As we age, more often in the morning we wake up grunting, making noises as we stretch, or complaining of a newfound ache. Scientists have recently discovered the reason why it may hurt to get out of bed.
Good Morning, Sunshine!
Your foot hits the floor as you make your way off the mattress. As you stand up, there’s stiffness in your leg, back, or neck. There’s a logical reason for this, and it’s not just “getting older.”
Researchers in the UK at Manchester University conducted a study on cells from joints. What they found is that cells within our bodies have a biological clock. During sleep, the cell’s clock suppresses anti-inflammatory proteins. That’s why we’re often puffy, and everything’s sore. Our anti-inflammatory defenses go to bed too.
It’s Going to Be a Great Day
As we wander into the kitchen to grab our tea or coffee, our bodies are springing back into gear. Our natural ibuprofen (anti-inflammatory responses) begin to function more fully. Arthritis research doctor Qing-Jun Meng reminds us, “…as a consequence of the daily activity and resting cycle, we are two centimeters taller in the morning than when we go to bed.” So, once again, sleep matters, too.
Understanding that our cells have a time of day when they provide the highest (and lowest levels) of natural ibuprofen, can inform doctors when is the most beneficial time to administer medication to arthritic patients.
Additionally, arthritis patients and others with chronic inflammatory diseases may eventually have new medicines to help treat their pain—without painkillers. The researchers experimented with the rhythm of the cells in joints and even in the spine. The 24-hour cycle was altered to knock out the cryptochrome gene. When they did that, there was pervasive inflammation in the test subjects.
This experiment informed the scientists that the cryptochrome gene—and hence, its protein product—has significant anti-inflammatory abilities. This discovery can certainly help with the potential to create new drugs.
Back on Track
This research has also informed why lower back pain can be more prevalent with aging. As our cells’ body-clocks function at a declined capacity, so will their ability to act accordingly—that is, fight inflammation, for example. So, besides exercising and getting good sleep, we need to keep our cells as healthy as possible. If they’re healthy, they won’t know if they’re young or old as they continuously divide and reproduce.
With proper nutrition, we can keep cells happy and help prevent them from becoming diseased. Also, it’s important to bear in mind that stress plays a negative part in healthy cell reproduction. Eat well and stay calm, and hopefully, you’ll wake up with a few fewer aches tomorrow and for years to come.