Sometimes, we wear so many different hats throughout the day that it becomes difficult to unwind, slip on our pyjamas and drift into dreamland. In theory, sleep is a human necessity that we’ve all relied on since we were babies. However, there are times when rest feels more like an extraordinary achievement than a birthright. If we’re struggling with symptoms of insomnia, sleep can even seem like a cruel joke. However, there is still hope. As we’ll explore in this article, a calm and cosy night-time routine with cannabis-derived CBD may potentially be a great way to help you hit the snooze button.
Creatures of Habit
According to the Cambridge Dictionary, the word ‘routine’ can have negative connotations. Sometimes, people associate it with administrative or procedural tasks that are done with reluctance and boredom. Another definition suggests that a routine is a sequence of actions ‘done as part of what usually happens, and not for any special reason’. In other words, the status quo. Sounds rather dull, doesn’t it? You’ll be glad to hear that we have no intentions of promoting any tedious or pointless routines in this article!
As it turns out, personalised routines may be incredibly underrated from a self-care perspective. Experts from the leading mental health platform Very Well Mind suggest that familiar daily structures can contribute to our wellbeing in a powerful way. These observations are increasingly relevant as modern life becomes more unpredictable and demanding. Some of us may even feel more empowered and less vulnerable to feelings of anxiety when we know roughly what to expect from the day ahead. While life is full of surprises, routine activities can help us to feel more ‘grounded’. Before we get into how CBD may be able to help, let’s look at this in more detail.
What Does ‘Grounded’ Mean?
If you practice mindfulness or meditation, you may already be familiar with this concept. Put simply, being grounded is about feeling consciously peaceful, firm, and secure in yourself and your surroundings. It also involves an element of resolve - since there are lots of outside influences that can easily distract us on our quest for inner calm. If you struggle with feelings of worry or stress at the end of the day, you can use some practical grounding techniques to help release unwanted thoughts and refocus your attention. Later on, we’ll explain how some of these simple exercises may fit in nicely with your calming night-time routine.
Are Routines Just For Organised People?
Popular theories such as the Type A/Type B contrast or the Myers-Briggs personality test suggest that some of us may have an inbuilt tendency towards being organised (and ironically more prone to stress). Routines, by nature, require some level of planning and commitment for us to maintain them. Does this mean that patterns are better suited to people who never show up late or always remember their car keys? Let’s not jump to conclusions.
While being disorganised may make it more challenging to establish your routine, sociology researchers suggest that it can take as little as 18 days for a new habit to become an automatic one. After some time and practice, you’ll be able to perform your self-care routine on autopilot - causing it to feel more smooth and less scheduled. Furthermore, achieving your relaxation goals may boost your confidence and enhance your self-directed stress management skills. With that being said, let’s take a brief moment to appreciate the importance of our mental health.
Struggling to Feel Calm
According to the Mental Health Foundation, prioritising your mental health (or ‘wellbeing’) is equally as vital as maintaining a healthy body. In the Summer of 2020, António Guterres, Secretary-General of the United Nations, asserted that ‘mental health is at the core of our humanity.’ As we face different challenges over time, our wellbeing needs are likely to evolve - which means that it is best to remain proactive in addressing them. Stress and anxiety are pervasive challenges that can often prevent us from feeling calm, so we need to acknowledge them here.
Stress vs Anxiety
Let’s start by answering the question: What is stress? Most experts agree that stress is a physiological (automatic) response that people and animals often display in circumstances of pressure and possible danger. Generally, it involves a short-term burst of defensive energy that arises in the heat of the moment and is typically followed by a wave of relief once the problem has been resolved. However, it’s also possible for us to develop chronic stress - feeling irritable, restless, tense, and under emotional strain for prolonged periods.
According to the National Health Service (NHS), common symptoms of stress include:
You might expect a similar answer to the question: What is anxiety? As Dr Dillon Browne helpfully summarises, anxiety is a normal emotion that can potentially manifest into a mood disorder if we’re continually experiencing it at high levels. Both stress and anxiety can display similar symptoms. However, stress often relates to a finite, real-life trigger (such as a work deadline or important meeting), while anxiety can often relate to abstract or perceived problems (such as the dreaded question “do people like me?”)
