CBD to regulate circadian rhythms
As we have said before, CBD offers many health benefits. One of the most important is its ability to treat sleep-related problems. In this regard, here we talk about the possibility of using CBD to regulate circadian rhythms.
If you have trouble falling asleep or waking up at a regular time, you may have heard about the circadian rhythm. However, what exactly is a circadian rhythm? What is its impact on your ability to sleep?
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What are circadian rhythms?
The circadian rhythm is your internal body clock, a roughly 24-hour cycle that determines when you feel sleepy and alert. In other words, the circadian rhythm is a cycle of hormones that tells you when to sleep. People who work at night, for example, are more likely to suffer from problems related to circadian rhythms.
Circadian rhythms are controlled by this internal clock in our body, which regulates sleep and wake cycles, eating habits, digestion, as well as body temperature. It is usually programmed to coincide with the day-night cycle.
This biological process aids in the creation of the hormone melatonin at night, which makes you sleepy. This same hormone slows down in the morning when you are exposed to light, allowing you to wake up and be alert.
Characteristics of circadian rhythms
The main characteristics of circadian rhythms are as follows:
- The suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN), found in the brain, produces circadian rhythms and regulates the timing of things like sleeping and eating.
- Circadian rhythms, meaning “approximately one day,” are so named because they occur at least once every 24 hours.
- They are produced by natural components of your body, but are also influenced by environmental cues such as daylight, exercise and temperature.
- When your biological clock is out of sync with the day-night cycle, problems can arise. Obesity, diabetes, depression, and sleep disorders have been linked to problems with the biological clock.
How do circadian rhythms work?
A circadian rhythm is any endogenous biological timing mechanism that operates on a 24-hour cycle. Endogenous means internal and self-sufficient, however, in the case of the human circadian rhythm, external influences such as sunlight, temperature and sleep schedule govern and change it.
The hypothalamus, a part of the brain, controls the circadian rhythm. The hypothalamus is a part of the brain that is responsible for the production of hormones and the maintenance of homeostasis, or the normal state of the body. Temperature, thirst, appetite, mood, sexual desire and sleep are regulated by hypothalamic hormones. The hypothalamus is also responsible for the distribution of hormones to the rest of the body.
One of these hormones regulated by the hypothalamus is the aforementioned melatonin. This hormone is released in response to exposure to light. When it gets dark at night, your eyes send a signal to your hypothalamus, which in turn tells your body to release melatonin. As a result, you begin to feel sleepy.
This occurs in relation to the 24-hour cycle of the circadian rhythm. However, if a person is not exposed to light on a regular basis, the circadian rhythm is not synchronized.
What are circadian rhythm sleep disorders?
Circadian rhythm sleep disorders include inability to fall asleep, waking up during the sleep cycle, or waking up too early and not being able to fall back to sleep.
Bright light therapy, medications, and behavioral therapy are treatment alternatives. However, treatment options are determined by the type of condition and how much it affects your quality of life.
The visual cue of light, especially the brightness or type of light, the amount of time you are exposed to light, and the time you are exposed to light, helps to “set your internal clock” during a 24-hour day.
Light enters your brain through your eyes and travels to a specific “control center”. Melatonin, physical exercise and social behaviors all influence your body’s internal clock. In addition, your sensitivity to the sleep-wake cycle may also be influenced by your age.
If you experience any of these situations, you most likely have a circadian sleep rhythm disorder:
- It’s hard for you to fall asleep.
- You find it very difficult to fall asleep and wake up frequently during the night.
- Often you wake up too early, and you can’t get back to sleep.
Common Circadian Sleep Rhythm Disorders
Circadian sleep rhythm disturbance is defined by sleep patterns that are interrupted on a regular or irregular basis. In other words, they are irregularities in a person’s circadian cycle.
These irregularities can take a variety of forms, but are generally caused by a mismatch between the rhythm’s hormonal cycle and the environmental stimuli that impact it. People who work irregular hours or live in places with light or darkness for long periods of time are the most vulnerable.
The circadian rhythm of sleep is currently being studied, as well as other possible causes and risk factors. Depression, obesity, diabetes, and bipolar disease have all been associated with circadian rhythm problems, according to various research.
Let’s look at some of the most common circadian rhythm sleep disorders:
You’ve probably experienced jet lag or know someone who has, but until now you didn’t realize it was a circadian rhythm problem. Sleep habits may be disrupted due to a mismatch between the body’s inherent rhythm and a new time zone. However, this disorder usually passes in a short time.
