Ahhhhh, sleep! What a sacred time.
Sleeping is one of our absolute favorite things to do. A sweet relief of 7+ hours in which our bodies can heal, and we don’t have to “do anything.” Sleeping enough is vitally important for overall wellbeing and, there’s no argument in the science of sleep benefits. In the ever changing rat race of life, we are kept busy, our minds always stimulated and screens well used. There are so many things that can increase anxiety levels, activate our brains to wakefulness and create difficulty when it comes to falling and staying asleep. Here we’ll discuss what happens to our body when we sleep, the various things that keep us from blissful rest and how our dear friend Hemp CBD may help us in achieving more, and better, shut-eye.
Our amazing body has many internal clocks called circadian rhythms that regulate different cycles and background processes. The circadian rhythm of feeling awake and feeling tired is aptly named “the sleep-wake cycle”. As animals, this rhythm is naturally influenced by natural light intake. When light exposure increases, our “master clock” signals the brain and body to be more alert. Later in the day when light begins fading, our body releases melatonin – the hormone that promotes sleep. This hormone continues transmission throughout the night to help us stay asleep.
According to Johns Hopkins Medicine, there are two main body processes that are in charge of sleep cycles: the circadian rhythm of light and our natural sleep drive. Going about the day, our desire and need for sleep increases. By night time, the body is ready to imbibe in the sweet nectar of rest. There are things that can boost sleep drive like hard manual labor and inhibit sleep drive like a cup of coffee after dinner.
There are four stages of sleep which repeat during a full night of sleep. Each stage plays an instrumental role in signaling different chemicals to our bodies for healing, processing and regulating. Check out the sleep stages below from dreams.co.uk:
Stage 1 (Lasts 1-7 minutes, 5% of the night)
– Between being awake and falling asleep
– Light sleep
Stage 2 (Lasts 10-25 minutes, 45% of the night)
– Onset of sleep
– Becoming disengaged from surroundings
– Breathing and heart rate are regular
– Body temperature drops (so sleeping in a cool room is helpful)
Stage 3 (Lasts 20-40 minutes, 25% of the night)
– Deepest and most restorative sleep
– Blood pressure drops
– Breathing becomes slower
– Muscles are relaxed
– Blood supply to muscles increases
– Tissue growth and repair occurs
– Energy is restored
– Hormones are released, such as: Growth hormone, essential for growth and development, including muscle development
Stage 4 ‘REM’ – (Lasts 10-60 minutes, 25% of the night) – REM (25% of night): First occurs about 90 minutes after falling asleep and recurs about every 90 minutes, getting longer later in the night
– Provides energy to brain and body
– Supports daytime performance
– Brain is active and dreams occur
– Eyes dart back and forth
– Body becomes immobile and relaxed, as muscles are turned off
Sleep is such medicine! Without enough of this healing down time, our bodies are significantly more prone to poor brain functioning, delayed action responses and more intense mood swings. Science tells us that babies need more than 14 hours of sleep per day to develop and begin growing into their small bodies. Adults between ages 19-65 are recommended 7-9 hours per night. Naturally, your specific sleep needs will be different based on a number of variables including daily work expenditure, other health issues and caffeine dependence, to name a few.
Unfortunately, there are so many realities that keep us from sleeping well and for enough time. Some of these bodily irritations and aggravations can become defined enough to classify as a sleep disorder. A sleep disorder is considered by various signs including: having difficulty falling or staying asleep, trouble staying awake during the day, circadian rhythm imbalance, likelihood of behaviors that disrupt sleep. Some of the most prevalent sleep disorders are: insomnia, sleep apnea, narcolepsy, restless leg syndrome, and shift work disorder.
Just like every other bodily imbalance, there are a wide variety of root causes that perpetuate sleeping disorders. Some causes are habit-based while others may be genetic or mental health related. According to Healthline, there are a number of predominant sleep disruptors: daytime napping, anxiety, depression, screen time, caffeine and diet. These factors can each play their own role in perpetuating an unhealthy sleep cycle. With less sleep, we as humans may turn to more caffeine, may feel more anxious and may of course have a stronger desire to nap. Thus in turn tipping the scales of our natural sleep-wake cycle even more. And while being tired is one thing, being fatigued is another. If sleep is constantly disrupted on a frequent basis, even if the circadian rhythm is thrown off simply by late bedtimes, fatigue may set in. Experienced as a deficiency in daily energy and a whole-body exhaustion that no amount of sleep can remedy, fatigue can be detrimental to one’s physical, mental and emotional health.
