Although sleep is vital for the health, its biological purpose is not fully understood. Oddly, the seemingly inactive state of sleep is truly a dynamic and critical method that allows us to store memories, build immunity, repair tissue, regulate metabolism and blood pressure level, control appetite and blood sugar, and process learning, plus a multitude of other physiological processes – all of which are regulated by the endocannabinoid system (ECS).
In accordance with the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke in the National Institute of Health (NIH), new findings suggest “sleep plays a housekeeping role that removes toxins in your brain that build-up while you are awake.”
Poor sleep is the number one reported medical complaint inside the Unites States as well as a serious public health concern. The normal adult needs between seven and eight hours of sleep per day. Yet, 10-30 million Americans regularly don’t get enough sleep.
Those that have chronic illnesses are in greater risk for insomnia, which exacerbates their discomfort. Comorbid medical disorders – including conditions that cause hypoxemia (abnormally low blood oxygen levels) and dyspnea (difficult or labored breathing), gastroesophageal reflux disease, pain, and neurodegenerative diseases – use a 75-95 percent increased chance of insomnia.
In 2016, in accordance with the industry research firm MarketsandMarkets, Americans spent $3.38 billion on prescription sedatives and hypnotics, over the counter (OTC) sleep drugs, and herbal sleep aids. It’s projected that the marketplace for such products are experiencing regarding a 4.5 percent growth rate between now and 2021.
The pursuit of good night’s sleep could be hazardous to one’s health. Daniel F. Kripke, MD, sleep expert and co-founding father of Research at Scripps Clinic Vitebri Family Sleep Center, discusses the dangers of sleep assists in his paper “Hypnotic drug risks of mortality, infection, depression, and cancer: but lack of benefit.”
Dr. Kripke reviewed 40 studies conducted on prescription sleeping pills, which include hypnotic drugs including zolpidem (Ambien, Edlmar, Intermezzo and Zolpimist), temazepam (Restoril), eszopiclone (Lunesta), zaleplon (Sonata), triazolam (Halcion), flurazepam (Dalmane and Dalmadorm), quazepam, and other barbiturates used for sleep. Of these 40 studies, thirty-nine discovered that intake of hypnotics is “associated with excess mortality” for the tune of the 4.6 times higher risk of death for hypnotic users.
Grim statistics: ten thousand deaths each year are directly due to and attributed to hypnotic drugs, based upon medical examiner data. However, large epidemiological studies suggest the number of fatalities might actually be even closer to 300,000-500,000 annually. The main difference could be related to underreported use of hypnotics during the time of death and the fact that prescription hypnotics are rarely listed as the main cause of death.
Dr. Kripke concludes that even limited use of sleeping pills causes “next day functional impairment,” increases chance of “on-the-road driver-at-fault crashes,” increases falls and accidental injuries especially among seniors, is assigned to “2.1 times” as many new depression incidents when compared with randomized placebo recipients, and increases the chance of suicide. Furthermore, the use of opioids along with hypnotics – two known dose-dependent respiratory suppressants – can be quite dangerous, particularly when mixed with alcohol along with other drugs.1
Given the issues with conventional soporifics, medical scientists have already been exploring alternative methods to boost sleep by targeting the endocannabinoid system (ECS). Because the primary homeostatic regulator of human physiology, the ECS plays a major role inside the sleep-wake cycle as well as other circadian processes.
Italian scientist Vicenzo DiMarzo summarized the broad regulatory purpose of the endocannabinoid system within the phrase “Eat, sleep, relax, protect and forget.”
There are two types of sleep: non-rapid eye movement sleep (NREM), that has three stages, and rapid eye-movement (REM) sleep, which is its very own stage of sleep. An entire sleep cycle occurs 5 to 6 times per night. The very first full cycle of the night is 70-100 minutes with remaining cycles lasting 90-120 minutes each. The stages of sleep based on the National Institute of Neurological Disorders & Stroke are the following:
Stage 1 NREM sleep is definitely the changeover from wakefulness to rest. During this short period (lasting several minutes) of relatively light sleep, your heartbeat, breathing, and eye movements slow, as well as your muscles relax with occasional twitches. Your mind waves start to slow using their daytime wakefulness patterns.
Stage 2 NREM sleep is a period of light sleep prior to deciding to enter deeper sleep. Your heartbeat and breathing slow, and muscles relax further. Your system temperature drops and eye movements stop. Brain wave activity slows but is marked by brief bursts of electrical activity. You may spend even more of your repeated sleep cycles in stage 2 sleep than in other sleep stages.