Current Mental Health Statistics
Surveying the issue globally, the World Health Organisation suggests that upwards of 264 million people currently live with excessive anxiousness. Thus, it is a pervasive challenge that may cause deep unrest and require professional attention to diagnose and manage. Likewise, stress is a widespread problem in today’s world. Government-backed statistics suggest that nearly 75% of people in Britain claim to have recently felt exhausted and debilitated by life’s demands. We also have a similar situation here in Germany, as research indicates that up to 80% of adults describe their lives as stressful.
With this in mind, it’s easy to see why more and more people are gravitating towards pleasurable and straightforward self-care habits to help manage pressure in a balanced way. Since sleep disturbances are a common symptom of stress and anxiety, a night-time routine may be a comforting opportunity to hit two birds with one stone - enjoying the familiarity of a cosy wind-down ritual and paving the way to a better nights’ sleep. Let’s move on to some pillow talk.
How Sleep Works
Did you know that we spend up to one-third of our lifetimes sleeping (or at least attempting to)? Throughout the years, scientists have spent many waking hours trying to understand this phenomenon. Even today, the topic of sleep is still covered with a blanket of mystery and intrigue. When someone yawns at the end of a tiring day, it’s a clear sign that they are ready for bed. However, the complex internal processes that characterise sleep are a bit more challenging to explain. Let’s cover some of the basics of what we know so far:
What Happens When We Sleep?
Most of us start by lying down and making ourselves comfortable, but what happens next? When we finally begin to fall asleep, everything else seems to blur into the background - making it difficult for us to keep track of what’s happening. According to the Sleep Foundation, some critical physiological changes occur in our bodies as we prepare for a good night’s rest. For example, our circulation decreases, we breathe more slowly, and we burn less energy. At this point, our brain activity shifts and our bodies and minds continue to progress through a sequence of sleep cycles.
While the question of how long it takes to fall asleep is entirely subjective, some experts suggest that it should typically take us an average of 10 to 20 minutes.
Research suggests that the five stages of sleep are:
We need to remember that the brief moments we spend preparing for bed - in a state of ‘wakefulness’ - are so instrumental that they are officially recognised as the first sleep stage.
What is Your Body Clock (or Circadian Rhythm)?
We often spend a lot of time glancing at our watches and planning, but it turns out our bodies possess their own intuitive sense of time. The circadian rhythm is nature’s alarm clock. It plays a significant role in establishing our sleep patterns - as our brains interpret information from our surroundings (such as light levels) to create a normal 24-hour flow of waking up and winding down. Our body clock is extremely sensitive and challenging to resist. At a microscopic level, bright light triggers cells to illuminate the parts of the brain associated with alertness, while darkness often has the opposite effect.
Furthermore, hormone levels fluctuate - particularly the production of cortisol (the ‘stress’ hormone) and melatonin (the ‘sleepy’ hormone). Your age, temperature and broader lifestyle patterns will likely contribute to your body clock and the unique rhythm of sleep you experience. It’s quite fascinating, really!
However, it’s critical to keep in mind that your body clock can be interrupted or ‘thrown off’ by:
The Benefits of a Good Nights’ Sleep
Despite popular beliefs, we can’t ‘catch up’ on lost sleep by scheduling an extra nap or going to bed early the next day. Once it’s gone, it’s gone. Our sleep patterns affect almost every regulatory process within our bodies, so we must do everything we can to ensure that we’re constantly and consistently resting enough. According to Harvard Medical School, a good nights’ sleep ideally lasts between 7 and 9 hours.
While it takes a little effort and will-power to change your night-time habits, you may potentially reap some incredible rewards! Why do we sleep? Well, aside from meeting our basic functional needs, current research suggests that the benefits of proper sleeping may include:
As we’ll discover throughout the rest of this article, there are plenty of proactive measures we can take to help us unwind from the day and prepare for some high-quality sleep.
CBD: Is It A Relaxing Sleep Supplement?
