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  1. The endocannabinoid system is present in humans as well as other mammals. This system comprises neurotransmitters, which are known as endocannabinoids, and protein receptors. It is these receptors that react with plant-based cannabinoids, like THC and CBD, which are present in hemp products. THC is responsible for the psychoactive high when you use cannabis while CBD does not produce a high; rather it has a soothing and calming effect. The endocannabinoid system is quite complex, but researchers know that it regulates several physiological and cognitive processes, including sleep, mood, pain, and appetite. In fact, the endocannabinoid system is essential for homeostasis in humans. Research is still ongoing to find out how the endocannabinoid system affects sleep cycles. The Function of the Endocannabinoid System Homeostasis means that the body is in total equilibrium – the physiological and cognitive processes in the body are functioning the way they should and hence, the body is completely in balance. When one or more of the physiological and cognitive processes are not balanced, the endocannabinoid system comes into play. It helps to restore the balance. Based on this function of the system, you can say that the endocannabinoid system works to regulate the physiological and cognitive processes that are associated with homeostasis. These processes include sleep cycle, circadian rhythm, appetite, digestion, pain, responses to stress, body temperature, thermoregulation, fertility, pregnancy and pre- and post-natal development. In addition, the endocannabinoid system also regulates mood and controls motor learning and skills, and memory. It is prudent to remember that the endocannabinoid system can regulate one process without having an effect on other physiological and cognitive processes. As a result, it helps the body attain homeostasis quicker. In order to restore homeostasis, the endocannabinoid system interacts with receptors, enzymes, and hormones. Once the body attains homeostasis, the resultant byproducts are metabolized and degraded in the body. Hence, these molecules (byproducts) cannot affect other processes occurring in the body. Cannabinoids and Endocannabinoid System The endocannabinoid system consists of endocannabinoids, receptors that these cannabinoids bind to and enzymes that break down the endocannabinoids after they restore homeostasis. The two primary endocannabinoids in the body are anandamide and 2-arachidonoylglycerol. The former plays a role in the generation of nerve cells in the brain and can also enhance mood and minimize anxiety. That is why it is known as the bliss molecule. Anandamide is also found in copious amounts in the body after performing strenuous exercise. On the other hand, 2-arachidonoylglycerol helps to regulate the circulatory system. These endocannabinoids are difficult to study as they quickly get broken down by the endocannabinoid enzymes unlike other neurotransmitters, which tend to last longer in the blood or are stored for use later on. When it comes to cannabis, the two most common cannabinoids in this plant is CBD and THC. These phytocannabinoids react with the same receptors that endocannabinoids react with, but this interaction is different. For instance, THC and anandamide bind to the same endocannabinoid receptors and produce a feeling of calm and relaxation. But, THC does not get broken down by the enzyme that metabolizes anandamide. Hence, it stays longer in the bloodstream, causing persistent high in people who consume it. Endocannabinoids cannot function without the presence of cannabinoid receptors, and the most common receptors within the endocannabinoid system are CB1 and CB2. These two receptors were first discovered in the 1990s. The CB1 receptors, although present across the body, are mainly found in the CNS and the brain. The CB2 receptors are found in the immune system, digestive system, and peripheral nervous system. The phytocannabinoids react with CB1 and CB2 receptors, but in a different manner. Hence, they produce different effects. Scientific studies show the CBD tends to produce therapeutic effects without the high that is associated with THC. Hence, it promotes a feeling of calm and relaxation without the person feeling high. It is this reaction to CBD that treats sleep issues, including insomnia. Fatty Acid Amide Hydrolase is the enzyme that breaks down anandamide. However, the enzyme decomposes quickly in the body to prevent over-activity from high levels of anandamide. When you consume CBD, it inhibits the Fatty Acid Amide Hydrolase enzyme. As a result, the breakdown of anandamide occurs slowly. This increases the levels of endocannabinoids in the body, allowing the body to get relaxed. When the body is calm, without any feeling of anxiety and stress, a person can go to sleep more easily. Anandamide is not the only receptor that the CBD binds with. According to researchers, it binds with receptors that are not even part of the endocannabinoid system. So, if you take full-spectrum CBD tincture or oil, it will contain