Over a third of Americans report not getting enough sleep regularly. Insomnia, the most common sleep disorder among people in the United States, is characterized by a difficulty falling or staying asleep, or consistently waking up earlier than desired.
To combat insomnia, some use prescription or over-the-counter sleeping pills, antidepressants, melatonin, or other methods. Unfortunately, these don’t always work to promote better health.
Cannabidiol (CBD), is a therapeutic compound found in cannabis that does not have intoxicating effects. It’s used for a wide range of conditions, including insomnia. In this article, we will look over the reasons why using CBD oil sleep is a popular choice for people seeking a natural approach to better sleep quality.
What the research says
Poor sleep quality can reduce immune function, making it difficult to fight off illness.
Just one night of poor sleep can increase levels of the stress hormone cortisol the next day. Chronic and acute sleep deprivation both can wreak havoc on cognition, disrupting a person’s ability to focus and impairing memory.
Even worse, studies have shown moderate sleep deprivation can impair cognition and motor skills to a level equivalent to alcohol intoxication.
While human CBD oil and sleep studies are few and far between, due to the classification of CBD as a Schedule 1 controlled substance, we do have numerous promising animal studies and anecdotal evidence where CBD helps sleep in those who struggle with falling or staying asleep.
CBD is biphasic, meaning it can have opposite effects at high and low doses. This is crucial to know when using CBD oil to sleep because it can sometimes have an alerting effect, something users will want to avoid if they’re trying to get better sleep quality.
One study on the effects of CBD and sleep cycles found that CBD may have an influence on the sleep-wake cycles of rats. In the study, rats were given 2.5, 10 and 40mg of CBD. The rats who received the 10 and 40 mg of CBD had an increased total sleep percentage compared to the placebo.
The rats given the 40 mg of CBD also experienced increased sleep latency, which refers to the amount of time it takes to transition from being awake to fully asleep. Those given 10 mg experienced decreased sleep latency.
At the 10-mg mark, REM sleep was decreased. This stage is a lighter sleep stage where dreaming occurs, and the more time spent here, the less restorative the sleep is. Users who spend less time in REM sleep may experience longer periods in a deep sleep, which contributes to feeling well-rested.
In a small, double-blind and placebo-controlled study with four females and four males between the ages of 21 and 34, the effects of CBD and THC on sleep, morning performance, memory, and tiredness were measured.
The study found that 15 mg of THC worked like a sedative, helping participants feel tired quicker.
The 15 mg of CBD, however, promoted wakefulness. They found that 15 mg of CBD “increased awake activity during sleep and counteracted the residual sedative activity of 15 mg THC.”
How CBD affects sleep
There are many ways CBD affects sleep, and most are dependent on the user. Cannabidiol does not work in the same way that other sleep medications work, which causes many to beg the question: “Does CBD oil help you sleep?”, only to be met with conflicting answers.
We know that CBD has a powerful effect on the endocannabinoid system (ECS.) The ECS is responsible for regulating the majority of our rhythmic processes, including sleep. It is composed of receptors and agonists that work with one another to keep our bodies in balance.
The body produces its own cannabinoids, called endocannabinoids, but the endocannabinoid system can also be acted upon by external cannabinoids from the cannabis plant. These external cannabinoids are called phytocannabinoids.
One well-known endocannabinoid is called anandamide. This compound was named after the Sanskrit word for “bliss”. Anandamide is known as the “bliss molecule”, and can have profound effects on mood and other parts of the body.
Anandamide is suggested to assist in sleep quality as well. In one study, rats were injected with anandamide and then researchers monitored their sleep. The rats experienced an increase in slow-wave sleep (deep sleep) when given anandamide.
The “findings identify a potential therapeutic use of endocannabinoids to induce sleep in conditions where sleep may be severely attenuated.”
CBD, a phytocannabinoid, acts on anandamide by acting on the cannabinoid receptor called CB1. Despite being crucial for the regulation of many bodily processes, anandamide breaks down relatively quickly in the body.
When CBD acts on the CB1 receptor, it slows down the breakdown of anandamide, allowing it to stay in the body and provide positive effects for longer.
CBD oil sleep works in a couple of ways. It can increase the time spent in a deep sleep while decreasing the time spent in REM sleep, a mode where less restful sleep occurs.
CBD may calm you to sleep
Using CBD oil insomnia can be effective because it helps relax users, sometimes lulling them into a calm state which is beneficial for sleep. Anxiety disorders are suggested to be the root of many sleep disorders and abnormalities, according to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA.)
Using CBD to sleep may be as simple as reducing anxiety in some users.
According to a 2019 case series, cannabidiol’s anti-anxiety effects may be beneficial to improving sleep. 72 adult patients from a psychiatric clinic were evaluated to examine their sleep and anxiety scores both at baseline and after receiving CBD.
57 of the patients had decreased anxiety scores within the first month of the cannabidiol treatment. Their scores continued to decrease as the study continued. 48 patients experienced improved sleep scores within the first month, but it was noted that their scores continued to fluctuate from there.
The study provided promising evidence that CBD may help alleviate anxiety disorders which may provide relief from sleep disorders.
CBD and melatonin
It has been suggested that using CBD oil to help sleep may work because it helps increase melatonin, a hormone responsible for regulating sleep.
Tryptophan is an amino acid that can convert to serotonin and melatonin. It is hypothesized that CBD increases melatonin production by boosting levels of tryptophan.
Cannabidiol has powerful effects on reducing inflammation, another factor in tryptophan production. When inflammation is reduced, tryptophan becomes more readily available in the bloodstream, making it easier for the body to convert it to melatonin.
Because melatonin helps regulate the sleep-wake cycles in humans, boosting the natural production of it can be beneficial to regulating sleep.
Final thoughts on CBD oil sleep
So, does CBD oil help with insomnia? It helps many people get better sleep so long as they find a good dose that is sedative rather than alerting.
CBD’s effects on the endocannabinoid system may help improve sleep by slowing down the breakdown of the endogenous cannabinoid called anandamide. The longer this “bliss molecule” is in the system, the better balanced our bodies are and this could improve sleep.
Using CBD can lengthen the time people spend in a deep sleep while decreasing time spent in a light sleep. With its effectiveness at lowering anxiety, CBD may also be able to improve sleep by relaxing users, making it easier to fall and stay asleep.
CBD may also boost melatonin production by keeping tryptophan more readily available in the bloodstream. Melatonin, a sleep-regulating hormone, has powerful effects at helping users fall asleep.
Since CBD is biphasic, it appears that higher doses of CBD have a sedative effect, while smaller doses may promote wakefulness. Taking small doses during the day may still help with sleep, as it can combat daytime sleepiness which eventually may reset user sleep cycles.
With so many ways CBD can improve sleep, you’re probably eager to give it a try. After all, the quality of sleep we experience can affect all aspects of our lives.
If you’re ready to try CBD oil sleep, but you don’t know where to get quality cannabidiol, we’ve got you covered.
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