Sleep is an important factor in overall health, yet many people don't get enough sleep. The following tips can help you get a better night's sleep to improve many areas of your health and wellness.
While there are many things you can do to improve your sleep, like avoiding caffeine and exercising before bed, this post will focus on tips for improving your sleep environment and relaxation strategies.
Creating a conducive sleep environment and preparing your mind for rest can help your body relax and fall asleep more easily. So, what can you do to create a better sleep environment? Keep reading to find out!
What Causes Sleep Problems?
Almost everyone has experienced difficulty sleeping at some point in their lives. Here are some of the most common contributors to sleep problems:
- Stress and anxiety
- Chronic pain
- Shift work
- Frequent urination
When sleep difficulties happen frequently, they're labeled as "sleep disorders," which can affect your mental and physical health in the long term.
Sleep disorders are becoming increasingly popular in the United States. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), one in three Americans regularly struggles to get enough good quality sleep.
The most common sleep disorders include insomnia, sleep apnea, restless leg syndrome, parasomnias (sleepwalking, talking, night terrors), and narcolepsy.
The Downside Of Prescription Sleep Medicine
Prescribed sleep meds can be useful for short-term use to help reset a healthy sleep-wake cycle with your doctor's guidance, but it should never be a long-term solution.
Commonly prescribed sleeping pills like antidepressants, benzodiazepines, and eszopiclone don't target sleep centers in the brain to help you fall asleep. They affect many aspects of the nervous system and organs that come with a long list of side-effects such as:
- Mood disorders
- Day time fatigue
- Muscle weakness
- Digestive problems
- Memory loss
It would help if you also avoided alcohol when you're on prescribed sleep medication, as it can increase your risk for overdose. It's best overall if you can avoid these drugs as it does have a propensity for addiction, and you may find yourself not being able to sleep at night without taking them.
What Are Common Symptoms Of A Poor Sleep Schedule?
Symptoms experienced from sleep disturbances will depend on the sleep disorder, how long you've experienced it, and its severity.
General signs that someone is lacking in sleep quality include:
- Difficulty falling asleep and staying asleep throughout the night
- Lack of daytime energy
- Unpleasant urge to move limbs while trying to fall asleep (restless leg syndrome)
- Irritability and anxiety
- Poor concentration at work or school
- Changes in weight
- Waking up feeling groggy
If you're experiencing trouble getting a regular good night's sleep and recognize some of these symptoms in yourself, you should speak with your family doctor or sleep specialist for support.
The tips in this article will be broken down into three categories that have been scientifically proven to support sleep health.
- Lifestyle Habits
For many people, trying to adopt all these sleep hygiene techniques can feel overwhelming, so it's important to understand that you don't have to adopt all these tips all at once—pick what fits best into your lifestyle and work your way up to improve healthier sleep habits.
1. Lifestyle Tips For Improving Sleep Quality
Many people don't realize that there are simple lifestyle changes to improve their sleep quality.
Most of the tips on this list are general healthy habits. Sometimes, unexpected events and stress can throw us off our healthy lifestyle practices—but getting back to some of the basics can help you achieve better sleep without resorting to medication.
- Cut back on caffeine and alcohol intake. Drinking caffeine too late into the afternoon can affect the adenosine levels in the brain, making us feel sleepy. And alcohol may make you feel tired, but it has been shown to harm sleep cycles and disrupt sleep.
- Exercise regularly. Regular exercise provides many health benefits from reducing stress and improving strength, flexibility, and cardiovascular health. Try to get at least 30-minutes of brisk activity daily to sleep better, but avoid exercising too close to bedtime as it makes it difficult to fall asleep.
- Drink less water before bed. If you find your restful sleep is often disturbed because of frequent bathroom breaks, try avoiding drinking water at least an hour before bed to keep your bladder empty.
- Establish a regular bedtime routine. Doing calming activities like reading a book, a warm bath, or relaxation techniques (meditation and stretches) helps set your body's circadian rhythm, making it easier to fall asleep when bedtime rolls around.
- Stress management. For many people, anxious thoughts can prevent them from a good sleep. Try to manage your stress levels with deep breathing exercises, meditation, massage therapy, or speak with a mental health professional.
2. Create A Restful Environment For A Good Night's Sleep
Our sleep environment is often an overlooked factor in getting a good night's rest.
Ideally, your bedroom should be a sanctuary for restful sleep, but often bedrooms are cluttered and noisy, which can affect your ability to relax and stay asleep throughout the night.
Here are a few sleep hygiene tips for creating a bedroom for more restful sleep.
- Invest in a comfortable mattress and bedding. Numerous studies have outlined the correlation between pain, stress-related symptoms, and poor sleep quality with bad bedding systems .
- Keep your room cool. Studies have found that a cooler room temperature is more conducive to more restful sleep, supporting your body temperature regulation. Aim to keep the room around 65°F (18.3°C) .
- Block light. Around bedtime, you should keep the lights dim to inform your brain that it's almost time to sleep. When you're ready to sleep, block out all light sources. Street lamps seeping into your bedroom window can affect your ability to keep a healthy sleep schedule. Consider black-out curtains or use a sleep mask.
