Sleep Habits: They're More Important Than Ever
Did you sleep 8 hours last night?
If not, all that other stuff you're doing for your health might not be making as much of a difference as you’d think.
It’s true. Sleep may not be as sleek and sexy as today’s supplement(s) du jour, but the truth is that it’s more important than nearly everything else put together. And while we’ve talked about sleep’s importance before, some things just deserve to be mentioned more than once.
- Sleep vs. Stress
- Sleep for Immune Health
- Endocannabinoid Health = Sleep Health?
- CBD & Circadia
- 3 Practical Ways to Improve Your Sleep
- Wake up early
- Avoid blue light
- Get your workout on
Sleep vs. Stress
Let’s face it: the world is going through a pretty stressful time right now.
And us Americans might have it the hardest. The New York Times reported as such last year — and this year, the American Journal of Managed Care reports that things have gotten even worse:
“7 in 10 employees indicated in a survey by mental health provider Ginger that the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic is the most stressful time of their entire professional career, which has aligned with stark increases in new prescriptions of antidepressant, anti anxiety, and anti-insomnia medications.”
Understandable, if you think about it: when employees aren’t worrying about impending layoffs and whether or not rampant unemployment levels will prevent them from getting the assistance they need…they might very well be worried about getting sick at work! Talk about a conundrum.
Thankfully, stress has an antidote. If you want to reduce yours, consider getting more zzz’s. Sleep allows you to put the stresses and strains of yesterday where they belong — in the past — and awake to a fresh new day.
“Each night, when I go to sleep, I die. And the next morning, when I wake up, I am reborn.”
- Mahatma Gandhi
Sleep for Immune Health
Another benefit of good sleep: it’s simply fantastic for your immune system.
When asleep your body actually produces higher numbers of protective immune molecules called cytokines. Sleep also helps your body’s specialized T-cells fight off infections more effectively. “T cells are a [type of] immune cells that fight against intracellular pathogens [like] flu, HIV, herpes, and cancer cells,” P.h.D researcher Stoyan Dimitrov explains to Healthline.
It’s an inverse relationship: when your sleep is good, stress hormones are low, immune factors are high, and the risk of illness goes steadily down. And sleep protects the body against other bad stuff too — according to a 2019 study, even heart disease.
Endocannabinoid Health = Sleep Health?
So, let’s say you know sleep is important...but you’re still struggling. One possible solution might be to try to improve the strength of your body’s endocannabinoid system.
Why would that help, you might ask? Here are some facts.
- A healthy endocannabinoid system helps us“relax, eat, sleep, forget and protect.” (That’s a quote by professor Di Marzio, not us.) Endocannabinoid (eCB) levels vary naturally throughout the day, in turn letting the body know when it’s time to rest or sleep.
- A healthy endocannabinoid system helps you stay energized during the day...and drowsy at night. How? It’s a little complex: endocannabinoid health seems to improve the ability of your body’s ‘internal clock’ (the suprachiasmatic nucleus) to produce melatonin.
- An unhealthy endocannabinoid system could throw your sleep cycles out of whack. According to Dr. Ethan Russo, low endocannabinoids levels could increase pain and reduce sleep quality. Here’s the message in his own words:
“If endocannabinoid function were decreased, it follows that a lowered pain threshold would be operative, along with derangements of digestion, mood, and sleep among the almost universal physiological systems [controlled] by the endocannabinoid system...”
CBD & Circadia
OK, enough technical stuff for now. If you suffer from poor sleep, here’s how CBD could help.
While CBD probably won’t improve your sleep as directly as conventional sleep aids — meaning you might need to take a little more CBD than normal to experience sleep-centric effects — its true magic lies in the long-term.
Why? Well, CBD is thought to strengthen your body’s endocannabinoid system over time, eventually helping it get back in sync with the natural rhythms of the sun. This special process is called photo-entrainment...and it’s important to anyone who wants to sleep better naturally.
So if you’re taking CBD for sleep, stick with it! Be sure to take your favorite CBD oil everyday, and be encouraged, too: CBD’s helped many fellow insomniacs already. This 2017 survey discovered that 80% of CBD users found the compound “very effective” for sleep problems. And additional evidence for CBD’s sleep-friendliness is building as we speak.
3 Practical Ways to Improve Your Sleep
All that good stuff aside, let’s move beyond CBD and endocannabinoids for a while and look at a few more ways you can experience better, more restorative sleep.
- Wake up early: early to bed, early to rise, as good ol’ Ben Franklin used to say...it’s true. Waking up early and getting some morning sun actually allows your body to produce more melatonin later on in the day. If nothing else, waking up early is a fantastic way to hit the reset button on sleep problems and get back to a healthy routine.
- Avoid blue light: it’s taken a while, but scientists across the globe have finally realized that modern society’s penchant for lighting up every street corner (and house, and technological device) can absolutely wreck one’s circadian rhythm. If you have problems getting to bed by a reasonable time, try shutting off all devices after 8pm — or at least invest in a pair of blue blockers.
Get your workout on: this tip is a little more practical, but it’s still accurate. The more active you are during the day, the more likely you are to sleep well at night. Anyone who’s ever laid in bed after a marathon-length hike or bike ride knows this phenomena well...sleeping off a tough workout or physical therapy sesh can feel downright heavenly.