Insomnia, one among many sleeping disorders, is a condition that affects a lot of people across the globe. As noted in research by Ohayon in 2011, approximately one third of the general population complains of insomnia but a diagnosis is warranted in only 6% to 15% of the population.
This, of course, is a huge problem, since sleep is a very important aspect of our lives. Sleep is what aids us in repairing our bodies, and ‘grants’ us the energy and motivation to do stuff.
Quality sleep is also related to happiness, and suffering from insomnia is a well-known cause of conditions like lack of motivation, mood swings, problems with productivity, and depression.
With this in mind, there are plenty of things we can do to combat insomnia, and considering that some of the reasons behind insomnia are caused (or exacerbated) by a poor lifestyle, there are things we can do on a regular basis to ameliorate this.
In this brief guide, we will outline some strategies that can aid you manage those lifestyle changes, and introduce an alternative that might help you as well: CBD Oil, a derivation of the cannabis plant. So, let’s jump right in.
Understanding the Problem
Getting to know the cause(s) of your sleeping disorder is absolutely important so that you can understand the triggers and start taking countermeasures against it. There are several causes behind problems related to insomnia, some of them may be related to your lifestyle, while others may be related to your health. These causes can include physical conditions, psychological conditions (e.g. depression or anxiety), or a combination of both. Insomnia for less than three months is known as short-term insomnia and over three months, long-term insomnia.
Sleep apnoea, for example, is a potentially serious sleep disorder in which breathing repeatedly stops and starts. If you snore loudly and feel tired even after a full night’s sleep, you might have sleep apnoea.
The main types of sleep apnoea are:
- Obstructive sleep apnoea (OSA): The more common form that occurs when throat muscles relax.
- Central sleep apnoea (CSA): This occurs when your brain does not send proper signals to the muscles that control breathing.
- Complex sleep apnoea syndrome (CSAS) also known as treatment-emergent central sleep apnoea): This occurs when someone has both obstructive sleep apnoea and central sleep apnoea.
Risk factors for OSA include excess weight, neck circumference, being male, being older, smoking, alcohol, and medical conditions (e.g. high blood pressure and type 2 diabetes. Risk factors for CSA include: being older, being male, heart disorders, using narcotic pain medication (e.g. opioid medications), and stroke.
The most common causes of insomnia include: stress, anxiety or depression, noise, a room that is too hot or cold, uncomfortable beds, alcohol, caffeine or nicotine, recreational drugs like cocaine or ecstasy, jet lag, and/or shift work. At times, insomnia can be triggered by things like stress (e.g. moving house, job interview, etc.) or poor management of our sleeping schedules and routines.
If you think you might have sleep apnoea or long-term insomnia it is important speak to a medical professional, as treatment can ease your symptoms and might help prevent heart problems and other complications.
The Way Technology Influences Sleep
With the proliferation of new technologies and apps, as well as the internet, people spend a lot of time using their phones and computers. This is, by itself, not a huge problem, as long as the proper practices are introduced to the activity.
The problem starts when we do not consider, or understand, the ways in which technology can affect our sleep.
For example, although it is environmentally friendly, blue light can affect your sleep and potentially cause disease. Until the advent of artificial lighting, the sun was the major source of lighting, and people spent their evenings in (relative) darkness. Now, in much of the world, evenings are illuminated, and we take our easy access to all those lumens pretty much for granted. However, we may be paying a price for basking in all that light. At night, light throws the body’s biological clock (the circadian rhythm) out of whack and our sleep suffers. Worse, research shows that it may contribute to the causation of cancer, diabetes, heart disease, and obesity.
What is Blue Light?
Well, not all colours of light have the same effect on our sleep. Blue wavelengths – which are beneficial during daylight hours because they boost attention, reaction times, and mood – seem to be the most disruptive at night. And the proliferation of electronics with screens, as well as energy-efficient lighting, is increasing our exposure to blue wavelengths, especially after sundown.
The biological clock in healthy adults follows a 24-hour sleep-wake cycle. When the sun rises in the morning, your body produces cortisol, a hormone that makes you feel awake and alert. As daylight fades, the body releases another hormone, melatonin, that produces feelings of sleepiness.
Electronic back-lit devices like cell phones, tablets, readers, and computers emit short-wavelength enriched light, also known as blue light. Fluorescent and LED lights also emit blue light, which has been shown to reduce or delay the natural production of melatonin in the evening and decrease feelings of sleepiness. Blue light can also reduce the amount of time you spend in slow-wave and rapid-eye movement (REM) sleep, two stages of the sleep cycle that are vital for cognitive functioning.
Introducing New Routines to Your Life
Improving your sleep quality could be as simple as improving your sleep hygiene, which is all about practicing good habits that aid you in consistently getting a good sleep.
- Stop watching television and using your phone or computer for at least 30 minutes before bedtime.
- Reading a book before sleeping can help you relax, and helps your eyes recover from the strain caused by electronic devices.
- Transform your bedroom into a dark, quiet, and cool oasis.
- Set your thermostat to somewhere in the low- to mid-60 degrees Fahrenheit; and
- Use blackout curtains or a white noise machine to further relax your senses.
- Go to bed and wake up at the same time every day.
- Following a consistent sleep schedule trains your brain to recognise when it is time to sleep and when it is time to wake.
- Make sure your sleep schedule allows for enough time to sleep.
- Adults need 7-9 hours of sleep per night.
- Create a relaxing bedtime routine.
- Select activities that relax and calm you, like taking a warm bath, listening to an audiobook, or journaling.
- Performing these activities in the same order every night creates a pattern for your brain to recognise them as the prelude to sleep.
- Limit your caffeine and alcohol intake.
- Both of these substances can stay in your system for some time and disrupt your sleep quality.
- Avoid drinking alcohol within three hours of bedtime, and caffeine within five hours.
- Get some sunlight in the morning.
- Just 15-30 minutes outside in the sun can help wake you up and reset your circadian rhythm.
- This can be useful when it comes to improving the quality of sleep as insomnia could be caused by overthinking (especially if you are stressed).
- Meditation helps to train your brain and mind into reducing those thoughts and embrace relaxation.
- Day time naps.
- Limit your day time naps.
You may also consider using CBD oil to combat your insomnia.
CBD Oil as a Tool Against Insomnia
Over the decade, there has been growing interest in the benefits of marijuana (CBD in particular) and this has encouraged researchers to study its effects; with early studies indicating that high dosages of CBD may support sleep.
- A 2012 investigation found that, compared with a placebo, a CBD dosage of 160 milligrams (mg) increased sleep duration.
- The researchers also concluded that the placebo, 5 mg of the insomnia drug nitrazepam, and 40, 80, and 160 mg of CBD helped the participants fall asleep.
- A 2019 study on the effects of CBD found that cortisol levels decreased more significantly when participants took 300 or 600 mg of CBD oil.
- These results suggest that CBD affects the release of cortisol, possibly acting as a sedative.
- The researchers studied the effects of CBD combined with those of other prescribed medications.
- The CBD dosages ranged from 25-175 mg.
- The researchers found that 25 mg was the most effective dosage for anxiety and that addressing troubled sleep required higher dosages.
Overall, the available evidence suggests that CBD is well-tolerated. However, some people report fatigue and mental sedation with CBD use, but researchers believe that this may be related to the dosage.