Can CBD Help You Sleep Better?
Ever wonder if CBD can help improve our sleep quality? And, if so, how can you use the cannabinoid to better your own sleep cycle? Find out what the research says on the subject.
For many people, a good night’s sleep is considered a luxury. Getting at least six hours of uninterrupted shut-eye is such a struggle that many turn to medication for assistance.
A quick Google search will lead you to a list of drugs that doctors would normally prescribe to end your sleep woes. Melatonin supplements are one good example, which can be purchased over the counter. But if you’re battling certain conditions that hinder you from getting proper sleep, a doctor would likely advise specific medication.
While these drugs and supplements are completely legal, there’s always the downside of taking synthetic substances. So, what’s the more natural recourse? Enter cannabidiol.
Another quick Google search will tell you about the many possible advantages of CBD use. But, for this particular article, we’ll delve into its effects on sleep quality and how it may be able to help in achieving a deep, restful night’s slumber.
Why Is Sleep Important?
Before we can begin to observe the relationship between CBD and sleep, let’s review why sleep is so important in the first place. The general answer to this question is that it helps our bodies recuperate and recover from life’s daily stressors. We’re all familiar with that feeling of tiredness and mental fog after getting just a couple hours of sleep.
However, sleep does a lot more than just provide us with some much-needed energy to go about our day. To start, it helps to boost our immune system, and also keeps those unwanted pounds off our bodies while keeping our mental health  in check. Proper sleeping habits can also help prevent type 2 diabetes  , heart disease, and a lowered sex drive  .
As you can see, grogginess and irritability aren’t the only effects of having poor “sleep hygiene”. But, to have a much deeper understanding, we must learn how our sleep cycle works.
What Is The Sleep Cycle?
Sleep is complicated to begin with. There are five stages of the sleep cycle. Stages 1-4 fall within NREM “non-rapid eye movement”, while stage 5 is the REM sleep “rapid eye movement” phase.
This sleep cycle lasts about 90 minutes. Over the course of the night, the amount of time we spend in NREM and REM stages shifts. Undisturbed sleep is essential. Between 4–6 consecutive cycles is the optimal duration over a 24-hour period.
It’s commonly accepted that the average adult needs 6–8 hours of sleep per night. A small minority of the population, approximately less than 5%, can do with as little as five hours without suffering cognitive and physical side effects.
The consequences of sleep deficiency include multiple adverse outcomes. You can expect deterioration in all aspects of your health and well-being.
Lack of sleep and/or poor-quality sleep will age you prematurely, compromise your decision making, dramatically decrease your athletic performance, and increase the risk of injury. Alcohol or drug-induced sleep is not the healthy, restorative sleep the mind and body need either.
How CBD Affects Sleep
Now, we can enter a conversation on the role CBD could play in the sleep cycle.
CBD exerts a variety of effects on the human body and mind via the endocannabinoid system (ECS), and through other channels. In the ECS, CBD has a weak binding affinity for the two major cannabinoid receptors, CB1 and CB2, and instead promotes the production of endogenous neurotransmitters like anandamide. This, in turn, aids the ECS in promoting homeostasis—which can only be achieved with healthy sleep.
Outside of the ECS, CBD interfaces with serotonin, TRPV, and other receptor types to produce a windfall of other potential effects related to mood, pain perception, and more. Admittedly, CBD’s effects can be hard to pin down given the cannabinoid’s relatively novel status, but that hasn’t stopped people from using CBD to support better sleep.
With that in mind, let’s take a look at how cannabidiol could work to support the mechanisms responsible for healthy sleep.
CBD and Insomnia
What do all insomniacs have in common? Most, if not all of them, are overthinkers. They suffer from such rumination that it keeps them tossing and turning each night.
Others deal with mental health issues like post-traumatic stress disorder and depression that keep them awake. Add sleeplessness to the equation, and you get an exacerbated condition that only makes things worse.
Intriguingly, recent research suggests that CBD could help relieve some of the tension, rumination, and feelings of nervousness that cause and/or contribute to insomnia. Take, for example, the following 2019 study  on 72 participants. After taking 25mg of CBD capsules each night, 79.2% of participants experienced a drop in anxiety levels after the first month. Meanwhile, 66.7% of them noted an improvement in their sleeping habits.
Moreover, a 2014 study  conducted on both animals and humans revealed that CBD could promote wakefulness throughout the day. It also helped to reduce grogginess and daytime sleepiness, which many of us suffer from but pass off as normal occurrences.
