Why Do We Need Sleep?
One of the most important things you can do for your health and wellness is prioritizing your sleep. And there’s no better time than today for you to learn more about why your body needs it and how to improve the sleep you get each night.
Your Key Questions We’ll Answer Today:
- Why do we need sleep?
- How much sleep do I need? (or, more specifically: How much deep sleep do I need?)
- How does my sleep cycle work?
- How can I tell if my sleep isn’t healthy?
- How can I improve my sleep?
- Can CBD for sleep help me?
What You Need to Know About Your Sleep
To answer the question “why do we need sleep,” we must first understand a few things about sleep, how it works, and the bodily functions that sleep supports. Only then can we know the importance of sleep and why we need to make it a daily priority.
Why Do We Need Sleep?
Sleep helps our body in so many ways that it is considered an essential function. Among other things, here are some of the many ways that sleep allows our bodies to work properly:
- Helps us to stay healthy and fight off disease.
- Helps our brain to function properly.
- Maintains our ability to think clearly and concentrate.
- Allows us to perform cognitive functions and build memories.
- Gives time for our cells to repair themselves.
- Important hormonal activities also occur during sleep.
And those are just some of the main aspects of how sleep helps our bodies to rest, repair, reorganize, and restore energy for our bodies to function the next day. It makes sense; then, if this sleep is either insufficient or shortened, our bodies would not have the time they need to prepare for our waking hours.
Imagine you drove your car nonstop without allowing the engine to cool. Eventually, your vehicle would overheat or run out of fluids, or a part would need replacing. Eventually, your car would quit. So it is without the sleep our bodies require. Prolonged lack of sleep can make you sick or even lead to death in some rare cases.
Lack of sleep can lead to all sorts of problems in your body, such as:
- Impaired cognitive function and decision-making.
- Increased risk of long-term health problems or some diseases.
- Mood changes or irritability.
- Decreased ability to learn, think things through, or even create memories.
- Decreased creativity.
- Altered perception.
- Vision or hearing impairments.
- Decreased coordination and dexterity.
- Muscle tension or tremors.
- Changes in speech.
- Weight gain.
- Problems with sexual function.
- Long periods of no sleep could even lead to delusions, paranoia, or hallucinations.
How Much Sleep Do I Need?
The average adult human needs seven to nine hours of sleep each night. Roughly 13 to 23 percent of your sleep should be a deep sleep. Missing out on some of this sleep creates a sleep deprivation or sleep deficit that can’t easily be rectified.
Consider our car analogy again. Imagine that once your car eventually stops running, you have a mechanic take a look at it. The bill would likely be a hefty one after the mechanic runs down the list of everything that needs to be repaired. Even after the repairs, the engine may not run the same.
Now, missing out on sleep here and there isn’t going to ruin your engine, so to speak, but it can run you down. It takes much more to get back into a healthy sleep routine and begin to feel better than simply one night of long sleep. Your body has to make up for the lost time that it had to do those crucial nighttime activities that keep your body healthy, rested, and alert. In short, it’s much better to maintain a regular, healthy sleep schedule than to try and “catch up on some sleep” after denying your body the sleep it needs.
While most people try to get good sleep, it is estimated that 70 percent of Americans don’t get enough. And 11 percent of those Americans report that they don’t get enough sleep on a regular or even nightly basis. This goes to show that we need to do better at prioritizing sleep.
How Can I Tell if My Body Needs More Sleep?
When you prioritize healthy sleep for your body, it begins with getting the right amount of sleep.
Now that we’ve taken a look at “why do we need sleep,” we need to ask, “How do I know if I am getting the sleep my body needs?”
It’s pretty easy to do the math and see if you are getting seven to nine hours of sleep each night, but did you know that your body may be different? It turns out that not all of us need the same amount of sleep. Each of our bodies functions a little differently, so it takes a bit of self-awareness to determine if you are getting the sleep your body needs.
Each day when you get up, count up how many hours you slept. Make a mental note of how you wake up. Do you feel refreshed? Do you wake up feeling energized for your day? Then, note how you feel throughout your day and into the evening. Do you get tired or sleepy throughout the day? How are you performing cognitively? Clear, sharp, and productive? Or sluggish and distracted? How are your moods? Doing a little self-analysis being while aware of how much you’ve slept will help you get the amount of sleep your body needs.
The recommendation for seven to nine hours of sleep is a guideline based on scientific studies. But you will feel your best when you are getting the right amount of sleep for your body. The only way you can tell what’s best for you is to be aware of how much sleep you are getting, keep it consistent, and listen to your body and mind.
