I recently got asked a question about sleep and sleep regulation. How this works under the endocannabinoid system (ECS) is a great example of how your body regulates a major function we all experience and it also presents an opportunity to discuss how medicine and conditions like sleep depravation might be viewed with new eyes. So how is sleep regulated? At a lesser level by something called adenosine. This is actually what caffeine from coffee effects and why it can give us a “pick me up”. At a higher level, you have an endocannabinoid neurotransmitter called oleomide. Oleomide is not talked about nearly as much as its cousins anandamide and 2-AG which are the major ECS neuros.
Oleomide builds in our spinal column the longer we are awake. As oleomide builds it begins to influence other nuero system which causes “sleepiness” and a “downregulation” of our bodies. The GABA neuro-system is effected by oleomide. Oleomide causes a upregulation in our GABA channel which results in a decreased “energy” state. By understand this “point of regulation” we can now influence this process. The cool thing is that, generally, with natural products, you are influencing in the way your body wants to go, and that is a healthier/better/more efficient regulation. We could “improve” this point of regulation by presenting oleomide pre-cursors (effectively increasing the resource your body is trying to work with) or by playing with how quickly your body will dissipate or hydrolyze oleomide (increasing or decreasing concentrations).
Our bodies our wonderful mechanism and really operate pretty simply at the top level. By understanding how our bodies work (endocannabinoid system/hypothalamus/hippocampus) and what resources our bodies use to do this work (many things in nature in our food supply..) we can literally “engineer” very safe effectors that work!