Sleep/activity cycles key to tailored interventions for people with arthritis


December 1, 2020 (VANCOUVER) – New findings from Arthritis Research Canada reveal that 24-hour activity-sleep cycles could help healthcare providers develop interventions for arthritis patients.

Adults with arthritis may not be able to spend much time doing higher intensity physical activities due to activity limitations. Arthritis-related pain, fatigue, limited joint and muscle function, or mood disruption may contribute to increased sedentary activity and less walking or impact sleep quantity and quality.

 “Supporting someone to be physically active, limit sitting activities, and get sufficient sleep have all been shown to be independently associated with better health outcomes,” said Dr. Lynne Feehan, Lead author of the study and a Clinical Associate Professor in the Department of Physical Therapy at the University of British Columbia. “Pain can have serious implications on a person’s overall health and too much or too little sleep can increase the risk of mortality.”

The study involved a total of 172 people, including 51 per cent with rheumatoid arthritis, 30 per cent with knee osteoarthritis and 19 per cent with systemic lupus erythematosus. Participants wore activity monitors for one week and completed surveys for demographic information, mood and sitting and walking habits. 

“This research has laid the foundation for further investigation into the use of 24-hour activity-sleep patterns to create tailored interventions for people living with different forms of arthritis,” Feehan said.

Alison Hoens is a member of Arthritis Research Canada’s Arthritis Patient Advisory Board and a patient partner in this study. As a patient living with rheumatoid arthritis and as a physical therapist, the findings of this study resonate strongly with her.

“The recognition that patients, even with similar diagnoses, are ‘not all the same’ speaks to the potential of tailoring support from healthcare providers to encourage healthy sleep, rest, and activity that align with a patient’s habits and needs,” Hoens said.

This research is also consistent with the new Canadian 24-hour movement guidelines that promote finding a balance between sleep, physical activity and rest playing an important role in Canadians’ overall health, well-being, and quality of life, regardless of age.


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Arthritis Research Canada is the largest clinical arthritis research institution in North America. Our mission is to transform the lives of people living with arthritis through research and engagement. Arthritis Research Canada’s scientific director, Dr. Diane Lacaille is leading a team of over 100 researchers, trainees and staff whose world recognized research is creating a future where people living with arthritis are empowered to triumph over pain and disability. Arthritis Research Canada is conducting research across Canada in British Columbia, Alberta and Quebec and is affiliated with five major universities: University of British Columbia, Simon Fraser University, University of Calgary, Université Laval, and McGill University. Arthritis Research Canada is leading research aimed at arthritis prevention, early diagnosis, new and better treatment, and improved quality of life.


For more information, to arrange an interview, or to obtain a copy of the research paper, please contact: 

Heather Caulder

Marketing and Communications Coordinator

604-207-4010 or hcaulder@arthritisresearch.ca


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