Lack of sleep and stress can significantly affect how we operate throughout the day. As a student, I have experienced first-hand how stressful it can be, especially when exams are looming.
80% of university students in the UK experience signs of stress and anxiety. Stretching, yoga and meditation are several inexpensive, simple ways I relax my body and mind. I also started using Cannabidiol, otherwise known as CBD, which has significantly increased my ability to focus and improve my sleep hygiene.
CBD for concentration
Whenever I struggled to concentrate in the past, I'd turn to energy drinks (which are detrimental for your health) for a mid-day boost. While they'd energise me for a little while, they wouldn't help me focus long-term. In fact, drinking them increased my stress and anxiety, the opposite of what I was trying to achieve.
When your body is under duress, be it mental or physical, it produces extra cortisol - a hormone to help the body regulate itself. High amounts of cortisol mean your system resorts to fight-or-flight mode, which can make it difficult to concentrate, especially during exam times.
The first time took CBD before a study session, I found myself being able to focus for longer and think more clearly - I didn't feel drained like I would after downing a can of energy drink. Contrary to artificial substances found in many energy drinks, CBD is a natural supplement which acts in tandem with the body's endocannabinoid system. Our bodies' tissues are full of cannabinoid receptors which interact with this system. When you're feeling off balance due to stress and anxiety, the cannabinoid receptors in your nervous system aren’t as responsive to the signals from the endocannabinoid system as they should be. CBD acts as a bridge between these and can therefore reduce stress levels significantly. CBD alleviated my stress and anxiety, I felt more energised and could keep my focus for longer than I usually would.
CBD as a natural sleep aid
As a full-time student, getting a restful night's sleep is crucial for me to perform well.
I used to suffer from sleeping problems which affected my capacity to remember things and retain information. I'd always try to prioritise rest in the days leading up an exam but as my anxiety and insomnia often went hand-in-hand, I would take them feeling mentally and physically exhausted and subsequently stress about what the outcome might be. My sleeping pattern was so unhealthy, and I felt trapped in a downward spiral. I tried a few over-the-counter sleep remedies that didn't work and I became increasingly more frustrated which fuelled my anxiety further. When a friend recommended CBD, I hadn't encountered before and was admittedly sceptical at first but my sleep hygiene was so off kilter, I figured it couldn't hurt.
Insomnia sufferers tend to have higher cortisol levels in the evening when their bodies are meant to wind down, making it difficult to induce a good night's sleep. CBD helps control these cortisol levels, allowing the body to relax and de-stress whilst helping you sleep faster (CBD oil affects the system after 20-30 minutes of ingesting it). I also incorporated targeted stretches for sleep (Flexology helped me create a 10 min bedtime program), a guided meditation, and no screen time 45 minutes for a solid bedtime routine. I noticed that I fell asleep much faster and slept through the night when taking CBD. Improving my sleep hygiene has helped me feel more rested and energised throughout the day and I've noticed that my performance has improved which has made me feel less stressed when working on projects and sitting exams.