If less sleep can be harmful to our body, then more sleep must be our best friend. Scientifically, the more and longer we are able to sleep (keeping in mind we are all different and experience different rest needs!) the more our body is able to fight off infection and function to its fullest ability. Sleeping well, for some, might be the only thing needed to accomplish a day of living, to complete ordinary tasks and to regulate other emotions. Without proper rest, some may find simple functioning incredibly difficult, especially in light of constantly fluctuating COVID stressors. There are many natural and pharmaceutical sleep aids like benadryl, melatonin and valerian, but with the rise of CBD, many people have turned to this non-psychoactive, non-habit-forming cannabis compound to help induce a full night of rest.
But how does CBD help us sleep?
As with much of the Hemp CBD world, the scientific research is still very sparse. There are not any large-scale studies that have been conducted on CBD’s sleep effects, but there has been research on the anxiolytic properties of the plant. In a small trial of 72 adults that had issues mostly with anxiety (47) and some with sleep (25), a team of researchers found that CBD was able to both decrease anxiety symptoms and increase sleep scores. Along with other neurological disorders, CBD has been found to significantly decrease epileptic episodes by up to 50%. CBD has been shown to regulate serotonin levels in the brain, which may explain its anxiolytic, antidepressant and neuroprotective abilities. But science is still unsure exactly how this whole process occurs. Interestingly, in the small studies that have been conducted thus far, while CBD has been found to aid anxiety and insomnia, the dosage level is important. Too high of a milligram dose has been found to increase brain sedation and other sedative reactions in the body.
In this small clinical study of 72 adults (which was conducted by the Wholeness Center in Fort Collins, CO), CBD was administered in 25mg capsule form each day. For anxiety, the capsule was taken in the morning, for sleep the capsule was taken at night. The patients were evaluated specifically on the basis of their concerns and prior health issues were taken into account. On average, patients experienced decreased anxiety levels and increased sleep after one month of taking CBD. 79% of patients reported lower anxiety and 66% better sleep. After the course of three months, anxiety scores were lowered and sustained while sleep scores experienced more fluctuation. In conclusion, the researchers found that CBD seemingly has a significant impact on lowering anxiety, and this in turn may create a better sleep environment. In the long term, there will need to be so much more research on CBD and sleep, but rest assured (pun very much intended) … it is coming!
What we do know about Hemp CBD certainly points to its potential for helping with sleep. As a natural equalizer, CBD aids our body in maintaining homeostasis. Our brains are full of cannabinoid receptors that interact with CBD and the other compounds in hemp. When these phytocannabinoids mix with our endocannabinoids, the combination has been found to reduce inflammation, stress and many chronic and acute issues that stem from both. Mary Clifton, MD, is a recognized expert in medical marijuana and CBD — “CBD products activate those [cannabinoid] receptors in the brain and nervous system, which can lead to a sedative effect.”
Once again, every expert, doctor, scientist and researcher brings up the importance of CBD potency and integrity. Many products have been tested and have been found with little to no CBD. Due to slow regulation and lack of knowledge (which are rapidly evolving), anyone can and has jumped on the cannabis/hemp/CBD bandwagon. Buying from a trusted and tested source is imperative if you are seeking medicinal benefits from this plant. McKenzie Mann is a hemp researcher and product development specialist for Blue Forest Farms. He shares that CBD may best suit the body when formulated as full spectrum (that’s right, just like our products.) Full spectrum hemp products include the plant’s whole and diverse array of compounds including the phytocannabinoids, terpenes, flavonoids, chlorophyll and minerals. When kept together, all of these compounds are known to produce the “entourage effect,” meaning they work better as a whole. Mann also says that a hemp strain higher in terpenes, which are the aromatic compounds in plants (also known for their physiological effects!), may be better at inducing sleep.
Though modern science is still working to find the answers, cannabis is no secret to humankind. Ancient Chinese texts refer to the plant being used as a sleep aid. In 2000 and 1400 BC, Hindu Vedic text described cannabis as the “joy-giver.” Greeks and Romans used the plant to soothe earaches and women found the plant helpful during labor. Whatever it is that cannabis does, humans and animals have always seemed to know. Relationships to plants used to be stronger, and messages of healing were translated more readily. Today, we err to science to translate the same messages, and sometimes it may actually be a little behind in its explanation of that innate Natural wisdom.
That’s why we are here as humble farmers and herbalists, always working to bridge the gap between plants and all our non-plant friends. Whatever you may need them for — relieving pain, soothing the muscles, quelling an anxious mind, or simply a better night’s sleep — you can trust there is a plantally waiting to help.