Despite the fact that we spend about a third of our lives sleeping, getting a good night’s rest is often easier said than done and sleep issues plague a significant portion of the population. For example, insomnia alone affects about 1 in 4 people, according to figures reported by the Canadian Sleep Society.
While science is yet to figure out exactly why we’re programmed to sleep so much, we do know that it plays a vital role in our health and wellbeing and is instrumental in reducing the risk of a variety of serious health conditions.
It goes without saying that you’ll feel tired with insufficient sleep, but it’s important to note that consistently getting quality shut-eye can benefit your health in other ways that you may not expect:
1. Reduce the Risk of Obesity
The prevalence of obesity is largely blamed on poor diets and reduced physical activity, but there’s a growing body of research that suggests our sleep patterns might be at least partly responsible too. According to research published in Endocrine Development, the obesity rate has increased in correlation to the steady decline in nightly sleep duration, which has dropped by 1.5-2 hours over the last 50 years. The same study determined that sleeping for less than 6 hours per night is associated with a higher risk of obesity – particularly among children – after controlling for variable factors.
2. Boost Creativity
In addition to affecting your physical wellbeing, sleep also has a big influence on your mental health – including your creativity. In a study published in Nature, test subjects were asked to perform a task that could be completed via gradual learning or by recognizing a hidden rule that would allow them to rapidly solve the problems. Twice as many participants were able to find the hidden rule after sleeping, leading investigators to conclude that sleep “facilitates extraction of explicit knowledge and insightful behavior”, which are critical attributes for unlocking higher levels of creativity.
3. Be More Productive
The modern world is all about efficiency. While it might seem counterproductive to getting things done, research indicates that those who consistently get eight hours of quality sleep are more productive than their sleep-deprived counterparts. According to the U.S. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, sleep deficiency is closely linked to slower reaction times, being more prone to making mistakes and taking more time to complete tasks.
What does this look like in a practical sense? A Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine study found that employees who get insufficient sleep are less productive and score worse on performance and safety outcomes. Productivity loss caused by fatigue costs $1,967 per employee annually.
4. Reduce the Risk of Heart Disease
Second only to cancer, heart disease is one of the most common causes of death in Canada and claims about 48,000 lives per year, according to official government figures. While there are many factors responsible for these statistics, research suggests that sleep deprivation may be a key contributing element. In a review of 15 medical studies covering close to half a million people, an investigation published in European Heart Journal found a positive relationship between short sleep duration and cardiovascular disease. Those who typically got less than six hours of sleep per night had a 48 percent higher chance of developing or dying from coronary heart disease in the follow up period, which ranged from seven to 25 years.
5. Hormonal Balance
Sleep is also critical for the production, release and regulation of your hormones, which have an enormous influence on your health and wellbeing. For instance, a 2004 study found a strong link between reduced leptin and elevated ghrelin, hormones that are known to make you feel full and hungry, respectively. In turn, this may increase the risk of obesity and other health conditions associated with a higher body weight. In addition, the body releases growth hormones during deep sleep phases, which are critical for the development of children and teens, and facilitating muscle growth.
This is far from an exhaustive list; suffice to say, sleep is absolutely vital for your physical and mental health.
Treat Sleep Issues with Cannabis
Canabo Medical Inc. has identified a few strains of cannabis that work well for treating sleep issues. The company has recently launched an online self-referral program for individuals with sleep issues.
Each patient is unique and should be assessed by one of Canabo’s Cannabinoid Specialists to get the correct strains and amount of cannabis.
By: Jareth Trigwell