahead. It can be hard to get a good night’s rest when you have AS.”

Between 35 and 90 percent of people with AS complain of poor sleep. It’s tough to stay asleep at night when your body hurts. The more severe your disease is, the less likely you are to get the rest you need. And the less you sleep, the worse your pain and stiffness could become.

“You don’t have to worry about sleep disruptions. If you have sleep issues, see your rheumatologist or primary care doctor.”

Try out the tips to help you sleep better.

The less pain you have, the easier it will be to sleep. You will need to make sure that you are on the best treatment for your disease.

A lot of the pain you experience may be a result of inflammation, so nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) and TNF inhibitors can help decrease inflammation and prevent further damage to your joints caused by AS. TNF inhibitors might also help improve the quality of your sleep, research suggests.

“Nerve compression and mechanical problems can contribute to your pain. If the drug you are taking isn’t managing your inflammation and pain, talk to your rheumatologist. You might need a different medication.”

The bed should be supportive and comfortable. A firm mattress will keep your body in proper alignment.

“You might want to look for a sweet spot between a soft and firm mattress. A firm mattress should be supportive, but not so firm that it doesn’t fit your body shape.”

You can test out several mattresses in the store.

A brisk walk will get your blood pumping and wake up your muscles and joints. It will also prime your body for sleep. Exercise also helps counter the inflammation that causes the back pain of AS.

The quality of your sleep can be improved by exercising. It will help you get more sleep and rest. If you work out that day, you will fall asleep faster.

The time of day is important. A fitness program in the morning will help you sleep. Working out too close to bed can cause your brain to go into a sleep state.

Warm water is good for sore joints. A bath before bed will help you sleep better.

A warm tub will help you relax before bed. If you do a few stretches while you are in the bath, you will relieve any built-up stiffness in your joints.

Lying on a thick pillow can cause your head to be in a hunched position when you get out of bed. Try using a thin pillow.

Put the pillow under the hollow of your neck to keep your head in the right position. You can consider not using a pillow at all.

Lying on your back is a good way to sleep. If you are on your side, use a pillow to lift your knees, as curling your legs up into your body can cause problems.

You may want to take a break from the mattress and relax in a recliner or comfortable chair. Try out different positions in the chair to see if they can support your spine and help you sleep.

You can create a sleeping environment before you fall asleep. It is more comfortable to sleep in a cool climate than in a warm one.

Pull down the shades to keep the sun out of your eyes. You may want to keep your bedroom quiet and put away your digital devices that might disturb your sleep.

Snoring is a sign of sleep disorders such as sleep apnea, which causes you to stop breathing for a short period of time.

People with AS are more likely to have sleep problems. Those with sleep apnea have more damage to their spine.

Your brain wakes you up when you stop breathing. You never feel rested during the day. If your partner or loved one says that you snore or wake up mid-snore, you should see your doctor.

There are many ways to treat sleep apnea. Continuous positive airway pressure is a machine that blows air into your airway to keep it open while you sleep.

Engaging in relaxation techniques before bed can help you get to sleep and stay asleep. There’s some research to support that deep breathing and progressive muscle relaxation (PMR) can promote stress reduction.

The Arthritis Foundation has step-by-step information on deep breathing. You can also try PMR using these basic steps:

  1. Lie down in a comfortable position. Use pillows or blankets for areas that need more support.
  2. All of the muscles in your body need to be tightened. Hold this position for a few seconds, but not to the point of pain.
  3. Release all of your muscles. When you release your muscles, you feel a different sensation than when your body is tense.
  4. You can repeat steps two or three more times.
  5. Hold and release each muscle group. Start with your toes and work up through the body, focusing on one muscle group at a time.
  6. After you have released every set of muscles, lie down and breathe deeply.

There are many other relaxation techniques that may help with sleep, including meditation. A 2019 review of studies found that mindfulness meditation may help prevent sleep disturbances.

Keeping up with a regular sleep-wake cycle is part of good sleep hygiene. It is possible to maintain this by sticking to a regular time for getting up and going to bed.

The U.K.-based National Ankylosing Spondylitis Society also recommends getting exposure to bright light during the day. They specifically recommend light exposure in the late afternoon. If it’s too difficult to get outside, consider an indoor bright light or light therapy lamp.

A balanced diet can help you feel your best. Eating certain foods may also help prevent inflammation that contributes to AS, such as by following the Mediterranean diet, as recommended by the Arthritis Foundation.

Avoiding caffeine, nicotine, and other stimulants before bed can help ensure you stay asleep after you fall asleep. Not eating spicy or fried foods in the evening can also prevent heartburn, which can disrupt your sleep.

People often ask about ankylosing spondylitis and sleep.

Why does ankylosing spondylitis hurt more at night?

The back pain from ankylosing spondylitis comes from inflammation. Movement and exercise are known to help reduce inflammation.

Your body is not moving when you are trying to sleep. Many people are relieved through exercise because of this.

How can I relieve pain from ankylosing spondylitis?

Regular exercise can help reduce stiffness and increase mobility. Spine-strengthening and water-based exercises may be of particular benefit.

Aerobic exercises can increase the levels of natural opioids, which can reduce pain.

NSAIDs like ibuprofen or naproxen are good for immediate pain relief. Your doctor may recommend drugs to help with the pain from AS.

How much sleep do you need for ankylosing spondylitis?

A person with ankylosing spondylitis needs the same amount of sleep as those without the condition. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that adults get 7 or more hours of quality sleep per night.

If you experience sleep problems because of AS, you may have to sleep for longer hours to get the quality sleep you need.

Do people with ankylosing spondylitis need more sleep?

People with ankylosing spondylitis can experience fatigue frequently and need more sleep and rest.

The National Ankylosing Spondylitis Society recommends that people take a rest break during exercise or other activities for about 10 minutes every hour if needed. Pacing yourself during daily activities is also important to prevent fatigue.

If you are living with AS and are having trouble sleeping, talk to your doctor. They may suggest trying some natural remedies if you have symptoms.

“A good night’s rest is needed to live a happy, healthy life. Follow your doctor’s recommendations and try these tips.”