It seems unbelievable, but almost 55 million people in the United States have been diagnosed with arthritis, which is an umbrella term for any type of disorder that affects our joints. It is the leading cause of disability among adults, and primarily affects people between the ages of 18 and 64.
Arthritis and joint-related pain is most prevalent in joints that bear weight and are involved in movement. Of all our joints, hips and knees are the most vulnerable to joint pain and can often endure so much damage that they need to be replaced. There are many different ways that hip pain can affect our daily lives. Whether it’s caused by an ongoing medical condition like arthritis or bursitis, or whether you’ve just strained it through overuse or sleeping on a bad mattress, hip pain can put a major damper on the way we live our lives.
One of the things that hip pain can affect the most is the way that we sleep. Putting our weight down on a mattress is a relaxing thing for many, but for people suffering hip pain, it often means the start of a night-long struggle to maintain a comfortable position and sleep with ease. Our joints tend to swell as we sleep because they’ve been in one position for hours, which can lead to discomfort.
While you should always talk to your doctor about ongoing pain, there are many things you can do to help ease your pain and make sleep come easier. Here are a few tips for the best ways to relieve hip pain before bed.
1. Change up your sleeping position
Many people experience hip pain unrelated to any injury or illness. It’s simply because they’re sleeping in a position that is no longer comfortable for their body. If you find that you’re experiencing unexplained hip pain during the night, the first thing you should do is change your sleeping position.
While only you will be able to determine which is the best sleep position for your body, doctors generally recommend either sleeping on your back with your legs spread, or sleeping on the unaffected side with a pillow between your knees. There are tons of different pillows that can be bought specifically for this purpose, including many that are marketed to pregnant women that are excellent for supporting painful hip joints.
2. Stretch before bed
There are tons of different exercises and stretches that you can do immediately before bed, and when you wake up in the morning that help alleviate hip pain. You don’t need to do a complex work out. Even a few stretches done in less than five minutes can help encourage your hip to open up and become more flexible, which will lead to a more positive sleeping experience. Cross your legs, and reach down to touch your toes, then hold for 20-30 seconds. When you’re finished, uncross your legs, cross them the other way, and repeat. You can also do side lunges, hip bridges, or lying leg raises, which will help open and flex your hip joints.
3. Ice the affected area
One way that you can help control inflammation and swelling is to ice your hip joint several times a day. A bag of ice or specialty ice pack can do wonders. Just apply ice for 15-20 minutes at a time, then rest it afterwards. Usually, you should wait at least 30 minutes before reapplying. If you find it hard to get to sleep because of pain in your hip, take some time before bed to apply an ice pack. You’ll likely find it a lot easier to get to sleep when you’re less swollen and feeling less pain.
4. Take an over-the-counter anti-inflammatory
If you’ve got a serious inflammatory condition like bursitis or arthritis, chances are your doctor has already prescribed some pretty serious anti-inflammatory medication, as well as medication designed to reverse the immune response causing the damage. If you’re still having problems falling asleep because of the pain, talk to your doctor about taking an over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medication like aspirin or ibuprofen.
If you don’t have a diagnosed condition and are experiencing hip pain as a result of an injury or strain, experiment and see whether taking an over-the-counter anti-inflammatory, pain reliever, or muscle relaxant works for you. This should only be used on a temporary basis. If you find yourself reliant on these medications to sleep, you should talk to your doctor about a more sustainable alternative treatment.
5. Practice good sleeping habits
One of the best ways that you can ensure a good night’s sleep, even if you’re experiencing pain and discomfort, is to stick to a good bedtime routine. Good sleep habits mean going to bed and waking up around the same time every day, abstaining from recreational drugs and alcohol in the evening, and minimizing excitement before bed. Ensuring your bedroom is a quiet, calm place will also help as it’s hard to fall asleep if we’re either too hot or too cold, or if there’s light shining in from outside. Avoiding the use of screens for at least an hour before going to sleep can also help.
6. Change your exercise routine
If you’re experiencing a lot of hip pain at night, it could be a signal that your hip is under stress during the day. One way that you can help alleviate the pain is to switch up your exercise routine.
If you’ve been running, hiking, or doing lots of aerobics, you may be putting too much impact on your hip. Instead, try less impactful exercises like swimming and biking. You should always be stretching for at least five minutes both before and after you exercise, and wearing well-fitting, supportive footwear.
7. Talk to a physical therapist
If you’re struggling to come up with interesting and fun exercises that don’t put too much impact your hip, you may want to consult a physical therapist. They should be able to help you design a new exercise program which takes stress off your hip, and instead focuses on building up the strength of the surrounding muscles, which in turn will help strengthen and maintain the flexibility of the joint itself. Many doctors recommend working on the hip, thigh, pelvis, and gluteal muscles when you’re experiencing hip pain. If your current stretching routine isn’t helping, your physical therapist can also introduce you to some new stretches and activities that can help ease your sore hip joints.
8. Buy a new mattress
If you’ve suddenly started experiencing hip pain that’s especially severe at night, the solution might be as simple as replacing your mattress. Most experts recommend replacing your mattress every seven to 10 years, or sooner if it begins showing visible signs of sag, wear, tear, and degradation. Older mattress can get extremely worn out over time, which leads to a critical lack of support.
Memory foam mattresses are now thought to be vastly superior to innerspring mattresses, offering more support that cushions the body from pressure. Memory foam distributes weight and holds a comfortable temperature in ways that innerspring mattresses are just not able to do, which leads to more restful night’s sleep.