For everyone in need of a good night’s sleep (and that’s everyone!), this week brings good news and bad news. The good news is we now have an extra hour of daylight in the evenings. The bad news is that the practice of losing an hour every spring wreaks havoc. We have a population already suffering from an epidemic of sleep deprivation, according to a study published in the journal Healthcare.
Our annual cycle of “spring forward” in March and “fall back” in October does more than mess up sleep/wake patterns. According to a 2014 study from the University of Michigan, we can expect the rate of heart attacks to rise by 24 percent. Strokes may also increase this week, according to another study. And a 2020 study from the University of Colorado found that fatal car accidents bump up by six percent right after we lose an hour of our time.
Come fall, we get back our lost hour. But the darker evenings that come with it increase the number of people suffering from depression, according to a Danish study.
Many people are lobbying for a change from the federal government. It adopted the clocks changing system in 1918 through the Calder Act, as a way to conserve energy during wartime. But until the passage of the bipartisan Sunshine Protection Act, what can we do besides wake up and smell the coffee?
How Bad is Not Enough Sleep?
More than one-third of American adults, 83 million people, regularly get less sleep than they should (most adults need seven to nine hours per night); 23 percent of working adults suffer from insomnia.
The effects of this sleep deficit are literally killing us. According to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, not getting enough sleep increases the risk of coronary heart disease by 35 percent, diabetes by 25 percent, stroke by 22 percent, and obesity by 21 percent. In fact, sleep deficit is linked to seven of the fifteen leading causes of death in the U.S., including cardiovascular disease, cancer, cerebrovascular disease, accidents, diabetes, septicemia and hypertension.
Fatigue and drowsiness are probable causes in roughly 40 percent of highway accidents. Then there are massive impacts on economic prosperity due to bad sleep—a loss of up to $411 billion every year in the U.S. alone.
Luckily, new reinforcements have arrived in the battle for a better night’s sleep. But before we get to that, let’s take a look at the overall landscape—or dreamscape, if you like—of poor sleep in American society.
The epidemic is driven by many factors. A big one is our modern lifestyle, overstressed and overscheduled. Then there’s the omni-prevalence of screens, smartphones, and electronic devices. The advent of digital technology blurred lines between work and home – even before the onset of pandemic-driven lockdowns – which means more people are working into the night.
What can be done when counting sheep fails?
The obvious steps include:
- Go to bed and wake at regular times
- Exercise regularly
- Get exposure to daylight in the morning and afternoon. Take a walk outside or sit beside a sunny window.
- Stop eating and drinking a few hours before attempting to sleep
- Modulate your caffeine use, especially in the afternoons
- Keep your bedroom cool and dark
- Don’t use technology in the 90 minutes or so leading up to bed time—the blue and green light from these devices can keep you awake.
- Practice meditation to learn to clear your mind.
But as we all know, these things don’t always work, and even when you have the best intentions, life gets in the way. That’s why so many people turn to traditional remedies and supplements. Unfortunately, as with a certain other public health crisis, there’s plenty of misinformation out there. Let’s take a look at some of the natural options: melatonin, cannabinol (CBN), and cannabis. Spoiler alert: that’s our favorite!
Melatonin is perhaps the most common supplement people take to address sleep issues – even though almost no one understands how it works.
Your body produces melatonin naturally, and your level should rise about two hours before bedtime to put your body into a state of quiet wakefulness that helps promote sleep. Ideally, people produce enough melatonin for sleep on their own.
Supplements can work to augment your own natural melatonin on a short-term basis if you’re experiencing insomnia, want to overcome jet lag, or are a night owl who needs to get to bed earlier and wake up earlier.
But melatonin is not a panacea. People suffering from depression are not advised to take it — and not getting enough sleep can certainly lead to depression. According to the Mayo Clinic, melatonin’s side effects include:
Less common but still-prevalent melatonin side effects can include temporary feelings of depression, mild tremor, mild anxiety, abdominal cramps, irritability, reduced alertness, confusion or disorientation, and abnormally low blood pressure.