many more cannabinoids other than CBD. Each of these cannabinoids will have their own reaction and health benefits. Researchers are still trying to ascertain how the endocannabinoid system affects sleep and circadian rhythm. At the moment, do know that the system has a profound effect on different parts of the brain and the body which are essential to enjoy a restful night’s sleep. Researchers also know that if a person has a deficiency of endocannabinoids in the body, it has an adverse effect on the person’s sleep and circadian rhythm. The Bottom Line The endocannabinoid system is relatively new to researchers and studies are ongoing to find out how it affects biological processes in the body. Nonetheless, researchers already know that the endocannabinoid system does impact sleep. If you are suffering from insomnia or you do not get a good night’s sleep, it may be prudent to use CBD oil that is organically grown and does not show signs of contaminants and pollutants. It will enable you to ensure that the CBD binds to the right receptors and promote a feeling of calm. When the biological processes are in the right balance, you will enjoy good sleep and wake up feeling refreshed and energized. You may want to consult your physician if you are taking any other medication before you begin using CBD oil, as it may have contraindications. FDA DISCLOSURE The statements made regarding these products have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. The efficacy of these products has not been confirmed by FDA-approved research. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. All information presented here is not meant as a substitute for or alternative to information from health care practitioners. Please consult your health care professional about potential interactions or other possible complications before using any product. The Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act requires this notice.
  2. Sleep disorders have been on the rise since the past decade or so. It is hard to find people who experience healthy sleep every night or don’t resort to a sleep aid. Because sleep is vital to mental and physical health, the growing incidence of sleep disorders around the world is concerning. Sleep disorders are more common in the US than any other country; the reason why scientists and sleep experts are always trying to find out the causes behind it and possible solutions. If you are one of those people who has failed to get a good night’s sleep in a long time, you are acutely aware of how sleep disorders can strip your life of joy and peace. When you are sleep deprived sleep deprived, everything becomes harder than usual. You lose your appetite, you are unmotivated to work out, your social and personal commitments suffer, and your productivity at work keeps dropping. In fact, the American economy suffers a loss of millions of dollars every year simply because of workers not getting enough sleep. Don’t be surprised, because sleep disorders have far-reaching consequences. Sleep deficiency causes daytime sleepiness and drowsiness, causing accidents and injuries. Drowsy driving is one dangerous consequence of sleep deficiency and daytime sleepiness. It is as dangerous as driving under the influence of alcohol. Of course, no person can go without sleep for a long time, and they all reach for some kind of sleep aid at some point. However, the recent FDA warning about conventional sleep medications has led people to look for natural solutions to sleep disorders. Dangers of Sleep Medication A large number of people depend on sleep medications for a good night’s rest. Older people have usually prescribed sleep medicines because they are unable to get proper sleep any longer. However, even though in the beginning the medications work as intended, they are harmful in the long run because the user starts to get dependent on them. Most sleeping pill users are unable to sleep again without taking the medication, and the dependence only keeps growing. Most doctors do not hesitate to increase the dosage, but this only adds to the danger. The FDA has recently called out certain sleep medications for being dangerous and causing injuries and accidents. However, even without the FDA warning, most people have always known about the side effects of conventional sleep medications. They are quick to work, but the chemicals in them are harmful to health and often make sleep disorder worse. Increasing the dosage of the medicine only leads to sleeping pill abuse, some of the most common symptoms of which are: Dry mouth Dizziness Difficulty with coordination and focus Excessive daytime sleepiness Foggy memory Nightmares Itching and swelling Lightheadedness Chest pain Blurred vision or other vision changes Difficulty breathing or swallowing Hives Hoarseness of the throat Palpitations If sleep medications are continued for a long time, it can lead to other health complications and even death. These fears are not unwarranted because there are a large number of people suffering from the side effects of sleeping pills. Sleeping pills being available over the counter