Insomnia Short-Term Sleep Solutions
I think we all know and realize that multiple studies have shown that sleep and good quality sleep is essential to our physical and mental health. Unfortunately, there is a troubling percentage of people who are regularly deprived of quality sleep and that can leave them with poor production and low quality of life.
In my past articles, I have gone through the wide causes and types of sleep issues that the CDC, National Institute on Aging, American Academy of Family Physicians and the National Institutes of Health have studied and all of these groups point to the same fundamental tips for getting more quality sleep.
I am going to go over some simple tips that you can start adding to your daily regime to help promote better sleep every night. You don’t need to do them all, but what I recommend is trying a few each week and see which one/s work best for you. You may need to change it up too, once you recognize what type of stress or anxiety that may keep you up at night and the proper strategy that will help with that stress or anxiety so you can slow down and go to sleep quicker as well as stay asleep longer.
1. Relaxation techniques.
a. Meditation has been used for centuries to help slow the mind and body down to be able to get more restful sleep. You can listen to a guided meditation as you prepare for bedtime or find a phrase or affirmation you can repeat for a few minutes.
b. Yoga has been used for hundreds of years to calm the central nervous system down and promoting more restful sleep. There are specific poses you can do before going to sleep that can help promote good sleep. Holding the poses for 10 breaths each will help your body relax: Lizard Pose, Locust Pose, Standing Forward Fold, Wide Legged Standing Forward Bend, Head of the Knee Pose and Corpse Pose. https://www.yogajournal.com/poses/15-poses-help-sleep-better/
c. Deep breathing is a great way to slow your mind as well as your heart rate. Take a deep inhale for a count of four, hold the breath for a count of two and exhale for a count of four. Do this for ten deep breaths then expand it a bit. Inhale for a count of six, hold the breath for a count of four and exhale for a count of six for ten deep breaths.
d. Progressive relaxation is another great way to trick your brain to stop racing and focus on something else. While lying in bed, start at your feet and tense up all the muscles in your feet. Relax them and move to your calves. Tense up all the muscles in your calves and then relax and move up to your quadriceps. Tense up the muscles in your upper thigh and then relax them. Keep moving up the body getting all the muscles, including your skull. Keep repeating it until you feel calm and start to relax your body. When your muscles are relaxed, you will have less tension and a more restful sleep.
2. Make your biggest meal at lunch time instead of in the evening, especially if you aren’t eating until 7pm or later. Your body will take a long time to digest big meals which could be making it difficult to fall asleep if you are still digesting as you are going to sleep.
3. Don’t use alcohol to help you go to sleep. Alcohol may seem to calm you down to go to sleep, but in actuality it is disrupting your sleep cycle later in the night. Your liver is detoxing between 2:30-3:30am, so if you are waking up during this time frame, your liver is nudging you to pay attention to what it needs to do to reset for the next day.
4. Turn your lights down two hours before you put your head on the pillow. Studies have shown that the more exposure to lighting between dusk and bedtime can have an effect on quality sleep. Find low lighting options, “soft/warm” light bulbs with a color temperature less than 3,000 kelvins. These will help reduce the light effects on your nervous system.
5. Turn off your screens one hour before going to sleep. The “blue” light emitted from your screens disrupt your neurotransmitters in your brain to think that it is still daylight and that your brain needs to stay awake to get things done. It can disrupt your sleep/wake hormones and can make it extremely hard to get balanced again. If you love the late-night shows, record them and watch them during the day instead of at night.
6. Stop using your brain before going to bed. Don’t try to solve a deep issue or a work project before you go to bed. Don’t work, watch anything stimulating or read complex material. Working your brain will keep you awake at night as the brain keeps on racing thinking it needs to keep working. By dimming the lights and turning off your electronics you are training your brain to slow down so you can shut it off when you go to sleep. I found that reading some poetry or an easy fictional novel helps me slow down and take my mind out of my own reality and putting into a different one.
7. Cool your bedroom. Keeping your bedroom dark and cool with a temperature between 60-75 degrees Fahrenheit will help train your body to sleep deeper. Invest in some blackout shades or curtains, comfy eye mask, ear plugs and even a fan or a white noise machine. Keep your cell phone, laptops and other electronics outside your room. Use an old-school alarm clock and place the numbers face down so the light from it doesn’t wake you up through the night.
8. Natural supplements can help regulate your body to be able to get more quality sleep. Using sleep supplements is very different than using an over the counter (OTC) sleep aid. OTC sleep aids can have some severe reactions or side effects. Most of the natural supplements will not have as severe reactions or side effects.
a. Valerian root and skullcap are two supplements used to help promote sleep. Valerian root will help calm the nervous system and skullcap will stop the brain from racing. Some people may not like valerian root as you can fall into some deep REM and have some funky and scary dreams.
b. You can also use magnesium as it can help quiet the mind and body and make it easier to fall asleep. Most adults are deficient in magnesium and when that happens it means you are probably not producing enough melatonin. Magnesium will relax muscles and induce sleep. Magnesium has also been found to increase the gamma aminobutyric acid (GABA) which is a brain messenger to have calming effects.
