Can You Use CBD for Insomnia?
Like with most questions about CBD oil these days, the question of whether you can use CBD for insomnia gets the basic answer of “The results look positive, but we need more studies.” We may, however, have some answers for you, so keep reading.
Now, you won’t get an argument from me about whether or not we need more and better research—we do! But sometimes looking at the details of a clinical study makes you miss the big picture. It’s the same old story of missing the forest for the trees.
Taken as a whole, current research suggests that CBD can increase the total time spent sleeping and decrease the number of times an individual wakes up during the night. For some people, higher doses of CBD may be needed to see those benefits. But overall, the consensus is growing that CBD can help you sleep. So if you want to try using CBD for your insomnia, go right ahead. You may be wonderfully surprised with the results!
Table of Contents
- Sleep, Endocannabinoids, and How CBD Works for Insomnia
- Sleep Basics
- Sleep Disorders
- Studies on CBD and Better Sleep
- Insomnia, Anxiety and Depression: Links to CBD
- Is Using CBD for Insomnia and Sleep Issues Effective?
- Additional Resources on CBD and Sleep
Sleep, Endocannabinoids, and How CBD Works for Insomnia
The endocannabinoid system is an evolutionarily conserved system that plays a part in regulating several systems in the body—systems that control energy intake and storage, sleep patterns, mood, appetite, sleep, pain, reproduction, and the immune system.
Humans and other mammals use the endocannabinoid system; and some plants, like members of the cannabis family, produce cannabinoids. These compounds help the plants in reproducing, as well as protecting the plant from insects, cold, and dehydration. Probably because nature tends to keep biological systems that work, humans and other animals share receptors and binding sites for different substances—and we have found that cannabinoids (and lots of other plant-produced substances) derived from cannabis plants have beneficial effects on humans.
Sleep follows what is known as a “circadian rhythm”—a 24-hour cycle that is controlled via natural substances (including endocannabinoids) produced by the body as well as by exterior signals such as sunlight or decreases in temperature. One of the major endocannabinoids, 2-arachidonoylglycerol (2-AG) follows a circadian rhythm and is imbalanced in several different sleep disorders.The imbalance of 2-AG during sleep disruption and the connection between 2-AG and hunger may be part of the reason why obesity is closely associated with sleep disorders.
The endocannabinoid system is also involved in anxiety. Cannabinoids like CBD may work indirectly to improve sleep by reducing anxiety—and the case for CBD for reducing anxiety is quite strong.
Sleep is never as simple as we might want. Normal sleep cycles through four stages: three stages of non-rapid eye movement (non-REM) sleep and one stage of REM sleep. Normally, a sleeping person goes through some waking and semi-waking periods before and after one or more stages. Sleep begins at Stage 1 and progresses through Stages 2, 3, and finally REM sleep. Then the cycle repeats, with REM periods getting longer throughout the night (or whenever you sleep, though daytime sleep is a bit different).
Stage 1 is the lightest non-REM (NREM) sleep. Stages 2 and 3 get progressively deeper. Dreaming occurs during REM sleep. The first full sleep cycle usually takes about 90 minutes, with later cycles averaging about 110 minutes each. Most people (at least those getting a full, healthy night of sleep) go through four to five cycles every night.
The deepest sleep—and the one that is most needed for rest—is Stage 3 NREM sleep.
Once you know a bit about sleep cycles, it is probably less surprising that there are almost 100 described sleep disorders! The most common include:
- Insomnia: This can include trouble falling asleep or trouble staying asleep.
- Sleep apnea: More of a breathing disorder that occurs while you sleep, this disorder causes you to stop breathing for 10 seconds or more at a time while you’re asleep.
- Restless Leg Syndrome (RLS): A tingling or prickly sensation along the legs. There is often a strong urge to move the legs to get rid of the sensation, and the legs often jerk or kick during sleep.
- Circadian rhythm disorders: The daily rhythm of sleep gets disrupted. This often happens with people who work a night shift or with jet lag.
CBD can have an effect on each of these disorders, but we are just at the start of the research journey and there is lots to learn.
Studies on CBD and Better Sleep
A recent review of the literature on cannabinoids and sleep said that “CBD may hold promise for REM sleep behavior disorder and excessive daytime sleepiness…” In other words, CBD can help you sleep better. REM sleep behavior disorder is a disorder where you move around during REM sleep (normally, there is no movement) and physically act out dreams. These dreams are sometimes unpleasant. A person with REM sleep disorder may also make sounds during sleep and their movements can be sudden and strong.
