Better Sleep Means Better Joint Health | 1MD Nutrition™

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Better Sleep Means Better Joint Health

9 minute read

Chronic inflammation is the number one cause of joint pain in the United States. As well as being linked to many other serious illnesses, inflammation can be uncomfortable and dangerous when left untreated. Osteoarthritis is one such disease and is the prominent cause of disability among Americans.

If you feel you are at risk for or already suffer from chronic inflammation, the following list can help you. Simple lifestyle changes you can make to help you reduce inflammation, including the one you will certainly enjoy; getting better sleep.

The Common Techniques

Preventative dental care: Inflammation can be caused by bacteria that enter the mouth and make their way through the intestine and into the bloodstream. Regular brushing and dental care can help prevent this by removing many pathogenic bacteria from your mouth. Inflammation related to periodontal disease has been linked to chronic inflammation and heart disease, so be sure to brush and floss at least twice a day.

Fight with real food: When you choose the right foods to eat you, can help your body to block certain stages of the inflammatory response cycle. The best foods are antioxidants because they help to remove toxic byproducts that can trigger the inflammatory response.

Antioxidants also bind to free radicals, which are harmful by-products of inflammation. Some good choices to include in your diet are berries, dark chocolate, spinach, and red wine (in moderation). Beets and omega-3 foods also help to support anti-inflammatory activities.

Another way to get antioxidants is through nutritional supplements. Look for a joint health supplement containing an antioxidant, such as astaxanthin.

Cut out chemicals: Pesticides and preservatives are well known for causing tissue damage and invading cells, both of which lead to inflammation. Be careful with cleaning products and when it comes to food; choose seasonal and local options as well as organic.

Stay active: Regular exercise reduces inflammation by improving circulation and lymphatic flow, as well as reducing body fat. The type of exercise doesn't matter. As long as you get the heart pumping, you will receive the benefits. Exercise also helps to reduce stress.  

Watch your weight: Metabolic stress is caused by obesity, which causes fat cells to trigger inflammation because they act like the cytokines of the immune system, which stimulate the inflammatory response.

Address the stress: Stress and anxiety push our bodies into the “flight or fight” response. The emotions are interpreted by the body as internal invaders so inflammatory markers are triggered. The more stress you have in your life, the more inflamed you are likely to be inside.

The options to reduce stress include yoga and meditation, but you can also simply do the activities you enjoy. Take a light stroll or play with the kids or pets. Laughing and enjoying an activity will melt the stress away and put out that internal flame.

How Sleep Fits Into The Picture

Many people think that to fight inflammation you need to actively 'fight'. This means doing something like exercise or eating right. However, you can fight inflammation by doing nothing.  

We have all experienced waking up after a bad night of sleep. You are groggy, achy, not thinking clearly, and reaching for that coffee mug. Yes, the caffeine helps but you will end up with that afternoon crash. It would be much easier to just get a good night sleep.

Studies are showing that a lack of sleep not only makes us crabby in the morning but over time, it can cause real damage to our bodies. Sleep deprivation was recently linked to increased inflammation levels.

| Related: The Inflammation Factor: The Heart of the Joint Health Matter |

Whether broken sleep or an inability to fall asleep, the results are the same. Certain inflammatory markers are activated that are linked to heart disease, hypertension, and Type II diabetes. Right alongside a sedentary lifestyle and high-fat diets, sleep deprivation is a big contributor to inflammation.

Sleep is necessary for our bodies to recover and rest from the day’s activities, as well as replenish any stores that have been depleted. To get the best sleep, you should avoid late night visits to the fridge, as well as to the internet. Electronic stimulation makes it more difficult for your brain to shut down for the night.

Make sure you sleep in a cool and comfortable room and allow some downtime before bed.  If you need help, you can always try a melatonin supplement to help you develop a regular circadian rhythm.  

Sleep and Your Joints

Joint pain can significantly interfere with your life. The pain can make it impossible to perform even the most routine of tasks. Chronic joint pain or arthritis often causes pain at night and many sufferers also complain of insomnia.  

This appears to be a two-way street. Joint pain can cause you to lose sleep but sleep deprivation makes inflamed joints hurt more. Joint inflammation and sleep deprivation continue to work in this unhealthy cycle, causing you additional health problems and further joint damage.

Fortunately,  there are things you can do to get a better night’s sleep, despite your inflamed joints. Once you can get your sleep on track, your body can start to heal the joint damage or, in the very least, make it less severe.  

1. Elevate your extremities to help you get comfortable. You want to position yourself to support circulation, making sure the inflamed areas get decreased blood flow.

2. Avoid any distractions before bed. Turn off phones and television to allow your brain to wind down. The best before bedtime activities are reading or meditation.
Take a nice bath or shower.

Not only can you release the stress of the day, but hydrotherapy does wonders for your aching joints  The hot water helps to soothe and relax you, which get you perfectly prepared for sleep.

3. Heating pads and blankets also provide comfort by helping with any stiffness. Be sure to unplug before going to sleep to avoid burns.

4. Avoid caffeinated beverages and foods. The longer you are awake, the more your pain keeps you from sleeping, so switch to herbal teas later in the day. Remember that your body takes time to expel the caffeine so anything after midday will likely interfere with your sleep.

5. Ice can remedy the burning sensation of inflammation in joints. Be sure to use a towel and not to leave ice on your bare skin. You can also use a bag of frozen vegetables like peas.

6. Check your mattress to be sure it supports you correctly. Depending on your preferred sleep position, you need to make sure you get the support you need while you sleep to avoid additional strain placed on your joints.

7. Create the right environment. You want to be in a cool, dry and darkroom. Burning essential oils can help to create the right relaxing atmosphere. Use a dehumidifier if you have trouble sleeping. 

The Bottom Line

The right sleeping environment will help you sleep and alleviate any joint pain. The more rest you get, the better your body can fight inflammation and improve your joint health.

By making some lifestyle changes, such as avoiding caffeine after midday, shutting down the tablet and Netflix an hour before bed, you'll be taking care of your joints and they will take care of you.

Read Next >>>  How to Release Stress and Relieve Inflammation

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