Can alcohol affect our sleep cycles and our abilities to get a good restful sleep? It turns out yes!
Our most basic processes can be found in ancestors all the way back to invertebrates. How did an invertebrate store energy for use? How did an invertebrate store pre-cursors to build chemical mediators? Guess what! They use the same mechanism we still use today. That mechanism is something called a TRIGLYCERIDE. Most of us associate a triglyceride with cholesterol, which is correct, but a triglyceride is really our body’s way to store things for future use. Consider, a triglyceride is a sugar backbone (glycerol) and three fatty acids (saturated fatty acid, mono-unsaturated fatty acid, poly-unsaturated fatty acid). Your body breaks them down through something called the krebs or citric acid cycle.
The fatty acids are used to build endocannabinoid’s and other chemical mediators which run us. For instance anandamide (what THC mimics in our bodies) is broken down from omega 6 fatty acids as is 2-AG. PEA and OEA and broken down from the other fats. Your body then uses the endocannabinoid for regulation and control of almost every higher body process.
So how does sleep work? Certainly the pineal gland is involved. But how do you cycle through rest and awake? That is done through your most basic neurological system called GABA. Your GABA channel uses two chemicals to manipulate you through sleep and wake. These functions are performed through neurological stimulation at GABA-A. So when you are ready to wind down, they way you “feel” that is through interactions with the GABA-A and other neurotransmitters.
Well guess what neuro-transmitter ethanol (alcohol) hits? GABA-A(3). So when you are trying to use your internal chemicals to move your body to a resting state, alcohol competes for this receptor.
If you like your glass of wine or whiskey in the evening, do you have to quit? Perhaps not. Using natural products which affect GABA may help. Using CBD products probably will not help. While CBD products are calming and relaxing, they do not affect the GABA channel directly. Using CBD products which have terpenes like linalool(1) and a-pinene(2). If you are a cannabis person, then look for strains which contain some CBD, lesser amounts of limonene, and higher amounts of pinene and linalool.
Sleep well friends!
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