A recent story in the New York Times, “Melatonin Isn’t a Sleeping Pill. Here’s How to Use It,” highlighted widespread misconceptions about the hormone. “Experts strongly urge people to consult their doctor or a sleep specialist before taking melatonin, in part because the supplement does not address many underlying health problems that may be disrupting sleep. Anxiety can cause insomnia, as can a host of other potentially serious ailments, such as sleep apnea, restless legs syndrome or mood disorders like depression, that may require medical treatment.”
In general, though, because melatonin is easily available and relatively inexpensive, most users simply buy it and try it on their own, without medical advice. This can lead to problems.
“There are some clinical uses for it, but not the way that it’s marketed and used by the vast majority of the general public,” Jennifer Martin, a psychologist and professor of medicine at the University of California, Los Angeles, told the Times.
Melatonin supplements can interact with a wide variety of common medications, including anti-coagulants, anti-platelet drugs, blood pressure drugs, diabetes medications, contraceptives, immunosuppressants, and more.
Moreover, melatonin can inhibit the effects of anticonvulsants and increase the frequency of seizures. The American Academy of Sleep Medicine and the American College of Physicians both agree that there’s still not enough evidence on the effectiveness or safety of melatonin.
The latest rage in sleep medicine is cannabinol or CBN. (Not to be confused with cannabidiol or CBD.)
Occurring naturally in cannabis, CBN can be understood as a weaker version of the plant’s primary psychoactive compound, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). In fact, CBN is formed when THC is exposed to sunlight.
CBN in larger doses can produce mild psychoactive reactions. (Unlike CBD, which is entirely non-psychoactive.)
CBN has not been studied or used as widely as CBD or THC, so there’s limited knowledge or research on its uses and benefits. One study from 1975 reported that a combination of CBN and THC produced greater drowsiness than THC alone, but it only employed five subjects.
“Pure CBN is not particularly sedating,” explains leading cannabis researcher and neurologist Dr. Ethan Russo, “But it is typically found in aged cannabis in which the monoterpenoids have evaporated leaving the more sedating oxygenated sesquiterpenoids. This accounts for the discrepancy.”
In other words, the older cannabis that is high in CBN is also high in sedating terpenes (other active chemicals in the plant). These terpenes, rather than the CBN, could account for the sedative effects.
In 2021, Jamie Corroon, the medical director at the Center for Medical Cannabis Education, reviewed more than 30 years of research on CBN and sleep, and found that most of the studies were flawed. “There is insufficient published evidence to support sleep-related claims,” he concluded.
Another drawback of CBN is the lag between dose and the supposed response. Consumers are told to expect to feel the effects between 30 and 180 minutes and to wait until three hours have passed before trying another dose — not very helpful for someone desperate to get to sleep.
Then there’s cannabis, with the active ingredient of THC.
For centuries, people have taken cannabis to help them sleep. Because of the past century of government prohibition on cannabis, researchers haven’t been able to rigorously study optimal dosage, ideal formats of consumption and generally how cannabis aids sleep, but there’s widespread belief among users that cannabis helps.
According to a study in the Journal of Psychoactive Drugs, 74 percent of cannabis users at legal dispensaries reported taking cannabis to help them sleep.
How 1906 Can Help
At 1906, we hear incredible stories from our customers who call our sleep-enhancing Midnight tablets life-changing. Midnight is 1906’s best-selling product, and it has become a beloved and reliable sleep aid. 1906 Midnight products kick in within 20 minutes so you can say goodbye to the tossing and turning and anxiety that comes with waiting for sleep. In fact, we advise Midnight users to be fully ready to sleep before taking it.
Like all 1906 experiences, Midnight offers an enhancement to boost wellness. We know that your best life is achieved through a variety of measures working together.
1906 Midnight is a highly targeted blend of sleep-inducing plant medicine and relaxing cannabis. Midnight’s key ingredient, Corydalis, has been used for millennia and works in several ways. It helps you fall asleep because of its sedative properties, and it helps you stay asleep because it targets body pain and tension, including acute, inflammatory, and neuropathic pain. Both 1906 Midnight chocolate gems and 1906 Drops contain equal, 5MG doses of THC and CBD, which come together to help you hit the sweet spot of a restful and restorative night’s rest. Because getting a fabulous night’s sleep is good for you and your country.