Why do we need sleep?
On average, a person will spend about one-third of their life sleeping. While many rue the need for sleep and mourn wasted potential, sleep appears to play a vital role in health and productivity.
Though scientists aren’t sure of the precise reason we sleep, certain observations support several theories regarding restoration and brain plasticity. A good night’s sleep is thought to play several functions, including:
- Protecting immune function. Death is a possibility if you refuse to hit the hay. In fact, certain animal studies have shown complete sleep deprivation leads to a loss of all immune function and death in just weeks.
- Allowing the body to repair itself. Many of the body’s restorative processes occur primarily or exclusively during sleep, including tissue repair, muscle growth, protein synthesis, and growth hormone release.
- Clearing adenosine buildup. Adenosine is a waste product of cellular activity in the brain and accumulates during our waking hours. This byproduct is thought to promote feelings of tiredness. Only during sleep can we rid ourselves of enough adenosine buildup to feel alert.
- Facilitating memory and learning. Sleep deprivation negatively affects focus and attention, making learning new information and accessing learned information more difficult. (That’s why all-nighters are never a good idea if you want to ace that next exam.)
While we don’t fully understand why we sleep, we do know the effects of not getting adequate shuteye. Chronic sleep deprivation increases your risk of developing type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, obesity, and heart disease. It also affects your brain, leaving you at a greater risk of dementia, depression, and anxiety.
How much sleep do you really need?
The amount of sleep one needs varies by age. While infants and toddlers generally snooze for as long as 16 to 18 hours per day, school-age children and teens usually need about 9.5 hours per night. The average adult needs 7 to 9 hours of sleep per night; however, those 60 and older generally experience shorter, lighter sleep with more waking interruptions.
According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), 1 in 3 Americans isn’t getting the sleep they need. And despite popular belief, you can’t just catch up on rest if you’re chronically sleep deprived. Given our fast-paced, smartphone-laced culture is likely to blame, perhaps a lifestyle change is in order.
Tips for better sleep.
Clearly, sleep is important – you could literally die without it. To be the best version of yourself, there are several techniques you can try to achieve healthy sleeping patterns. The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS) recommends the following:
- Don’t consume caffeine or nicotine too late in the day and avoid alcoholic beverages before bed.
- Exercise. 20 to 30 minutes every day a few hours before bed is best.
- Create a relaxing bedtime routine, such as taking a warm bath or shower, listening to calming music, or reading (avoid those page-turning thrillers).
- Create the optimal sleep environment: buy blackout curtains, avoid night lights, banish electronics/screens from the bedroom, turn down the thermostat, make the bed comfortable.
- If you can’t fall asleep, don’t just lie in bed awake. Get up and do something else, such as read or journal, until you are tired. Just no screen time.
- Keep a schedule. You should try to fall asleep and wake up at roughly the same time every day, even on days off and holidays.
- Seek professional help. If nothing seems to work for you, an underlying condition may be the cause. Many sleep disorders are very treatable.
An added tip: take CBD oil for better sleep.
Along with the above tips, taking cannabidiol (CBD) oil may help you achieve healthy sleep hygiene. Several studies have shown CBD may help treat certain sleep disorders, such as REM behavior disorder (RBD), and underlying conditions, including chronic pain and anxiety, that contribute to abnormal sleeping patterns.
Doses ranging from as little as 10 to 600 mg have been shown to effectively treat insomnia, while amounts as high as 1,500 mg are generally regarded as safe for the treatment of a wide variety of conditions. Though CBD oil may be a naturally-derived substance, you should always talk to your healthcare provider before starting any health regimen.If you’d like to learn more about CBD oil, check out our handy fact sheet here.