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The 7 keystones to healthy joints #4: How does sleep effect your joints?

Sleep is where your joint heal, if your sleep is poor, the micro damage that’s done through the day doesn’t get a chance to be completed, gradual deterioration of the your tissues health can be linked to poor sleep.

In simple terms your body has two switches that hoover on in the background, always working at some level, the “on” switch, the sympathetic nervous system is related to getting shit done It is the fight  or flight system designed to make you alert, and ready for action. Adrenal cortisol and other stress hormones are active to help you move your body, do work, and basically get after it. Glucose is released to fuel muscle contraction, and, and the slower metabolic fuel pathways, such as fat metabolism, are put in the back of the que as they take longer to work. In this state you body is highly alert, active and stimulated.

The “off” switch is the parasympathetic nervous system, where it essentially reverses the action of the sympathetic nervous system. It facilitates digestion, restoration and regeneration of tissues, which can be down if you are sympathetically stimulated. The cells use this time to clean up, and tidy up, getting rid of any residual waste from the days activity, and replacing them with healthy metabolic machinery to prepare for the next days activity. Muscle protein synthesis and anabolism occurs at rest, meaning the muscles repair and grow whilst you sleep, and the same happens for cartilage in the joints, just a little slower as the blood supply is not as abundant in cartilage than in muscle. That’s ok because cartilage is generally a lot tough tissue, taking a lot more to break it down.

The important thing to understand if you are not getting good quality sleep consistently then your body is in a constant state of stress and repair, not being able to find a a homeostatic balance where tissue demands are met by good nutrition and recovery, including sleep.

Sleep is a critical habit of healthy joints, as they are able to recover from the stress of the day and come out the other side just that little bit stronger, robust and mobile, the goal for healthy joints.

The formula to getting good sleep is pretty simple, the application however can be tricky as they are all closely tied into daily habits

Good sleep = go to bed early = decrease blue light exposure + minimise stress + avoid stimulants + make sure your bedroom is dark and cool

So for someone who stays up late, on their computer, playing stimulating video games or watching TV shows, whilst drinking red bulls, coffee or alcohol, with light on in the room is probably not going to get a really restful sleep. Do that over weeks, months, and years and you are essentially training the body to operate in a stressed environment during the time it should be switching to rest, recovery and regeneration mode.

If you want to start working on creating healthy joints, then it absolutely pays to focus on good quality rest, recovery and sleep. Try not to fall into the grind and burn trap, where more work, harder workouts, long days are somehow going to make you superhuman, because what’s most likely to happen is you’ll just simply burn out from the stress.

Take some time to really listen to your body, set yourself up to have a brilliant day by have a good sleep