Cannabidiol, also known as CBD, is gaining major popularity all over the country and world. You likely know someone or many people who use CBD somewhat regularly. One common use for this cannabinoid is CBD for insomnia and sleep.
But does CBD really work for sleep? If so, how does it work? Are there any unwanted side effects with CBD use? What does the research say?
If you’re looking for the answers to these questions (and more), then you’ve come to the right place. Before discussing CBD for sleep and insomnia, let’s get a quick overview of just what CBD is.
What are Cannabinoids?
Cannabidiol, or CBD, is one major cannabinoid in cannabis plants. Cannabinoids are simply the chemical compounds found within cannabis plants, sometimes referred to as phytocannabinoids. THC is another cannabinoid that is found in some (not all) cannabis plants.
Both marijuana and hemp are members of the cannabis family. However, there are some major differences between marijuana and the industrialized hemp of today. Marijuana contains significant amounts of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and lower levels of CBD. Industrialized hemp, however, contains high levels of CBD and little to no THC.
In order for hemp to be legally harvested and sold for CBD (and other uses), it must contain less than 0.3% THC. CBD is most often extracted from industrialized hemp, rich in CBD and other beneficial cannabinoids.
If you live somewhere that marijuana is legal (medically or recreationally), check to see if the CBD products you’re shopping for contain THC. Most all of the CBD products for sale online are from industrialized hemp and totally legal for sale and use.
Benefits of CBD
CBD is used for a variety of therapeutic reasons. Some of these include:
- Insomnia and other sleep related issues
- Pain and inflammation
- Depression and anxiety disorders
- Other mood disorders
- General stress
- Appetite issues
- Seizures related to epilepsy
- Cardiovascular health
- Neurological conditions and disorders (including neuropathic pain)
- Relief of side effects from other drugs/medications
Please note that research is ongoing with CBD. Also, it is not regulated by the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA). You should always talk with your doctor if you are interested in any major lifestyle change – like the use of CBD oil (for any reason). Also, you should check for third party lab testing for all CBD products for sale online. Please put your health and safety first.
What the Research Says About CBD and Sleep
There are two factors to consider when looking at CBD for sleep and insomnia. First, one should consider CBD’s direct effects on the body and brain and how it can help with sleep. The next factor to consider is other conditions that are affecting sleep – like pain, for example.
There are two different kinds of insomnia. The first is primary insomnia. This type of insomnia isn’t well understood, but it is a condition all its own. The other kind of insomnia, however, is a little bit more understood by the scientific community.
Secondary insomnia is lack of sleep that is caused by the symptoms and side effects of other problems and/or conditions. If these indirect causes of insomnia are addressed, then sleep can improve greatly.
What are some issues that can interfere with getting a good night’s sleep? Here are just a few:
- Chronic pain and inflammation
- Physical conditions like restless legs syndrome (RLS)
- Medications that can disrupt the sleep-wake cycle
- Mental health disorders like depression, anxiety, PTSD, and others
- Too much caffeine consumption too late in the day
- Other environmental factors like using the wrong kind of pillow or noisy environment with too much light
If you refer to the list above, you can see that people take CBD for several of these issues. Now, let’s review what the scientific community has to say about CBD for insomnia and sleep…
Overall, research done with CBD for sleep and insomnia has yielded positive results. One large case study offered results indicating that CBD for anxiety actually improved the sleep scores of nearly 80% of its participants. This came along with a decrease in anxiety levels. However, the researchers did note that the efficacy of CBD for sleep did fluctuate over time for some of the participants.
The results of many studies suggest that CBD can help to improve sleep quality, decrease sleep disturbances, and also decrease instances of sleep onset latency (inability to fall asleep quickly). However, there hasn’t been a great deal of research into CBD for primary insomnia vs secondary insomnia. Often times, secondary insomnia is the issue.
Research into CBD for pain has also shown positive results with insomnia. Many people suffering with secondary insomnia struggle due to pain conditions like arthritis and other joint issues. Research suggests that CBD can help some people suffering with both pain and lack of sleep from that pain.
