Sleep & Your ECS
The Deep Need for Deep Sleep
We spend one third of our lives asleep. At least, we should be. A study from the Center for Disease Control found that more than one third of adults in the US don’t get the recommended 7 hours of sleep each night. Sleeping less than 7 hours has been shown to increase the risk of developing chronic conditions such as “obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, and frequent mental distress” (Center for Disease Control). Sleep helps our minds and bodies repair themselves in the following ways:
Heal and repair the heart and blood vessels
Balance the appetite hormone (ghrelin) and the “feeling full” hormone (leptin)
Regulate the production of insulin
Support healthy growth and development, especially important in children and teens
Keep your immune system strong
The brain forms new pathways which leads to stronger learning and better memory, decision-making, emotional control, and response to change (Sleep Deprivation and Deficiency)
With the pace and frenzy of our hurried lives, sometimes sleep can fall much lower on the list of priorities than it should. “So much to do and so little time!” is the battlecry of entrepreneurs, artists, educators, and overachievers, and it’s a song that keeps them up at night, hunched over their computers, obsessing over their projects, coping with caffeine, and ignoring the call to sleep.
Instead of viewing sleep as something that takes away time from our lives, our culture could collectively heal by reframing sleep as something that gives us more time. Consistent, restful sleep may not only increase the longevity of our lives by protecting us from chronic stress, but it certainly adds to the quality of our day-to-day existence. For those who have tried everything to heal their sleep deficiencies or sleep disorders, endocannabinoids may promise a solution.
Endocannabinoids and Deep Sleep
Our endocannabinoid system (ECS) is responsible for regulating many important hormonal and chemical messages in our minds and bodies, and its job description has been concisely defined as helping us to “relax, eat, sleep, forget, and protect” (McPartland et al). The connection between our ECS and sleep is still emerging through research, but endocannabinoid therapies are offering a glimmer of hope to people who have struggled with sleep deficiencies and disorders like insomnia, sleep apnea, and PTSD-related nightmares.
High doses of CBD oil have been shown to increase sleep duration, decrease arousals during sleep, and reduce “insomnia disturbances and PTSD-related sleep disturbances” (Babson et al). However, low doses of CBD and use of THC has been shown to be stimulating and delay the onset of sleep, which is why rigorous research of cannabinoid therapies is essential.
Just like any other medicine on the market, cannabis has incredible potential to make us healthier or to be misused, often unknowingly. When there is such possibility for cannabinoids to help people deal with their most challenging health struggles, we have to fight for research, regulation, and safe medical access for the patients who need it most. Since sleep affects our decision-making and our sensitivity to stress, a good night’s sleep can set the foundation for the rest of our waking day.
Sleep, in fact, is not for the weak. Sleep is for the healthy, the resilient, and the living.
Babson, K. A., Sottile, J., & Morabito, D. (2017, April). Cannabis, Cannabinoids, and Sleep: A Review of the Literature. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28349316
CDC Newsroom. 1 in 3 Adults Don’t Get Enough Sleep. Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/media/releases/2016/p0215-enough-sleep.html
McPartland, J. M., Guy, G. W., & Marzo, V. D. (2014). Care and Feeding of the Endocannabinoid System: A Systematic Review of Potential Clinical Interventions that Upregulate the Endocannabinoid System. PLoS ONE,9(3).
Sleep Deprivation and Deficiency. Retrieved from https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health-topics/sleep-deprivation-and-deficiency
This article was written by Kira Gresoski and published on October 30, 2018. Copyright © 2018 Hempsley, All Rights Reserved