CBD and Stress
It’s natural to feel stressed during certain moments in life. Maybe you have an upcoming exam that’ll make or break your semester, or perhaps you’re days away from entering your very first amateur mixed martial arts bout.
However, if stress has become so powerful in your life that it’s debilitating on some level, then you have a problem. Chronic stress may lead to other issues like heart disease, digestive issues, and depression. It can even have an effect  on brain chemistry that could cause neurological problems down the line.
But, according to recent findings, CBD may be able to reduce this tension by attenuating the feelings of nervousness and fear that accompany it. A 2011 study  , for example, revealed an improvement in performance anxiety issues in people suffering from social phobia. The interesting part is that it showed the same effect even in those who didn’t, according to a 2017 study  .
Here’s another fascinating discovery: CBD may be an effective addition to extinction learning. Extinction learning is the process of eliminating fear and anxiety by gradually taking out the threat that triggers such emotions.
In a 2013 study  conducted on 48 participants, CBD was found to potentially tone down the threats of stress beforehand. These effects were noted even two days after cannabidiol was administered.
CBD and Pain Management
These days, chronic pain is more of a health crisis than an isolated condition. In fact, according to a 2017 study  , 1 in 4 elderly Europeans suffers from disabling musculoskeletal pain. In Australia, up to 80%  of patients admitted in nursing homes also experience persistent pain.
But here’s some good news: cannabidiol may be of some assistance here, too. As detailed in a 2006 study  , these beneficial effects could be down to CBD’s effects on CB2 receptors in the endocannabinoid system, which are responsible for suppressing pain and inflammation.
Once CBD is consumed, it acts as a non-competitive inverse agonist of CB2, which allows it to potentially inhibit  the immune cell migration that produces inflammation.
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Are There Any Side Effects From CBD?
The short answer is: yes, there are. Even with its list of possible benefits, CBD isn’t devoid of side effects.
But, ultimately, these side effects are minor and fairly uncommon. According to a 2011 study  , CBD does not cause a change in food intake, nor does it cause catalepsy (aka seizures). It also does not affect physiological factors like body temperature, heart rate, and blood pressure.
Some side effects were witnessed in vitro (outside of a living organism, such as in a Petri dish), which included a reduction in fertilisation capacity, inhibition of liver drug metabolism, and alterations in cell viability. But, as far as humans go, CBD is deemed safe as long as it is consumed correctly.
What Type of CBD Helps Sleep?
Oral, sublingual, or inhaled CBD will almost always be more effective for sleep than topical CBD. Just like melatonin or sleeping pills, for example, consuming CBD allows it to enter the bloodstream.
Three main types of CBD are available for consumption: CBD oil/tincture, vape e-liquids, and capsules. Consuming oils or tinctures is the most straightforward method. All you need to do is place a few drops under the tongue and hold them there for about a minute. It’ll usually take around 20 minutes before you feel its effects.
For e-liquids, you will need a vaporizer. The upside, however, is that it only takes five to ten minutes for the CBD to kick in. Capsules take the longest to hit as the CBD must first pass through the digestive system and liver before making its way to the bloodstream. Experts recommend taking a capsule about an hour before bed.
Will CBD Cream Help?
In terms of local physical relief, CBD topical creams may be of some benefit. But that’s as far as it goes. It won’t have the same effect as oral CBD because it isn’t absorbed by the bloodstream.
Topical CBD does provide some soothing effects, however, especially if you’re dealing with aches and sensitivity. In that manner, topical CBD does have its place in a healthy sleep cycle.
Using CBD For Sleep
For this section, we will focus on the three types of CBD that are most effective when it comes to promoting healthy sleep.
Apart from helping you fall asleep quicker and deeper, CBD oil can also potentially promote a healthier sleep-wake cycle. It should keep you awake during the day, while conditioning you to be more relaxed as night falls.
If you’re looking for a good brand to start with, Royal Queen Seeds has a line of CBD oil products to suit your needs. Our full-spectrum oils come in different carriers, including olive oil, MCT oil, and hemp seed oil. Concentrations also vary from 2.5–40% CBD.
CBD oils are well and good, but taking them in capsule form also has its benefits. One is that they’ll work through the night, especially if you take them at the right time before going to bed.
Royal Queen Seeds’ line of CBD softgel capsules range from 4–10% CBD, and contain the same high-quality CBD oil as our traditional range.
