If you miss sleeping like a baby – sans the crying, bed wetting and screaming – then you’re with us. Getting older and getting a good night’s rest seem to be mutually exclusive. But we know why you’re having issues and believe some simple suggestions and appropriate use of CBD tinctures may help you get back those much-needed zzzzzs. 

Let’s look at why you aren’t sleeping well anymore. One major reason is that your brain is aging. Within your hypothalamus – that little structure deep within your brain that keeps your body in a balanced state – is your suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN)1. Think of it as your master clock that controls your 24-hour cycles which, in turn, influence hunger, hormone release, sleepiness and alertness. As your SCN ages, it becomes less effective. It doesn’t produce melatonin as effectively. As you may be aware, melatonin is normally produced in response to darkness; it helps promote sleep by coordinating circadian rhythms. Get out into the sunshine; your SCN will thank you. 

As we age, many of us experience a weird phenomenon called phase shift2; your body’s circadian rhythms shift forward in time. That’s why you get tired earlier in the afternoon and wake up earlier in the morning. Think of it as Daylight Savings Time gone berserk.

The architecture of your sleep also is changing3. Older adults spend more time in the earlier, lighter stages of sleep and less time in the later, deeper stages. These shifts may contribute to waking up more often during the night4 and having more fragmented, less restful sleep.

Then consider that almost 40% of adults over the age of 65 take five or more medications5. Many over the counter and prescription drugs such as antihistamines can contribute to sleep issues by causing daytime drowsiness, while antidepressants and corticosteroids may keep older people awake. 

Then of course there’s anxiety, depression, aches and pains, sleep apnea, restless leg syndrome, having to pee and REM sleep disorder that may keep you up. It’s a wonder we get any sleep at all.

Select cannabis products may help. CBD by itself can produce calm. CBD products that contain small amounts of THC, which address pain, have earned a reputation for delivering good sleep. Many active adults enjoy gummies, however it’s safest to cut a gummy in quarters to gauge the amount that produces the best results for you, since every body reacts differently. And remember that gummies take up to two hours to kick in; do not take more if you don’t feel the effects quickly! Others may enjoy inhaling by taking 1-2 hits from a vape pen. The onset will be quicker, but the effects will wear off faster than edibles. If you do wake up, you may want to simply take one more hit to fall back asleep promptly.

Please use caution when trying cannabis for sleep. The body can build up a tolerance, causing you to need more to enjoy the same results. Doctors with whom we have spoken recommend taking cannabis only occasionally for sleep, not every night. And again, start off low and slow. Sweet dreams!

Lustman is with Senior-High Education and can be reached at (760) 459.4593 or visit www.Senior-High.com.

References: 1) https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/18032104; 2) https://www.sleepfoundation.org/circadian-rhythm/how-age-affects-your-circadian-rhythm; 3) https://www.sleepfoundation.org/aging-and-sleep; 4) https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28384471; 5) https://www.merckmanuals.com/home/older-people%E2%80%99s-health-issues/aging-and-medications/aging-and-medications

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