If your body isn’t getting enough sleep, you may feel:
- Sluggish (Feels like you are struggle-bussing your way through the day.)
- Tired during your day (Dozing off, getting sleepy.)
- Like you can’t think clearly or remember things as quickly.
- Irritable or easily distracted.
- You may even think about sleeping or daydream about getting more sleep that night.
Does any of that sound familiar? If so, it might be that sleep needs to be much higher on your priority list.
How Does the Sleep Cycle Really Work?
How sleep works is pretty fascinating. Your body is biologically designed to not only need sleep but to go to sleep regularly. Your body produces hormones that induce sleep and has a sleep cycle to support your bodily functions and keep you in optimum health. Here’s a bit about the circadian rhythm and how your body sleeps each night.
The Circadian Rhythm Explained
Your body has a 24-hour natural biological clock that makes sure you get the sleep you need. This internal timing is influenced by the amount of light processed through our eyes and to the part of the brain that acts as a “master clock,” keeping all of our body’s rhythms in sync. This part of the brain is called the suprachiasmatic nucleus, or SCN, and it is located in the part of the brain called the hypothalamus.
The SCN receives input from your eyes to determine light and darkness. When it gets dark, hormonal changes help prepare your body for sleep – including an increase in the hormone melatonin, which we’ll discuss more later. The circadian rhythm is your body’s biological process to help you sleep when it is dark at night and be alert and awake during the day. This survival instinct is built into our biological makeup as humans, affecting many animals and even some plants and microbes.
But as with all biological processes, some factors can contribute to that process going smoothly, and some may make it less productive. We’ll have more on this later as we discuss tips for getting better-quality sleep.
The Stages of Sleep
You’ve likely had those nights where it seems you close your eyes one minute and the next minute you’re waking up in the morning. Some nights you wake up every other hour and remember these waking moments. Other nights it seems you dream all night long whether you remember your dreams in whole, in part, or not at all.
Needless to say, sleep can be variable for all of us. Part of the reason we go through so many different sleep experiences is the stages of sleep. You may be having trouble with a particular stage of sleep, which would need analysis by a trained sleep professional who would conduct a sleep study for you. But as a general guide, let’s discuss the stages of sleep and how they work.
While you sleep, your body experiences four distinct stages. Here’s a bit about each step:
Stage 1: NREM
The first stage of sleep is a transitional one. This is when your body slips from the wakefulness of your day and into a light sleep. Your muscles, heart rate, and breathing begin to relax and slow down. Your eye movements slow down. Your brain waves are also slowing down. This first stage of sleep generally only lasts a few minutes.
Stage 2: NREM
As your heart rate and breathing further slow, you enter the second sleeping phase known as NREM. All of those same functions are slowing down only a little more than in those first few minutes of sleep. This is typically the longest stage of sleep.
Stage 3: NREM
As your heart rate, breathing, and brain activity reach the lowest levels, you are in the third stage of NREM. This deeper sleep is important to you because it helps you wake up feeling refreshed the next day. Your muscles get the most rest during this phase as well. The first few cycles of your sleep will have a longer stage 3 NREM phase than later in the night.
Stage 4: REM
Many people are most familiar with the term REM sleep and that this phase of sleep is when we do our dreaming. Your eyes flutter back and forth during this stage, giving it the name, which means rapid eye movement.
The first REM stage occurs about an hour and a half after you first fall asleep. Did you know that during REM sleep, while you dream, your arms and legs are paralyzed? This is also a survival mechanism to keep us from acting out our dreams while they occur. The duration of REM stages increases as night goes on, which explains why we do a lot of dreaming in those later hours of the night.
Many studies have suggested that REM sleep accounts for a lot of memory work. Since REM sleep durations decrease with age, this may explain some of the memory issues more common in older people (among other health explanations). It further shows why this most profound sleep state is vital to our overall health and brain function.
How Can I Tell If I Am Getting Enough Quality Sleep?
Similarly important to how much sleep your body needs is the quality of sleep you are getting. If you are sleeping the standard seven to nine hours per night and still not feeling refreshed, it could be that the quality of your sleep isn’t all that good. You may still show some signs of sleep deprivation not because of the time you sleep but because your sleep is poor or intermittent throughout the night. Below, we’ll discuss some tips to help you improve the quality of your sleep so you can start waking refreshed for your day.
Why Do We Need to Sleep Well?
The deeper sleep stages support many of our biological functions, so if you have difficulties reaching or maintaining this deep sleep properly, your body will show it.