c. Lavender has also been used to help enhance sleep. Smelling organic lavender essential oil (not a fragrance) before going to sleep will improve sleep quality, including waking up less and having a harder time falling back asleep. A study gave 221 anxiety disorder participants 80mg of a lavender oil supplement or a placebo per day. At the end of the 10-week study those taking the supplement experienced 14-24% greater sleep without any side effects.
d. Passionflower is another popular herbal remedy for insomnia. Research has shown that taking it as a tea or in a CBD tincture/gummy may have better long-term effects on sleep.
e. Glycine, an amino acid that supports the nervous system, can also help improve sleep. Glycine lowers your body temperature at night, letting the body know it is time to go to sleep. Just 3 grams of glycine can help you fall asleep faster, stay asleep and wake up with more pep in your step. You can increase your glycine intake with the following foods: meat, eggs, poultry, fish, bone broth, beans, spinach, kale, cabbage and fruits like bananas and kiwis.
9. Hemp CBD, short for cannabidiol- one of the many cannabinoids or molecules produced uniquely by the cannabis family. Unlike tetrahydrocannabinol or THC, the psychoactive element in marijuana, CBD is non-psychoactive. It doesn’t have a strong effect on cognitive brain activity and doesn’t cause the “high” associated with marijuana. Every variety of the cannabis family produces cannabinoids, including hemp. CBD and THC are the most well-known cannabinoids, there are many different types and just recently more research and significant resources have been poured into studies. The newest research is on CBN, which has been shown to create a deeper sleep for those with insomnia. Our brains have specific receptors designed to accept cannabinoids. These are known as our CB1 and CB2 receptors. These are responsible for the assimilation of cannabinoid molecules into your system, resulting in either an increase in immune responses or the psychoactive “high” depending on which version you take. A Full Spectrum CBD means the entire Hemp plant is used in the extraction and it contains all the cannabinoids that can be extracted from the hemp plant:
CBDA (cannabidiolic acid) is a non-psychoactive cannabinoid found in Cannabis that reportedly has therapeutic efficacy in the treatment of cancer.
CBN (cannabinol) CBN is created when THC-A oxidizes. CBN can be used effectively as a sleep aid or sedative.
CBG (cannabigerol) is a cannabinoid that shows promise as an antibacterial agent and an anti-inflammatory.
CBC (cannabichromene) has been shown to encourage the human brain to grow by increasing the viability of developing brain cells in a process known as neurogenesis.
CBL (cannabicyclol) a non-psychotomimetic cannabinoid found in Cannabis that reportedly exerts therapeutic effects.
· CBV (cannabivarin) CBV is an oxidation product of tetrahydrocannabivarin (THCV, THV).
o THCV is an appetite suppressant.
o THCV may help with Diabetes. Research shows promise in THCV’s ability to regulate blood sugar levels and reduce insulin resistance.
o THCV may reduce panic attacks. It appears to curb anxiety in PTSD patients without suppressing emotions.
o THCV may help with Alzheimer’s. Tremors, motor control and brain lesions appear to be improved by THCV.
o THCV stimulates bone growth. Because it promotes the growth of new bone cells. THCV is being looked at for osteoporosis and other bone related conditions.
CBDV (cannabidivarin) is a non-psychoactive cannabinoid found in Cannabis that reportedly has therapeutic efficacy in the treatment of pain, mood disorders, and inflammatory diseases.
CBCV (cannabichromevarin) CBCV is known first and foremost to be an effective anticonvulsant.
CBGV (cannabigerovarin) One of the most beneficial medicinal cannabinoids offered by the cannabis herb is cannabigerovarin, a derivative of cannabigerol, a molecule that has been described as the “mother of all cannabinoids” due to its role as the molecular source of all other cannabinoids — including THC and cannabidiol.
· CBGM (cannabigerol monomethyl ether) CBGM has comparable results as that of CBG and can help patients with the conditions like; Severe nausea, Glaucoma, Chronic pain, Crohn’s disease, Psoriasis, Arthritis, Cancer. CBGM is yet to be explored at a much deeper level. But what we can see clearly is that the compound seems to have great medical potential in terms of treating different disease symptoms.
· CBE (cannabielsoin) is a non-psychoactive cannabinoid derived from CBD. It is produced metabolism of CBD, or exposure of CBD to the elements.
CBT (cannabicitran) CBT is likely a non-psychoactive cannabinoid that, when present alongside THC, can lessen THC’s myriad psychoactive effects.
There has been some concern because extracting all of these cannabinoids from the hemp plant also means that there are trace amounts of THC – which is the psychoactive aspect of cannabis – in CBD oil. However, these amounts are tiny and heavily regulated (to a maximum of 0.3%), which minimizes the psychoactive risks of Full Spectrum Hemp CBD oil. To be considered legal, THC levels cannot exceed these regulations.
There are hundreds of active compounds in the plant including terpenes and flavonoids, most prominent being kaempferol, luteolin or quercetin. These are high in antioxidant properties and count as the most important health benefits of flavonoids. Most flavone compounds also show significant anti-inflammatory, antifungal and diastolic effects on the body.
Hemp CBD has been shown to help calm the central nervous system. A calmer system means less anxiety, less inflammation, less pain, less worry and more capability of living life to your fullest.