How to have a good night's sleep
If you asked any American adult around you, they’d most likely tell you that they struggle at least a little bit of the time when it comes to getting the proper amount of sleep. It is no secret that many US adults suffer from poor sleep, the Sleep Association reports that between 50 million to 70 million American adults have a sleep disorder. Insomnia is the most common sleep disorder and roughly 30% of adults report short-term issues stemming from their insomnia. The same research showed that 37.9% reported falling asleep during the day at least once the month prior - with 4.7% of them admitting to nodding off at least once the month before while they were behind the wheel.
The Sleep Association also notes that drowsy driving is responsible for 1,550 fatalities per year and leaves a staggering 40,000 injured. It is evident by the data provided that sleep is a crucial component to not only our own wellbeing, but for the wellbeing of those around us as well. The Sleep Foundation found in 2014 that while many Americans are receiving an appropriate amount of sleep, an average of 7 hours and 36 minutes per night, 35% report their sleep as “poor” or “only fair.” The report found that both low life satisfaction and high stress-levels contributed to the sleep quality. One interesting point of data showed those of a lower income level reported poor sleep in greater amounts, specifically those that made less than $20,000/year.
Prescription sleep aids and their potential dangers
Many of those people suffering with sleep disorders, or even just poor quality sleep without a diagnosable condition, turn to prescription medication to encourage a more restful night’s sleep. The CDC reported data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey from 2005-2010. The statistics showed that roughly 4% of US adults aged 20 years or over took prescription sleep aids in the past month. The research also showed data supporting more than 500,000 people in the United States abusing Ambien and other prescriptions intended to be used for sleep.
In 2019, the FDA strengthened their warnings for potentially harmful behavior when taking prescription sleeping medications. An article published by CNN reads, “Accidental overdoses, falls, burns, near-drowning, extreme temperature exposures leading to loss of limb, self-inflicted gunshot wounds and suicide attempts were among the 46 non-fatal injuries; 20 deaths occurred due to carbon monoxide poisoning, drowning, falls, hypothermia, car crashes and suicide.” According to the article, Acting Commissioner Dr. Ned Sharpless said in a statement, "These incidents can occur after the first dose of these sleep medicines or after a longer period of treatment, and can occur in patients without any history of these behaviors and even at the lowest recommended doses.”
Alternative ways to improve sleep - without the use of prescription medication
The strengthened FDA warnings coupled with the bad experiences had by others who used prescription sleep medication has made some wary about using them. There are, thankfully, some alternative methods that can improve sleep.
Appropriate sheets, mattress, and pillows for your needs
Sometimes poor sleep is as simple as the bedding you are using. For people with chronic pain, a supportive pillow and mattress are crucial components to getting a good night’s rest. Not all pillows and mattresses are created equally, however, so read the reviews, do some research, and compare options before settling on your purchase.
The sheets and blanket you use can be important, too. For sensitive or hot-natured people, having breathable and comfortable bedding is a must to ensure quality sleep.
Winding down without screen time
Research shows that screen time can negatively impact our sleep. The Sleep Foundation published an article titled “How Screen Time May Cause Insomnia in Teens.”
The article explains something called the “Blue Light Effect.” Essentially, electronic devices emit an artificial blue light that can prevent the release of the body’s sleep inducing compound, melatonin. When melatonin is suppressed, the body’s internal clock is thrown off, entirely discombobulating our sleep schedules. Swapping screen time in the hours before bed for a hard-copy of your favorite book can promote a better night’s sleep.
Exploring the use of CBD for sleep
Some people find that even when they make an effort to improve their sleep, it still isn’t effective. While the research is still limited, there are studies to support using CBD for a better night’s sleep. This piece of research published in 2019 followed 72 subjects, 47 of them experiencing anxiety and 25 experiencing poor sleep.
Each test subject was given 25 milligrams of CBD once a day via capsule. In just the first month, 79.2% of patients reported lower anxiety levels and 66.7% reported a better night’s sleep. CBD is generally recognized as safe and there have been no confirmed overdoses associated with CBD usage. It is also non-psychoactive, which is appealing for many!
The endocannabinoid system
The improvement of sleep upon taking CBD can be explained because of the endocannabinoid system. The endocannabinoid system is a system of receptors that exist to receive cannabinoids like CBD. There are various receptors across the human body, and once CBD hits these receptors, they work together to create homeostasis in the body.
This is why CBD impacts sleep - because CBD has access to various parts of our body, including the brain. CBD works to regulate brain functions that are involved with sleep, as well as relax our body physically. It is important to maintain a consistent routine when taking CBD in order to achieve the best results. Unlike strong pharmaceuticals, CBD is “one and done.” The endocannabinoid system needs to build up cannabinoids to begin working with them effectively.
A lack of cannabinoids in the human body can cause Clinical Endocannabinoid Deficiency Syndrome. This study looks at the concept of CEDS and explores its potential connection to migraines. The research found that anandamide (a neurotransmitter and endocannabinoid naturally produced in the human body) controls the receptors associated with migraines. This endocannabinoid heavily influences the periaqueductal gray matter, the area where migraines start in the brain. This led experts to believe that cannabinoids can have an impact on migraine symptoms.
Please consult with a physician educated about CBD and up-to-date on your individual health issues before trying.