- Limit screens. Phones, tablets, and television screens emit blue light, one of the lightwaves that signal the brain to stay alert and awake by inhibiting melatonin production. Try to keep all screens out of the bedroom to help you fall asleep faster.
- Control sounds. To help you get ready for bed, you may want to listen to relaxing music or white noise to help you block out busy street noises or neighbors.
3. Naturally-Derived Sleep Support Supplements
Rather than resorting to sleeping pills, which depresses the nervous system and can leave you feeling groggy the next morning, look to nature for sleep medicine. Naturally-derived sleep supplements can gently yet effectively help with stress and relaxation, reset your internal clock, and some can act as pain relievers.
Let's look at some of the most popular sleep-supporting supplements.
Melatonin is a hormone produced by the pineal gland in the brain. It helps control the body's circadian rhythm (the sleep-wake cycle) and plays a role in many other important functions. Melatonin supplements are available over-the-counter and are often used to help people fall asleep, stay asleep, and regulate a healthy sleep-wake cycle from traveling or shift work.
2. Passion Flower
Passionflower has been used as a medicinal herb for centuries. It is known to have calming and soothing effects and is often used as a natural remedy for insomnia and anxiousness. You can brew a cup of passionflower tea before bed or find it at local health food stores as a tincture.
GABA, also known as gamma-aminobutyric acid, is a neurotransmitter responsible for regulating mood, sleep, and anxiety.
GABA plays an important role in the central nervous system and is depleted in people with anxiety disorders. While many medications are available to treat anxiety disorders, some people prefer to try supplements first. GABA supplements are available over the counter and are thought to help improve mood and sleep.
Cannabidiol, or CBD, is one of the best naturally derived sleep compounds due to its ability to promote relaxation, improve comfort in tired and sore muscles, and calm down anxious thoughts.
CBD doesn't depress the nervous system to make you feel tired. Instead, it interacts with the endocannabinoid system (ECS), a cell-signaling system that modulates some of our vital functions from mood regulation, sleep-wake cycle, and pain perception.
An increasingly popular sleep combination is CBD with melatonin. When taken together, these two ingredients work to help you get the most rest possible. Melatonin is known for helping people fall asleep quicker while CBD supports mood and inflammatory function, helping to wake up feeling refreshed.
Many full spectrum and broad spectrum CBD extracts already contain trace amounts of CBN to amplify and balance the effects of CBD in the endocannabinoid system (entourage effect), but more research is finding that CBN may be better suited for sleep and maintaining a regular body clock (circadian rhythm).
How To Use CBD and CBN Products For Sleep
There can be a lot of reasons why you're not getting enough restorative sleep each night, from health conditions, stress, and poor relaxation environments. One of the benefits of adding hemp-based cannabinoids into your wellness routine is that they can help support several goals.
Cannabinoids like CBD and CBN support the endocannabinoid system's role in regulating some of our vital functions from mood, energy metabolism, pain sensation, and the sleep-wake cycle.
It doesn't have direct actions on depressing the nervous system the same way that sleeping pills work, but instead helps raise GABA levels in the brain that aid in mental and physical relaxation, which is much more gentle and prone to fewer side effects .
Many people who use CBD and CBN for sleep use high doses of the compounds (50 MG +) about an hour before the ideal bedtime alongside a sleep hygiene routine. It would help if you also were wary of isolate products—that is, CBN or CBD as the only active ingredient in the product.
Most of the studies surrounding the effects of CBN for sleep show that cannabinoids are much more effective alongside other cannabis cannabinoids, which means the best products to use for sleep are full spectrum or broad spectrum hemp extracts .
Some people find that it can take up to two weeks of regular cannabinoid supplementation before they start to see the benefits. This is because it can take some time for your body to adjust to the new levels of cannabinoids and for the endocannabinoid system to do its job to communicate between vital systems efficiently.
Potential Side Effects Of Cannabinoids
CBD and CBN are non-intoxicating compounds and are well-tolerated with very low chances of side effects, but that doesn't mean there are none to look out for.
Luckily most of the adverse effects from cannabinoids are temporary and can be avoided by purchasing quality products and using the correct doses. Some of the reported side effects of CBD and CBN include:
- Changes in appetite
Like with any supplement, you should look to purchase high-quality products from a reputable source. The only way to verify the quality of your products is to reference the third-party lab testing to show the cannabinoid content and contaminant report.
If you're on medication or have any underlying health conditions, you should speak with your doctor before using CBD or CBN to ensure no possible negative drug interactions.
The Takeaway: Tips For Better Sleep
Getting the right amount of sleep each night goes a long way in supporting your mental clarity, focus, mood, and energy levels out of all the wellness tips out there.
There can be many reasons why you're not getting enough sleep, and the solution to improving the amount of rest you get each night will depend on those factors. CBD and CBN products have become very popular supplements people are reaching for to support stress levels more naturally combined with a variety of environmental and lifestyle sleep tips.
All Neurogan CBD and CBN products are made from American-grown hemp extracts with a wide range of cannabinoids and terpenes for a more robust and balanced effect profile. We have a large catalog of simple yet effective formulas from oils, capsules, gummies, and topicals that best fit your wellness needs.
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