Even after a solid eight hours of sleep, sometimes you still wake up feeling stiff and sore. And while a hot shower sounds enticing, the thought of actually getting into that shower doesn’t. If you’re one of the millions of people living with joint pain, the ache can set in long before the day begins.
So why does this happen? As you age, your bones begin to degenerate and the cartilage protecting and buffering your joints becomes drier and less porous. During sleep, your muscles relax and your circulation slows, as do the fluids lubricating your joints and cartilage. The less fluid available for lubrication, the stiffer your joints become. And since it can take some time for fluids to seep back into your joints in the morning, the result is stiffness and pain.
Whether you’re living with arthritis, a sports injury, back pain, or any number of other musculoskeletal conditions, joint pain in the morning can shape your entire day. Fortunately, there are a few steps you can take to make mornings a little easier on your joints.
1. Get Enough Sleep
This seems obvious, but many people people don’t realize how important sleep is to their health and wellbeing. According to the US Centers for Disease Control (CDC), a whopping 35% of adults don’t get enough sleep.
When you get less than seven hours of sleep, the cost is often sore joints in the morning. Regularly missing out on sleep also increases your risk of developing any number of other chronic diseases and conditions, including stroke and heart disease. So embrace your beauty sleep—it does your body good.
2. Position Yourself Properly
Along with the amount of sleep you get, pay attention to how you sleep. A pillow that’s too soft or too firm can place undue strain on your neck, forcing your spine into uncomfortable positions.
Similarly, pay attention to your mattress. One that’s too soft can aggravate joint pain because there isn’t enough support, which can prompt restlessness and, ultimately, sleeplessness.
3. Take a Soothing Bath Before Bed
A warm bath is a great way to relax before bed, helping you sink into a restful sleep more easily. But the water also helps soothe your muscles and joints, leading to less pain and stiffness come morning. Trying adding Epsom salts to your bath to help with inflammation and soften your skin.
4. Sleep Tight (and Warm)
When the temperature drops, your joint pain can feel worse. No matter what the weather is doing outside, your body will be far more responsive and your muscles more supple when they’re toasty in bed. Always keep an extra blanket handy and keep your feet and toes under the covers. A pair of snuggly bed socks can help keep them warm if you find you often kick off the covers.