Many people use cannabis to relax. In some states, cannabis is prescribed to people who suffer from insomnia or other sleep disturbances. However, marijuana is not legal everywhere, and some individuals don’t want to use a psychoactive substance.
As more research is coming out about the potential therapeutic effects of marijuana, scientists are discovering that cannabidiol, one of most active substances in the plant, is responsible for many of the benefits. Cannabidiol, or CBD, acts on the central nervous system, but it doesn’t intoxicate you.
It does exert unique neurological effects. It may protect brain cells against damage, relieve pain, hinder the growth of tumors and relieve anxiety. CBD also promotes sleep in a number of ways.
What Sleep Disorders is CBD Used For?
Insomnia is the general term that most people use to describe their sleep troubles. What exactly is insomnia? The definition of insomnia includes personal dissatisfaction with the amount or quality of sleep. The stress or fatigue that people experience when they don’t get enough rest can affect the way that they function during the day. Approximately 33 percent of people suffer from some level of insomnia.
Sleep disruption often stems from another issue. Physical and psychological ailments can impair restfulness.
CBD can be used for a variety of conditions that can impair your quality of sleep, including:
• Restless leg syndrome
• Muscle of skeletal pain
• REM sleep behavior disorder
CBD is an exogenous cannabinoid. Although it’s not produced naturally in the human body, it interacts with the endocannabinoid system.
If sleep is influenced by the endocannabinoid system, CBD can most certainly help regulate it. That’s what researchers have been finding since the 1970s. Moreover, CBD has been shown to improve symptoms of certain medical conditions that can cause sleep problems.
Physical pain can stop you from getting high-quality sleep. Psychiatric disorders, including anxiety and depression, affect your sleep cycle. The medications that some people take can also interfere with getting decent shut-eye.
Some people don’t have insomnia. They sleep great on most nights but toss and turn when they’re particularly worried or stressed out. CBD can help with these underlying factors that disrupt your sleep. It can even be used to improve daytime fatigue that prevents you from falling asleep at night.
CBD Reduces Pain
CBD has been extensively studied for its ability to relieve chronic pain, which is a problem for millions of people. Only 31 percent of pain sufferers in the U.S. say that they get a great deal of relief from their current remedies, which often include prescription painkillers.
Perhaps because they can’t find an effective solution, approximately 12 million Americans have tried using cannabis to reduce physical discomfort. But pain affects senior citizens more than anyone. This demographic may be less likely to consume mind-altering marijuana, especially if it’s prohibited where they live. CBD is legal in every U.S. state.
There are many mechanisms by which CBD mediates pain. It inhibits the secretion and reuptake of many neurotransmitters that are required for communication within the central nervous system. As that communication slows down, so do some pain signals.
Cannabis has been used for centuries to treat headaches. Current research shows that CBD may be a promising treatment for migraine and cluster headaches. Some specialists theorize that migraine may be caused by an endocannabinoid deficiency. If this is the case, CBD could improve pain in the 38 million people who suffer from this debilitating condition.
If these autoimmune and inflammatory conditions cause pain that prevents people from sleeping, CBD may be able to soothe them into a good night’s sleep. Plus, CBD doesn’t pose the addiction risk that is associated with narcotics.
CBD Relieves Anxiety
Anxiety can prevent you from resting. A restless mind can keep you awake. Over time, the fatigue can make you feel more anxious. Eventually, you’re so worried that you’re not going to be able to sleep that you perpetuate the cycle.
Many studies have demonstrated that CBD has anti-anxiety effects. To further investigate CBD’s benefits, researchers have also looked into using the compound to treat anxiety-induced sleep.
They had rodents repeat a series of tests to generate anxiety. When they weren’t treated with CBD, the REM sleep cycle in the mice was suppressed for about 4 to 10 hours after the tests. Non-REM sleep was also decreased. This is representative of the disturbances that people with anxiety disorders, including PTSD, experience.
