Sleep loss, Mood, and Pain in Rheumatoid Arthritis

Stress, Chronic Diseases, and Psychoneuroimmunology

Stress, Depression, Inflammation, and Psychoneuroimmunology

Sleep disturbances have been closely related to pain. What are the influences of sleep loss on mood and pain among patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA)?

In a study of 27 patients with rheumatoid arthritis and 27 controls, the correlations among sleep deprivation, mood symptoms, and pain were analyzed (Irwin et al., 2012). The study found that partial night sleep deprivation resulted in higher levels of fatigue, anxiety, and depression among patients with rheumatoid arthritis.

In addition, higher levels of pain severity and higher number of painful joints were also reported in the same RA group (Irwin et al., 2012). These findings support the connections among sleep loss, mood changes, and arthritis pain.

As sleep disturbances and arthritis pain may have bi-directional interactions, the improvement of sleep quality may be an important strategy for preventing and relieving pain among arthritis patients. Such strategy would also improve the patients’ quality of life. Further studies in psychoneuroimmunology (PNI) are needed to reveal the mechanisms in these interactions.


Irwin MR, Olmstead R, Carrillo C, Sadeghi N, Fitzgerald JD, Ranganath VK, Nicassio PM. Sleep loss exacerbates fatigue, depression, and pain in rheumatoid arthritis. Sleep. 2012 Apr 1;35(4):537-43. doi: 10.5665/sleep.1742.

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