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Health

Why a good night sleep is the secret to healthier bones

Getting regular sleep can be the key to having stronger bones and healthier joints, a leading expert has said.

Dr Taher Mahmud, a consultant rheumatologist at the London Osteoporosis Clinic, says people often underestimate the importance of sleep in maintaining bone health.

He said: “I treat hundreds of patients each year suffering with bone or joint issues, and there is always one area they commonly overlook – sleep. Many of us sacrifice sleep in favour of productivity, but the truth is that getting enough rest can profoundly affect our overall well-being.

“While many people focus on diet and exercise as part of their health routine, sleep is equally crucial, and it plays a pivotal role in maintaining physical and mental well-being.

“It also plays a critical role in factors as wide ranging as a healthy immune system to weight loss.

“Quality sleep is not just beneficial—it’s essential for those managing conditions like osteoporosis and arthritis and plays a significant role in their prevention.”

Six health benefits of sleep

 

  1. Enhanced Cognitive Function

One of the most important benefits of sleep is its impact on cognitive function. When you sleep, your brain consolidates memories and processes information from the day. This leads to improved learning, problem-solving skills, and overall mental clarity. Without enough sleep, your cognitive abilities can become impaired, affecting your performance at work or school.

 

 

  1. Boosted Immune System

Sleep plays a vital role in supporting your immune system. During sleep, your body produces cytokines, a type of protein that helps fight infection and inflammation. Getting enough rest can help your body defend against illnesses such as the common cold and flu. On the other hand, chronic sleep deprivation can weaken your immune response, making you more susceptible to getting sick.

 

  1. Weight Management

Believe it or not, sleep also plays a role in weight management. Lack of sleep can disrupt the balance of hormones that control appetite, leading to increased cravings for unhealthy foods. Additionally, sleep deprivation can slow down your metabolism, making it harder to lose weight. By prioritising sleep, you can support your weight loss goals and maintain a healthy lifestyle.

 

 

  1. Emotional well-being

Sleep has a significant impact on emotional well-being. When you are well-rested, you are better equipped to handle stress and regulate your emotions. On the other hand, sleep deprivation can exacerbate feelings of anxiety and depression. Getting enough rest can improve your mood, increase your resilience to stress, and enhance your overall emotional health.

 

  1. Combating Osteoporosis

Osteoporosis, characterised by weakened bones, can be influenced by sleep patterns. Poor sleep quality and duration can increase cortisol levels, a stress hormone that can negatively impact bone density. Additionally, insufficient sleep can impair the body’s ability to repair and build bone tissue, exacerbating the risk of fractures.

 

  1. Helping to manage the pain of arthritis 

 

Sleep is crucial for managing pain and inflammation for those with arthritis. Poor sleep can heighten the perception of pain and lower pain thresholds, making arthritis symptoms more severe. Moreover, a lack of restorative sleep can lead to increased fatigue, reducing the ability to manage daily activities effectively.

 

Practical Tips for Better Sleep

 

We all know sleep is important, but for many the problem is how to get better sleep. But instead of worrying about a lack of sleep, Dr Mahmud has practical tips for better sleep which can be incorporated into a daily routine.

 

 

  1. Establish a Routine. A sleep schedule, even on weekends, can help regulate your internal clock allowing you a structured sleep and making sleep a habit to which your body responds.
  2.  Create a Sleep-Friendly Environment. Light is the most important factor affecting sleep. It plays a central role in regulating circadian rhythm, the body’s internal clock. Make sure your bedroom is dark, quiet and cool. It is also worth investing in a comfortable mattress and pillows.
  3. Limit screen time. The blue light emitted from electronic devices suppresses the body’s release of melatonin, the hormone which makes us feel drowsy. For better sleep, avoid screens for at least an hour before bed.
  4. Mind Your Diet: Avoid caffeine and heavy meals close to bedtime. Even six hours before you go to bed, caffeine can have a negative impact on your sleep.
  5. Consciously wind down: Winding down before you get into bed can help you sleep and help you avoid tossing and turning as you try to drift off.  Practice relaxation techniques such as deep breathing, meditation, or gentle yoga before bed.