Can CBD help with a good nights sleep?

Many Americans struggle with sleep, and in recent years, individuals have started to test cannabidiol (CBD) as an alternative sleep aid. While many people report positive effects on sleep quality from regular CBD use, research on CBD oils and other products is limited. This article explains what we know about how CBD works and how it may help with insomnia and other sleep disorders.

Cannabis and Cannabinoids

The term cannabis references any product from the cannabis sativa plant, which is more commonly known as marijuana. When people use the term marijuana, they’re generally referring to the cannabinoid known as THC or tetrahydrocannabinol, which has psychoactive effects and produces euphoric effects, such as a sensation of being high. Cannabidiol, or CBD, is a nonpsychoactive cannabinoid of the cannabis sativa plant. It’s derived from hemp and has not been shown to carry a risk of dependence or abuse. According to the World Health Organization, there’s no current evidence of any public health problems related to the use of CBD. Although the legality has shifted over recent years, you can access CBD in most parts of the United States, with some restrictions. The FDA has approved one CBD prescription drug product called Epidiolex, which treats seizures associated with certain disorders.

How Does CBD Work?

The endocannabinoid system (ECS) is a system in the human body that regulates a range of functions and processes through cell signaling. It produces endocannabinoids, including anandamide (AEA) and 2-arachidonoylglycerol (2-AG). Endocannabinoids bind to receptors, the main two of which are CB1 in your central nervous system and CB2 receptors in your peripheral nervous system. THC binds with ECS receptors, producing a range of effects related to sensations of being high, including reduced pain, increased appetite and elevated paranoia and anxiety. However, CBD binds with CB1 or CB2 receptors differently or binds to another receptor altogether. This results in the positive effects associated with CBD related to pain, immune function, and sleep and stress, with no known negative side effects.

Can CBD Help With Insomnia and Other Sleep Problems?

The FDA has yet to approve CBD products to help with insomnia and other sleep disorders, and it hasn’t determined the quality of CBD supplements distributed in the United States. Some evidence suggests that current CBD products may promote improved sleep and mental health wellness.

Insomnia

Insomnia is defined as difficulty falling asleep, maintaining sleep and waking up too early. Early research shows that CBD may have therapeutic abilities in treating insomnia. It may help with both sleep-onset and staying asleep. While low-dose CBD has a stimulating effect, high-dose CBD may sedate individuals who have insomnia. In test groups, individuals with insomnia who consumed 160mg of CBD per day experienced increased sleep duration and decreased sleep disruptions.

Excessive Daytime Sleepiness Disorder

Characterized by the instinct to fall asleep during normal waking hours, excessive daytime sleepiness (EDS) is a common condition associated with medications, sleep disorders and other medical conditions. Just as high-dose CBD may promote sleep, low-dose CBD has a stimulating effect and may improve wakefulness in response to excessive daytime sleepiness disorder.

Anxiety and Stress

Evidence strongly supports CBD as a treatment for anxiety-related disorders, such as generalized anxiety, panic, obsessive-compulsive disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder. With minimal sedative effects and health concerns, CBD is shown to have the potential for treating anxiety and stress disorders. Since anxiety disorders are strongly correlated with sleep disorders, it stands to reason that alleviation of anxiety may also improve sleep. 

REM Sleep Behavior Disorder

REM sleep behavior disorder (RBD) occurs when people lose muscle rigidity during REM sleep and nightmares, which can sometimes cause individuals to act out behaviors in their dreams. Although research is limited, it suggests that CBD may repress these behaviors. 

Chronic Pain

Chronic pain has a significant negative effect on sleep quality. Research is mixed on the use of CBD for chronic pain, as some studies demonstrated improved sleep duration and quality, while others found no changes to sleep duration, but they did indicate improvements to sleep quality.

Types of Consumable CBD Products

The FDA currently designates most CBD products as supplements, which means companies can’t make therapeutic or health claims. At present, there are no regulations around the quality of CBD, and there is insufficient guidance on appropriate dosages. CBD oil and products can be consumed in a variety of forms, such as:
  • Oral solutions, such as the FDA-approved Epidiolex
  • Pills and capsules
  • Oils and tinctures
  • Edibles, such as CBD sleep gummies, cookies and beverages
  • Topical solutions, such as lotions and ointments
  • Vape pens
  • Oral CBD sleep sprays
There’s little evidence suggesting major risks to consuming CBD. Individuals may experience gastrointestinal issues from CBD, and CBD may affect liver enzyme function, which can cause blood thinning and increased medicine levels. These liver effects are similar to taking Tylenol or eating grapefruit. Certain medications may also interact with CBD. If you’re concerned about taking CBD for any health-related issue, speak to a medical professional for their opinion.
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