After being dosed with CBD, the mice experienced normal REM sleep. Their non-REM sleep was not affected. This demonstrates that CBD may not directly influence sleep. Instead, it might help manage the emotions and mental anguish that can prevent people from fully relaxing.
CBD Can Help You Stop Smoking
If you smoke cigarettes, the nicotine may be keeping you up at night. Nicotine is a stimulant, and using it close to bedtime can make falling asleep difficult. Moreover, cigarette smokers sleep less and take longer to reach deep sleep stages than non-smokers. Vaping CBD oil when you get a cigarette craving can help you stop smoking and improve your sleep at the same time.
What if you smoke marijuana to help you sleep? With regular use, marijuana may produce habituation that makes it harder for individuals to get to sleep without it. When these people try to stop using marijuana, they have trouble sleeping.
CBD may be the ideal substitute. Those who use marijuana to take the edge off or relieve anxiety can continue to get those benefits without the intoxicating high or potential for abuse.
One case study revealed that CBD was extremely useful for helping a patient with bipolar disorder curb a marijuana addiction. The patient started using a dosage of 24 milligrams and gradually reduced it to 18 milligrams. He reported feeling less anxious and establishing a consistent sleeping pattern.
CBD Can Keep You Awake
CBD can keep you awake during the day so that you can get better sleep at night. Low doses of CBD have been associated with increased periods of wakefulness , which could help people who get sleepy when the sun is out.
A long afternoon nap can interrupt your body’s natural cycle. You’ll go to bed later and might not experience deep sleep the next night. In the morning, you feel abnormally tired, and you snooze again after work just to make it through dinner.
If this describes you, you might want to look into using CBD to help you stay alert during the day. We discuss dosage in more detail below, but if you want to use CBD for this purpose, you might consider starting with 5 milligrams at a time.
Indirect CBD Benefits for Sleep
Unlike most sleeping pills, CBD isn’t something that you take and then plan to pass out. It might produce subtle sedation, but it does so by affecting the chemicals deep within your body that regulate your circadian rhythm, emotions and mental state.
It’s also good for your health. It works better than vitamins C and E as an antioxidant. Oxidative stress occurs at the cellular level when oxidation occurs. The free radicals that are emitted as waste products wreak havoc in your body, stealing electrons from other cells and damaging them in the process.
Oxidative stress has been linked to a wide range of health problems, including obesity, inflammation, heart problems, autoimmune disease, diabetes and cancer.
Loss of sleep can also produce inflammation. If you haven’t been getting enough rest, you might already be dealing with chronic inflammation issues. CBD can target both the sleep problems and the inflammation to improve your health from both sides.
Free radicals can lead to neuron damage. CBD has been shown to have neuroprotective effects. Sleep deprivation may exacerbate oxidative stress. Again, CBD serves as a holistic remedy that affects multiple mechanisms of action that allow you to stay healthy and maintain your body’s natural rhythms.
Different Dosages of CBD Affect Sleep In Various Ways
CBD may not always exert sedative effects. Its ability to make you sleepy may depend on the dose that you take and other substances that you consume with it.
In one study, young adults were given varying doses of THC or a combination or THC and CBD before they went to sleep. The product was sprayed into their mouths. Various results were measured, including wakefulness during sleep and the length of time that it took subjects to fall asleep.
Administering 15 milligrams of THC from 9:30 to 10:30 p.m. did not affect sleep overnight. It did help subjects doze off faster and make them feel sleepier in the morning.
When 15 milligrams of CBD was added to the mix, it reduced the likelihood of entering or staying in stage 3 sleep. This is one of the most important sleep stages.
As the brain creates delta waves, you move into deep sleep. Eye movement and muscle activity stop. You won’t wake up easily and you’re less likely to notice external stimuli during this stage. Stage 3 sleep prepares you for the following stage, during which your body does the most replenishing and healing.
Taking 15 milligrams of CBD with THC also led to more wakeful periods throughout the night. This did not happen when participants took 5 milligrams of each compound together.
This implies that CBD might work better for sleep when it’s used on its own. The researchers involved with this study also concluded that CBD might counteract the sleepiness that people might feel the day after they take THC.