So far, we’ve learned how structured daily routines and sleep patterns can contribute to our overall sense of wellbeing, mainly when dealing with stress and anxiety symptoms. Could it be that three short letters are all that stand between you and a refreshing night of rest? According to multiple anecdotes and preliminary studies, CBD is a generally well-tolerated natural substance that might just be the supplement of your dreams.
What is CBD?
CBD (aka ‘cannabidiol’) is a botanical compound that may potentially offer some calming properties and possible wellness benefits. Technically, it is one of over 100 different ‘cannabinoid’ molecules found throughout all species of the cannabis plant family - particularly within leaf, stem, and flower structures. For reasons we will soon mention, manufacturers choose to source CBD from hemp, a unique subspecies of cannabis Sativa.
CBD is an amber-tinted plant extract with an oily texture and complex chemistry. It naturally features a wide variety of potentially helpful substances - including terpenes (fragrant plant molecules), flavonoids (antioxidant agents) and other companion molecules. Here at VAAY, we believe that nature knows best - which is why we opt for organic Full Spectrum CBD rather than more distilled and over-processed extracts.
Is CBD Legal?
Imagine trying to get a good nights’ sleep moments after breaking the law. Or worse, knowing that there is an incriminating substance standing in plain view on your nightstand. It’s not exactly a recipe for relaxation, is it? Thankfully, we’re here to put all your CBD-related worries to rest so that you can make your own informed decisions. While CBD cannot get you “high”, its sister-compound THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) can produce some psychotropic effects when consumed in excess. As a result, the legal categorisation of CBD largely stems from its THC content - or, more appropriately, its lack thereof. Since hemp is naturally high in CBD and low in THC, it’s a perfect starting point.
In the UK, the law deems CBD products as acceptable as long as they:
For your peace of mind, it’s best to look for CBD brands that can offer quality assurance in the form of a COA (Certificate of Analysis). It’s also wise to review the CBD policies in place where you live before making any large purchases.
What is CBD Oil Good For?
CBD oil (a careful blend of CBD extract and carrier oils) is the cornerstone of the cannabis wellness market. It’s available both as a ready-to-use product and a core ingredient that developers use to formulate many other must-haves: CBD capsules, botanical bath bombs, and everything in-between. Over the past year, you may have noticed that public interest in CBD oil has sky-rocketed. Some people even claim that it’s transformed their lives for the better by impacting how they experience stubborn and uncomfortable wellness symptoms! All comments aside, let’s take a look at the objective evidence.
While demand continues to surge, researchers exploring the potential benefits of CBD oil must follow behind at a more methodical pace. At present, there is not enough proof to support claims of CBD being a “cure”, “treatment”, or “miracle oil”. As we wait for more promising and bold research findings to emerge, we can refer to a limited pool of research regarding this much sought-after cannabis compound.
Current studies associate CBD consumption with some exciting potential possibilities, such as:
At this point, you’ll notice a potential cross-over between the proven benefits of sleep and the possible benefits of CBD consumption - especially as they relate to some common symptoms connected with mental health and inflammation. In the rest of this article, we’ll be spotlighting how CBD may potentially help you to prepare for lights-out. We’ll also offer some valuable tips on how you can create a nurturing night-time routine.
Catching ZZZs with CBD
There is so much we can say on this topic, but we’ll focus on the key take-away points for the sake of brevity. If you’re looking for an extensive guide to using CBD for sleep, you’ll love our exclusive VAAY Magazine article: 10 Tips for Better Sleep with CBD.
Calm As You Are
Nowadays, people are craving calm like never before. Many audiences anecdotally refer to CBD as the “calm compound”, but do we have a science-backed explanation for this? On one level, CBD might potentially help to impact a variety of tension-related symptoms - subsequently leading users to comment on how ‘relaxed’ they feel by comparison. However, some researchers suggest that CBD may potentially have a direct influence on our nervous systems.
