Blossoming Health with Nanny Bee

By Linda Pecone
Editor's Note: The Lyons Recorder does not endorse the contents of this article as medical advice, and encourages readers with serious medical conditions to contact a professional health provider.

We have finally gotten to a time and a place where the world is beginning to wake up to (pun intended) the idea that we need to make sleep a top priority. Research continues to find that a lack of sleep can cause weight gain, anxiety, and out-of-whack hormones. Self-help authors have even gone so far as to claim that getting adequate sleep can be a driver of success. The question is just how much sleep do we need. Many hold sacred the idea that we all need at least eight hours nightly.

Once upon a time we admired how the uber-successful types seemed to get by with four to six hours per night and still remain highly productive. These days the great influencers of our time are coming out and saying sleep is their secret weapon and their top priority. Experts say that our poor sleep habits have reached a breaking point. We are, too often, staying up late in the night scrolling our phones or watching television, leaving

us groggy and not at our best the next day.

These habits can have long-term effects upon our bodies and further impact our ability to get the deep restorative sleep our bodies crave. Many are seeking out sleep aides such as meditation, holistic relaxation techniques, and prescription sleeping pills for a little help. One of the most popular sleep aides is cannabis, or CBD.

One of the top reasons people use cannabis is for sleep. Considering the passing of the recreational use of cannabis in several states it is high time (oops, another pun intended) to look at CBD, one of the most active ingredients in medical cannabis. The cannabis plant has been studied for decades for its therapeutic benefits. The plant is filled with hundreds of different compounds. The cannabis compounds that have captured the most scientific interest are known as cannabidiols, or CBDs. These are now used in treatment for a broad range of conditions and symptoms, from sleep and pain, to anxiety and inflammation, to Parkinson’s disease and cancer.

There has been much scientific progress made in the understanding of how CBD produces its calming, sleep inducing effects in the body and there’s still more to learn. We know that CBD interacts with many different receptors, proteins, and other chemicals in the brain. These interactions create changes in the activity of neurotransmitters, hormones, and other cells throughout the brain and body, in turn affecting the sleep-wake cycles.

Interestingly, our bodies actually produce their own cannabinoids, as part of what’s known as the endocannabinoid system. This system helps regulate many physiological processes, including mood, pain perception, appetite, and cognitive functions. When we ingest or smoke a product containing CBD it interacts in part with the body’s own endocannabinoid system and it's receptors.

CBD can be for powerful in reducing anxiety, which can be helpful in reducing sleep difficulties and improving sleep quality. Due to its ability to reduce chronic pain, it has been shown to assist those with insomnia due to pain with sleep. In smaller doses, CBD stimulates alertness and reduces daytime sleepiness which can help with the sleep-wake cycle.

People with Parkinson’s disease can sometimes struggle with REM behavior disorder. When a person is in the REM cycle the body is largely paralyzed. This immobilization keeps sleepers from reacting physically to their dreams. In REM behavior disorder, this paralysis does not occur, leaving people free to move, which can lead to disruptive sleep and to injuring themselves or their sleeping partners. REM behavior disorder can also occur in people with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). CBD can help with this disorder.

There are other herbs, as well as essential oils, which can also help with sleep and sleep disorders. I love lavender for sleep. Lavender has a beautiful smell, which is relaxing to the spirit. It can also be made into a tea.
Lavender oil is a popular aromatherapy choice for sleep and relaxation. Several studies show using lavender oil for aromatherapy can improve sleep quality, including in people with insomnia, depression, and anxiety.

Aromatherapy using lavender oil may also increase time spent in deep slow-wave sleep.

Here’s how you can get more lavender into your life.

  • Diffuse it next to your bed.
  • Spray it on your pillow cases.
  • Dab a drop or two of essential oil on your temples, wrists or neck before bedtime.
  • Take a warm bath with a few drops of lavender oil added.
  • Smooth a lavender-scented body lotion into your skin before you hit the sheets.
  • Place a few drops of oil on the collar of your pajamas .
  • Grow some in your garden, harvest the flowers and put them in a bowl next to your bed.

I love to drink a lavender latte when I am struggling with sleep. To 1/2 cup of coconut milk and 1/2 cup of water add 1 tsp culinary grade lavender buds, 1/2 vanilla bean, and 1 tsp honey. Heat the milk and water,  add the lavender and vanilla and let simmer for 10 minutes. Remove from stove, add the honey and enjoy in your favorite cup.

Always consult your doctor before you begin taking a supplement or make any changes to your existing medication and supplement routine. This is not medical advice, but it is information you can use as a conversation-starter with your physician at your next appointment.

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