There's only so much we can control in our lives. We can prevent every stressful event, but we can find healthy ways to cope with stress. Dr. Mike Hart, a Canadian physician and co-author of the forthcoming book, "Friendly Fire: Why Vets Are Ditching Pills And Lighting Up to Treat PTSD" works with many patients who experience sleep issues. Hart advises patients to make lifestyle adjustments that include increasing physical activity (exercise); eating a healthy, balanced diet; and, practicing meditation and relaxation exercises."
"After adopting lifestyle patients, many of my patients still need cannabis to help them sleep, but what I've found is that when they implement my recommendations, they don't need to rely on cannabis as a crutch every night," reports Dr. Hart. "Often, by making lifestyle changes, they need to use cannabis as sleep aid periodically, but not daily."
Hart continues, "Some people dread the thought of going to the gym to exercise, so find something you enjoy that also provides cardiovascular benefits. You can go for a walk around the lake. Play tennis. Swim. Anything to get your heart going."
An added benefit of exercise, notes Hart, is that exercise helps stimulate the production of anandamide, the body's natural cannabinoid that mimics THC. "You've heard of the 'runner's high?' That's anandamide at work!"
Hart provides other tips: "Don't bring media to bed (including your phone, tablet, or television, which overstimulate the brain and make falling asleep difficult. Also, try to create a sleep routine and go to bed at the same time every day."
Hart adds, "Seemingly simple changes can have a profound impact on your sleep and help you feel better rested throughout the day."
Hart acknowledges that even after making lifestyle changes, “many people still need a little extra help from a sleep aid like cannabis.” Which Hart believes can be a safer alternative to many prescription drugs.