Chronic sleep deprivation is associated with several life threatening conditions including hypertension, obesity, diabetes, and stroke. With close to 70 million Americans suffering from sleep deprivation, the magnitude of the looming public health disaster is alarming.
While OTC sleeping pills have been the mainstay of treating sleep deprivation, they have failed to offer a lasting solution. Over time, the sleep deprived masses can either not tolerate the accompanying side effects or worse still, they get hooked to the pills, creating yet another crisis.
Several studies have suggested a close relationship between anxiety and poor sleep. In fact, some studies have also shown that poor sleep worsens anxiety and hence a vicious cycle. With millions of Americans admitting that they are experiencing high levels of stress, it is not a surprise that many are not able to fall asleep at night.
To sleep better at night, one has to find a way to de-stress and let go of all fears and anxiety. Is this easier said than done?
Science has shown that it is actually possible to get rid of stress naturally and consequently sleep better at night. When the body relaxes, melatonin is released from the pineal gland. This hormone is sleep-promoting.
Good sleep is associated with several benefits including a stronger immunity, better memory and focus, and less risk for developing chronic conditions.
If you are among the many who struggle to fall asleep at night you need not despair. There are a couple of things that you can do to support your circadian rhythm and hence improve your sleeping patterns. Here are seven tried and tested tips to help people get better sleep at night
1. Create a relaxing bedroom environment
Your bedroom should be a place of quiet and solace that you are comfortable to retreat to at the end of a hectic day. With so many of us working from home due to the pandemic, it is easy to turn your bedroom into a buzz of activity. The stress of the office is now resident in your bedroom which now features a home printer, project files, and gadgets.
When it is time to turn off the lights, you find yourself tossing and tossing endlessly in bed. Everything in the room reminds you of an uncompleted project or another demanding client. This will never work.
Declutter your room of all office paraphernalia. Ensure that every piece of furniture or linen supports a quiet atmosphere. Use cool colors on bedroom walls and ensure that the lighting is not stimulating. If you choose to play music in the bedroom, ensure that it is lulling. Studies support classical music for this effect, but really, you can go with what works best for you.
2. Take an infused bath in the evening.
Taking a bath, as basic as that may sound, can do a lot to boost your sleep pattern. Melatonin, the sleep hormone, is produced when the body temperature drops. The same effect is produced when you step out of a warm bath.
You know what can make this better?
Infusing your warm bath with natural sleep-promoting herbs. Here are some of our top picks:
- Cannabidiol (try CBD for sleep)
- Valerian root
A warm bath is a great way to improve your sleep quality, and infusing the bath makes it even better.
3. Keep off stimulating beverages such as caffeine
You probably know that having that cup of coffee is not the best way to kick-off the night, unless you are planning to be awake through the night. Caffeine sticks around in your system for up to six hours after it has been consumed. Therefore, you should keep off coffee from around 3-4 pm, at least if you hope to flake-out by around 9 pm.
Caffeine is not the only stimulating beverage that should be on your not-to-do list in the PM. Here are others that you should avoid:
- Alcohol- of course, keep off alcohol
- Energy drinks- all forms of energy drinks
- Regular tea- it contains theophylline that is a stimulant
- Green tea- this contains caffeine
- Cocoa- contains both theobromine and caffeine which are known stimulants
- Water- yes, avoid taking too much water in the evening
4. Exercise regularly
Regular exercise has several benefits, and it definitely packs a punch, as far as inducing sleep goes. In one study, engaging in exercise reduced the amount that it took to fall asleep by almost 50% and increased the duration of sleep by 41 minutes on average. In a different study, the researchers came to a conclusion that “acute moderate-intensity aerobic exercise appears to reduce pre-sleep anxiety and improve sleep in patients with chronic primary insomnia.” While regular exercise is good for sleep, don’t do it just before bedtime. Give yourself some space of about four hours
5. Have a regular sleeping schedule
The body is naturally programmed to be asleep when it is dark and to be awake in the daytime. This is how the circadian rhythm works best’ when it is aligned with sunrise and sunset. Therefore, it is recommended that you tune your sleeping schedule with this in mind.
Given the dynamic nature of the modern world, you might find that you have to be awake during the night for work or other reasons. In such a case, it is advisable to at least have a regular sleeping schedule with consistent sleeping and waking up times.
6. Try a melatonin supplement
Melatonin is a hormone that informs your brain that it is time to sleep. When melatonin levels are high, the brain zones out naturally and you find yourself drifting off to sleep. Melatonin also helps in tuning the circadian rhythm, making it ideal for use when traveling across time zones. The trick is to start with a low dose, such as 2mg, and increase gradually if need be.
7. Using cannabis to improve sleep
Recent research has shown that cannabis has some sleep-enhancing benefits when used in moderation. Cannabidiol (CBD), one of the bioactive compounds in cannabis, has shown potential as an anti-anxiety agent. By relieving stress and anxiety, CBD is able to improve sleep. Another compound in cannabis known as cannabinol (CBN) has similar sleep-promoting properties.
The best cannabis strain for sleep should have a combination of both CBD and CBN. Always ensure that you source your cannabis from a reputable source and ask if they offer free cannabis delivery or marijuana delivery at a fee. This not only saves you some dollars but it also guarantees maximum convenience.
Scientists are looking keenly into the sleep enhancing effects of cannabis. Unlike OTC sleep pills, CBD and CBN have not been associated with major adverse effects, even when used in higher doses.
Before trying any supplement to enhance sleep it is advisable to consult with your healthcare practitioner. At the same time, you can always try the relaxation tips shared above to improve your chances of getting better sleep at night.