One study indicated that CBD users tended to rate their sleep quality as good, as opposed to non-CBD users who commonly rated their sleep quality as poor. A recent online survey seemed to indicate that THC-containing products were more effective than pure CBD in improving sleep quality.
Another study used a mobile app to record responses to the use of whole cannabis in self-reporting cases of insomnia, and it found that “Cannabidiol (CBD) was associated with greater statistically significant symptom relief than tetrahydrocannabinol (THC)…” Relief was more commonly derived from vaporizers, as compared to joints and with a percentage of CBD ranging at around 5-6%.
Looking at healthy volunteers, a study out of Brazil concluded that CBD did not significantly interfere with a normal sleep cycle.
An animal study (conducted on rats) showed that CBD seemed to increase the total time spent in sleep, as well as the amount of time it took to fall asleep during the day.
Overall, there have been very few studies on the direct effect of CBD on sleep. Anecdotally, however, there is much more to say—this may be because many people with sleep issues also have problems with anxiety, and the research showing positive effects of CBD on anxiety is quite good. Other anecdotal information comes from an online survey by…wait for it… Consumer Reports. Most people using CBD for insomnia and to help them sleep report that it works!
Insomnia, Anxiety and Depression: Links to CBD
According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA), “Stress and anxiety may cause sleeping problems or make existing problems worse. And having an anxiety disorder exacerbates the problem.” Also, it’s a bit of a “chicken versus egg” problem—sleep issues can cause anxiety, and anxiety can cause sleep issues. Sleep patterns are disrupted in nearly all mental health disorders, and chronic insomnia puts you at higher risk for both anxiety and depression—it’s all connected! It is possible that the benefits of using CBD for insomnia and other sleep issues may be due to its actions as an anti-anxiety agent.
Is Using CBD for Insomnia and Sleep Issues Effective?
Overall, the outlook for using CBD for insomnia and other sleep problems is certainly promising. I’ve personally recommended it for that purpose, and in my experience, it seems to work very well.
More research definitely needs to be done, but this is true for all cannabinoids. While some results have been called “contradictory,” that really isn’t surprising—after all, the antihistamine Bendryl can put some people to sleep—for others, it may get them wired. This is known as a paradoxical drug effect and is more common than people realize.
We should not be surprised that CBD has different effects on different people—we are pretty complex creatures biochemically, and what works for one person may not have the same effects on another. So, the best advice is to try CBD for insomnia, starting at low doses. See what happens and, if you need to, increase the dose slowly, leaving at least a week between to figure out what works—or doesn’t work—for you. CBD has few side effects (the most frequently mentioned are nausea and fatigue), and if they are experienced, they typically decrease with time.
CBD For Insomnia:
It wasn’t long ago that sleep came easily for you. Without effort. But that formerly taken-for-granted experience now seems but a dream. Today, sleep demands work. Maybe it takes forever to finally drift into la-la land. Or you wake up at 2 in the morning and toss and turn until 5, when you drift back to sleep. And then the alarm sounds 90 minutes later. You have tried nearly everything. Nothing worked. You are so tired. Please, don’t give up. Salvation has arrived.
Here’s the deal:
We have found a powerful new approach to sleep, one that (finally) will deliver the long, healthy slumbers that you deserve.
The best part?
It doesn’t require doctors’ visits, pharmacies or expensive equipment. And for the first time ever, the key to the approach is available for purchase.
Before we explore this between-the-sheets revolution, let’s dive into sleep — how disrupted slumber is upending lives across America, fostering depression and lethargy, and sapping productivity.
You’re Not Alone: Sleepless Nights a Worldwide Problem
The numbers stagger:
Between 50 and 70 million American adults wrestle with some sort of diagnosed sleep disorder, according to the American Sleep Association. That’s right — it’s in the tens of millions. And many more struggle mightily with sleep problems, without suffering from formal disorders like sleep apnea.
The minimum amount of recommended sleep time for people between ages 18 and 60 is seven hours, according to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine and the Sleep Research Society. But as many as 40 percent of adults, according to various studies, routinely miss that mark. Bottom line? That’s nearly half of the adult population routinely having rough nights.
You’re not alone.
