Happy Sunday! I know all of you in the United States are probably celebrating Mother’s Day today and I am as well. Hopefully you had a chance to see my Mother’s Day gift guide, with all the reviews and discounts available for you (or your Mom) on some great products I choose just for all the sleepless mothers out there.
I spent a lot of time reading this week and discovered a few studies I think you may find interesting. I’m covering three different key topics: cannabinoids, alcohol and sleep, and Lyme disease and sleep. Plus, I’ll be telling you about one of my favorite nighttime rituals.
Cannabinoids and Sleep Apnea
As a sleep doctor, I’m rigorous about understanding the influence of all supplements and compounds that may help (or hurt) people’s sleep. Of course, cannabinoids and CBD (CBD is not marijuana, read my article here) are in the news daily now. I wrote a detailed article called Understanding CBD: The calming and sleep promoting benefits of cannabidiol, if you haven’t read it, you owe it to yourself to understand how this can positively impact your sleep.
The first study I read about included new research looking at how Cannabinoids can help with sleep apnea. Yes, I know that sounds strange, but check out the fascinating research.
Scientists at the University of Chicago and Northwestern University looked at 73 people with significant sleep apnea (moderate or severe) and split them into 3 groups: placebo (sugar pill) small dose of Dronabinol (a synthetic cannabinoid already approved by the FDA to help chemotherapy patients cope with appetite loss), or a large dose of Dronabinol. I bet you already guessed it, the Dronabinol helped, significantly.
People who received active medication (groups 2 and 3) experienced much less fatigue, and those with the most severe apnea experienced the greatest relief. This would make sense to me for one big reason, inflammation. We know that patients who have significant sleep apnea also have an elevation in C-Reactive Protein, which is a marker of inflammation. So, if Dronabinol helps reduce inflammation, it will help with the fatigue experienced by apnea sufferers.
Alcohol and Sleep
I’ve also been reading a lot lately about how alcohol effects our sleep as I get that question almost daily. Here’s a quick hint, watch out for those Mimosas on Mother’s Day!
Medical News Today had a great article on the effects of alcohol on a person’s sleep. The new study was conducted by Finish researchers and was recently published in the journal JMIR Mental Health. This was a large population study (over 4ooo men) where their heart rate variability was measured. HRV. HRV measures the variations in time between heartbeats, variations that are regulated by the autonomic nervous system. Thus by measuring HRV researchers can see the quality or “restfulness” of a person’s sleep.
Researchers stated” Even as little as one drink was shown to impair sleep quality. Moderate alcohol consumption lowered restorative sleep quality by 24 percent, and high alcohol intake by as much as 39.2 percent.”
These results were similar for men and women, and alcohol consumption affected sedentary and active people alike. Interestingly, the harmful effects of alcohol were more pronounced among young people compared with seniors.
So once again, we see that there is a really big difference between “going to sleep” and “passing out”. What this study failed to look at was the timing of alcohol before bed. But I still hold true to my recommendations that if you stop drinking 3 hours before bed, it will significantly minimize the effects of alcohol on your sleep.
Lyme Disease and Sleep
Finally, on a more serious note more people are reporting that they are experiencing symptoms from Lyme disease. In fact, there are over 300,000 new cases per year. Many people suffering with Lyme Disease have sleep issues, so I’m looking into all the research to see what can be done to help.
Lyme disease, which is caused by the bite of an infected tick, turns out to be one of the most common diseases in the US with over 300,000 new cases each year. This was the first study I have seen where sleep was reviewed in conjunction with people who were either in early stages of Lyme Disease or post treatment (where many people experience fatigue, pain, etc.).
Looking at the sleep of 122 people with Early Stage Lyme they were followed over a year and then 6 people developed the PTLDS (post treatment Lyme disease syndrome). So what did they discover?
“At the pre-treatment visit, participants with early Lyme disease reported poorer sleep than controls. By six months post-treatment, participant sleep scores as a group returned to control levels. The subset of patients who developed PTLDS reported significantly worse global sleep and sleep disturbance scores and worse fatigue, pain, functional impact, and more cognitive-affective depressive symptoms compared to a control group of poor sleepers.”
More details will be coming from this fascinating study, but it is not a huge surprise to me that a situation where we know that fatigue and pain are involved, we see disturbed sleep.
I’m going to be writing more about sleep rituals soon but know that having sleep rituals allow you to trigger your mind and body to prepare for sleep.
Here is a quick short ritual I practice each night before bed. First, I try and stop using a device at least two hours before bed to give my brain a chance to wind down and get rid of as much blue light as possible. When I can’t, I put on my blue light blocking glasses.
Once I’ve done that, I make myself a nice cup of warm lemon honey water using raw honey. Raw honey helps you sleep (raw is important because it doesn’t have added sugars or high fructose corn syrup). Here’s how I make mine:
1 large cup of hot water
Juice of one medium lemon
1 Large tablespoon of raw honey, this is my favorite.
Simply heat the water to about 180 degrees (or hotter) and pour into your cup, add the juice of the lemon and the honey. Allow the tea to steep for at least one minute, until it is cool enough to drink comfortably.
Once the tea is done, I sit quietly and reflect while I slowly sip my tea over a 10 – 15 minute period. After I’m done, I slip into bed and go to sleep.
I have other longer rituals that include the warm honey lemon water as well but this is my go to because it preps my mind and body for sleep. Give it a try and let me know how it works for you.
That’s it for this week, I hope your coming week is as amazing as you are. Here is my most liked Facebook post this week.
Dr. Michael Breus