In a nutshell, you may think of ECS (endocannabinoid system) as an extension of our central nervous system. It has a considerable bearing on our overall wellbeing by regulating an extensive network of essential processes - from breathing to sleeping. Since CBD compounds closely resemble the natural feel-good chemicals that our bodies produce (known as endocannabinoids), they may interact with our endocannabinoid system (ECS) in potentially beneficial ways.
According to research, CBD may possibly impact our ECS and stimulate feelings of calm by:
A Closer Look at the Potential Benefits of CBD For Sleep
While ‘reducing some symptoms of sleep disturbances’ is an attractive potential CBD prospect, it sounds rather vague. Currently, limited research makes it difficult for us to pinpoint the specific therapeutic possibilities of cannabinoids. However, some studies on the theme of sleep have elaborated the potential benefits of CBD in closer detail.
For example, a recent literature review suggests that CBD may possibly impact your REM (dream-inducing) sleep stage and help to modulate your breathing patterns while you sleep. It might also influence some symptoms of daytime drowsiness and perhaps affect your struggles when it comes to falling asleep. Another significant case study suggests that roughly two-thirds of CBD users in a sample group perceived improvements in their sleep within one month. Interestingly, nearly 80% claimed they felt their anxiety symptoms had also been affected.
While there is more scientific data to be desired, the world is quickly waking up to the potential benefits of CBD - and you can too!
How to Create Your Perfect Night-Time Routine
The possibilities are endless when it comes to enhancing your routine with CBD. In line with what we’ve learned so far, we’re choosing to focus on night-time relaxation. However, there are plenty more routines to choose from: including winding down after a workout and kick-starting your morning with CBD oil. Let’s dim the lights and get started.
Set a Target Bedtime
Establishing how to get ready for bed isn’t just important for children - it’s also something we need as adults. Have you ever said you’d spend “five more minutes” on a project and ended up powering through until midnight? While the die-hard, “I’ll sleep when I’m dead” mentality is sometimes esteemed as a sign of dedication and ambition in specific workplaces, it’s really not healthy in the long term. Particularly when we’re working from home, it can become easy for our projects to spill over into our free time - potentially to the detriment of our rest and wellbeing. Experts agree that setting a consistent bedtime (and waking up at the same time every day- yes, even on weekends) can help centre your body clock and condition you to feel ‘ready for bed’.
Similarly, taking a VAAY CBD Night Capsule with your evening meal may potentially be an excellent way to support the production of melatonin (your ‘sleep’ hormone).
Take Control of Your Atmosphere
Privacy is so vital to our wellbeing that the United Nations declares it as a fundamental human right. While there is nothing you can do to eliminate the possibility of being interrupted or disturbed in a sensitive moment, you may feel a sense of calm simply by taking command of your space and setting necessary boundaries. As a result, you may wish to:
Schedule Some Self-Care
As you may already know, self-care can help you learn how to calm down. It’s a journey rather than a destination, making it the perfect addition to a holistic nightly routine. Here at VAAY, we love to give our cosmetics a botanical edge for the ultimate self-care experience: whether it’s relaxing with a CBD bath bomb or lavishing your skin with massage oil. Some other nurturing rituals you may wish to experiment with include:
Unwind Your Mind With Grounding Exercises
Technically, unwinding your mind is an extension of self-care - but it also incorporates elements of mindfulness which can be very refreshing at the end of a long day. If you often find yourself holding on to stress, nightly grounding exercises may help you shift your perspective and release some of your unwanted worries. In practice, this might impact the ease with which you fall asleep and the quality of rest you may experience. Before bed, you may like to try:
Conclusion: Sleep Tight
Throughout this article, we’ve discovered the importance of routines from a mental health perspective and a physiological perspective. While sleep is a mandatory survival process, it’s also influenced by our broader diet and lifestyle patterns - which means that we can potentially invest in our sleep by adopting more favourable habits. As a popular cannabis extract, CBD is widely discussed for its potentially calming effects. Emerging research indicates that steady doses may potentially help to reduce some symptoms of insomnia and impact the overall quality of your rest. Combined with a nurturing night-time routine, CBD may be a welcome and plant-based alternative to counting sheep. If you’re energised to learn more, our #Relax collection is a great place to start.