How CBD Works to Improve Sleep
As mentioned in the above section, CBD can help to improve sleep for those suffering with primary and secondary insomnia. Let’s examine how CBD works in the human body to address sleep and other issues affecting sleep.
The human body literally has an entire system dedication to interacting with cannabinoids. It utilized these cannabinoids in a variety of ways. This system is known as the endocannabinoid system or the ECS. And, the ECS can interact with cannabinoids that are taken orally, vaped, or even used topically. How can it do this? Scientists know quite a bit about how…
The endocannabinoid system is responsible for quite a few functions in the human body. These include:
- Brain function
- Immune response
The ECS is filled with receptors, as well as enzymes (used to break down exogenous cannabinoids). Two of the main receptors in the human endocannabinoid system are known as CB1 and CB2 receptors. These receptors can be found all over the human body. They both work to interact with cannabinoids like CBD and THC, but they do have some differences. Let’s examine:
- CB1 Receptors: These receptors are found mostly concentrated in the brain and central nervous system (CNS). However, they can also be found in smaller concentrations in the spleen, digestive system, heart, glands around the body, and a few other locations. CB1 receptors are known to play a role in mood, appetite, and motor activity.
- CB2 Receptors: This kind of receptor is found dispersed throughout the entire human body. CB2 receptors are particularly prominent in peripheral immune system cells and tissues.
So, when CBD reacts with CB1 and CB2 receptors, your body pretty much knows what to do with it. And, as mentioned above, CBD can have potential therapeutic benefits, including insomnia and many of the secondary issues that cause insomnia. Knowing a bit more about the ECS, it makes sense.
Both CB1 and CB2 receptors in the endocannabinoid system are the body’s main signaling pathways for:
Forms of CBD
There are a variety of ways you can take CBD. One of the most common ways is oral ingestion of CBD oil for sleep and insomnia. However, there are so many ways you can take CBD orally.
One of the most popular ways to take CBD oil is sublingually. Sublingual simply means taken under the tongue. Take your intended dosage of CBD oil (usually in a glass dropper bottle) and place under your tongue. Hold it there for about 20 to 30 seconds, then swish it around and swallow. Some choose to skip the swishing or may even swallow the oil down with water or another beverage.
Another way to orally ingest CBD is to mix it into food and drink. Putting CBD in food and drinks can be a delicious way to ingest. You can easily put it in shakes, smoothies, coffee, sauces, dressings, desserts, salads, and more. The possibilities are endless with a little culinary creativity.
How to Use CBD for Sleep and Insomnia
If you want to use CBD oil for insomnia and sleep, there are a variety of ways you can do this. As mentioned above, you can take CBD orally in a variety of ways, vape it, or even use it topically for discomfort throughout the body before bed.
However, please remember the most important factor in deciding how to use CBD for insomnia and sleep is consulting with your primary care physician. If you do not have a primary care doctor, then it’s important to get in to see a medical practitioner to address whatever issue it is that you are wanting to address with CBD.
CBD Side Effects and Safety Concerns
While rare and mild, there are a few potential side effects of CBD to look out for. These can include:
- Dry mouth
- Lowered blood pressure leading to dizziness, drowsiness, or light-headedness
- Changes in appetite
If you experience unwanted side effects, then you might be taking too much CBD. You can try decreasing your CBD dosage. Another option is to make sure that you are taking CBD orally on a full stomach, with a meal or snack. This may also help to decrease unwanted side effects. You should, of course, discuss all of this with your primary care physician.
The research suggests that CBD for sleep and insomnia can be very effective for many people. It’s a natural way to address issues within the human body, so many people would like to try it out and see if it will work without the use of harsh medications. Many other people use it to help with the side effects of such medications.
Whatever your purpose for using CBD for insomnia and sleep, make sure you talk with your doctor. Many support the use of natural therapeutics, and they will help to ensure that you are making the healthiest possible choices for yourself. Best of luck with using CBD for sleep and insomnia!