Best CBD Oils For Insomnia
Lack of Sleep Hits Your Health
Did you ever wonder if those mid-afternoon yawns affect more than just your willingness to head out for a run?
The answer is yes — much more.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, people who average less than 7 hours of sleep a night are at higher risk for a variety of health conditions, including obesity, diabetes, asthma, coronary heart disease, and more. They also are more likely to be physically inactive, and to smoke cigarettes.
Lack of Sleep Threatens Your Job
It gets worse:
While they yawn through the afternoon, tired workers threaten more than their own health. Sleep-deprived workers are drags on productivity in all manner of American business, from white-shoe law firms to hospitals to restaurants, retail shops, farms and government agencies. One major 2010 study of 4,000 employees at four American companies found that sleeplessness cost the companies $54 million a year.
Yep — it gets even worse.
Because it’s not just the corporations that suffer — bosses and human resources honchos notice workers who drag down productivity. The sleep-deprived are downsizing targets. We can’t emphasize this enough. Bad sleep disrupts your life, harms the economy and threatens your job.
You Have Tried Everything to Deal With Poor Sleep
I can’t believe this is true, but: At least a few industries actuallybenefit from the sleep nightmare.
Pills and tinctures, teas and aromatherapy products, powdered drinks and weighted sheets: the market supports a wide range of products aimed at helping people gain healthy sleep. It’s not a sluggish corner of American commercial life — the sleep industry nearly reached $30 billion during 2018.
Maybe this number doesn’t surprise you — because you already have spent a near fortune on sleep solutions, none of which worked.
Sedatives Knock You Out, Wake You Up, and Make You Feel Groggy
The strange truth is: The variety of products roams far, and for good reason — demand is high and rises every year, but in the end few products truly work.
So many of them, for example, are sedatives, products that essentially knock you out. And they often do, in fact, precipitate sleep. But for many people they also wear off hours later. That’s you, right? It didn’t work.
So you tried another product — maybe something through prescription, like Ambien; or over-the-counter in a drug store; or an herbal tea or tincture. Nope. Still didn’t work.
You keep on buying new ones, without luck. In addition to the problem with the 2 a.m. wake-up, lots of products leave people — sound familiar? — feeling groggy in the morning. So even if they did manage to sleep, they spend their days sleepwalking.
The Revolutionary Substance That Is Bringing People Back to Sleep
What would you say if we told you people around the world now are just beginning to embrace a new approach to sleep management?
It’s your new secret weapon:
What if we said this new strategy easily shepherds people into the sleep zone, keeps them there through the night, and contributes to mornings (and thus entire days) electric with vitality and energy instead of listlessness and apathy?
Here’s the deal:
The key to finally unlocking the door to a fresh world of sound sleep has arrived.
And you probably have heard of it: CBD.
The compound now is finding its way into drinks, pills, lotions, candies and much more. And people are using it to achieve a variety of results, from diminished anxiety to softened pain. One of it’s most promising applications revolves around sleep, and we will delve into the hows and whys regarding CBD and sleep.
But first, let’s explore CBD. What is it, and how does it work?
A Brief History of CBD and Hemp
Until now, fear of jail time persuaded researchers from staying away from CBD. Scientists have been excited about the compound’s medical promises for decades, but few were able to devote research agendas towards it.
Why? Because it is derived from two related plants: cannabis and hemp. And until recently, few could buy either plant without facing arrest. Cannabis was illegal for decades until the 1990s, when California became the first state to legalize it for medical patients. And then, in 2014, Colorado permitted the sale of marijuana for recreational uses. Now, 10 states permit sales of cannabis to anybody 21 or older and another 22 allow it for medical purposes.
Cannabis contains THC, the compound that makes people high. The plant also hosts CBD, but CBD does not contain THC. Meanwhile, hemp, which is related to cannabis, was also banned in the United States for a long time. People could buy products made from hemp, like t-shirts and protein powders.
But the the hemp itself could not be grown in the United States, nor could the products be manufactured in the country. As with marijuana, state laws recently began evolving favorably towards hemp.
How Changes in Law Will Put CBD in Your Pocket
This might be a good time to begin celebrating.
At the end of last year the 2018 Farm Bill became law. The bill legalized regulated hemp farming and manufacturing — huge news for the hemp and CBD industries. Unlike cannabis, hemp does not get people high. While it sometimes contains trace amounts of THC, people would have to consume absurd amounts of hemp to experience any sort of psychoactive effects. And as with CBD derived from cannabis, CBD from hemp contains no THC whatsoever.
