The Real Reason We Wake Up Stiff

Publish Date
Tuesday, 9 August 2016, 11:06AM
Photo: iStock

Photo: iStock

Aches and pains seem worse in the morning - and now scientists think they have found the reason why.

The body works to suppress inflammation as we sleep but when we start to move around, the effects wear off.

Researchers found a type of protein called cryptochrome represses inflammatory pathways during night-time sleep – delaying symptoms.

It is hoped the research could help develop drugs to treat inflammatory diseases such as arthritis.

Scientists made the discovery by altering cells from the joints of mice and humans. 


They harvested cells from joints of healthy mice and humans which play a vital role in the pathology behind inflammatory arthritis.

The cells were found to have a 24-hour rhythm.

When this rhythm was disrupted and cryptochrome gene was knocked out, there was more inflammation.

It suggests cryptochrome protein has anti-inflammatory properties.

When drugs were given to activate the protein, it was found to protect against inflammation.

Dr Julie Gibbs, of the University of Manchester, said: '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.'

It follows a study last week which discovered that our spinal discs have a 24-hour body clock that can cause debilitating pain when it gets out of synch. 

Ageing and inflammation are major causes of disc degeneration and lower back pain and the study found both cause body-clock malfunction.

The researchers said getting a good night’s sleep would protect the body clock and help to avoid disc problems later in life. 


The latest study was published in the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology journal.