4 Science-Backed Tips to Help You Sleep
March 31, 2023
Struggling to sleep? Many of us are. Recent data has revealed that a huge 10% of the global population has insomnia - a medical condition where you struggle to get to sleep and stay asleep. Outside of a clinical diagnosis, 1 in 7 in the UK are struggling to get through the day on less than 5 hours sleep, the side effects of which include:
- Brain Fog
- High Blood Pressure
- Depleted immunity
- Weight gain
- Depression & Anxiety
- Heart Disease
- Low Sex Drive
According to the Sleep Foundation, employees who get less than 6 hours sleep a night are also 70% more likely to be involved in an accident.
With all this in mind, it’s no wonder that 42.5% of people who use CBD do so to help with sleep, only just shy of the top reason, anxiety.
So what can you do to get more sleep? Or even better quality sleep? There are many sleep aids and purported solutions out there, but which really work? Here, we’ve put together a list of 4 tips proven to help you sleep.
Drink more water
Simply drinking enough water is often the answer to many of life’s problems! It’s so simple, but becoming dehydrated (which, by the time you feel thirsty, is already in effect) contributes to a vast range of health issues (both physical and mental) that are commonly faced. Just 1% dehydration negatively impacts mood, attention, brain function, motor coordination, memory…and sleep.
As it turns out dehydration and insomnia are linked in a vicious cycle! A study published by Penn State found adults who slept less than 6 hours a night were up to 59% more likely to be dehydrated in the day than those who got at least 8 hours of sleep. In addition, becoming dehydrated depletes amino acids (like L-theanine, L-tryptophan, Glycine and GABA - all of which are popular sleep supplements!) and may affect melatonin production, which makes sleep much harder to come by.
Boost your serotonin
Serotonin is probably most famous for its role in mood, but this vital neurotransmitter is involved with much, much more than that! If you’re depleted in serotonin one thing that happens is that your body can’t create melatonin – a natural hormone that is produced by the pineal gland and released into the bloodstream to regulate the sleep-wake cycle.
So, how can you boost serotonin to make sure you keep levels healthy? Massage is one way. A clinical trial on back pain found that 30 minutes of massage therapy, twice a week for five weeks raised serotonin and dopamine levels, as well as improving mobility and pain overall. Taking CBD oil every day also raises serotonin, as the CBD molecule binds to serotonin receptors, triggering a release of the chemical. This, among other mechanisms such as keeping endocannabinoids balanced and the action of terpenes (the aromatic compounds in cannabis and all other plants), is what makes CBD oil such a popular sleep supplement.
Increase your bright light exposure
Getting more light during the day can help you sleep at night! This is one key way you can help keep your circadian rhythm (your internal clock) ticking along just right - triggering energy in the day, and sleepiness when it’s time for bed.
Natural sunlight is of course the best kind of light you can feed your body with. Studies have found that exposure to this, or any bright light, improves sleep quality and duration and can reduce the time it takes to fall asleep by up to 83%!
Let plants lend a hand
Cannabis is of course one of the world’s oldest, safest and most effective plants to use as a sleep aid - but you can only use whole-plant cannabis with THC (the cannabinoid most studied for its effects on sleep) with a prescription in the UK. CBD oil, which is available over the counter with only a very small, legal amount of THC (not enough to make you feel high) is the next best thing.
But other than cannabis, there are several other plants you can take from nature’s apothecary to help you achieve more restful sleep. Here’s a selection that are science-backed:
Valerian root: multiple studies have found that valerian can help speed up how long it takes to fall asleep, and improve sleep in general.
Ginkgo biloba: research suggests that taking 250mg of this plant supplement 30-60 minutes before bed can help reduce stress and promote sleep.
Lavender: the high level of linalool in this fragrant flower (a terpene also found in cannabis and full or broad-spectrum CBD oil) has been found to improve sleep quality.
Chamomile: Chamomile is well known for its relaxant and sleep-promoting properties, and can be enjoyed as a soothing tea before bed.