Let’s get right to the point. We know the answer to the question that no one wants to hear.
The question? Why do I wake up feeling like a truck hit me?
The answer you don’t want: Because you are getting old.
At one time or another, everyone wakes up stiff and sore, but if this is happening to you regularly, then you should take steps to correct the underlying problem.
Are you taking over-the-counter pain medication with breakfast, so you can get through the day? Those are a good short-term solution, however, after a while, those will stop working. Read along with us for a few tips from your chiropractor in Wasilla on overcoming morning aches & pains.
Everyone NEEDS a Good Night’s Sleep
If you are spending most of your time walking around like something from the Walking Dead because you are sleep deprived, you should know your body is suffering far more ill effects than simply feeling tired.
A lack of quality sleep causes harm to every aspect of your life, from the food choices you will make to your mental health, your mood, your sex life, even down to your immune system.
In fact, did you know one study done in 2005 found that a consistent lack of sleep can cause an increase in inflammation? Inflammation not only leads to chronic pain but is the foundation for almost every disease known to man.
It’s the Chicken and Egg Question
Now comes the real dilemma; are your morning aches and pains caused by a lack of or quality sleep? Or is your sleep causing those morning aches and pains?
The good news here is that the dreaded answer about getting older is probably not to blame.
Let’s delve a bit deeper into this subject and get the answers to those top 4 questions about morning aches and pains you’re too afraid to ask.
Why Do I have Body Pain in the Morning When I Wake Up?
As we mentioned earlier, the good news is that, unless you are suffering from some joint disease, such as arthritis, it’s probably not just from “old age”.
Some research suggests that it has something to do with our circadian rhythm. When we sleep, our bodies block anti-inflammatory compounds. Once we are up and moving these compounds kick in and act something like a natural form of ibuprofen.
This is only a hypothesis and scientists don’t fully understand how this function works, but it is one possible answer.
If inflammation is causing pain, you might wonder how you can prevent morning stiffness. You can lower your levels of chronic inflammation by eating a diet high in foods that prohibit inflammation, such as fresh fruits and vegetables, and limiting inflammation causing foods, including junk food, potato chips, candy, soda, and sugary treats.
While ‘old age’ isn’t really the reason for stiff joints, it IS true that low-grade inflammation tends to be more common as we age. You can fight this by getting exercise, eating more anti-inflammatory foods (such as the ones listed above) and taking good care of yourself every day of the year, not only when you feel pain.
Rather than making New Year’s resolutions, why not make a list of healthy habits you will start (or continue) doing for the following year? Don’t do everything at once, but be sure to include proactive health measures, including getting flu vaccinations, seeing your doctor, dentist, and chiropractor regularly, and getting in at least some exercise 5 or 6 days per week.
Are you feeling this pain only in the winter months when things are colder? Many people with rheumatoid arthritis say that the mornings, especially when it’s cold, are the most painful parts of the day.
Try warming your clothes in the dryer or take a hot shower or bath in the morning to help ease the pain that might be caused by the cold.
What Causes Morning Stiffness?
Stiff joints and pain are not always the same thing although stiff joints are generally painful until they limber up.
Morning stiffness causes can be hard to pin down, but they usually are caused by:
✓ Health conditions
✓ Untreated injuries
✓ Poor sleeping positions
✓ Weather/temperature related (damp or cold)
Our sedentary lifestyles have led us to be far more inactive than at any time in history. Our bodies work like cars in many ways; they are not meant to sit and rot, they need to be driven (move) daily and occasionally, driven hard and fast.
Getting exercise is one of the best ways to prevent stiff muscles and sore joints. Movement keeps the fluid inside joints moving and prevents muscles and tendons from becoming shorter due to lack of use.
Untreated injuries, such as tendonitis, tend to get worse as we sleep because we are not using the joint or because we have overcompensated by using other joints, so we won’t use the injured one.
