Now more than ever, the importance of sleep is at the forefront of everyone’s minds, with reports indicating that 2020 may have been the worst year for sleep in Britain. World Sleep Day (WSD) is the annual event from the World Sleep Society that aims to celebrate sleep and bring to the fore sleep-related issues. This year focuses on Regular Sleep, Healthy Future.
We love to see sleep taking the spotlight for the day but we also believe that it should be a priority all year round, so in this blog we explore the body’s own natural body clock – circadian rhythms - the science behind getting a good night’s sleep, and how to have a bright day ahead, no matter how you slept.
Sleep is vital to all aspects of our health and helps us to face the next day with more energy and ease. This year’s focus of World Sleep Day is on Regular Sleep and the benefits that come from a regular sleep pattern. Studies have shown that falling asleep and waking up at the same time can have a positive effect on sleep quality and overall health. Regular sleepers are shown to have better mood, psychomotor performance (cognitive functions and physical movement like co-ordination), and academic achievement.
We all have our own 24-hour body clocks called circadian rhythms that help to keep all of our essential functions in check. We have a ‘master clock’ in our brain and all the different systems of the body follow rhythms that are synchronised with this ‘master clock’. The master clock is influenced by a variety of different environmental cues, especially light – hence the circadian rhythms being day to night.
The sleep-wake cycle is one of the most well-known of the circadian rhythms and is a great example of how when properly aligned, a circadian rhythm can promote consistent and restorative sleep. It also shows how if out of sync, it can create sleeping problems. Our circadian rhythms play an integral role in many aspects of human health, both physical and mental.
A full sleep cycle lasts approximately 90 minutes, and to get a good night’s sleep it’s important to maximise the amount of deep sleep by going through at least 3 sleep cycles.
Sleep benefits and the science behind sleep
Sleep is an anabolic state in which the body replenishes energy stores, regenerates tissues and produces proteins. Studies indicate that a night of restful sleep may ‘reset’ brain reactivity in preparation for emotional and stressful challenges, and is important for better performance, awareness, mood, ability to maintain general wellbeing, capacity to learn new things and skin quality.
At night, anti-inflammatory and anti-stress hormones are secreted (regulated by a circadian rhythm) which switch on the skin’s repair, renewal and detoxification processes. When sleep is disturbed, so are these regenerative processes.
Appetite can also be influenced by sleep. Two lesser-known hormones that help regulate hunger – ghrelin and leptin – are affected by our sleep. So, when we have a positive sleep, ghrelin (which stimulates hunger) dips, while leptin (which decreases hunger) spikes – leading to an overall decrease in appetite. A good night’s sleep also kicks off a process in the body that brings into balance our endocannabinoids, which are responsible for keeping our cravings at bay.
How to improve sleep
The key to getting better sleep is routine. Having a fixed bedtime and wake up time as well as unwinding before bed are the easiest ways to kick-start a healthy bedtime routine. Going to bed too early or sleeping in can shift your normal sleep pattern, so try to go to bed and wake up no later than an hour outside of your usual sleep time.
“What you do in the hour leading up to bedtime can have a strong impact on the quality of sleep you get – I personally like to unwind for the day by taking a bath with UNPLUG CBD BATH SALTS – magnesium from the Epsom salts also helps to act as a mild sedative to help prepare the body for a restful night.” – Haley Fitzpatrick, Head of Product at APOTHEM.
Cannabidiol (CBD) supplements can help regulate and recalibrate the body’s endocannabinoid system (ECS). These interactions create changes in the activity of neurotransmitters, hormones, and other cells throughout the brain and body. Through these interactions, CBD is thought to be able to affect many of the body’s functions, from sleep-wake cycles and emotional regulation to inflammation and pain perception. Early research results suggest that CBD affects the release of cortisol, possibly acting as a sedative and thus helping you sleep. CBD may also help to address some of the underlying issues that may be disrupting sleep such as aches or feelings of anxiety or stress. Due to how the cannabinoid interacts with the body and the ECS, it adapts to what your body needs at the time.
Along-with CBD, there are also other plant botanical extracts that have centuries of use as sleep aids. Chamomile is perhaps the most well-known sleep inducer, but Lemon Balm, Passionflower, Skullcap and Milky Oats all have properties that help support a more restful night’s sleep and form the unique botanical blend in our signature CBD sleep drops, LIGHTS OUT.
Minimising blue light exposure before bed can also help, as this can disrupt sleep by suppressing the release of melatonin, the sleep-promoting hormone. So, turning off phone notifications an hour before bed and minimising screen time can both help to wind down. Use of essential oils such as Lavender, Chamomile and Ylang Ylang, either on the pillow, in a room diffuser or in your bath before bed can also help increase sleepiness.
And don't forget to give some attention to the back end of your sleep routine. Waking up naturally is just as important as going to sleep. Using light or natural sounds that build in intensity for a period of time are better for you than being woken suddenly with a loud alarm.
Making the most of the day ahead
A good night’s sleep enables you to face the challenges of the day with ease. But if you still spent the night tossing and turning, all is not lost. There are a few simple ways of switching up the day, so you don’t feel stuck within the cycle of a poor night’s sleep.
Don’t snooze the alarm – as tempting as it may be, you need a whole sleep cycle to really make a difference, so those extra 10 minutes won’t change your life, and could actually increase stress by shortening the time you have in the morning to prepare yourself for the day.
You may feel agitated from lack of sleep. To break that negative feeling, take a few drops of DAY CBD Oil and head outside to greet the day with gratitude. The CBD drops may help take the edge of the day and induce a feeling of calm, while the sun and Vitamin D helps to reset your body clock and can help your mood and brain function. And you can read more about the incredible benefits of a gratitude practice in our previous blog post.
Although you may feel lacking in energy, exercising can help you feel more alert thanks to releasing cortisol and stimulating your body. It can also improve your sleep and help you fall asleep more quickly – as long as it’s not done too close to bedtime. Try to keep it to at least 3 hours before bed.
Simple things such as keeping hydrated throughout the day, keeping your bedroom cool, dark and quiet are all little changes that can make a big difference on your quality of sleep.