Why is CBD SO Special? It’s a Power Player in the Endocannabinoid System
Why does this matter? Cannabidinol, which is CBD’s official name, stands apart from so many other plant-based substances in large part because it is a cannabinoid, which means it is one of a variety of unique compounds, all called cannabinoids, found in cannabis and hemp. Cannabidinol was only discovered in the 1940s, and little research was performed on it due to its relationship with marijuana.
It gets better: In the 1980s, researchers found cell membrane receptors in the body called cannabinoid receptors, and importantly they figured out that cannabinoids like CBD interacted with these novel receptors.
And here’s the best part: By the mid-1990s, things started to fall into place. Researchers discovered these things already in the human body called endocannabinoids, and they also unearthed something they called the endocannabinoid system, which regulates things like pain, memory, temperature regulation, immune function, digestion — and sleep.
But how does all of this directly relate to sleep? Good question.
During the ‘90s they first began to understand that relationships between cannabinoids, like CBD, cannabinoid receptors, and the body’s own endocannabinoids are key to maintaining the health of the vital endocannabinoid system.
Cannabinoids play important many roles in the system; receptors help incorporate the cannabinoids into the system; and the body’s native endocannabinoids work in concert with the cannabinoids being introduced to the system to achieve healthy balance.
The best part? All of this works together to shepherd you into la-la land. It beats counting sheep — has that worked for anybody? We know you tried it. Didn’t work, did it?
How CBD Works in Your Body to Improve Your Life
If you take away one thing, let it be this:
Cannabidiol doesn’t just help with sleep — it improves your life, too.
Each cannabinoid — scientists so far have found at least 80 of them in the cannabis and hemp plants — plays a role within the endocannabinoid system.
This is crazy: While research remains in its infancy, one thing is clear: Among the cannabinoids, CBD has emerged as an especially valuable compound, one that among other things helps to keep the endocannabinoid system operating optimally.
Picture it: Think of CBD as the conductor of an orchestra. When all of the players are hitting their notes at the right times, Mozart’s Symphony No. 41 flows like a lush dream. It is gorgeous. But enough misplaced blasts on the French horn, missed notes by the cellist and wrong keys by the pianist and it loses its lustre. What do we all desire? We want the inner workings of our bodies — our nervous and endocrine systems, for example — to flow like Mozart’s Symphony No. 41 (trust us on this one). For most of us, it rarely happens. The introduction of the conductor CBD can help bring the bodies disparate systems together into something harmonic and powerfully beautiful.
Bad Sleep? Blame Your Endocannabinoid System
Why does this matter? Poor sleeps are a sure sign of an endocannabinoid system that is out of whack — the orchestra is having an off night, and the symphony is clunky. Nobody is happy. When the body is high-functioning, we sink into rejuvenating slumbers for at least 7 hours. The body recovers from the day of mental and physical activity, and recharges for the next day. The endocannabinoid system hums. It is an essential process.
Here’s the kicker: When things are off, it can turn into a vicious cycle — the off-kilter endocannabinoid system contributes towards a bad sleep, which interferes with the system’s ability to bounce back the next day. The endocannabinoid system suffers — again, and again, and again.
Bottom line? Things will not improve until the endocannabinoid system falls back into its ideal groove.
Is CBD Just Another Sedative?
All of this new sleep-salvaging research seems thrilling — and it is. But the question remains: How do CBD and a robust endocannabinoid system improve sleep? Is CBD some sort of sedative? We have good news for you in a bit. Even more, you may have read that CBD is also good for boosting energy.
You might be wondering: How could the same substance both help people power through long runs (CBD is popular among ultra-runners, people who engage in foot races, often in mountains, of 50 miles or more), and also come to their aid when it’s time to go nighty-night?
First of all, let’s address the sedative question. Cannabidiol is far from a sedative, those drugs that bonk you over the head, forcing you unnaturally into sleep. Sedatives wear off, you open your eyes at 2:43 a.m. and there goes another night of rest.
Now, stick with us here. We can’t emphasize this enough. Cannabidiol’s approach towards sleep management is truly revolutionary. Instead of knocking you out, CBD relieves you of the many factors that keep you awake.
