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Hypermobility & Sleep: This Is How Much You Need

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Hypermobility and sleep are complex issues. You more than likely find that you need lots of it. But getting enough sleep is tricky when you can’t find the best sleep position for your hypermobility or are in pain.

But do you know how much sleep you really need? Read on to find out more about hypermobility and sleep and how much people with hypermobility say they like to get.

Does hypermobility affect sleep?

Absolutely! Hypermobility has a big impact on your sleep quality. It often causes pain, stiffness, and discomfort, making it difficult to find a comfortable sleep position. 

Hypermobility can also lead to frequent waking during the night, which can disrupt your sleep cycle and leave you feeling exhausted in the morning. It’s important to find ways to manage hypermobility symptoms so you can get the restorative sleep your body needs.

Do hypermobile people get more tired?

Yes, hypermobile people get more tired. Hypermobility means you have lax connective tissue in your body. As a result, your body works twice as hard to function as normal. This takes its toll on your body and makes you tired.

Hypermobile people also get more tired than non-hypermobile people because they injure themselves easily. Ligament damage, tendon injuries, twists, sprains, and fractured bones caused by hypermobility add to the stress on your body and increase fatigue.

How much sleep do EDS patients need?

Healthy adults need between 7 and 9 hours of sleep per night, according to the National Sleep Foundation. But EDS patients tend to need more sleep to feel refreshed. Extra sleep is also needed to help the body heal and repair from minor injuries, such as sprains and joint subluxations caused by hypermobility.

Even though people with EDS and hypermobility need more sleep, they don’t necessarily get it. Hypermobility causes pain in the neck, shoulders, back, legs, and other parts of the body. This pain often stops hypermobile people from getting to sleep.

Often, they get their sleep in short bursts throughout the day and night instead. A post on the EDS & HSD Support Community asked people with EDS and HSD how often they napped. The answers ranged from 45 minutes to 3 hours at a time. Most patients said that napping every day was best for them.

Why are people with EDS so tired?

We’ve already mentioned that people with hypermobility are so tired because their body has to work harder. This is the same for EDS. 

Other reasons why EDS causes tiredness are:

  • Chronic pain
  • Poor sleep quality
  • Autonomic dysfunction
  • Underlying health conditions

Chronic pain is particularly a big cause of tiredness in EDS. Research shows that 90% of people with EDS live with chronic pain. Between 50% and 80% of people with chronic pain have sleep problems. 

The elbows, wrists, fingers, and knees are the most common sites of pain in EDS. But hypermobility and neck pain, foot pain, and back pain are also common. 

With the whole body capable of hypermobility-related chronic pain, it’s no surprise that people with EDS are tired!

Does hypermobility cause sleep problems?

Hypermobility and sleep problems are common occurrences. Some of the problems reported are:

  • Insomnia
  • Poor-quality sleep
  • Lack of sleep
  • Excessive sleep

Does hypermobility cause sleep disorders?

The American Psychiatric Association describes sleep disorders as ‘problems with the quality, timing, and amount of sleep.’

As previously mentioned, sleep problems in hypermobility are normal. 

Hypermobility can also cause more serious sleep disorders including:

  • Restless Leg Syndrome – hypermobility causes restless leg syndrome in 92% of patients. Having uncomfortable legs that you need to constantly move undoubtedly prevents sleep.

  • Insomnia – despite hypermobility’s link to fatigue, 33% of people say they have insomnia. This is likely to be due to a combination of pain, discomfort, and anxiety.

It’s not just adults with hypermobility who experience sleep disorders. Children with hypermobility have sleep issues too. One study found that insomnia, hypersomnia, obstructive sleep apnea, and periodic limb movement disorder were common in hypermobile children.

How to sleep with hypermobility

So now you know why hypermobility and tiredness go hand-in-hand, it’s essential that you optimize your sleep environment. Here are some great tips to follow to help you sleep with hypermobility.

  1. Find your perfect mattress match – one that is not too hard, not too soft, but just right for your unique needs. Mattresses for hypermobility come in different firmnesses and materials.

  2. Get creative with pillows – use them to support your joints, prop up your limbs, and keep your spine aligned. You may even find that a Squishmallow helps you to sleep better.

  3. Strike a pose – experiment with different sleeping positions to find the one that puts the least amount of strain on your hypermobile joints.

  4. Don’t be afraid to snooze in shifts – take a nap when you need to and break up your sleep into shorter, more manageable chunks.

  5. Get cozy with a heating pad or warm compress – the heat can soothe your joints and help you drift off to sleep.

  6. Unwind before bed – take a warm bath, read a book, or practice some gentle stretches to help your body relax and prepare for sleep.

  7. Keep a sleep diarytrack your sleep habits, pain levels, and any other factors that may be affecting your ability to get a good night’s rest.

  8. Seek help if needed – talk to your doctor or a sleep specialist if you are experiencing chronic fatigue or insomnia related to your hypermobility.

Best sleep position for hypermobility

The best way to sleep with hypermobility varies from person to person.

Here are some sleep positions that can be more comfortable to help you catch some Z’s without the pain:

  1. The Cozy Curler – If you’re a side sleeper, try curling up into a fetal position with a pillow between your knees to keep your hips aligned.

  2. The Pillow Prop – Elevate your upper body with a few pillows to alleviate pressure on your back and help reduce acid reflux.

  3. The Legs Up –  Elevating your legs can help reduce swelling and pain. Try placing a pillow or two under your knees while sleeping on your back.

  4. The Side Sleeper – Sleeping on your side with a pillow between your legs can help keep your hips aligned and alleviate pressure on your joints.

  5. The Hugger – If you sleep on your back, try hugging a pillow to your chest to help keep your spine aligned and reduce strain on your shoulders.

Remember, the best sleep position for you may depend on your individual needs and preferences, so feel free to experiment until you find what works best for you!

Hypermobility and sleep is a complex issue. We all need as much sleep as possible, but getting it isn’t always easy. How much sleep you need will depend on your lifestyle, activity levels, and the amount of pain you’re in. But as a general rule, try to get as much as possible so that your body has a chance to repair and recover.

Sources:

https://www.inspire.com/groups/eds-and-hsd/discussion/how-many-of-you-regularly-nap/

https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/21763-joint-hypermobility-syndrome

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4940063/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5886440/

Author

  • Amy

    Amy lives with hypermobility spectrum disorder (HSD). She spent years not knowing what was wrong with her body, before eventually being diagnosed in her 30s. She has two young children - both of whom are hypermobile.