Stage 3 NREM sleep is definitely the duration of deep sleep (slow-wave sleep) you need to feel refreshed in the morning. It takes place in longer periods throughout the first half of the night. Your heartbeat and breathing slow to their lowest levels while sleeping. The muscles are relaxed, the human brain waves become even slower, it is not easy to waken during this cycle. This is when our bodies is stimulating growth and development, repairing muscle tissues, boosting the defense mechanisms, and building energy for the next day.
Stage 4 REM sleep initially occurs about 90 minutes after falling asleep. The eyes move rapidly back and forth behind closed eyelids. Mixed frequency brain wave activity becomes nearer to that seen in wakefulness. Your breathing becomes faster and irregular, and your heartbeat and blood pressure levels increase to near waking levels. The majority of your dreaming occurs during REM sleep (although dreams can also happen in non-REM sleep). Your arm and leg muscles become temporarily paralyzed, which prevents you against acting your dreams. This stage is when you process everything you have learned the morning before and consolidate memories. When you age, you sleep less of your time in REM sleep.
The way we get to sleep, stay asleep, awaken, and remain awake is a component of an internal biological process regulated by our circadian rhythms and our endocannabinoid system. Circadian rhythms govern a diverse selection of actions in the body, including hormone production, heartrate, metabolism, and when to visit sleep and awaken.
It’s as if we have an internal biochemical timer or clock that keeps track of our need for sleep, guides our bodies to get to sleep and then influences the concentration of sleep. This biological mechanism is impacted by external forces like travel, medication, food, drink, environment, stress and more. Key question: Does the endocannabinoid system regulate our knowledge of circadian rhythms or vice versa?
Proof of a solid relationship in between the two is observed inside the sleep-wake cycle fluctuations of anandamide and two-AG (the brain’s own marijuana-like molecules), together with the metabolic enzymes that produce and break up these endogenous cannabinoid compounds.
Anandamide is present in the brain at higher levels at nighttime and it works together with the endogenous neurotransmitters oleamide and adenosine to create sleep. Conversely, 2AG is higher throughout the day, suggesting that it must be involved with promoting wakefulness.
The highly complex sleep-wake cycle is driven by a number of neurochemicals and molecular pathways.2 Both anandamide and 2AG activate CB1 cannabinoid receptors which can be concentrated inside the central nervous system, including parts of your brain associated with regulating sleep.
CB1 receptors modulate neurotransmitter release in a manner that dials back excessive neuronal activity, thereby reducing anxiety, pain, and inflammation. CB1 receptor expression is thus a key element in modulating sleep homeostasis.
This may not be the situation, however, with regards to the CB2, the cannabinoid receptor located primarily in immune cells, the peripheral neurological system, and metabolic tissue. Whereas CB1 receptor expression reflects cyclical circadian rhythms, no such fluctuations have already been described for the CB2 receptor.
The task of studying and treating sleep disturbances is complicated because sleep disorders are symptomatic of many chronic illnesses. Oftentimes, poor sleep brings about chronic illness, and chronic illness always involves an underlying imbalance or dysregulation of the endocannabinoid system. Although we still have much to learn about the relationship involving the ECS and circadian rhythms, it’s clear that adequate quality sleep is actually a critical part of restoring and looking after one’s health.
Cannabinoids happen to be used for centuries to promote sleepiness and to help individuals stay asleep. Inside the acclaimed medical reference Materia Medica, published within the 18th century, cannabis was listed being a ‘narcotica’ and ‘anodyna’ (pain reliever). Its reintroduction to Western medicine by Sir William B. O’Shaughnessy in 1843 resulted in studies that underscored the remedial properties of “Indian hemp” for sleep disorders.
“Of all anaesthetics ever proposed, Indian hemp will be the one that produced a narcotism most closely resembling natural sleep without causing any extraordinary excitement from the vessels, or any particular suspension of secretions, or without fear of an unsafe reaction, and consecutive paralysis,” German researcher Bernard Fronmueller observed in 1860. Nine years later Fronmueller reported that in 1000 patients with sleep disturbance, Indian hemp produced cures in 53 percent, partial cure in 21.5 percent, and little or no effects in 25.5 percent.
Sleep-related problems carry on and drive a large proportion of men and women to seek relief with cannabis. Poor sleep and insufficient sleep cause physiological changes in the body after just one night, leading to slower reaction times, deceased cognitive performance, less energy, aggravated pain and vtkvnz inflammation, and in many cases overeating or cravings for high-fat, high-carbohydrate “comfort” foods. A 2014 study by Babson et al notes that approximately fifty percent of long term cannabis consumers (over 10 years) report using cannabis as a sleep aid. Among medical marijuana patients, 48 percent report using cannabis to assist with insomnia.