In my osteopathy practice, as for all osteopathic practitioners, the human body’s self-healing capacity is a fundamental notion. And this superpower is within everyone's reach... as long as they get quality sleep!
During its sleep phases, the body is capable of restoring its cells and consolidating or even increasing its neural network. But sleep disorders can disrupt this precious faculty... and symptoms can appear.
Let's understand together what is the real link between sleep disorders and physical pain.
Sleep: Our First Therapist
The body needs sleep to rest, but also to repair, heal, and regenerate itself. Lack of sleep is therefore logically a considerable factor in joint and muscle pain. Conversely, pain is often responsible for sleep disorders.
Sleep and pain are therefore intimately linked, and determining the link between sleep disorders and musculoskeletal disorders often comes down to the famous dilemma: which came first, the chicken or the egg?
You will have understood it:
- to avoid pain, it is better to get a good night's sleep,
- and to sleep well, it's better to know how to manage pain.
I offer you a little practical guide to improve your sleep and reduce the incidence of joint pain at night. Be patient: regularity over long periods of time is the key to good results!
The Basics of a Good Sleep
Good sleep depends mostly on your daily choices and can be improved by changing certain habits.
How Much Sleep Do I Need?
Quality sleep means above all sleeping long enough, of course. At least 7 to 9 hours of sleep per night on average for adults. And here again, obviously, the time spent trying to sleep is not included.
Getting into the habit of going to bed based on this minimum amount of necessary sleep is as obvious as it is not very common. Luckily, there are also many apps to go through this learning process on your phone.
Improve the Quality of My Sleep
Sleep is not everything, but it is still necessary to have a restful sleep. And there are many factors that can lead to sleep disorders. They depend mainly on your ability to manage your stress, as well as your eating and physical activity habits.
To improve your sleep quality and avoid pain, here are some good habits to adopt:
To reduce anxiety at bedtime, you can get into the habit of doing some relaxation, meditation, or breathing exercises. You can also stop watching screens for at least one hour before bedtime.
To stimulate the secretion of serotonin, the sleep hormone, it is important to choose your diet carefully before going to bed. For example, favor foods containing tryptophan (avocados and nuts for example) and avoid foods that are too rich in fat or fast sugars.
- Finally, our body needs to move and exercise for at least 45 minutes a day. Without this minimum of activity, muscle and joint pains appear at night, making sleep difficult and restless.
Managing Pain to Sleep Better
There are two major types of joint pain at night: inflammatory pain and mechanical pain.
Awakening Pain in the Middle of the Night
Pain that is more intense in the middle of the night, inflammatory pain, appears at rest, and diminishes or disappears with physical activity and movement.
These painful joints at night are usually accompanied by a sensation of heat and have a pulsatile character. In the morning, stiffness generally lasts around 20 minutes.
To reduce these pains’ bad influence on sleep, it is better to avoid factors that promote inflammation: bad eating habits, stress, lack of physical activity, and ... guess what? Lack of sleep, of course!
Pain That Prevents You From Falling Asleep
Joint or muscle pain that appears at bedtime is rather mechanical. They generally appear with effort and diminish with rest, but often prevent us from sleeping.
It is the classic back pain affecting sleep that follows poor posture adopted during the previous day or night. It often manifests itself as back pain while falling asleep or poorly treated ankle pain that wakes up at bedtime.
Usually, these pains are caused by stress or anxiety. Relaxation, through meditation or simple breathing exercises, is your best ally to help you find sleep.
As a preventive measure, this type of symptom can also be combated by regular physical activity, with adapted warm-ups and stretching. Talk to your osteopath!