Other researchers had different results. They also experimented with different CBD dosages.
In the 1993 study that looked into the way that CBD affected cortisol levels, researchers found that 600 milligrams of CBD produced sedative effects in healthy participants who had at least six hours of sleep. A 1981 clinical trial investigated the way that CBD affected healthy volunteers as well as those with insomnia and epilepsy. The researchers gave the insomniacs dosages of 40, 80 or 160 milligrams of CBD. Each group slept longer than the group that received a placebo.
Although those studies are a few decades old, experts have continued to come to similar conclusions. A 2008 review indicated that it is well known that CBD encourages wakefulness at low doses but sedation when taken in higher quantities.
In 2013, a group of researchers published a study that indicated that prior research had not comprehensively investigated the systematic administration of CBD at various doses. These researchers gave rodents different amounts of CBD via injections.
Those that received 10 or 40 milligrams per kilogram slept longer than those that received a placebo on the day that the CBD was administered. The rodents that were given the higher dose took longer to reach REM sleep. It’s interesting to note that the subjects that were administered the lower dose reached REM faster the day after they were given CBD.
How Much CBD Should You Take for Sleep?
Your dosage depends on your doctor’s recommendations as well as your metabolism, weight, diet and condition. Most experts suggest that you start out with a low dose and increase it as needed. Keep in mind that the research shows that higher doses of CBD tend to induce sleep better than lower ones.
A standard dose for many CBD products is 10 to 20 milligrams. You may consider starting with the suggested serving size. You can adjust it gradually as necessary.
Some other factors to consider when administering CBD are timing and frequency. Vaporizing a CBD isolate produces results much more quickly than eating it. If it’s close to bedtime and you have trouble falling asleep, you might try inhaling CBD. If you don’t have trouble falling asleep but wake up bright-eyed and bushy-tailed around 2 a.m., on the other hand, an edible option may take longer to kick in but produce effects that keep you asleep for longer.
Taking CBD regularly can affect you differently than taking it only when you feel like you really need it. As we discussed earlier, you might fall asleep faster the day after you take CBD than the day that you take it.
Trying different dosages at various times may be the only way to find out what works best for you.
Why Take CBD Instead of Sleeping Pills?
CBD has been found to produce an extremely limited range of side effects. Most people who take it have no side effects. When they do experience negative consequences, they may feel drowsy. That’s ideal if you’re trying to use CBD for sleep.
However, that’s not exactly the way that CBD works. It seems as though CBD is more likely to regulate the levels of chemicals in the body that help promote healthy sleep cycles than make you nod off immediately. It works from the inside out, and you might not notice its effects because they’re subtle. You could just feel like you’re able to sleep normally again.
On the contrary, many sleeping pills make you so drowsy that you’re not supposed to drive an automobile or operate heavy machinery while using them. The effects of some powerful medications can last for hours after you wake up, making you groggy after you use them.
Benzodiazepines are habit-forming. They also cause problems with attention and memory. They’re not recommended for long-term use. If you do use benzodiazepines for a significant length of time, you can put your life in danger when you stop using them.
Withdrawal from regular benzodiazepine use should only be done under the supervision of a health professional. You shouldn’t stop using benzodiazepines cold turkey if you’ve been taking them frequently.
Barbiturates can also be dangerous. It’s not difficult to overdose on this medication. Withdrawal can cause difficulty sleeping.
The fact that many sleeping pills cause dependency is part of the problem. This leads them to mask the issues that contribute to your sleep disruptions. If you want to stop using them, you might have more trouble sleeping than you did before.
Although CBD has only been researched for the past 40 years or so, most experts agree that it’s not addictive, toxic or dangerous. It hasn’t been associated with overdose, and few people who use it have adverse reactions.
If you’ve tried everything else but still have trouble sleeping, you might want to consider using a high-quality CBD oil. Check with your doctor before trying it. CBD can interact with some medications, including certain sedatives. However, its favorable safety profile has been confirmed by numerous studies.