Here’s the key takeaway: As CBD is not a sedative, it doesn’t force sleepiness upon people. Instead, it deals with root problems — ones that disrupt sleep, as well as ones that interfere with energy. There — your question about how one substance can simultaneously elevate energy and improve sleep? Answered.
Are You Always Anxious?
Indeed — And It’s Messing With Your Sleep
Now: It’s time to scrutinize the manifold ways in which the CBD revolution utterly transforms how we ensure healthy sleeping.
Let’s start with one of the principal barriers between you and sleep, one that CBD helps surmount: anxiety. Nobody tosses and turns all night because they are pondering beautiful art, or dwelling on the pleasures of last week’s mountain hike or long day on the beach. People stare at the ceiling at 3:24 a.m. because they are beset with worries. Bills. Health. Threats of layoffs. Aging parents’ mounting problems. The list, of course, approaches infinity. People lay awake dwelling on things like the perceived happiness of their pet hedgehogs. An estimated 40 million people, or 18 percent of the United States population, have diagnosed anxiety disorders.
Here’s the kicker: Millions more aren’t diagnosed, or don’t suffer from life-crippling anxiety but do experience rough sleeps due to anxiety. You read that right. One in every five people tosses and turns all night because they are fretting.
How Stress Leads to Anxiety and Terrible Sleeps
Before we look more closely at anxiety and CBD, let’s first quickly examine anxiety’s root, a powerful phenomenon that influences things like depression, digestion, heart disease and more, in addition to anxiety: stress.
Here’s the history: Stress make us anxious, and for sensible reasons. During 2 million years of hominid evolution, the vast majority of which involved daily life-threatening events (weather, attacks by giant short-faced bears, broken ankles that amounted to death sentences), stress constantly interrupted our lives, forcing us to act or die. Fight-or-flight was a way of life, and stress saved our lives.
On top of all of that: We no longer find ourselves surrounded by packs of 225-pound cave hyenas. Instead, most stress is comparatively minor. Bad traffic. An annoying server in a restaurant. Your 9th grader’s C on a math test. The stress may not force you to contemplate death, but fight-or-flight remains in our genes and we respond to parades of minor stresses as if being poked with an electric prod* throughout the day.
*Pro tip: zaps by electric prods are not conducive to restful sleeps.
Stress and Anxiety: Two Peas in a (Sleepless) Pod
You might be wondering: What is wrong with stress? Everything. It nurtures a host of health problems. And to return to anxiety, no other condition is as tightly bound with stress as anxiety. The two — stress and anxiety — are like two halves of a circle. Stress begets anxiety (for example, the difficult conversation with the boss introduced stress to your life, and you responded with nagging anxiety), which then precipitates the blossoming of more stress.
Turn to CBD to Manage All Of That Terrible Stress
All of this brings us back to CBD, and the powerful endocannabinoid system. We know that stress-induced anxiety detracts from sleep quality worldwide — as we discussed, it’s the anxiety that often keeps people awake.
So how does CBD mitigate anxiety? How can you actually use this? Scientists are investing increasingly more of research budgets to CBD, and the results are promising. One recent paper reviewed 32 separate published studies about CBD and anxiety, and found that 31 of them found at least something beneficial about CBD and anxiety.
The Keys to Whacking Anxiety and Boosting Sleep
The avenues of research are diverse, but so far much of the work revolves around three things: Endocannabinoids, serotonin and neural regeneration.
Say what? Don’t worry. We will look closely at this trio of anxiety-busting CBD partners.
Building Endocannabinoids With CBD
Now: We already understand the importance of endocannabinoids — the human body’s homegrown cannabinoids, which are central to the endocannabinoid system.
Research indicates that CBD helps sort of massage those receptors we discussed earlier (receptors help introduce cannabinoids like CBD to the system) in such a way that the body’s ability to produce its own endcannabinoids is improved.
CBD and Serotonin: A Match Made in Happy
That’s not all: Many of us are familiar with serotonin, a neurotransmitter that is key for human happiness. Serotonin imbalances often lead to depression; it’s no surprise that so many prescription anti-depression drugs, like Prozac, go by the acronym SSRI, which means Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitor.
Why does this matter? It turns out CBD binds to one of 14 receptors that are tied to serotonin, and that receptor, called 5-HT1A, is powerfully involved with anxiety, according to research. Experiments on rats — to date, most CBD research has involved only rodents — demonstrated diminished anxiety after CBD, and steadying serotonin levels seems to be part of the reason for the anxiety relief.
