"You lack the season of all natures, sleep." –Macbeth (3.4.140)
It is difficult to encapsulate the importance of sleep. Those individuals who suffer insomnia or other sleep issues likely understand the cascade effect: sleep has the power to improve and enhance (or else destroy) all health and wellness variables.
What are the Consequences of Poor Sleep?
Sleep optimizes the consolidation of memory and catalyzes our ability to gain insights and make inferences . The negative neurocognitive impacts of sleep deprivation include declines in mood, performance, and motor function, and lack of sleep increases the risk of human error and accidents . Deprivation hampers vigilant attention and high-level decision making ability [3,4].
Lack of adequate sleep even contributes to the metabolic dysfunctions that result in obesity and diabetes . It is associated with higher blood pressure and worsened cardiovascular morbidity . Disrupted or restricted sleep results in increases in neuroendocrine stress activity that may lead to physiological stress disorders . Even minor loss of sleep elevates cortisol levels for at least 24 hours .
What is Healthy Sleep, and How Do I Regulate Sleep?
The amount of sleep needed varies by stage of development and individual. Babies sleep up to 18 hours a day, children and adolescents roughly 9.5 hours, and adults fall in the range of 7-9 hours. Circadian rhythm and sleep-wake homeostasis are the biological regulators of sleep, with alterations in body temperature and hormones playing a significant role. It is common in contemporary society for these natural clocks to become subservient to artificial schedules and work demands .
Achieving optimal sleep has a cascade effect on health that is holistic and systemic in scope. In the event of sleep deprivation or insomnia, there are some common tips recommended by national health organizations to regulate sleep [9,10]:
Can CBD Help with Sleep?
Although there are a deluge of anecdotal reports regarding cannabidiol (CBD) helping with sleep, the science of CBD and sleep is in its infancy. One case study involving a teenage girl with PTSD reported that CBD curbed anxiety sufficiently to alleviate insomnia . A 2017 review of literature in Current Psychiatry Reports suggests that CBD may be beneficial for insomnia, REM sleep behavior disorder, and daytime sleepiness .
One hypothetical explanation for these outcomes is the agonist activity of CBD on 5-HT receptors, the result being anti-depressant and anxiolytic effects [13,14]. Up to 90% of individuals with depression have difficulty with sleep . Reductions in depression and anxiety prior to sleep could account for relaxation and better sleep regulation.
The cascade effect of sleep emphasizes its absolute importance in our lives. In truth, sleep is as essential to survival as food and water. It affects every biological system - for better or for worse.