In the 2002 movie "Insomnia," Al Pacino plays a Los Angeles detective looking for a suspect in the land of the midnight sun — an Alaskan town called Nightmute. Pacino’s character, Dormer, is racked with insomnia caused by personal and professional problems, as well as the endless daylight.
For the 32.5 million Americans with osteoarthritis, problems with insomnia hit closer to home. It's estimated that about 70% of them contend with sleep problems because of nagging pain.
The sleep disturbances then make the pain worse. And around and around it goes in a vicious cycle. Anything that can ease the insomnia is welcome.
A study in the journal JAMA Network called OATS (Osteoarthritis and Therapy for Sleep) shows that cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia (CBT-I) delivered over the phone can ease sleep woes, reduce arthritis pain, and lessen insomnia-related anxiety.
All it takes is six 20- to 30-minute telephone sessions over eight weeks.
First, talk to your doctor about taking the supplement ASU (avocado/soybean unsaponifiables) three times a day. It's been shown to ease joint pain and stiffness, and decrease reliance on NSAIDs and other pain relievers.
You can also try acupuncture and do exercises recommended by your doctor to strengthen the muscles surrounding sore joints.
To find a phone-based CBT-I therapist, go to www.findcbt.org or call the Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies at 212-647-1890.