Can CBD Help You Get a Better Sleep?
For a lot of people with sleep disorders, finding a natural path to a better sleep is valuable. You could even say it’s life and death.
After all, the side effects of not getting enough deep, quality sleep ranges from irritability and clumsiness to serious health considerations like heart health, strokes, diabetes and more.
The pharmaceutical world has created a variety of prescription and over-the-counter sleep aids, but there are always side effects to long-term use of these.
If you’re one of the 40 million North Americans struggling with a chronic sleep disorder, looking to a more natural solution makes good sense.
The legalization of cannabis (aka: marijuana, weed, pot) in Canada has opened up some opportunities for the chronically sleep deprived and sleep anxious to find a long term solution.
What is CBD?
CBD is the abbreviation for cannabidiol, which is an active ingredient in cannabis. It occurs naturally in cannabis plants.
Unlike the psychoactive component of cannabis that gets you "high"—THC, or Tetrahydrocannabinol—CBD is derived from hemp and won’t give you that feeling of being high.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), there is also little to indicate that CBD has long-term ill effects, such as substance abuse and dependence issues.
Can CBD Really Help You Sleep Better?
While currently being successfully used and further tested as a treatment for epilepsy, there is a growing body of research—albeit largely anecdotal—that shows that CBD is also beneficial for individuals who suffer from anxiety and anxiety-related sleep disorders, like insomnia.
“CBD’s most far-reaching health effect may be its anti-inflammatory properties. And not just in a knee or hip joint, but throughout the body, including the central nervous system and the brain, says Joseph Maroon, M.D., a clinical professor of neurological surgery at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, who has investigated the link.
In a 2018 review, he and colleagues said such effects could possibly reduce anxiety, depression, seizures, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and even benefit people who have had a concussion.” (Source)
In fact, some studies have shown that CBD may help people suffering from insomnia to not only fall asleep but to remain asleep through the night.
In a large uncontrolled study to examine the connection between CBD, anxiety and sleep, a study of 72 individuals showed the following results:
“... presenting with primary concerns of anxiety (n = 47) or poor sleep (n = 25). Anxiety scores decreased within the first month in 57 patients (79.2%) and remained decreased during the study duration.
Sleep scores improved within the first month in 48 patients (66.7%) but fluctuated over time.” (Source)
The positive results of this study makes the case for more controlled clinical studies to be conducted.
But based on anecdotal evidence, it’s clear that CBD may be helpful to those who suffer from anxiety and anxiety-related sleep disorders.
Instead of a sedative effect as occur with prescription remedies or THC, CBD works to lessen anxiety. With less anxiety, individuals are able to get better, more restorative sleep.
How Does CBD Lessen Anxiety & Lead to Better Sleep?
“... cannabis compounds interact with receptors throughout the body—the so-called endocannabinoid system—including in the brain.
At least one of those types of receptors is thought to affect the body’s sleep/wake cycle, offering one explanation for how CBD could affect sleep directly.
And CBD also interacts with another receptor in the brain that researchers have linked to anxiety.” (Source)
What this means is that there are some proven links between the receptors in your brain that are linked to sleep cycles / anxiety and CBD.
Those links are an excellent starting point for researchers to continue to develop their understanding of how CBD affects sleep.
What does seem clear in the research is that there are few side effects, such as dependence, to using CBD so trying it out to see if it will work for your sleep issues is a low-risk endeavour.
What Forms of CBD Are Available?
CBD—not to be confused with hemp oil—is available in an ever growing array of products.
The most common is CBD oil, but CBD is also available to vape, ingest in the form of edibles, like gummy bears or as a pill.
There is even some development in the area of topical usage, in the form of creams where you absorb the CBD transdermally.
Vaping it will get into your bloodstream quickly but for a more sustained, slow release, an oil taken under the tongue will be more effective methods to achieve improvements in your quality of sleep.
Why under the tongue?
Because it will enter your bloodstream directly and be effective in about 15 minutes, versus if you swallow it and it goes through your slower-absorbing digestive tract, delaying the effects of the CBD by 30 minutes or more.
Dosage is also an area that continues to be researched, but as an example, the study involving the 72 individuals had them on a dose of 25 mg.
Less is unlikely to have much effect; higher doses are available—100 mg or more—but they are also much more expensive.
“Mitch Earleywine, Ph.D., a professor of psychology at the University at Albany, State University of New York, and on the advisory board the marijuana advocacy group NORML, suggests starting with a modest dose of 30 mg and slowly working up if that doesn’t work.” (Source)
The use of oils or edibles also makes it easier to gauge how much you are getting in a dose, so you can determine for yourself if it is helping you get a better sleep.
If you mix good sleep hygiene with an excellent mattress and a high-quality CBD, you’re far more likely to get the restorative sleep that you need for a healthy and happy life.