Build Your Big Brain with CBD
This is crazy: The human brain is not a static organ — things like anxiety constantly damage neurons and diminish brain size, just as the brain works to regenerate itself back to stasis.
The best part? Some of this regeneration takes place in the hippocampus, which is deeply involved with stress and anxiety.
The kicker? A variety of studies show that CBD optimizes neural regeneration, thus helping the brain repair the damage that arrives through stress and other factors. This important work is yet another CBD-based anxiety-busting activity. As scientists research CBD and human health, its effectiveness in mitigating anxiety, while still somewhat mysterious, holds enormous promise.
Your Sleeplessness Stems from Pain? CBD Is On It.
It’s not just anxiety that keeps you awake, right? In fact, you may be one of those lucky people who rarely dwells on the past (in particular, potentially upsetting things from the past) or wastes time imagining the future (one, to anxiety sufferers, that is full of dread).
What keeps you awake? Pain. Everything from a throbbing knee to a crushing headache. We can’t emphasize this enough: If pain is your sleep buster, CBD comes to the rescue, just as it did for those wrestling with anxiety.
Science Here to Help You with CBD and Pain
One 2017 review of science regarding cannabis — including work specifically about the non-psychoactive cannabinoid CBD — summed up its finding bluntly: “There is substantial evidence that cannabis is an effective treatment for chronic pain in adults.”
Among the studies, findings included:
- A 2012 study of CBD and chronic pain found that “cannabinoids may represent a movel class of therapeutic agents for the treatment of chronic pain and other diseases…”
- A 2016 study of CBD and arthritis found that “topical CBD application has therapeutic potential for relief of arthritis pain-related behaviors and inflammation without evident side-effects.
- Research shows that CBD interferes with the body’s ability to absorb anandamide, which is a compound involved with regulating pain and inflammation as well as promoting happiness. By blocking absorption, CBD is making more of it available to the body and thus playing a role in controlling pain.
Endurance Jocks Live in a World of Pain —
And Use CBD to Help
Here’s the issue: The places where CBD and pain intersect are busy areas of research, and much of it is promising. On an anecdotal level, CBD products have become enormously popular with endurance athletes, who swear by CBD’s pain- and inflammation-fighting powers. These are people who run 100 miles (without stopping), among other pursuits. Managing pain and its primary root case for these jocks — inflammation — is of extreme importance.
And increasingly, CBD is becoming a big part of their strategy. And it’s not just specifically about treating pain for them — it’s also about promoting sleep.
Nobody with an aching body enjoys a sound sleep. And sleep, during which the body recovers from the day’s exertions, is absolutely vital for endurance athletes.
You Struggle With Depression, and Your Sleep Suffers
What’s the bottom line? Anxiety and pain stand as significant barriers to sleep. But they aren’t alone.
Another primary reason — depression. According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMN), about 16 million people had at least one major depressive episode during 2016 — that’s close to 7 percent of the population. And one of depression’s prominent symptoms is difficulty achieving long, restful sleeps. As with sleep and pain, the commercial marketplace is flooded with substances to combat depression.
In the case of depression, clearly some of the prescription drugs are solutions for many people, and by no means would we suggest ditching prescriptions from doctors in exchange for CBD. Close consultations with physicians about any change in medications is paramount.
Research Shows CBD Can Manage Depression
What does this tell us? More and more research is pointing towards CBD as a depression alleviator.
One recent study, for example, found that a single dose of CBD in rats suffering from depression was highly effective at mitigating effects; in fact, symptoms began diminishing on the same day as the administration of CBD.
Commercial antidepressants, on the other hand, normally require between two and four weeks of use to have a significant effect.
Endocannabinoid System and CBD Defeat Depression
If you’re wondering: To understand cannabidiol’s role in alleviating depression, we once again (as always), return to the all-important endocannabinoid system.
As we know, this powerful system plays roles in a wide variety of bodily functions, and that includes mental health.
CBD Boosts Your Serotonin and Manages Depression
How does CBD help? We already have touched on some of the reasons. Cannabidiol’s role in managing serotonin is certainly one of them.
The entire mental-health slice of the pharmaceutical pie revolves in part around serotonin, and as we already discussed CBD helps ensure that the body maintains healthy levels of serotonin.
