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If you’re not able to get enough sleep at night, it’s likely to affect your energy levels and concentration the following day. Although struggling to sleep on occasion can be frustrating and disruptive, it can be even more difficult to cope with long-term sleep problems.

CBD has emerged as a potential treatment for improving the quality and quantity of sleep, so is it something you should consider to help tackle your lack of shuteye?

What does CBD oil do for sleep?

There is some evidence to suggest that CBD oil may help with sleep. It is now used as a treatment for many different conditions relating to anxiety and depression, aches and pains, energy levels and a variety of skin conditions, and research suggests that it could also improve both the duration and standard of your sleep.

Part of the reason that experts have suggested CBD oil could be used to treat sleep problems is the effect it can have on feelings of anxiety. The results of a test on the effects of CBD on sleep and anxiety were published in the winter 2019 edition of The Permanente Journal. This study concluded that CBD could reduce anxiety, but that more research was needed in the future. However, 66.7 per cent of people involved in the study reported an improvement to their sleeping regime.

A man struggling to stay awake after suffering from sleep problems.

How much restful sleep is normal?

A starting point for determining whether or not you’re suffering from a serious problem with your sleep would be assessing how much sleep you’re getting. While individuals can vary in how much sleep they need to function well, many experts agree on this rule of thumb:

Age – how much sleep you need per day:

1-12 months old: 14-15 hours per day
1-3 years old: 12-14 hours per day
3-6 years old: 10-12 hours per day
7-12 years old: 10-11 hours per day
12-18 years old: 8-9 hours per day
18-65 years old: 7-9 hours per day
65+ years old: 7-8 hours per day

What are the most common causes of sleep problems?

There are a wide variety of reasons you may experience sleep problems. Although trouble sleeping could be a regular issue if you’re susceptible to the specific cause, it’s also true that these causes could have an occasional impact on people who rarely suffer from problems with their sleep.

Common causes of sleep difficulties include:

  • breathing issues such as asthma and nasal allergies
  • mental health issues such as anxiety or depression
  • gastrointestinal issues such as acid reflux
  • physical discomfort from migraines, arthritis, back pain or chronic pain
  • environmental factors such as the lighting, noise or temperature in your bedroom.

In terms of medical conditions, there are several that directly affect sleep. These include sleep apnoea, insomnia, sleep paralysis, narcolepsy, snoring, restless leg syndrome, parasomnias, circadian rhythm sleep disorders and jet lag.

How to improve sleep

If you’re having trouble sleeping, you could take steps to address the problem. These include:

Exercising before sleep –

Whether it’s for improving your mood, staying healthy or preventing serious health conditions, exercising can work as a remedy to many issues. It’s also recognised as helping sleep through speeding up the time it takes you to fall asleep, improving your quality of sleep and extending the time you spend sleeping. The only thing to be wary of is not exercising too close to when you plan on going to sleep, as it may lead to the opposite outcome.

Setting a bedtime –

When you come back from a country in a different timezone, you need to reset your sleeping pattern to get back to normal and beat the symptoms of jet lag. By doing the same with your sleeping problems more generally, you could set a trend for when your body is ready to rest, forcing a more regular sleeping pattern.

To do this, you could calculate how much sleep you personally require, base your bedtime on when you need to get up the following day and ensure that you stick to the same bedtime throughout the week.

Changing your sleeping environment –

If you haven’t been able to target the reason for your problem sleeping, it could be that where you sleep is the problem. To find a solution, assess your sleeping environment, looking at many factors such as whether it’s too hot, too cold, too light, too noisy or if electronic devices are interfering with your sleep.

Simple solutions could be to install blackout blinds or curtains, or attempt to sleep wearing an eye mask and ear plugs. You could even consider changing your pillows, quilt and mattress if you feel like they’re making you uncomfortable, or try sleeping in a different room.

Winding down before sleep –

An inability to relax or rid your mind of the day’s stresses can cause sleeping problems. Although you can’t always ignore things that are on your mind, you could look at winding down before sleep. For example, you could consider having a warm bath, reading a book, meditating, writing a list to clear your mind or practicing yoga.

Change your diet –

What you’re eating and drinking could be making it harder for you to get quality sleep. For instance, caffeine in the form of coffee, tea and even chocolate acts as a stimulant, disrupting your chances of falling asleep. By cutting out or at least cutting down on these products, you could improve your sleeping pattern. Instead, consider drinking warm milk or low caffeine, ginger, chamomile or peppermint tea before bedtime. In terms of foods, fruit, nuts and lean protein products such as cottage cheese are ideal for promoting a healthy night’s sleep.

If you continue to struggle from problems sleeping and suspect that a medical condition may be causing your sleep issue, you should seek professional advice from a medical expert.

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