Get started with your free eBook.

Discover the top 14 things you’re doing that are damaging your bones.

Why Sleep Is Crucial To Your Bone Health And 6 Ways To Get More Of It

sleep-and-osteoporosis

An interesting bone density study comes to us from researchers at the Medical College of Wisconsin.1 Their surprising conclusion can greatly help you build your bones in a way that you may have never imagined possible.

What they observed was that lack of sleep in rats resulted in cessation of bone formation (new bone stopped forming entirely), but no decrease in bone resorption. In other words, even though the rats stopped forming new bone, their bones continued to decrease in density. They also found that the fat in the rats’ bone marrow decreased while the platelet-generating cells doubled in number, indicating diminished flexibility.

As I write in the Save Our Bones Program, balancing the bone remodeling cycle is essential to bone health, and flexibility is vital to preventing fractures. Sleep deprivation can upset both of these bone health essentials. Which means that…

Lack of Sleep Can Lead to Osteoporosis

Doctor Carol Everson, who led the research, suggests that if this is true for humans, it could mean that sleep deprivation can have an impact on how bones repair themselves. You see, everyday activities, which cause normal wear and tear, are typically repaired quickly. But when sleep deprivation impacts remodeling, it can lead to decreased bone density.

Could this shed some light on why osteoporosis is associated with aging?

Difficulty Sleeping as We Age

Frustratingly enough, it can be harder to get a good night’s sleep as we get older. This is partly because melatonin, an important hormone that affects sleep, decreases as we age. Melatonin is affected by light levels – the more light you’re exposed to, the less melatonin you produce. This is a normal part of the circadian cycle, preventing the production of melatonin during daylight hours and increasing it when it gets dark.

Additionally, your body manufactures less of this hormone as you age, so it makes sense to explore the possible connection between age-related bone loss and sleep-related bone loss. Lower melatonin levels and the subsequent decrease in sleep that come with aging could be silent partners, working together to accelerate bone loss.

Natural Methods for Getting More Sleep

There are all kinds of natural methods for getting more sleep. But before we discuss the specifics, I want to point out that at least 7 hours of sleep is considered minimal. If you’re going to bed at midnight and getting up at 5AM every day, it is likely to take a toll on your bones no matter how many of these natural methods you apply. You will also be pretty tired!

Here are some natural suggestions for getting more and better quality sleep:

1. Increase your melatonin levels.

I do not recommend taking melatonin supplements because melatonin is a hormone, and taking supplements can throw off your body’s hormonal balance. But you can increase your melatonin levels by eating melatonin-rich foods (like alfalfa sprouts and sunflower seeds), and by following some of these other suggestions.

2. Limit the use of electronics with screens, such as televisions and computer screens, after dark.

These screens emit “blue light,” which is strongly implicated in sleep disruption if you are exposed after dark. This is because blue light signals “daylight” to your circadian rhythm, and this triggers lower melatonin levels – a good thing during the day, but unwelcome after dark.

3. Use nighttime lighting

Use low-wattage bulbs that have a candle-like glow (or you can use actual candles!).

4. Go to sleep earlier if possible

Not just so you’ll get the required 7 hours of sleep, but also so your body gets used to the “darkness means sleep” signal.

5. Get lots of light exposure during the day.

This is just as important to your sleep cycle as dim light and darkness are.

6. Follow a “sleep” diet.

If you’re following the Save Our Bones Program, your bones have plenty of bone-building nutrients that nourish them while you sleep. So you have one more sleep-friendly bonus: peace of mind.

Wishing you a good night’s sleep and healthy bones!

References

1 C. A. Everson, A. E. Folley, J. M. Toth. “Chronically inadequate sleep results in abnormal bone formation and abnormal bone marrow in rats.” Experimental Biology and Medicine, 2012; 237 (9): 1101

Print Friendly and PDF

The Top 14 Things You’re Doing That Are Damaging Your Bones... And More!

Enter your name and email below to get...

  • Stop The Bone Thieves! report
  • Email course on how to prevent and reverse bone loss
  • Free vital osteoporosis news and updates.

31 comments. Leave Yours Now →

  1. new Heat uniforms June 23, 2014, 12:29 pm

    cheap Predators jerseys Sizes Online
    new Heat uniforms http://irinfraredservices.com/Templates/SidebarNEWtest.html

  2. womens Kings shirts June 23, 2014, 12:29 pm

    2014 New cheap Sharks jerseys china
    womens Kings shirts http://machinediagnostics.com/images/cellshade.html

  3. oscar August 27, 2013, 2:24 am

    Hi Vivian, I have a question that I would love you to answer about bone density and formation.
    I am about 18 and although i have always had reasonable nutrition and lots of physical activity i haven’t always had the best sleep, averaging on about 5 – 8 hours since age 13. Would this have impacted on my bones at all?
    Thankyou, Oscar.