The Bliss Molecule Gets An Assist From CBD
Here’s the science behind it:
Anandamide*, reviewed in the pain chapter, is another in-the-body compound that is vital for mental health, and which CBD helps optimize by making more of it available to the body.
*Pro tip: Anandamide is commonly referred to as the “bliss molecule,” due to its integral role in promoting happiness.
CBD’s Brain-Building Work Fights Depression
There’s More: Even CBD’s role in fostering neural regeneration helps fight depression. The brain’s hippocampus is heavily involved in mood formation, and research shows a link between shrinking hippocampuses and depression. By helping to promote neuron growth in the brain, cannabidiol helps strengthen the hippocampus, making it larger.
Let’s break it down: The research into CBD and depression, still in its infancy, has already shown immense promise.
One 2016 study involving rats and CBD, for example, concluded that “CBD may be beneficial for the treatment of clinical depression and other states with prominent anhedonia” (anhedonia means inability to feel pleasure).
One more thing: Lack of sleep can cause depression, just as depression interferes with sleep. So even as CBD helps mitigate depression, and thus promotes sleep, it also manages depression by encouraging long, restful sleeps.
This falls into the classic “win-win” situation: Take CBD to ease depression (and pave the way for better sleeping patterns), and take CBD to deliver solid sleep (and along the way ratchet-down depression).
Your Solution to Sleepless Nights —
Join the CBD Revolution
It’s not your fault, here’s why: You have spent far too many hours awake, hunting for that cool spot on the pillow and working hard to get back to sleep. But sleep should not require work — you do enough of that all day. Sleep should come easily, and it should persist for at least seven hours, and preferably eight. You have bought every kind of product on the market — herbs, OTC drugs, blankets designed to promote sleep, apps that play white noise or the soothing sounds of an ocean or river.
Yet still, sleep remains elusive. But now you understand the thrilling advantages that CBD can bring to sleep-strugglers. How can you actually use this?
Listen: If you have problems merging with slumber, the issue does not require a sedative, which will knock you out and wear off in the middle of the night. Sedatives merely address symptoms, and they do so ineffectively. Nor do you need to buy weighted blankets, or invest in a parade of aromatherapy gambits — does lavender really put you to sleep? We didn’t think so.
This is important: The key to finally achieving healthy sleeps revolves around managing the root problems, things like stress, anxiety, pain and depression. And as more and more research is showing, CBD attacks the root problems that interrupt sleep. It’s time to join the CBD revolution, and (finally) have a good night’s sleep for the rest of your life.
Can CBD Actually Help You Sleep Better?
We dug into the science to find out everything you should know if you’ve been wanting to try it.
You’ve gotten serious about not using your phone in bed and sticking with a set bedtime routine. And yet night after night, you’re still laying in the dark, counting sheep. Maybe you start wondering: Could CBD possibly help?
Plenty of people insist that taking the stuff—in the form of an oil, edible, or drink—helps them snooze better. But the science on cannabidiol as a sleep supplement is mixed, and not all experts are convinced that it’s worth taking.
That’s not to say it’s something you shouldn’t consider, though. Here’s what you need to know before giving it a try.
How does CBD work, anyway?
CBD, or cannabidiol, is a compound derived from the cannabis plant, which is the same plant that contains the psychoactive THC. Unlike THC, however, it won’t get you high no matter how much you take. However, it still affects the body’s endocannabinoid system, a network of neuromodulators and receptors involved in maintaining vital functions like mood, pain, appetite, and—yup—sleep.
When cannabinoids are consumed, their molecules bind to endocannabinoid receptors in the nervous system, which can trigger different neurological effects. CBD, for instance, seems to signal the release of feel-good chemicals like dopamine and serotonin, says medical marijuana expert Hervé Damas, MD.
And indeed, some studies suggest that CBD may help ease feelings of anxiety. It’s also been shown to have the potential to ease chronic pain and inflammation.
As for sleep? The endocannabinoid system plays a role in regulating the body’s circadian rhythm, Dr. Damas says. The thinking goes, then, that taking a cannabinoid such as CBD could potentially regulate the sleep/wake cycles of people with insomnia and help them sleep more soundly. (More on this soon!)
The research on CBD and sleep
Maybe your neighbor or coworker swears up and down that taking CBD helps her get a better night’s rest. There’s no shortage of anecdotal evidence hyping CBD’s effects on sleep—but what does the scientific evidence say?
