We all seem to be obsessed with sleep right now, and rightly so!
Since lockdown started back in March, we’ve spoken to many people who have been struggling with their sleep patterns. But why is sleep so important?
How do we sleep?
First of all, we need to understand a little bit about sleep. It’s not just a case of your head hitting the pillow, then waking up 8 hours later. We sometimes wish it was. But it’s a pretty involved process.
There are noticeable stages to sleep. These happen progressively, starting with really light sleep and down to stages where we’re in a really deep sleep. These deep sleep stages are the ones where you have trouble waking people up! The next stage is REM sleep, this is the final stage of the sleep cycle. This stage of sleeping is pretty important. Not only is it where we have our dreams, but it’s also believed to help us learn.
These cycles carry on through the night. Each of us may experience these stages being different lengths, and so at different times of the night. Adults tend to spend about a fifth of their time in REM, whereas babies can go as much as half of their time asleep in REM.
The time of sleep we need changes the older we get. When we’re babies, we sleep a lot, perhaps over 12 hours a day. Once we reach our mid-twenties, we usually settle at around 7 to 9 hours of sleep. Or at least that’s what we should be getting!
Though some people have been known to survive on much less without feeling any ill effects. Of course, your sleep is unique just like you are. So there is no one single right answer as to how much sleep we actually need.
How sleep affects your physical health
Sleep, or lack of it, can have adverse effects on your physical health. Scientists are starting to understand more and more about how lack of sleep can impact us. For example, a lack of sleep can be linked to conditions such as heart disease, kidney disease, obesity and can even cause an increase in your risk of injuries. It has even been linked to an increased risk of suffering from a stroke.
For some people, conditions such as sleep apnea can be an issue. This can be particularly distressing as people can literally stop breathing. Whilst this sounds like a frightening condition, it can be treated quite easily.
Not only can it lead to more serious conditions like the ones above; lack of sleep can also make us just feel really groggy. A bit like a hangover without the booze. This can put us at a greater risk of injuring ourselves.
What about our mental health?
Many people who have mental health concerns will report feeling worse when they are sleep deprived. Conditions such as anxiety, depression and psychosis are all made worse by a lack of sleep. Of course, the issue with this, is the more that you worry, the less you are going to sleep and the cycle can continue to spiral. In the worst cases, it can lead to people to feel suicidal or have increased episodes of depression etc.
But on the plus side, just a few nights of great sleep can make a world of difference.
For those of you who are parents, you will no doubt remember how you felt when you were having disturbed sleep. This tiredness, coupled with being a new parent may have left you feeling like you were experiencing mental health issues. In reality, you may have just been really overtired.
How can we get better quality of sleep?
These days there is no end of books and articles about sleep. It can feel that everyone has a different idea about how we can improve our sleep.
One of the big things at the moment is limiting exposure to blue light before we go to bed. Blue light is emitted from things like mobile phones and other electronic devices. We all know these are bad, but how many of us go to bed clinging to our phones?
People often talk about sleep routines and sleep hygiene. Basically, this is just a new way of saying go to bed at a decent time, don’t stare at a screen and maybe have a nice milky drink to help you drop off (yes that does work – they contain both Melatonin and Tryptophan – both of which help you drift off)
Your grandmother was right after all!
How can CBD help with sleep?
In various studies, CBD has been shown to work on the endocannabinoid system, which in turn helps us to become more balanced, or a state of homeostasis. This, in turn, helps with relaxation and of course, then our sleep. Because CBD is a food supplement, we cannot make any unsubstantiated claims about the efficacy of it. We’d always encourage you to research more for yourself.
If you’d like to know more about how it can help with sleep, then our information sheet is here.
If you’re looking for products, then you can find our shop here.