have also contributed to their overuse. All these fears surrounding sleeping pills have led people to look for natural alternatives. At the moment, there are two natural sleep solutions, one of them proven and the other debatable. They are melatonin and cannabidiol. Melatonin Supplements for Sleep Melatonin is the sleep hormone produced by the brain in response to the dark. When the sun begins to set, the body clock tells the brain it’s time to produce melatonin, the hormone that helps us relax, makes us feel drowsy and ultimately gets us to sleep. Melatonin is hindered by bright lights and triggered by darkness. That is the reason why sleeping in a dark room is the healthiest. Imbalances in the production of melatonin are often responsible for sleep disorders. If shunning bright lights don’t work, then a possible remedy is melatonin supplement. This is a natural sleep remedy that has recently started to be administered to insomnia patients. The reason why melatonin supplement has become so popular is that it is not known to have any side effect for it simply replicates the natural melatonin produced by the brain. The melatonin supplement remedies any imbalance and helps the hormone function normally to bring about healthy sleep. So far melatonin supplements have not been found to cause any adverse side effect. Because this hormone is already produced by the body, melatonin supplements simply aim to correct any shortage or imbalance of the hormone. However, because melatonin supplements tend to work very quickly, the dosage must be appropriate and timed right. Otherwise, the person can feel drowsy well into the next morning. CBD Oil as Sleep Aid Another popular sleep solution that is still controversial to some extent is cannabidiol. Also called CBD, this is a natural extract of the hemp plant, and has been hailed to be highly beneficial for a lot of health issues. One of the most popular uses of CBD is in treating insomnia and other sleep disorders. Although the exact connection between CBD and sleep is not yet known sleep experts believe that CBD helps induce sleep by reducing anxiety and stress. If you have stress and anxiety related issues that prevent you from falling or staying asleep at night, CBD can be used as a natural alternative to conventional sleep medications. However, if your sleep issues are caused by other health problems or hormonal imbalances, then CBD will not be effective. CBD is also highly controversial and not easily available everywhere. Unlike melatonin, CBD has not been proven to be beneficial for sleep disorders and should be consumed only after a consultation with a healthcare practitioner. Before resorting to a sleep aid, it is recommended that you try making lifestyle changes to deal with sleep disorders. If all else fails, talk to your doctor to adopt the safest possible way to induce sleep and reduce sleep deprivation.
  3. You know the feeling, you’re ready for bed and can’t wait to hit the hay to get a deep, restful sleep. But instead, you lie awake for hours, trying to fall asleep. It’s the worst! Have you considered aromatherapy? Aromatherapy is an alternative and complementary medicine practice that uses the power of the scents from essential oils to balance the body, mind, and spirit. According to a number of studies, specific essential oils can aid in relaxing the body, relieving stress and promoting better sleep. Here is a look at some of the best essential oils to help you sleep faster and better: Lavender Essential Oil: You have probably heard of the relaxing effects of lavender essential oil. So it only makes sense that it would be on the list of sleep-inducing essential oils, right? It is, in fact, one of most studied essential oils and is known to calm the nervous system – lowering heart rate, blood pressure and skin temperature while also changing brain waves to put you in a more relaxed state. Bergamot Essential Oil: Did you know that citrus bergamot is a hybrid fruit? It is somewhere between a lime or lemon and bitter orange. Traditionally used in Italian folk medicine, bergamot essential oil has been found to relieve tension and anxiety – two things that cause difficulty sleeping or insomnia. Studies have found that bergamot essential oil can reduce blood pressure, heart rate, and stress. Clary Sage Essential Oil: Clary sage is a herb that is closely related to the common garden herb, sage. In fact, clary sage essential oil is used in dental procedures to help patients relax. It is true! This essential oil is also known to have effects similar to antidepressants. If you suffer from sleepless nights, this is one essential oil you should definitely consider to lull you to sleep. Ylang Ylang Essential Oil: Extracted from the flower of a tropical tree found in Southeast Asia, ylang-ylang essential oil has a sweet floral fragrance. Its aroma has been found to be highly relaxing and decrease blood pressure. It also has a positive effect on the nervous system, resulting in lower blood pressure and heart rate. If you have issues falling asleep despite feeling exhausted after a long day, give ylang-ylang essential