Sleep, why and how? - World Sleep Day 2021

Sleep, why and how? - World Sleep Day 2021


9 minute read

World Sleep Day 2021 takes place on Friday 19th March, which is the 14th year of celebrating the annual World Sleep Day.

This annual global awareness event is organised by the World Sleep Day Committee of the World Sleep Society, with the aim of lessening the sleep issues that society suffers from, by educating the public on the prevention and management of sleep disorders.

World Sleep Day is a day for sleep experts and advocates around the globe to share their knowledge on how important sleep is in reaching optimal health. The focus of World Sleep Day 2021 is ‘Regular Sleep, Healthy Future’, which highlights the advantages that regular sleep can give.

It has been revealed that consistent bedtimes and waking times are linked with better sleep quality. People who sleep regularly have better academic achievements, mood, and psychomotor performance.

Why do we sleep?


The human body needs sleep to give the body and mind time to recharge, which allows us to wake up refreshed and alert. Healthy sleep is an essential function that assists our bodies in warding off illness and maintaining health and balance. 

If our bodies do not get enough sleep or only get poor sleep, our brains are not able to function properly, this will affect concentration, the ability to think clearly, and memory. A healthy amount of sleep allows for proper cognitive and behavioural functions, and if we don’t reach this amount there can be serious repercussions such as mood shifts, delayed reactions, attention lapses and reduced cognition.

Each of us has a “body clock” that controls our sleep habits and regulates the sleep-wake cycle; when we feel tired and ready for sleep, or awake and alert. This body clock works on a 24-hour cycle that is referred to as the circadian rhythm. Once we wake in the morning, throughout the day we become more and more tired, and this feeling of tiredness reaches its peak in the evening- the closer it gets to bedtime.

 

How much sleep do I need?


The amount of sleep needed varies for different people, however, the optimal amount of sleep largely depends on age. The recommended amount for most adults is between seven and nine hours of sleep. When it comes to children and teenagers the required amount is a lot more, especially if they are under five years old.

Other factors that affect our sleep and can prevent us from getting enough are our work schedules, medical conditions, day-to-day stressors, or a distracting sleep environment. Positive habits and a healthy diet encourages an adequate amount of nightly sleep- however, if you suffer from chronic sleep issues, this could signal a sleep disorder.

To find out how much sleep you need, one way is to keep a sleep diary to record how you are feeling on how many hours of sleep, and how you feel on nights you may have stayed awake for longer.

 

How to get to sleep?


If you are having trouble reaching the required amount of sleep per night or you just can’t seem to get good sleep, here are some tips that have been found to encourage healthy sleep habits.

      Block out distracting noise and light

Consider a screen ban before bedtime. This means no TV, computers, tablets or phones right before bed, you can even turn your phone on to flight mode.

      Set a consistent bedtime and wake-time

Consider setting alarms, not just for waking up in the morning, but also for your bedtime. By having the same bedtime and wake-time every day, your body will know when it needs rest and will get used to the routine.

      Only use the bed for sleep and sex

You want your body and mind to associate the bedroom with sleep and rest, which means limiting TV-watching as well as working time in the bedroom.

      Don’t over-nap

If you have a habit of napping, ensure that your naps are no longer than 45 minutes long, otherwise, this can affect your night sleep.

      Avoid caffeine, alcohol or large meals before bedtime

You should avoid anything caffeinated 6 hours before bedtime. Avoid alcohol and heavy, sugary or spicy foods at least 4 hours before bedtime- however, a light snack is fine.

      Exercise regularly

By exercising during the day, this activity can help in winding your body and mind down in the evening and prepare you for sleep. However, you shouldn’t exercise right before bedtime.

      Ensure a comfortable sleeping environment

Maintain a comfortable temperature and low light levels, and ensure you have a comfortable mattress, pillows, and sheets.

 

What is the endocrine system and how does it affect sleep?


Needing enough sleep is a physiological need for humans as well as many other animals. The long term effects that can come with sleep deprivation are common knowledge in today’s society. However, although we know that not getting enough sleep is bad for us, the actual effects it has on our body’s endocrine system aren’t as widely known.

As mentioned previously, the circadian rhythm is a 24-hour cycle that involves a variety of different biological processes, even in the absence of light. Although, light does play a central role in the regulation of our hormones.

The endocrine system is a system made up of glands that make and secrete hormones, which the body utilises for different functions. These include functions such as growth, movement, reproduction, respiration, sexual development, movement, metabolism, and sensory perception. These hormones send signals to various tissues in the body to let them know what they need to do.

There are some factors that may affect the endocrine system, such as, ageing, stress, genetics, the environment and certain health diseases and conditions. The endocrine system is a complex system made up of glands and organs, including the hypothalamus, pineal body, pituitary, thyroid and parathyroid, thymus, adrenal gland, pancreas, ovary, and testis.

Your hormone levels vary quite a lot throughout the 24-hour cycle of the circadian rhythm. During sleep, the body secretes certain hormones, for example, when sleeping our growth hormone (GH) levels increase and peak. Another hormone that plays a central role in regulating sleep is melatonin which is at its highest level at night compared to during the day. Some other hormones that play important roles in the circadian rhythm cycle are the thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH), and cortisol.

Clearly, there are many hormones that are a part of the endocrine system and their levels need to be kept at a balance needed for specific stages of sleep. If there are issues with the endocrine system then this can affect your sleep, however, if you have sleep deprivation this can also affect your endocrine system.

Does my endocannabinoid system affect sleep?


The endocannabinoid system (ECS) is a crucial modulatory system when it comes to the function of the brain, endocrine and immune tissues. The ECS plays a critical role in the regulation of the secretion of hormones, especially those connected to responses to stress and reproductive functions. Endogenous cannabinoids have been found to take part in the regulation of food intake and homeostasis of the body, as well as having a major effect on the endocrine system.

These cannabinoids that our bodies naturally produce impact the activity of endocrine organs such as the pituitary gland, thyroid gland, adrenal cortex, and reproductive glands. CB1 and CB2 receptors make up part of the ECS, and it is known that CB1 receptors can be found mostly in the central nervous system, as well as in adipose tissue, and several visceral organs, which include most endocrine organs.

The relationship between the ECS and the activity of the endocrine system is an area that is currently being researched but further and more in-depth research has the potential to reveal ways in which drugs can therapeutically target and treat conditions linked to chronic sleep deprivation or issues, infertility, diabetes, obesity, and much more.

The ECS is now recognised as one of the most important biological systems that are involved in maintaining and balancing human health. Our body’s cells are continuously creating cannabinoids all the time, and these cannabinoids are used to react and respond to injury, illness and stress- assisting in maintaining a healthy equilibrium in our internal environment. When it comes to the ECS we already know that it is able to access the sleep rhythm and therefore can affect and regulate our sleep phases.

Conclusion


It is not uncommon to hear from friends, family or colleagues that they aren’t sleeping very well, that their sleep schedule is irregular or that they have trouble staying asleep, and this is because most people will suffer from sleep disorders at some point throughout their lives.

It is estimated that approximately 100 million people are affected by some sort of sleep disturbance or disorder, including problems with struggling to fall asleep, waking up throughout the night or even sleep apnea. And it is very well known that these kinds of sleep problems can be a result of stress, panic or anxiety.

However, we also know how important sleep is for the body and mind, as it is the resting phase for us to recover. CBD is a phytocannabinoid that interacts with and is able to assist our ECS, which is a biological system that keeps the body in homeostasis. When this system is not balanced it can affect your health in countless ways. Therefore, we need to do what we can to create a healthy sleeping pattern and environment, as well as ensuring the sleep you have is effective and beneficial.

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