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How Poor Sleep Causes Osteoporosis

Article at-a-glance:

  • As many as 70 million Americans now suffer from chronic sleep problems.
  • Not getting enough sleep increases depression, blood pressure, all-cause mortality, and osteoporosis.
  • Learn how poor sleep affects your bones and what you can do about it.
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By Dr. John Neustadt

The optimal amount of sleep for adults is 7-8 hours a night.1 Yet nearly 30% of men get less than six hours a night and 20% of all adults sleep less than 6.5 hours a night.2,3 Over the last century, the number of hours people sleep has decreased by 25%, and as many as 70 million Americans now suffer from chronic sleep problems!4  

If you’re sleeping less than six hours a night, maybe because you struggle with insomnia or sleep apnea, you’re two times more likely to suffer high blood pressure, four times more likely to suffer major depression and 30% more likely to die compared to those who get enough sleep.5 Studies show that not getting enough sleep reduces the quality of life as much as having congestive heart failure and major depressive disorders.5,6

Sleep and Bone Density

As for your bones, sleep deprivation is associated with significantly lower bone mineral density and increased osteoporosis risk. Getting less than an average of five hours of sleep per night is associated with a 63% increased risk for hip osteoporosis and a 28% increased risk for osteoporosis in your spine.7 And since not getting enough sleep decreases your balance, coordination, and reaction time, it also increases your risk for falls and fractures.

Increased Inflammation

Inflammation is a natural, necessary biological response. When you sprain an ankle, inflammation signals the body to start healing. When you fight infections, pro-inflammatory molecules are also produced. While acute inflammation is adaptive and helps your body heal, chronic systemic inflammation wreaks havoc on your health and is a major risk for cardiovascular disease, cancer, diabetes mellitus, chronic kidney disease, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, autoimmune and neurodegenerative disorders, and osteoporosis.8,9 

Poor sleep increases chemical signals in the body that increase inflammation, including C-reactive protein (CRP), interleukin 6 (IL-6), and tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF-alpha).10 In your bones, they increase how fast bone is destroyed by increasing osteoclast activity and increase your risk for osteoporosis.9 

How to Balance Inflammation

Since chronic inflammatory diseases are the most significant cause of death globally,11 making sure your counteracting too much inflammation is important for overall health. This can also help your bones. In addition to improving your sleep, for which I provide recommendations below, there are additional ways you can decrease those dangerous, inflammatory chemicals in your body. 

Vitamin C

Studies have looked at the ability of vitamin C to decrease free radical damage and pro-inflammatory molecules. In a clinical trial, volunteers who took 1000 mg/day of vitamin C as a dietary supplement for two months had a 52% decrease in CRP and 36% lower IL-6.12 A second clinical trial showed a 25.3% reduction in CRP by taking 1000 mg/day of vitamin C.13 

NBI Vitamin C 1000, provides 1000 mg of vitamin C per capsule from natural plant sources like rose hips and acerola fruit. Plus, 50 mg of citrus bioflavonoids for added antioxidant protection.  

Omega-3 Fatty Acids

In a 2017 randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study, 86 men and women (mean age 71 years old) were randomized to take either 720 mg EPA and 480 mg DHA per day or a placebo for six months. Those who took the EPA+DHA had significantly lower markers of inflammation, including interleukin-6 (IL-6) and tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-a).14 Additional studies have confirmed the ability of omega-3 fatty acids to reduce pro-inflammatory chemicals.15, 16 

Best Catch Omegas provides 1000 mg EPA and 500 mg DHA per serving. Our oil comes from sustainably sourced, wild caught anchovies and sardines, which is molecularly distilled to remove contaminants. 

Vitamin D

In a clinical trial, participants receiving vitamin D3 had significantly lower CRP and significantly higher glutathione compared to placebo.17 Glutathione is one of the body’s major antioxidants that scavenges free radicals and tamps down inflammation. 

