Hands up if the first thing you do when you wake up in the morning is yawn and stretch yourself out like a starfish in bed to try and ease yourself up…
If you do, you’ll probably also wonder why it is you’re feeling like you’ve just played a round of golf/been for a long walk, when all you’ve been doing is lying pretty still for the last eight hours.
Well, scientists have solved the mystery of why we feel all stiff and achy when we wake up, and it comes down to our biological clocks.
It might also be good news for arthritis sufferers, because the research could potentially help in the development of new treatments.
So why are we stiff when we wake up?
According to the study published in the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology, a protein called cryptochrome works to suppress inflammation while we’re asleep, but the effects wear off when we wake.
Dr Julie Gibbs, from the University of Manchester’s Institute of Human Development, and her team took cells from the joints of mice and humans, which were found to have a 24-hour rhythm.
When they altered this rhythm and knocked out the cryptochrome gene, they found an increased inflammatory response, meaning the protein created by the gene cryptochrome has an anti-inflammatory effect.
Dr Gibbs explained: “By understanding how the biological clock regulates inflammation, we can begin to develop new treatments, which might exploit this knowledge.
“Furthermore, by adapting the time of day at which current drug therapies are administered, we may be able to make them more effective.”
What can we do to ease the aches?
Some simple Pilates stretches first thing in the morning will ease pain in your muscles and joints, such as the classic roll down stretch, which involves standing up straight and gradually tilting your head forward and feeling each vertebrae in your spine roll down as you let your arms drop to the floor. Then slowly roll back up again.
A brisk walk in the fresh air before breakfast will also kick-start your system.
Another recent study found that excruciating lower back pain can be caused when the 24-hour body clock of our spinal discs gets out of synch.
By getting a good night’s sleep, scientists said we would help to protect this body clock and avoid disc problems in older age.
Always seek advice from your GP if you suffer from acute pain, and before undertaking any new exercises.
Do you suffer from aches and pains more in the morning? Tell us in the comments box below