Osteoporosis and Sleep

Did you get a good night’s sleep? Inadequate sleep is connected to numerous health problems including weight gain, diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease and even osteoporosis. Osteoporosis is more common in people who either get too much or too little sleep. The more significant association and cause for concern is for those who have sleep disorders such as sleep apnea and those who take sleeping pills long term.  Sleep disorders are associated with increased risk of osteoporosis and falls.

Poor sleep leads to poor physical function overall - which can cause dizziness and imbalance that may increase your risk of falling. The effects of sleeping pills often last far longer than intended and linger while awake – this too puts you at risk of falling during the daytime. People with low bone density have to be particularly cautious about both, as they are already at an increased risk of falling and fracturing a bone.  Too much sleep (more than 10 hours a day – including naps) is associated with an increased risk of fractures.  Frequent napping and excessive sleep can be a sign that you are not getting restorative sleep at night – the kind needed to maintain energy and focus during throughout day.

The sleep-osteoporosis connection also goes the other way: osteoporosis itself may cause disruptive or ‘light’ sleeping after a vertebral compression fracture because of back pain - even after the fracture has healed. This deals a double blow because any fracture increases the risk of a second fracture.  If you are a woman between the ages of 20-50 and you've broken a bone, you have a 75% increased risk of a another fracture after 50.  Poor sleep may increase the risk of fracture more.

For these reasons it’s helpful to try to improve your sleep habits naturally and to do everything possible to keep your bones strong and healthy. You’re never too young or too old to add a nutritional supplement that supports your bones. Supplements can decrease the risk of falls and make a measurable difference in your bone health as fast as six weeks after adding to your diet. Regular exercise, good eating habits and adding Silical System* to make up for dietary deficiencies can go a long way to preventing low bone density and osteoporosis.

10 Tips to A Better Night's Sleep:

1.    Get regular exercise during the day, preferably outside in daylight. Natural daylight helps you produce vitamin D, and daylight also helps you produce chemicals that convert to sleep hormones at night. Avoid exercise within three hours of bedtime because exercise acts as a stimulant for a few hours.

2.    Avoid caffeine after noon. Some colas and decaffeinated still have caffeine, albeit less than regular coffee (unless clearly labeled “caffeine free” – assume there is some caffeine. Additionally, more than 3 cups of coffee a day is associated with calcium loss in bone, and other bone health concerns.

3.    Limit napping. Short naps can restore energy, but long naps during the day may interfere with your ability to sleep at night.

4.    Reserve your bedroom for sleep if possible and only get into bed when it’s time to sleep.

5.    Have a pre-sleep routine that helps you tire.  People who read or listen to music for an hour before sleep generally fall asleep faster than people who watch television or work right before getting into bed.

6.    Darken your bedroom as much as possible and use red bulbs in nightlights so you don’t fall if you need to go to the bathroom during the night. Blue and white lights actually turn off natural sleep hormones, so use red lights whenever possible.

7.    Stop smoking cigarettes and limit alcohol intake prior to sleep. A nightcap may help you fall asleep (and beer even provides one of the key nutrients for bone health) - but your sleep isn’t as deep or satisfying and may increase nightmares.

8.    Don’t over-sleep. Too much sleep is almost as bad for health as too little sleep. Aim for 7½ - 9 hours of sleep. If you feel the need for more sleep, talk with your doctor or try exercising more.

9.    Lose weight if you are overweight. We know, that’s a difficult task, but being overweight is a vicious cycle. Poor sleep may increase appetite and being overweight decreases sleep quality. People who are overweight are also more likely to be deficient in vitamin D and may need extra supplements to make up for vitamin D deficiency. It’s also important to understand that vitamin D deficiency is usually a sign of being deficient in these other nutrients that are essential for healthy bones.

10.    Seek professional help if these natural measures are inadequate. Sleep analysis has rapidly advanced in the past few years. Physician specialists in sleep medicine have helped thousands of people and they can probably help you if you have a sleep disorder.

*Adequate calcium and vitamin D, throughout life, as part of a well-balanced diet, may reduce the risk of osteoporosis.

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