Multiple vital functions happen while you sleep. It plays a housekeeping role that removes toxins in your brain that build up while you are awake.
Anyone who has ever cared for a baby or watched someone else care for a baby knows that there are basically two primary activities that must be monitored continually. One is sleeping and the other is pooping. Both activities done on a routine schedule result in a happy baby and, in turn, a happy caretaker and family.
Insomnia, which encompasses poor quality sleep, is the #1 health complaint among Americans.
Adults are just like babies. They need routines, too. Without routines, which should include sleeping and pooping, adults are not happy campers. When clients consult with me about various symptoms and diagnoses, I work on two issues first. You guessed it: sleeping and pooping. Let’s leave bowel movements for another article and discuss sleep, why it’s important, and how to achieve it.
Multiple vital functions happen while you sleep. These dynamic processes and others are regulated by the endocannabinoid system. One of the most crucial is the functioning of the liver to detox what your body is storing. For many chronic diseases, eliminating toxins from the body can change outcomes and health dramatically. According to the National Institutes of Health, “sleep plays a housekeeping role that removes toxins in your brain that build up while you are awake.”
Another vital function of sleep is to consolidate learning and memory. This is one of the reasons why individuals who suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD, must have high quality sleep and frequently use cannabis to achieve this. Think about how you feel when you do not get sufficient and quality sleep. Not good.
The type of sleep that we often hear about is called REM sleep, or rapid eye movement sleep. Lesser discussed is non-rapid eye movement (NREM) sleep, which has three stages. An optimal, full sleep cycle, which features both types of sleep, should happen five to six times per night. The processes of falling asleep, staying asleep, waking up, and remaining awake are part of your circadian rhythm, which is regulated by the endocannabinoid system.
Here are a few ways that we can help our endocannabinoid systems keep our sleep cycles performing at optimal levels.
- Stay on the same sleep routine every day, winding down at the end of your day. Maybe reading before bed, taking a bath, packing you bag for the next day. Whatever you do before bed, keep it consistent from day to day.
- Know your caffeine tolerance. Are you someone who can fall asleep immediately after consuming four espressos or is one coffee in the morning your limit?
- Do not eat just before bed and do not eat in bed. Try to have your last meal at least two hours before going to bed.
- Keep your bedroom cool (under 68 degrees) and dark. Our bodies were made to follow the rising and setting of the sun. With artificial light, however, we’ve interfered with that process.
- Turn off all electronic devices, including mobile phones. Use an alarm clock to wake in morning or put your phone in airplane mode.
- Use blue glasses at night to block out the blue light from screens and artificial light that interfere with sleep.
- Try aromatherapy. Certain terpenes found in plants, including cannabis, can aid in sleep. The most well-known sleep-inducing scent is lavender oil, which can be applied directly to the soles of the feet, sprayed on your pillow, or diffused in your room just before going to bed.
- Take a bath, just like babies do. A warm bath with added Epson salts is great for sleep and easing aches and pains.
- Mediate. Emptying your mind before shut eye is a great way to get a good night’s sleep.
Sleep is foundational to optimal health. It’s a one of the primary lifestyle habits that is regulated by the endocannabinoid system. Keeping your ECS functioning properly by following these tips can help you get the quality sleep that you need to stay healthy.