How much sleep do we need?

The topic of sleep and sleep hygiene is all around us, with experts & doctors recognizing that getting enough sleep is critical to our quality if life. 7 – 8 hours per night is typically viewed as the ideal amount for an adult, though in reality many of us find this harder and harder to achieve. As someone whose struggled with insomnia since my teens this is a topic that feels very close to home.

Around 70 million Americans (roughly 20% of the population) are estimated to have sleep disorders, with numbers of around 30% affecting the UK and Europe. Our globalized / 24 hour economy requires people to work at all hours of the day, upsetting their natural sleep patterns.

Why don’t we get enough?

One of the major issues is the ‘have it all  / do it all mentality’. Marketeers and advertisers use increasingly sophisticated neurological understanding to tap into our primal / subconscious need states in order to loosen our purse strings. The primary objective is to make you feel dissatisfied with what you have and how you live, which can lead to anxiety – which may cause sleeplessness. 

Chronic pain is also a problem for millions of people and one of the primary causes of sleep disorders. As research shows, there is a tangible link between pain, anxiety and sleep.

Research suggests (and our own experience tells us), that a lack of sleep can cause everyday issues such as irritability, poor concentration & memory function. However, over a longer period of time issues such as weakened immunity, weight gain, increased blood pressure and lower sex drive can also result.

What are the current solutions?

Consequently there are myriad books, articles and websites focused on how to sleep well or maintain good sleep hygiene. There’s loads of great advice from; keeping your bedroom just for sleep (and maybe sex!), avoiding laptops and especially the blue light from smart phones close to bedtime, taking a warm shower, to meditation (which I personally cannot recommend highly enough).

Despite this the market for sleep medication is massive. From questionable homeopathic / herbal remedies, to strong and often addictive products such as diazepam (valium), opioids &  zolpidem (ambien). While chemical medications can be highly effective, there is a considerable risk of dependency and addiction.

Cannabis has also been widely used by people all over the world to help with relaxation and sleep. However, for many people the ‘high’ that comes from THC as well as legal issues means that this is not a viable option. 

So what about CBD? 

CBD products (cannabidiol) from industrial hemp, typically have less than 0.2% THC (so no high) and are now legal across an ever expanding list of countries including the EU. More quantifiable research is definitely needed, but evidence suggests a connection between CBD and the our sleep cycle, as well as with pain-relief / anti-inflammation and ease from anxiety.

MBC says:

If you’re suffering with sleep related issues, always consult a doctor as a first option – and look at lifestyle solutions such as exercise and smart phone usage before reaching for the medicine cabinet. We will keep you updated as more definitive research around CBD and sleep comes to light.