Benefits of Deep Sleep
- Glucose metabolism increases.
- Blood supply to muscles goes up.
- Energy levels are restored more efficiently.
- The immune system is stronger.
- Increased repair of cells, tissues, and bone.
Improving Your Sleep: Tips for Higher Quality Sleep
Now that we’ve covered a few important questions:
- Why do we need sleep?
- How does sleep work?
- And what do our bodies do when we sleep?
We need to discuss the valuable part of your life: How can you improve the quality of your sleep? There are some things you can do to help “set the stage” for quality sleep and some things you can take to help promote better sleep.
Setting the Stage for Your Best Sleep
To simplify, here are a few ways to improve your sleep in a few quick lists for your easy reference.
- Set aside adequate time for sleep. Include the hours you need to sleep and any pre-sleep time if it takes you a bit to go under.
- If you have trouble waking up with your alarm in the mornings, then add more sleep in half-hour increments until you find that perfect amount of sleep for you.
- Be consistent!
- Be careful not to nap much during the day or overload on caffeinated products or nicotine in the afternoon and evening – all of which could interrupt your sleep at night.
- Make sure your room is adequately dark. Any light source, even a little light on the TV or a clock, may impede your sleep.
- Make sure the room is slightly cool. Your body warms up while you sleep, and it can help you not get too hot during the night.
- Control noise levels. Some people sleep well with white noise or low-level instrumental sounds while they sleep. There are many apps that offer playlists or sleep sounds. If sound interrupts your sleep altogether, consider earplugs made for sleeping.
- Use a good-quality mattress and bedding so you will sleep comfortably.
- Some people enjoy fragrance diffusers for things like lavender for relaxing into sleep.
- Consider CBD with melatonin. (More on this later.)
- Make sure you have light during the day. Open the shades, blinds, and curtains, or take a little time outside.
- Get some exercise during your day.
- Alcohol may make you feel a little drowsy, but keep it in check. Alcohol actually reduces your quality of sleep.
- Avoid eating late meals – within the last hour or two before bed.
- Decrease caffeine in the hours before bed. For some people, caffeine sensitivity may require cutting out caffeine altogether or limiting it to morning-only.
- Turn off all devices (laptops, phones, TVs, tablets, etc.) an hour before bed. Dim the lights during your wind-down time and allow your body to rest. This will help get your melatonin production going to make you drowsy.
Tip for Further Help: Keeping a sleep journal can help you talk with your doctor about any sleep concerns you have. Discuss your concerns about your sleep quantity, quality, disruptions, etc., with your primary care provider.
Melatonin and CBD for Sleep
A relative newcomer to the world of sleep is now a massive part of the conversation. CBD can be an integral part of your sleep, especially paired with additional melatonin. Boosting your body’s melatonin level right before bed and pairing it with a calming influence such as CBD could very well be the combination that makes all the difference for you. (Of course, discuss it with your doctor, as well.)
This is why we’ve formulated our sleep products with Superior Broad Spectrum CBD, CBG, and CBN, additional terpenes, valerian root, chamomile, hops, and other herbs to aid relaxation and promote overall calm, and yes, melatonin. We feel this combination gives your body a blend of things to help you slip into dreamland.
Here are the options we currently have in sleep formulas.
- CBD Sleep Tinctures: These come in a small dropper bottle. You use the dropper to place a small amount (usually half a dropper) under your tongue. Wait 20-30 seconds, and then swallow. This formula does not have THC, so you will not have the euphoric sensation associated with THC. You may feel a little calmer as the melatonin initiates drowsiness. Take it 30 minutes to an hour before bed and try to rest during this time. There are two strengths of this formula available: 500 mg and 1500 mg. Each comes in two flavors, berry and mint.
- CBD Sleep Softgels: Another option without THC is our soft gels, which are an easy-to-swallow, pre-measured method. These capsules are fortified with vitamin E. There are two strengths of this formula available: 500 mg and 1500 mg per 30-count bottle. You can also get a 60-count version of the lower concentration, which has 1000 mg per bottle.
Caring for Your Body Begins with Sleeping Well
This article has been jam-packed with information about sleep. So let’s do a nutshell round-up:
Why do we need sleep? Because it is an essential function of our body, allowing our bodies to rest, renew, repair, and refresh for our daily activities. There are four stages of sleep, and each is important to our optimum health.
How can we get better sleep? Set the stage for a great night’s sleep, keep the light distractions and common sleep disruptors under control, get comfortable, and take CBD PM formulas when you need some extra help!
For more information on sleep or other wellness topics, follow our blog.