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Why focus on sleeping problems first?

Updated: Apr 27, 2020

Most people don't realize that sleep plays a vital role in the health and well-being of our bodies and our mind. Many important functions happen while we sleep that span learning, memory, attention, decision-making, creativity, and physical health in general. The way you feel when you are awake reflects what happens during your sleep, or the quality of sleep. The normal growth and development of our bodies is affected by the quality of this sleep as well.

Research has shown that sleep deprivation contributes to a wide range of metabolic problems.  In cases of chronic sleep loss, a relationship has been found between insulin levels and duration sleep. As the amount of sleep decreases the blood sugar levels are noted to increase, leading to a higher risk of diabetes in these patients. Increased rates of obesity have also been correlated with this pattern of sleep.

In our cardiovascular system sleep plays an essential role in the repair of heart and blood vessels. Ongoing sleep problems are related to an increased risk of heart disease, kidney disease, high blood pressure, stroke, and other cardiac illnesses.   Researchers have also found irregular heartbeats associated with chronic sleep deprivation.

Other studies also speak of effects on the genes in our chromosomes that are caused by lack of sleep. Our growth and development is guided by sleep, and as we suffer sleep problems our immune system is also compromised. People with sleep deprivation tend to have trouble fighting common infections as a result of this. Problems with mood tend to also be related to a lack of quality sleep.

With respect to our mental functioning, Learning, memory, attention, decision-making, and creativity all suffer from lack of sleep. It has been observed that we to need sleep before learning in order to be prepared to take on the information, like a sponge that is dry and waiting to absorb water. Our attention during a learning episode is also regulated by the quality of our sleep, and our bodies need deep wave and REM sleep in order to record learning into long-term memory storage.

Our ability to make decisions has also been identified as an area affected by sleep loss, and this has led to major changes in the rules for commercial pilots for example.

Sleep is an essential process for the human body. If we deprive ourselves of it, our body will try to regain sleep in order to function. This process is known as microsleep burst. They're incredibly dangerous and cannot be controlled, and most people who suffer from this are not even aware of it. These microsleep episodes can happen while driving, during lectures, Etc. People are unaware of sleep deprivation and they think that they are still able to function well. This is not only harmful to the person but to other people as well when you consider a pilot flying an airplane, or a bus driver, or a train conductor.

In my clinical practice as a psychologist I have frequently consulted with patients who are suffering from anxiety, depression, stress, physical pain, etc, in an effort to help stabilize those conditions using medical cannabis. Over time and many evaluations, I have learned to focus on their quality of sleep and patterns of sleep. I look to uncover bad habits related to sleep, like excess use of caffeine or alcohol, electronics with blue light, or side effects from other medications that a patient may be prescribed by other doctors.

Most of my patients who are dealing with chronic physical and mental health problems have already been treated by medical doctors who have addressed sleeps with pharmacologic medication. In my professional experience and research, sleeping pills offer only short-term benefits to patients who have chronic sleeping problem. The risk of dependence and side effects such as parasomnias, like sleepwalking, come with the use of such medications on a long-term basis. Sleeping pills tend to alter the natural sleep cycle, and thus deprive us of the benefits of deep wave and REM sleep. There is a decrease in the positive brain activities during sleep, which leads to a loss of the restorative functions associated with sleep.

As I have worked with patients having these problems, I have found that CBD and medical cannabis can play an important role in helping people regain their ability to sleep well. The side effect that people complain about from Cannabis in this case tends to be the property that helps most people gain a good night sleep. THC has excellent somnolent effect, and a psycho activity is not an issue when a person uses this at bedtime. In most cases however, I find that patients tend to have restless mind, or that are difficult to slow down or turn off,  tend to respond well to the use of CBD at bedtime. I have found that in general CBD tends to have a stimulating effect, but with these patients it offers a great sedating effect at bedtime by calming the mind. And in more complicated cases we focus on a ratio between CBD and THC to accomplish good results.

To continue reading more by Dr. Lonny Weiss Psy.D. please visit www.drlonnycbd.com!


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