The research at this point is pretty limited. One study from the 1980s found that people with insomnia who took 160 milligrams of CBD daily slept longer and woke less often. However, those researchers only looked at 15 people.
Bigger, newer studies are more mixed. A 2017 review concluded that CBD might have therapeutic potential for treating sleep problems, but only for people with REM sleep behavior disorder (a specific sleep disorder where people act out their dreams by moving, sleep talking, or sleepwalking). And it didn’t address how much CBD a person would need to take to reap the benefits.
Another study, published in 2018, found that consuming whole cannabis flowers (the flowering part of the cannabis plant as opposed to the leaves) was tied to a significant improvement in perceived insomnia symptoms.
The problem? The cannabis plant contains tons of different cannabinoids, so there’s no way of knowing whether the benefit came from CBD or something else. There was no control group, either. “Without a placebo arm, it’s impossible to tell whether cannabis or CBD is more effective or different than a placebo,” says cannabis therapeutics specialist Jordan M. Tischler, MD, who was not involved with the study.
Some research even suggests that CBD might make sleep more elusive. A 2014 review found that it seems to promote wakefulness, with the authors suggesting that CBD could have the potential to treat and manage sleepiness.
Can taking CBD help you sleep better?
The limited research seems to suggest that the answer is no. Experts like Dr. Tischler firmly believe that people who sleep better with the help of CBD are reaping the benefits of their own positive thinking. “They believe they’re getting treated. It makes a good placebo,” he says.
But others see more potential, especially for people whose sleeplessness stems from feeling anxious. “CBD has been shown to have anxiety-relieving effects, and anxiety disorders can be a cause of insomnia,” Dr. Damas says. If CBD can succeed in helping you feel calmer or less stressed, you just might have an easier time drifting off to dreamland.
If anxiety isn’t what’s at the root of your sleep struggles, it’s a bit harder to say if it will help. Research is mixed, and there’s still a lot we don’t know.
How to take CBD
If you want to try CBD to improve your sleep, it’s important to get the green light from your doctor first. CBD can react with certain medications and isn’t suitable or safe for everyone.
You might also want to consider seeing a sleep specialist before trying CBD. Taking a supplement to help you snooze may ease your insomnia, but it won’t address the root cause. Your doctor can check for any medical problems that might be messing with your sleep and help you put together a plan to improve your sleep hygiene. “That might do wonders before we go recommending supplements,” Dr. Greenburg says.
There are also a few other things to keep in mind if you want to try CBD for better sleep. Here are three important ones:
1.) Do your homework.
When you find a product you’re interested in buying, research the manufacturer to make sure what you’re buying is safe. CBD products, like all OTC supplements, aren’t regulated, so they might contain more or less CBD than what’s listed on the label, and potentially even harbor contaminants like heavy metals, mold, or pesticides.
The ingredients, nutritional information, lot number, and expiration date should all be clearly listed, and the price should be consistent with other similar products. “Anything that’s super cheap is likely poor quality and may not even contain CBD,” Dr. Damas cautions.
Reputable manufacturers also lab-test their products to ensure that they’re free of contaminants. They should be willing to share a certificate of analysis (sometimes called a COA) if you request it, he adds.
2.) Start with a small dose and track your progress.
There are no dosing guidelines for CBD, and everyone responds to it differently. Dr. Damas has found that a low dose—around 25 milligrams daily—in a sublingual (Latin for “under the tongue”) liquid format like CBD oil is a good starting point, but you might not notice much of a difference after just one night. (Liquid forms of CBD tend to be absorbed faster than solid forms like tablets.)
“Because CBD works by increasing the circulating levels of your endogenous cannabinoids, supplementing for at least a week is recommended,” he explains. Still not feeling it? Try increasing the dose by 5 milligrams every few nights until you’re up to 40 milligrams. “In my experience, most people start feeling the sleep-inducing effects at that dose,” he says
3.) Have realistic expectations.
Know that CBD probably isn’t going to fix your insomnia forever. Even if a sleep supplement helps you snooze better at first, it can start to lose its potency after a while. “No matter what you’re taking, you’ll get used to it,” says sleep expert Jonathan Greenburg, DDS. “Over time, the efficacy will decrease, and the amount you’ll need to take for that same initial effect will increase.”