The top advantage of vaping CBD is convenience. If you happen to be suffering from sleepless nights, a few puffs will help soothe both the mind and body. And, if you happen to wake up in the middle of the night, you can easily reach out for your vaporizer for a quick hit.
CBD vs Prescription Sleep Medications
Prescription sleep medications aren’t all evil. If taken correctly, they can help treat insomnia and other issues. But, just like any other synthetic substance, the long-term effects of such drugs can do damage to the body.
CBD, on the other hand, is a straightforward supplement that lacks toxicity and harmful side effects. By that logic, it is a much better alternative compared to sleeping pills.
But, before diving right in, be sure to consult your doctor first. They should be able to provide you with everything you need to know, including which type of CBD to take, proper dosing, and any possible side effects depending on your genetics and existing medications.
There are existing studies on CBD's potential to benefit sleep. But what exactly goes on here, and how can your sleep cycle benefit from the cannabinoid?
Can CBD Help You Sleep?
A sleep psychologist says you should reconsider stocking up on CBD products for catching some zzz’s.
Cannabidiol (CBD) oil seems to be all over the place, used as treatment for anxiety, chronic pain, acne and even infused in some foods and drinks. It’s readily available in various doses and forms over-the-counter. It’s natural to wonder what this mystical compound of marijuana is and what it does in the body.
You might be thinking, “Wait, marijuana? Doesn’t that make you high?” But let’s set the record straight: unlike CBD’s counterpart delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), CBD is a non-psychoactive compound, meaning it doesn’t alter your cognitive state.
Similar to THC though, CBD can help you relax and people are wondering if it will help them finally get some good shut eye.
“It’s a tricky question to answer,” says Deirdre Conroy, Ph.D. , clinical director of the Behavioral Sleep Medicine Clinic at Michigan Medicine. “There have been few studies on CBD and its effect on sleep, and those published have few participants with differing doses and forms of CBD administered.”
However, many of these studies suggest there could be some benefit to using CBD as a sleep aid, and it’s worth researching. “For example, there’s evidence that CBD can be helpful in managing anxiety . If someone’s anxiety is creating their sleeping problem, a CBD product may benefit them,” Conroy says.
But reaping the rewards of CBD is a slippery slope since much of its long term safety or efficacy is still unknown. One study showed taking less than 160 mg of CBD oil may actually promote wakefulness . While higher doses can promote sleep, the FDA has approved only one CBD product, a prescription drug to treat two rare, severe forms of epilepsy. Because other CBD products aren’t regulated, you might not know what you’re really getting.
“This compound is used in various forms and their doses may differ, so you might not know how much CBD you’re actually using,” Conroy says. Regular usage of high dose CBD could harm you before you become aware of it, according to the FDA. It can cause liver injury and affect how other drugs are metabolized, causing serious side effects. Similarly, when used with alcohol or other central nervous system depressants, the increased risk of sedation and drowsiness can lead to injuries.
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“Non-pharmacological interventions have long-term, long-standing data that proves their safety and efficacy,” Conroy says. “I know CBD oil for the treatment of sleep disorders is intriguing, but we’re looking for answers we just don’t have yet. The products are outpacing the science.”
Setting yourself up for sleep
Melatonin for sleep , like CBD, needs more research to unmask its benefits and harms. “We secrete melatonin naturally as our bodies prepare for bed,” Conroy says. “I believe in harnessing what you already have.”
Until we have more answers about CBD, there’s a plethora of behavioral strategies that promote better sleep, including:
Allowing yourself time to wind down before bed in a dark setting without bright screens. If you need to look at a screen, make sure you use a brightness filter.
Having outlets for managing stress and anxiety, like journaling or seeking professional help with a therapist if it’s more serious.
Training your body to follow a regular sleep and wake cycle if you don’t already have a routine.
If you’re having trouble sleeping on a regular basis, you may have an underlying sleep disorder that a sleep specialist could help diagnose and manage.
If sleep problems persist, Conroy recommends seeking help from a sleep medicine specialist. “We might recommend undergoing a sleep study or offer other therapies to improve your quality of life,” Conroy says. “This also opens dialogue between you and a medical professional about what kind of treatment option you’re looking for, what your sleep goals are and what your expectations from a sleep aid are.”
A sleep psychologist says you should reconsider stocking up on CBD products for catching some zzz’s.