How to Improve Sleep Through Gout Pain

Gout, or gouty arthritis, is a common and complex form of arthritis that is caused by high levels of uric acid in the tissues, joints, and blood.

Uric acid is produced in the body during the breakdown of purines (Chemical compounds that are found in high amounts in certain foods such as meat, poultry, and seafood), if too much uric acid is produced, or not enough is excreted, it can build up and form needle-like crystals that trigger inflammation and pain in the joints and surrounding tissue.

An excessive amount of uric acid in the body will cause sudden, severe attacks of pain, swelling, redness and tenderness in the joints, often the joint at the base of the big toe.

Because the risk of gout attacks during the night was 2.4 times higher than in the daytime, it’s a good idea to know how avoid a gout flare up and how to relieve the pain once it begins.

How to sleep during a gout flare

Ice the area


In general, the first 36-48 hours of a gout attack are the most painful, if your pain isn’t too bad, try cold packs or compresses on the joint to lower inflammation and soothe the ache.

To avoid skin damage, wrap ice in a thin towel and apply it to the joint for 15 to 20 minutes every hour that you are awake.

Cooling an inflamed joint can stimulate sensory receptors in the skin and decrease the transmissions of pain signals to the brain, it also causes the blood vessels of the muscles to constrict, and can therefore decrease the flow of blood and help reduce inflammation

Keep the affected joint elevated as much as possible while you ice it, this will help to avoid the blood settling in the area that is being iced.

Take over-the-counter pain relievers


Regular gout attacks can be treated with nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) include over-the-counter options such as ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin IB, others) and naproxen sodium (Aleve), as well as more-powerful prescription NSAIDs such as indomethacin (Indocin) or celecoxib (Celebrex).

Long-term NSAID use can increase the chances of a heart attack or stroke and can also increase the risks of stomach pain, bleeding and ulcers — So talk to your doctor if you are struggling.

However, avoid any aspirin or topical aspirin products during any gout flares since this drug can cause more uric acid to deposit in the joints.

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Preparing to Sleep While Having a Flare Up

Avoid foods that increase uric acid before bed


Our sleep is influenced by the food we eat, so try to avoid foods that increase uric acid levels such as red meat, lamb, pork, seafood, and high-fructose products like soda and some juices, cereal, ice cream, candy.

Foods such as nuts, peanut butter, grains, cheese, yogurt, and beans may help protect against gout.

Cherries even have been shown to lower the levels of uric acid in the body.

During the day, It’s a good idea to drink lots of fluids


The Institute of Medicine recommends that men drink around 16 cups of liquids (water and other beverages) each day, while women should drink roughly 11 cups each day, the water helps to flush uric acid from your system.

Alcohol should be avoided


Although alcohol may make it easier to fall asleep, it actually disrupts sleep because the process of breaking down the alcohol can also increase levels of uric acid, making a gout flare more likely.

Elevate the Foot


Propping up the affected joint can ease pressure and reduce pain, if your big toe is affected (about half of all gout cases affect the big toe), prop your painful foot on pillows while lying down.

Also, you might want to apply ice while your foot is elevated, it makes for a good one-two punch for pain relief.

Practice good sleep hygiene


Turn off all the lights before going to bed, make sure no light enters the bedroom and play calming music or “white noise” to help you relax.

If you can, take a warm shower or bath before bed, this can help you relax even more.

Try some deep breathing exercises, calming music, or mindfulness meditation techniques to try and relax as much as possible.

Get up and go to bed at the same time every day while try to exercise in the morning, and do not exercise fewer than four hours before you go to sleep.

Don’t force sleep – If you can’t fall asleep, do something else such as write diary, read books until you’re tired – Always resolve conflicts before you go to bed.

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