CBD for Sleep – Does It Work?
Sleep deprivation seems to be a common malady shared by people living in highly urbanized settings. Traffic jams or long commutes, pressures at work, and the need to balance family life, personal happiness, and career fulfillment all take their toll on people.
When people are chronically stressed, anxiety and depression creep in, and sleep becomes a problem. In turn, sleeplessness or the lack of quality sleep brings with it a whole host of health problems, including diabetes, obesity, and cardiovascular problems.
Enter cannabidiol, better known as CBD.
As far back as 1500 BCE, the health benefits of cannabis were already well known, although its beneficial effects on sleep were only documented in a Chinese medical text in 1200 AD. Today, with the gradual relaxing of cannabis regulations, there is again renewed interest in CBD’s effect on sleep. Is it, in fact, an effective sleep aid?
Of course, people with sleep problems or insomnia can always turn to over-the-counter and prescription medication. The problem is, though, that these usually contain ingredients that have serious side effects, and many are addictive.
So, can taking CBD really help with sleep problems? Let’s find out.
How Does CBD Interact with the Body?
When CBD enters the bloodstream, it interacts with the body’s endocannabinoid system which primarily functions to maintain homeostasis in the body. This homeostasis refers to how the body maintains biological harmony as a response to external stimuli or changes in the environment. And as the name suggests, the endocannabinoid system comprises endocannabinoids which are natural cannabis-like molecules in the human body.
The endocannabinoid system is involved in several physiological processes, which include mood, pain, memory, appetite, metabolism, stress, immune and reproductive functions, and sleep and wakefulness.
CBD has been widely studied for its proven beneficial effects on specific types of childhood epilepsy, such as Dravet syndrome and Lennox-Gastaut syndrome (LGS). This is why the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved the use of Epidiolex (which is cannabis-derived) for treating these conditions.
CBD is also known for helping with chronic pain management, inflammation, anxiety, depression, and certain skin conditions, such as eczema. But does it help with sleep?
The effect of CBD on people suffering from insomnia or sleep deprivation usually varies, with some requiring higher doses than others. But for those who have tried taking CBD as a sleep aid, it is considered a safe, effective, and non-addicting option to OTC and prescription medication. And while more research is needed to clearly establish the relationship between CBD and sleep, taking it can help with sleep in the following ways.
1. It relaxes the muscles.
A recent study has shown CBD to provide protective benefits for people suffering from movement or motor disorders, such as Huntington’s and Parkinson’s disease. It works by reducing the incidence of muscle tremors which tend to interrupt sleep. Another study on CBD focused on its effects on reducing the incidence of REM sleep behavior disorder (RBD) in patients with Parkinson’s disease. CBD contributed to a significant reduction in patients’ active behavior while in a dream state.
CBD is also a well-known muscle relaxant in the field of chiropractic treatment. It not only works on the central nervous system of the brain to slow down pain transmission, but also boosts the body’s endocannabinoid supply thereby reducing muscle spasms. Similar to the muscle relaxation induced in a massage session, taking CBD can help you relax and induce sleep.
2. It provides pain relief and is anti-inflammatory.
An earlier study
established how CBD can help with chronic or acute pain. CBD is considered a safe alternative to pharmaceutical pain medication that can also be addictive. So, for people whose sleeplessness is pain related, CBD is an excellent natural pain reliever.
Cannabinoids in general have also been studied for their anti-inflammatory effects on autoimmune disorders. These include rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis, colitis, and hepatitis.
3. It reduces anxiety and improves sleep.
A study focused on a “large retrospective case series” in a clinical setting showed that CBD helped reduce anxiety levels in almost 80 percent of the patients within the first month. Moreover, 66.7 percent of the patients experienced improved sleep within the same period.
CBD works to reduce anxiety and stress by helping regulate cortisol, a well-known stress hormone that affects non-REM segments of sleep. By keeping stress under control, patients suffering from anxiety can experience improved sleep.
4. It does not interfere with the normal circadian rhythm.
In general, sleeping pills are known to have common side effects, with some even becoming addictive and ineffective with prolonged use. These side effects include headaches, dizziness, dry mouth, constipation, drowsiness the next day, inability to focus, and rebound insomnia.
CBD, on the other hand, is not only well tolerated by the human body but has also been proven to not affect or interfere with our normal sleep and wake cycle, which is part of our circadian rhythm. This means that it is not only safe to take as a sleep aid, but also doesn’t pose any of the unpleasant side effects associated with both OTC and prescription medication.
Should You Try CBD for Sleep?
If you want to try taking CBD as a sleep aid, why not? The World Health Organization in their critial report deemd CBD safe and well-tolerated, and just might be natural sleep aid you need.
When taking CBD, you need to take into account your weight and the time of day when you’ll be taking CBD. Everyone is different, and in order to find out what works for you, it’s best to start with lower doses of CBD until you find your CBD sweet spot. You also need to ensure that you are getting your CBD products from a reputable source, as the market is saturated with substandard quality and adulterated CBD products.
You can choose from several types of CBD products out on the market. These come in the form of oils, tinctures, cbd flower, sublingual sprays, pills, capsules, and edibles. However, in taking CBD for sleep, you need to be patient, as it may take a month or so for you to experience the benefits it offers.
If you are taking medication, it’s always best to discuss your plan to take CBD to improve sleep with your doctor or healthcare provider as medication effects can be dulled by CBD. And even if CBD works for you, the best way to resolve your sleep issues is by getting to the root of the problem and finding a permanent solution.