oil a try. Jasmine Essential Oil: The sweet aroma of jasmine can be quite relaxing. Although there is not much research on jasmine essential oil, there is a buzz that the smell of jasmine tea can have a calming effect. The next time you are wide awake in the middle of the night, why not go to the kitchen and brew a cup of soothing jasmine tea to help calm you and make you fall into sweet slumber. Other essential oils that can help you fall asleep faster and improve your sleep include vetiver, cedarwood, Roman chamomile, marjoram and sandalwood essential oils. How to Use Essential Oils to Help You Sleep Do you want to create a more tranquil and soothing sleeping atmosphere? Make use of your essential oils. Whether it is lavender or jasmine, there are a number of different ways to use these oils to help you sleep better. If you’re looking for the best essential oil blend for sleep, Amazon is your best stop. Check out the Good Night Essential Oil Blend 10ml – 100% Natural Pure Undiluted Therapeutic Grade for Aromatherapy, Scents & Diffuser
  4. Maybe it’s because I live in the city of lakes which is also located in the land of 10,000 lakes that drew me to the idea of Float Therapy. Float Therapy is a rebranded term for what used to be called isolation therapy or sensory deprivation therapy. It is a practice where you float in a sort of large bathtub that is filled with salt water. Float therapy is a form of mediation. I did my first float session at the Float Foundation in Minneapolis which coincidentally is on the other side of Lake Harriet from my house. I found a Groupon deal for a float session and thought I would give it a try. A 90 minute float session costs $69 while a 60 minute costs 61.99. After purchasing you can book a time via their online calendar on their website. My go to method of relaxation and meditation is the Sol Tec Lounge in my house which is sort of the opposite of the sensory deprivation method where layered music is played along with vibrations to keep you present and avoid distracting thoughts. What are the benefits of float therapy? Here’s a roundup of some symptoms that float therapy claims to alleviate: Stress relief Muscular pain Rheumatism Chronic pain Fatigue Fertility High blood pressure Migraine headache Jet lag Anxiety Insomnia Back pain Depression Pre-menstrual tension Post-natal depression Float therapy also promotes the following: Problem solving Creativity Increase energy Increased feelings of well being The float tank is sound proof or as sound proof as can be, and the temperature of the water is skin temperature so that you aren’t too hot or too cold. The epsom salt allows you to float effortlessly. If you haven’t floated like this before, it is an experience worth having. Here’s a picture of the float room that I used. Behind me is a private shower as well to use before and after using the float tank. I didn’t feel clausterphobic in the float room because the ceiling was high enough at my head. It slopes lower towards my feet but I didn’t find that to be a problem. I booked an hour and a half float session becuase with meditation it takes a while for me to properly relax and I wanted to make sure that I had adequate time to adjust given the new environment. These rooms have a button where you can have a soft light on or push it again for total darkness. I played around with both but ultimately found the darkness to be preferable and less distracting. This float chamber also has a neck support which you can use to help stabilize your head. I don’t think it’s necessary but I ended up using it for most of my session to fell a little more secure and to ensure water didn’t get in my ears. Inside the chamber there is also a dial which can be used to play quiet, relaxing music. I tried that out for a bit and found it enjoyable since it was so faint it wasn’t really distracting. It took me about 20 minutes to fully relaxing during my session. I think that’s because I was just enjoying the experience of floating and total relaxation. For an hour and a half session, this went faster than I expected. There’s no need to worry about over staying your welcome either. The light outside the chamber will turn on to alert you that your session is over. After your session you can rinse off with a shower with soap and shampoo included: I really enjoyed my float therapy session. Since I did it in early March in Minnesota, it was kind of a hassle to get undressed, shower then get dressed again and go off into the cold. However, the warm float tank really took the chill off and took me away from the winter doldrums. While I found the float therapy session to be relaxing, I didn’t have as productive a meditation session as I normally have in my Sol Tec Lounge. It could be that I am used to my form of meditation over this one. Using the Lounge in my house is much more convenient as well. I highly recommend trying float therapy. I think many people will benefit from just being able to tune out the world and all its distractions for an hour. While I didn’t fall asleep during float therapy, I slept very well the night I did my session.