An open label, randomized clinical trial of 50 volunteers who recently had heart attacks supports a mounting body of evidence showing that vitamin D helps balance inflammation. Patients were randomized to receive 4000 IU/day of vitamin D3 or placebo. After only five days of taking vitamin D3, the pro-inflammatory chemicals IL-6, and IL-8 significantly decreased while they increased in people not taking vitamin D3. Additionally, CRP was more than 300 times lower in people taking vitamin D compared to those taking the placebo, showing an overall beneficial effect of vitamin D3 on inflammation.18

NBI Vitamin D3 provides 5000 IU of non-GMO vitamin D3 oil in easy-to-swallow softgel capsules. 

How to Improve Your Sleep

Sleep issues are fixable, so let’s talk about what might be preventing you from getting enough ZZZs and how to fix the problem. 

When approaching sleep naturally, there are two basic goals, decrease inflammation which damages the hypothalamus-pituitary-axis (HPA axis) and restore healthy levels of cortisol and neurotransmitters which improves sleep quality. Natural approaches, when applied through diet, lifestyle, and supplementation can promote natural, healthy sleep, including those beautiful deep-sleep delta waves that allow your body and mind to restore themselves during the night.

To help you get good, restorative sleep, which is one of the foundations of health, here’s what I want you to focus on over the next two weeks. And when you do, you’ll experience the difference in how you feel and perform.

Pick a bedtime and stick to it

Research confirms that one of the biggest predictors of good sleep is having a set bedtime and sticking to it. It may take a few days for your body to get used to it but stick with it. 

Ditch the screens

An interesting clinical trial recently showed that reading on your phone or tablet before bed disrupts your natural sleep cycle. It makes it harder to fall asleep and it took volunteers in the study hours longer to feel fully awake the next day. So turn off technology about an hour before bed and keep your bed for sleeping, reading a good old fashioned paper book, or connecting with your partner. Your sleep will improve, and your relationship just might too. 

Lower the temperature

Making sure your bedroom is the right temperature can make the difference between sleeping soundly and tossing and turning all night. Research confirms that for most people the optimum sleep temperature is about 69 degrees Fahrenheit. So turn down your thermostat to a temperature that’s optimal for you, which may take some experimenting.

Take Sleep Relief

No two people are exactly alike, and what is creating sleep issues in someone may not be a problem for someone else. That’s why Sleep Relief gently and naturally targets the entire sleep cycle to help you fall asleep, stay asleep and wake refreshed.

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1 Watson NF, Badr MS, Belenky G, et al. Aug 1 2015;38(8):1161-83. 

2 Banks S, Dinges DF. Aug 15 2007;3(5):519-28. 

3 Ford ES, Cunningham TJ, Croft JB. May 1 2015;38(5):829-32. 

4 Doghramji PP. 2001;62 Suppl 10:18-26. 

5 Hardeland R. 2012;3(2):194-225. 

6 Troxel WM. 2010;72(6):578-86. 

7 Ochs-Balcom HM, Hovey KM, Andrews C, et al. 2020;35(2):261-268.

8 Furman D, Campisi J, Verdin E, et al. 2019;25(12):1822-1832. 

9 Epsley S, Tadros S, Farid A, et al. 2021;11

10 Irwin MR, Olmstead R, Carroll JE. 2016;80(1):40-52. 

11 Pahwa R, Goyal A, Jialal I. StatPearls. StatPearls Publishing LLC.; 2023.

12 Ellulu MS, Rahmat A, Patimah I, et al. 2015;9:3405-12. 

13 Block G, Jensen CD, Dalvi TB, et al. 2009;46(1):70-7. 

14 Bo Y, Zhang X, Wang Y, et al. 2017;9(1)

15 Guo XF, Li KL, Li JM, Li D. 2019;59(20):3380-3393. 

16 Honda KL, Lamon-Fava S, Matthan NR, et al. 2015;50(2):121-9. 

17 Infante M, Ricordi C, Sanchez J, et al. 2019;11(9)

18 Arnson Y, Itzhaky D, Mosseri M, et al. 2013;45(2):236-47.

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