Ankylosing spondylitis

Sleep and Ankylosing Spondylitis….

My old nemesis has returned to haunt me during the night.  The bad thing about having AS is the pain you get while sleeping, that wakes you up in the dead of night. This is the first sign someone with AS gets that there is something wrong.
Most ASers experience what is called enthesitis, which is inflammation of the areas where muscles and ligaments attach to bones, and those are the areas that cause pain. When we stop moving and lay for a while the inflammation increases. In most “arthritis” circles laying down is a good thing but not when you have AS. The enthesitis is also the reason we hurt so much when we wake up and lessens as we begin to move around.
So what do you do to help you sleep better when you have AS? Heck if I know, good beds, firm beds, waterbeds? I’ve tried them all with the exception of firm beds because I can’t even lie flat without my back hurting. I remember when I use to be able to sleep on my stomach and now because of my neck, being unable to move very far to the left or right, I can’t even do that.
I read a lot of articles that doctors put out about AS and firmly state: “Your mattress should be firm but not hard” “Sleep as straight and as flat as you can” 
Yep, that’s not working for me… If I lay as flat as I can my back hurts within minutes of getting into bed. So what else can we do? Hum…
I slept on a wave less waterbed for 10 years and thinking back now during that time I never had any problems with my back hurting. I remember I had an egg crate mattress cover on it and kept the heater turned up all the time. Maybe the heat was absorbed by the egg crate and kept my back from inflaming? The other suggestions doctors give I follow already like same time to bed each night, don’t eat anything before bed, make sure room is dark and if you start hurting get up and stretch!
Maybe I should re-think the waterbed thing again… Do they even make them anymore?

2 replies »

  1. I know you posted this quite some time ago, but I ran across it when I searched AS and waterbeds. I am going through the same problems right now. I may be wrong, but I believe the experts say you need a firm mattress because your spine may fuse into a poor or undesired posture without proper support. I guess like kyphosis if you use too thick of a pillow for a long time. I was shopping for a sleep number bed and was not completely happy with the comfort. Oddly enough, I was just telling my mom that the best I ever remember sleeping was when I had my waterbed. I’m in St. Louis and searched for waterbeds, found a site for Boyd Waterbeds. Turns out they are nationwide, but based out of St. Louis. I visited one of their retail locations and compared the waterbeds to air beds. I think I’m sold on getting a soft-side waterbed. For me, I really preferred a semi-waveless single bladder with like 2″ of foam on top. I wasn’t very fond of the multiple tube bladder setup or the ones with a ton of foam (like3-4″) on top as they seemed to feel much more like the air beds. Not sure if you find any of this helpful, but I can let you know how things turn out if I decide to buy. Since this post is from 2 years ago, what did you wind up doing?

    Best of luck,

    • Thanks for the comments about waterbeds. I know the “experts” say you need a firm mattress but if I had to sleep on one just to keep kyphosis from setting in I would never get any sleep. That’s more important in my view. I have found that sleeping on the thickest pillow top works great for me and have had one now for over 8 yrs. So far so good as far as my back is concerned. Good luck in finding your perfect sleep zone and again, thanks for visiting my blog! 🙂

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