If you have injuries you were “hoping” would get better over time, see your chiropractor or doctor so you can wake up and feeling good again!
While studies show that sleeping in a cooler room (about 65 degrees) is best, you still want to avoid sleeping in rooms that are colder than 60 or sleeping in rooms or in bedding that is damp.
The adage “But it’s a dry heat” sums up sleeping in damp conditions. Moisture in the air makes the temperature feel far colder than dry air. If you live in a humid location, use a room dehumidifier in your bedroom.
Obesity puts a strain on our joints, which can lead to pain after resting, then putting the weight back on the joint in the morning. If you are overweight, work on losing just 10% of your body weight this year, and every year, until you reach your goal weight.
Should I Buy a New Mattress?
Do you need a new mattress or pillow? Possibly.
A mattress should offer you both support and comfort. A bed that is too hard will cause pressure points, which will cause body pain in the morning when you wake up, but a mattress that is too soft will generally cause back pain since it offers little or no support for the spine.
If you went hiking in a pair of flip-flops, no one would be surprised if your feet hurt at the end of the trip. The same is true for your mattress. Although you don’t move much at night, sleep is a performance activity. You need the proper gear.
We don’t want to sound like a mattress salesperson, but, like shoes, a less expensive mattress will wear out faster. Consider buying the best mattress you can afford and think of it an investment.
Your pillow should also offer you support. If you wake up with neck pain, your pillow might be the culprit. Your chiropractor will be the first to tell you that a pillow which is too thin, too thick, or too hard will knock your spine out of alignment.
You can check your pillow this way; lie on your side with your back facing a friend. Ask them to look and see if your head is bent down or up. Your neck and head should be in a straight line. If it’s not, try different pillows until you find the right one.
Like mattresses, pillows also don’t last forever. If your pillow is over 3 years old, you most likely need a new one.
Could Morning Aches and Pain be Due to Something Else?
Yes, they can. Muscle tension can lead to waking up stiff and sore every morning.
While most people believe their muscles completely relax when they sleep, this is only partially true. If you addressed other issues, such as your mattress, pillow, room temperature, and if you take anti-inflammatories, have your weight in check and get regular exercise, perhaps it’s time to look at other areas of your life.
Chronic anxiety or relentless stress can be the reasons why your body aches every morning. Stress and anxiety cause our muscles to tighten and stay that way. If we don’t or can’t allow the muscles to relax, the muscles stay in this hyper-stimulated state.
While the muscles will relax somewhat while you sleep, the fact is that your muscles have been “worked” for 8 to 15 hours. Imagine how sore you would be if you worked out at a gym for that long every day! You can bet your muscles would be sore the next day!
Tips for reducing stress and anxiety:
- Reduce stress whenever and wherever possible
- Learn to deal with the stress you can’t get rid of through meditation, yoga, deep breathing techniques or exercise
- See your chiropractor for stress relief via adjustments and massage therapy
- Consider therapy for anxiety issues
- Join support groups
Stress and anxiety are some of today’s biggest problems and they are not easily overcome. Many people do learn to control these feelings, however.
Manage your stress and anxiety to see if those morning aches and pains diminish as your levels of stress also diminish.
You might also have other health issues you are unaware of, including fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome, osteoarthritis, or rheumatoid arthritis. If the above suggestions have failed to improve those morning aches and pains, see your chiropractor or your physician for further help.
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About the Author
Dr. Brent Wells, D.C. founded Better Health Chiropractic & Physical Rehab and has been a chiropractor for over 20 years. His practice has treated thousands of patients from different health problems using services designed to help give long-lasting relief.
Dr. Wells is also the author of over 700 online health articles that have been featured on sites such as Dr. Axe, Organic Facts, and Thrive Global. He is a proud member of the American Chiropractic Association and the American Academy of Spine Physicians. And he continues his education to remain active and updated in all studies related to neurology, physical rehab, biomechanics, spine conditions, brain injury trauma, and more.