If you suffer from osteoporosis, you know that it makes even the simplest of tasks painful, preventing you from doing the things that you love the most. Osteoporosis, which affects approximately 300,000 people across Ireland, makes the bones weaker, more brittle and prone to breakage. Because osteoporosis affects the body at its very core, it affects people who suffer from it in everything they do.
This is particularly true for one of the most important bodily functions: sleep. Studies have shown that a lack of deep sleep correlates with low bone density, which makes getting a good night’s sleep very important for those who are prone to osteoporosis. Unfortunately, osteoporosis can also affect the sleep of those who already suffer from the disease, making it even more difficult to achieve the necessary amount of deep sleep.
While there is no known cure for this disease, there are a number of ways to help your body build up bone strength and mitigate the symptoms of osteoporosis, such as investing in an adjustable bed, monitoring nutrition and vitamin intake, and strengthening your body. Here, we discuss the ins and outs of this life-changing disease and offer some tips to help ease symptoms.
What is Osteoporosis?
Osteoporosis is a condition that significantly weakens bone strength, making bones brittle and prone to fracture. Osteoporosis is most common in people 50 years or older, affecting more women than men. Unfortunately, it is often a long-term or even lifelong problem, as there is as yet no known cure for the disease. However, there are quite a few treatments, both natural and pharmaceutical, which help to manage and relieve the symptoms of the condition. If you’re interested in trying any of these methods out, make sure to speak with your doctor first to make sure it’s safe for you to do so.
Why is Osteoporosis more common in elderly people?
As we get older, our bones get thinner and lose their density naturally. However, for people with osteoporosis, this happens more quickly than normal. Osteoporosis affects older people much more because there is less bone density to lose as we age, and thinner bones of a poorer quality are more likely to break.
Bone mass begins to decrease after 35 years of age, meaning as we age, our bodies actually become more susceptible and show signs of the disease. If a person is suffering from osteoporosis and breaks a bone in their body, the healing time is typically much longer due to the fragility of their bones.
Symptoms and signs of Osteoporosis
According to the National Institutes of Health, “osteoporosis is called a ‘silent’ disease’ because there are typically no symptoms until a bone is broken or one or more vertebrae collapse (fracture).” While it is difficult to detect at early stages, the disease can manifest in a number of different ways depending on the person, their age, their medical history and genetics.
Symptoms of early-stage osteoporosis include:
- Receding gums
- Weaker grip strength
- Weak and brittle fingernails
Late stage osteoporosis symptoms are more easily detected, and can include:
- Height Loss
- Suffering disproportionate fractures from falls
- Back or neck pain
- Stooped posture or compression fracture
Remember: The best and most reliable way to detect early stage osteoporosis is to ask your doctor to conduct a detection test, particularly if you have a family history of the disease.
What causes Osteoporosis?
The bone disease can be caused by one or a multitude of factors, the main ones being sex, age and genetics.
Other causes can be related to:
- Low testosterone
- Low oestrogen levels in women
- Amenorrhea (loss of the menstrual period)
- Lack of calcium and vitamin D
- Lack of exercise
- Malnutrition – poor nutrition and health
- Cigarette smoking
- Excessive alcohol consumption
- History of rheumatoid arthritis
- Immobility – i.e. after a stroke
- Personal history of fracture as an adult
- Malnutrition due to inflammation or other diseases
- Certain types of chemotherapy
- Long-term use of heparin (a blood thinner)
- Antiseizure medicine such as phenytoin (Dilantin) and phenobarbital
- Long-term use of oral corticosteroids (such as prednisone)
Osteoporosis and sleep
Sleep is one of the most important functions your body undergoes daily; however, it should come as no surprise that sleep is more difficult to come by as our bodies age. A variety of metabolic and regenerative processes occur while we are in our deepest sleep, including bone remodelling. Because older people are already more likely to have less sleep, this means that there is less time for their bodies to work on strengthening bones. In turn, progression of osteoporosis symptoms due to lack of sleep could cause those suffering to experience difficulties falling and staying asleep, meaning even less time for remodelling. Ultimately, it is likely that those people who don’t get as much deep, restorative sleep are more prone to osteoporosis.
A research study connecting sleep and bone health followed the sleep habits of a large group of post-menopausal women, at the same time measuring and recording their bone density. When the numbers were compared, it was found that women who slept less than five hours a night had less bone mineral density. In fact, their bones were far “older,” more brittle and prone to fractures, than people who got 7 hours sleep per night.
Studies such as this one raise concern for the large percentage of elderly people who do not sleep for long periods at a time. It may be time to take the sleep of our elders more seriously, as it can have a serious impact on their long-term health and well-being.
Natural ways to deal with Osteoporosis:
While osteoporosis has no known cure, there are plenty of natural ways to mitigate symptoms and slow its progression. However, it is vital to ensure that you never try a treatment, natural or pharmaceutical, before speaking with your doctor about whether it is the right option for you.
Here are a few natural treatments and lifestyle changes that may help you to manage your osteoporosis.
Monitor your nutrition to make sure that your diet isn’t contributing to calcium loss. Recommended foods to help mitigate osteoporosis symptoms and to help you strengthen your bones include:
- Pumpkin/ Squash
- Green Leafy Veggies
- Red Kidney Beans
Avoid certain beverages such as coffee, soft drinks, champagne, and sparkling water, all of which contribute to calcium deficiency. Top tip – swap lemonade or cola with a refreshing smoothie rich in antioxidants.
Avoid acid–blocking drugs for problems such as heartburn. Stomach acid is necessary to absorb minerals such as calcium, magnesium, and zinc. Blocking stomach acid significantly increases the risk of osteoporosis.
Take Vitamin D as it helps to absorb calcium and strengthen the bones. It is also important for immune system modulation, depression, and autoimmune disorders.
Moderate exercise such as walking, hiking, climbing stairs and weightlifting can increase bone density. As inactivity is associated with increased chances of osteoporosis, 20-30 minutes walking would be a good starting point. Low impact exercise such a swimming would also be a good option.
Electric adjustable beds help to increase circulation by allowing you to change position throughout the night without twisting and turning. They also come with a fantastic massage feature, which helps to stimulate blood flow to your affected joints.
Osteoporosis is a difficult disease to manage, the symptoms of and treatments for which vary from person to person. However, no matter your circumstances, it is vital to ensure that you get as much deep, restorative sleep as possible. Not only do your sleep habits affect your osteoporosis symptoms directly, but a better night’s sleep can also decrease stress, help manage weight, and increase muscle strength, all of which can help you live easier with osteoporosis.
If you are suffering from osteoporosis, we will help you craft a bed and mattress that suits your needs to ensure you a good night’s sleep! We have spent years listening to our customers, understanding their needs and ensuring they get all the comfort they need.
For more information on how electric beds will help you achieve a better night’s sleep, or for advice on purchasing an adjustable bed, contact our expert team at the Natural Sleep Company today! We have decades of experience in the sleep industry and want to use it to make sure you get the best rest possible.