    • Vivian Goldschmidt, MA August 27, 2013, 7:11 am

      Good question, Oscar! While I am not a doctor and I am not familiar with your particular case, it is true that bone formation and growth take place during sleep, regardless of age.

  4. Cheryl November 23, 2012, 2:56 pm

    Dear vivian,

    Thank you for your research and writing. Do you have any research and recommendations for regimes, supplements, herbs or other methods for men over 60 year old with enlarged prostate who are awakened by the urge to urinate?

  5. catherine November 21, 2012, 6:01 am

    Dear friends,

    can anyone give a formula for handwash that is not toxic using simple ingredients? Thanks

    as for toothpaste, a reflexologist says she has maintained good teeth by using salt to brush them. Why not give it a try?

    another friend recommended using one’s own urine to gargle & brush

    There’s a book on” urine therapy ” in which the Dr. claims can cure many illnesses including cancer. any comments?

    catherine

  6. romy November 20, 2012, 9:23 pm

    Satisfying our spiritual need can play an important role in getting sound, restful sleep. It will help us to understand the complex world in which we live and to pursue a balanced, satisfying way of life. A wise servant of God encourages us to develop insight and to hold on to the wisdom of Jehovah, for this will lead to “a pleasant and happy life.” Then he adds: “You will not be afraid when you go to bed, and you will sleep soundly through the night.”—Proverbs 3:21-24, Today’s English Version.

  7. ELSA JACOB ALEXANDER November 20, 2012, 4:24 pm

    Hi Vivian ,i am so blessed reading your articles.one of these days i will surely buy save our bones programme kit
    elsa

  8. Leslie (Ms. L.) November 20, 2012, 3:17 pm

    Hi! Vivian,

    This Article Was VERY GOOD, And VERY HELPFUL TOO! The Sleep Part I’ll Have To Work On Though! THANK YOU VERY MUCH For EVERYTHING!

    LOVE, LESLIE (MS.L.)

  9. Leslie (Ms. L.) November 20, 2012, 3:12 pm

    Hi! Vivian,

    This Was A VERY INTERESTING ARTICLE! I Have To Work On The Sleep Part Of It Though! Thank You VERY MUCH For ALL YOU DO!

    LOVE, LESLIE (MS.L.)

  10. Nu Ly November 20, 2012, 6:22 am

    I had sleep problem before, I took melatonin every night almost the whole
    year. I am skinny and the doctr advised me to take milk powder, I took it
    at night time, now I can sleep well from 6-8 hours.

  11. Dotty McAtee November 19, 2012, 10:29 pm

    I had so much trouble trying to read about melatonin and the comments because I had a pop-up advertising one of your books. I had to just read below it, and it was very difficult. I really enjoyed all the comments about lack of sleep, because I have the same problem — I don’t have any trouble falling asleep, but I sometimes wake up way too early, and can’t go back to sleep, getting only about 4 or 5 hours of sleep, and this happens quite often. I have started taking melatonin, and it does seem to be helping. I do get up and walk most of the time because then I am at least getting some exercize. Thanks for listening.

    • Customer Support November 20, 2012, 8:54 am

      The pop-up ads can be closed by clicking on the black X in the upper right-hand corner, or by clicking on the dark background of the ad. :)

  12. adjoa barbara November 19, 2012, 5:03 pm

    I ranned out of Calicum supplement & my horrible cramps returned in my hands, feet. When I left the neurologist last week, he informed me I had a slight arthritis osteo.. He wanted to prescribed a muscle relaxer but I avoid medicine when they are just trying something to see. He then suggested I increase my magnesium. I have done that & I brush my teeth & get cramps in my fingers.I put on my stockings & get an awful cramp in my feet. I drink more water to make sure the electrode system is enhanced.

    help, help
    11/19/2012

    • Vivian Goldschmidt, MA November 19, 2012, 5:36 pm

      I am sorry to hear of your painful muscle cramps! Have you been able to get more calcium supplements? Muscle cramps can result from hypocalcemia (not enough calcium in the blood).