Late Phase Sleep Disorder
Adolescents and young adults often experience this disorder. It basically causes people to stay up until 2 a.m. or later, which causes impairment at work or school, as well as tiredness during the day. This, unlike jet lag, is a chronic condition that can last for years.
Shift Work Disorder
People who work night shifts or rotate shifts are affected by this situation. People often ask if CBD can be used to regulate circadian rhythms.
The truth is that constantly forcing the body to stay awake all night can disrupt the synchronization of the biological clock, break sleep patterns, cause insomnia and excessive fatigue.
Narcolepsy is a dangerous condition in which people have excessive daytime sleepiness and uncontrollable episodes of falling asleep during the day despite getting enough sleep at night.
Advanced sleep phase disorder
This condition is more common in older people. Early nighttime bedtimes and early morning awakenings are telltale signs of advanced sleep phase disorder. The disorder can cause people to wake up at 3 a.m. and not be able to go back to sleep. It is also a recurring problem that can last for many years.
What are the symptoms of a circadian rhythm sleep disorder?
The most common symptoms of a circadian rhythm sleep disorder include:
- Difficulty falling asleep, or staying asleep. In other words, insomnia.
- Excessive daytime sleepiness.
- Weight loss.
- Difficulty waking up in the morning.
- Inability to meet your social commitments.
- Depression, as well as relationship stress.
- Poor academic and work performance.
How are these disorders diagnosed?
Circadian rhythm sleep disturbances are difficult to diagnose and often require consultation with a sleep specialist. Your doctor will ask you to keep a sleep diary for a week or two, and will collect information about your sleep history and work schedule.
This is necessary to rule out other sleep and medical conditions, such as narcolepsy, which commonly mimics the symptoms of late sleep phase disorder. Sleep diaries are often used to diagnose disorders of circadian sleep rhythms.
It is also common to use an actigraph, a device similar to a wristwatch that records sleep and waking activities for days or weeks at a time. Sleep studies may be required at night as well as during the day. Individualized sleep studies are designed to address the individual’s sleep pattern.
In the case of a shift worker, a “night” sleep study could be conducted during the day. Other relevant tests include measuring body temperature and melatonin hormone levels.
How is the synchronization of circadian rhythms broken?
An internal malfunction or a mismatch between your biological clock and external circumstances such as the social or work environment, can break the synchronization of the circadian rhythm. For example, if you’ve stayed up late watching a movie, or had to work the night shift.
Other things that can disrupt your circadian rhythm include the following:
- Constantly changing work shifts.
- Not keeping a regular sleep and wake schedule.
- Exposing yourself to too little light during the day, and exposing yourself to too much light at night.
- Having bad sleep habits, such as drinking alcohol or caffeine too close to bedtime. Even not having a bedtime routine.
- Jet lag.
- Some medications can also disrupt your circadian rhythm.
Can CBD be used to regulate circadian rhythms?
We have already talked about what circadian rhythms are and the most common sleep disorders. We have also detailed how circadian rhythms work and their characteristics. However, now that we know that the synchronization of our biological clock can be broken, is it possible to use CBD to regulate circadian rhythms?
As mentioned above, the sleep-wake cycle, the body temperature cycle, and the cycles in which certain hormones are released are examples of circadian rhythms in humans.
The endocannabinoid system and circadian rhythms
We know that CBD has a significant impact on the endocannabinoid system, which is a network of receptors in our brain systems that trigger a variety of neurological effects.
In our brain, CBD helps signal the release of feel-good neurotransmitters like dopamine and serotonin. Several studies have found that CBD can help reduce anxiety while reducing inflammation and chronic pain symptoms.
Because the endocannabinoid system plays an important role in controlling the body’s circadian rhythm, CBD products can help us control our sleep and wake cycles. As a result, CBD cannabidiol can be useful in the treatment of conditions such as insomnia.
CBD, Serotonin and Gamma-Aminobutyric Acid (GABA)
CBD has a remarkable ability to interact with serotonin and gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) receptors in the brain. GABA, the main ‘inhibitory’ neurotransmitter, calms excess activity in our brain and promotes relaxation, while serotonin plays an important role in helping to balance our mood and anxiety levels.
As a result of this interaction, many people who have difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep can benefit from regular use of CBD products. Benzodiazepines, which are commonly recommended to treat people who have difficulty sleeping, usually target GABA receptors.
Because of the role of the endocannabinoid system in maintaining circadian rhythm, as well as CBD’s interaction with serotonin and GABA, it is feasible that CBD could be used to regulate circadian rhythms.
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