  5. The Best Sleep Supplements for Getting a Better Night’s Rest When it comes to the topic of natural sleep aids, it gets rather confusing, doesn’t it? What works, and what does not? Are they safe? There are so many questions when you think of natural sleep supplements. Sleep is important as it is when your body repairs and heals itself and rejuvenates. When you do not get enough proper sleep, it affects your health, making you more prone to health issues. This is why you should find a good sleep supplement if you cannot sleep or do not get enough sleep. Luckily, there are quite a few excellent sleep supplements that can help you get the restful sleep you need. Here is a look at some of the best sleep supplements that you can use to get better sleep and wake up every morning feeling refreshed and rejuvenated, ready to take on the world: Multivitamin: Do you know that nutrition plays a vital role in fighting insomnia and other sleep problems? Most people do not eat the right amounts of fruits and vegetables every day to give their body the nutrients it needs. Fact: shortage in nutrition can affect sleep and leave you feeling fatigued. You should take a good multivitamin daily to improve your ability to sleep and get the night’s rest your body needs. Calcium and Magnesium: Your daily diet should have adequate amounts of calcium and magnesium as they are important nutrients that help you relax and ensure that you get a good night’s sleep. Magnesium may be particularly helpful in stress and fatigue reduction. Multivitamins do not contain much of these two nutrients so you may need to take a supplement if you lack these two essential nutrients in your diet. You should also make sure that you get a minimum of 400 IU of Vitamin D3 daily. This vitamin plays a critical role in the absorption of calcium in your body. Melatonin: This is a natural hormone that helps in regulating your sleep-wake cycle, also known as circadian cycles. According to studies, melatonin does not only help some people fall asleep, but it also enhances sleep quality. Experts say that it comes in two forms – immediate release and extended release. If you have difficulty falling asleep, the immediate release may be the better option to take before bedtime. For those who tend to wake up in the middle of the night, extended relief may be better. Melatonin supplements can also be an effective treatment for certain sleep disorders, including jet lag. Kava: A member of the pepper family, the Kava plant has been shown to help in relieving anxiety. A review of six studies showed that patients who took Kava showed reduced anxiety compared with patients who took a placebo. According to another small study, Kava helps in improving sleep in people suffering from stress-related insomnia. However, it is important to consult a doctor before using Kava supplements to find out if it is safe for you as the FDA has issued a warning that there is a link between this supplement and the risk for severe liver damage. Passion Flower: As you may already know, passion flower has a wide range of health benefits, including calming and anti-anxiety effects. Anxiety can have a major effect on sleep as you are unable to turn your brain off, in particular when you are trying to get some rest. Passion flower supplement is great as it can have a calming effect that helps in stopping that vicious cycle of thought. It has been found that passionflower is one of the most effective natural anti-anxiety sleep aids that do not result in lingering fatigue the next day. St. John’s Wort: Do you have trouble sleeping due to depression? St. John’s Wort supplements may be the solution to your problem. According to recent studies, this herb contains chemicals like adhyperforin and hyperforin which act as small messengers in the brain that affect mood and work as effective and powerful antidepressants. If it is your depression that is keeping you from sleeping or getting a full night of restful sleep, it may be worthwhile to try out St. John’s Wort supplements to treat the depression. If it works, you may be able to get the rest and sleep that your body and mind need. While many people use over-the-counter sleep aids to help them with their sleep problems, they do not realize that these OTC products may cause serious side effects in the long run and over time, lose their effectiveness. Natural sleep supplements like the ones mentioned above are safer and better options, plus they work very well in treating various sleep disorders, helping you sleep better and thereby improving your health.
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