  13. Maureen Cooper November 19, 2012, 11:36 am

    Since melatonin is implicated, this could also mean that people who work night shifts (and late shifts) and who sleep during the day will suffer from bone density loss

    • Vivian Goldschmidt, MA November 19, 2012, 5:33 pm

      You are right, Maureen. A 2009 study found that women who worked night shift for 20+ years showed a significant increase in the risk of hip and wrist fractures. Here’s a link to the study’s abstract:
      http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18766292

  14. Patricia Williams November 19, 2012, 10:30 am

    Sleep is one of my biggest problems, however at this point I am dealing with chronic lyme disease so it has put a damper on getting the amount of calium and other supplements in my body. I try to go to sleep and I am tossing and turning for hours and at that point I usually get up and walk around to no avail. Any suggestions for the sleep and also any suggestions to boost my immune system with this disease as I have been on doxycycline for 8 weeks now and my stomach is a mess. Thanks and good luck to everyone. Vivian I thank you for all the good info I have received.

  15. Eileen November 19, 2012, 10:20 am

    Does that mean that calcium is better at night?

  16. Barbara November 19, 2012, 8:31 am

    It seems I cannot sleep more than 6 hours regardless of what time I go to bed. I fall asleep easily, however,I wake up several times during the night for short periods of time, and then after about 6 hours, I can’t fall back to sleep. Once in a while I take a Tylenol PM just so I can sleep 8 hours. But, of course, I don’t want to make this a habit.

  17. Barbara Dave November 19, 2012, 7:25 am

    Does your book come in audio? B

  18. Jill Orton November 19, 2012, 7:25 am

    I always slept well and my first bone density at 60 showed I had good bones. After that I starting sleeping badly and every night would have very bad cramps in my legs and feet. The next bone density showed I was osteoporotic. I have taken magnesium for the cramps which has helped but now I am getting the cramps back. How does one get enough sleep, as I am really, really tired all day but still cannot sleep during the night. It is a vicious circle.

    • Suzy November 19, 2012, 8:52 am

      Hi, Jill. I had leg cramps, too, and it turned out I had low potassium, and those leg cramps were an indication of it. You should check with your doctor to see if it might be your potassium. [I wouldn't recommend taking potassium supplements on your own without checking with your doctor since that might not be it in your case.]

      HTH! Suzy

      • Shirley November 19, 2012, 1:28 pm

        Hi. Jill & Suzy
        I used to be bothered with leg cramps. Now, I make sure I always have bananas and baked potato in my diet often. Occasionlly I have a small drink of Tonic water at bedtime. Someone told me the quinine in it helps chase away the cramps.
        SC

    • Vivian Goldschmidt, MA November 19, 2012, 8:16 am

      That sounds so frustrating, Jill – you’ve experienced firsthand what a lack of sleep can do to your bones. Have you read my blog post on melatonin that’s referred to in today’s post? It has some information that may help in addition to today’s post. You can read it here:
      http://saveourbones.com/how-to-build-your-bones-while-you-sleep/

  19. Declan O'Doherty November 19, 2012, 5:34 am

    I have always had problems sleeping, except of course when it is time to get up. I experimented with special soundtracks that induced sleep. They do work. However this suggestion, and one that gets me to sleep every time irrespective of the hour, is a good brisk walk before bedtime and take a book to bed with you. Read until your eyes start to close of their own accord. Then turn off the light and you wont remember the rest. It works for me every time, except when I have a few drinks. Then I don’t even need the book. This however is not a natural sleep and you tend to wake frequently (with the drink that is).

    • Joan November 19, 2012, 8:16 am

      I’d agree with all the others but I would also add the use of heat. While I’m reading at bedtime, I put a heat pack (like the ones you put in the microwave or the ones you boil) around my neck. I find that really calms me and I have a more restful sleep!

    • Vivian Goldschmidt, MA November 19, 2012, 8:13 am

      Keep up the walking habit! Exercise helps your bones and promotes sleep.

      • romy November 20, 2012, 9:33 pm

        walking does not help me to sleep well, but taking one tablet of spirulina does!

  20. Marc November 19, 2012, 4:22 am

    That is so true about sleep. The body repairs itself while we sleep after a day of stress at the office. It is an amazing living organism.

Join the Conversation. Leave a Comment.

The purpose of this comment section is to encourage you to interact with the rest of the Save Our Bones Community. Thank you so much for joining the conversation!

Want healthier bones? Subscribe for free.

Sign up to receive free vital osteoporosis updates you won’t find anywhere else - New drug reviews, alerts, recalls, the latest natural osteoporosis treatment news, and much more.