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Better sleep might benefit rheumatoid arthritis patients

 There's more evidence today on the benefits of sleep. A study in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine shows that sleep problems among patients with rheumatoid arthritis, an autoimmune disease that affects about 1.5 million Americans, are linked to numerous other problems.

University of Pittsburgh researchers surveyed 162 patients - 61 percent of whom were poor sleepers - and found that poor sleep quality was "significantly correlated" with higher levels of depressive symptoms, greater pain severity, increased fatigue, and greater functional disability. From an American Academy of Sleep Medicine release:

The study's finding that poorer sleep quality is associated with greater pain severity is consistent with recent evidence suggesting that sleep disruption may lower pain threshold and enhance pain in RA and otherwise healthy adults.

The researchers said the study shows the importance of treating sleep complaints, either pharmacologically or behaviorally, among patients with the disease. And, they said, it calls for further investigation on whether sleep improvements can reduce disability in patients.

Previously: Rheumatoid arthritis patients not getting necessary medication, Study highlights impact of rheumatoid arthritis on women's lives and Rates of rheumatoid arthritis rising in women

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