Insomnia is a sleep disorder typically categorized by the inability to sleep or stay asleep during the night. This results in the patient having terrible sleep that leaves them drowsy and irritable all throughout the next day.
Recurring insomnia can take a toll on your energy, mood, and general ability to function throughout your day, and may even lead to serious health problems.
Unfortunately, it is a very common disorder, and anyone can fall prey to it at some point in their lives. Approximately 70 million people suffer from insomnia, insufficient sleep, or some other type of sleep disorder in the United States alone.
So what can you do to get a better night’s sleep? Of course, there are a number of different sleeping supplements that exist out there, but which supplement is right for you?
If you are willing to plunge into more experimental, but very effective, supplements to treat your insomnia, then a CBD sleep aid may be just the solution for you.
What is CBD?
Doctors have studied the compounds that make up the cannabis plant for decades to uncover its potential therapeutic benefits. Unfortunately, this plant has a notorious reputation. You may recognize this plant through its slang names, the most notable of which are weed, pot, or marijuana.
While you may be alarmed that your doctor is suggesting that you get high in order to sleep (and, in fact, one of the reasons people smoke recreational cannabis is to help them sleep), there is really no need to be.
The cannabis plant is filled with hundreds of different compounds, many of which have been thoroughly studied and tested over the years.
More specifically, the compounds known as cannabinoids have been used as medical treatments for a broad and ever-growing list of conditions like sleep disorders, pain relief, anxiety, inflammation, Parkinson’s disease, and even cancer.
Cannabidiol, or CBD for short, is one such cannabinoid supplement that has a number of calming purposes. It is typically used to help reduce stress, anxiety, pain, and sleeping problems like insomnia.
Recently, it has also been quite successful in treating those who suffer from formerly treatment-resistant forms of childhood epilepsy.
Of course, you may still be wary of using CBD for insomnia, and that is understandable. After all, though CBD is one of the most understood cannabinoids, it is not yet fully understood.
Still, with all the research conducted (and still being conducted) on this cannabinoid, the results are very promising indeed.
Understanding CBD and THC
While the cannabis plant itself has been used medicinally for centuries, it was not until the mid-1960s that scientists identified the first cannabinoid.
Since then, they have uncovered more than eighty cannabinoids, each of which has their own distinct effects and uses.
The cannabinoids that are most widely recognized (and most understood so far) are CBD and THC (or tetrahydrocannabinol).
THC is another type of cannabinoid that can aid with sleep problems, but the difference between these two cannabinoids lies in how they affect your sleep, as well as the side effects they produce.
How Does THC Work?
THC acts as a strong sedative and will make you extremely drowsy fairly quickly. While this may seem ideal, especially if your insomnia can be quite bad, THC can also disturb your body’s sleep cycles, too.
Typically, your body goes through about five stages of sleep each night. The first two are lighter stages of sleep, while the third and fourth stages are your deeper stages of sleep that are more restorative in nature.
The last stage is REM sleep or rapid-eye-movement sleep. This is typically the stage where your eyes will move back and forth rapidly behind your eyelids as you dream. This is also the stage where you will have your most vivid dreams.
You will cycle through each stage four or five times a night to provide you a restorative amount of sleep.
However, THC has been found to reduce sleep latency, which is the amount of time it takes for you to fall asleep at night. Sleep latency is crucial for getting a good night’s sleep, and doctors have found that you should not take too little or too long a time to fall asleep at night.
This sudden drop into unconsciousness that THC induces can affect your sleep cycles, and give you a less restful sleep than a normal night.
In a recent study, THC users have reported increased sleepiness throughout the day, memory impairment, and frequent changes in mood.
THC is also a psychoactive compound and is the cannabinoid most responsible for inducing the “high” feeling that recreational cannabis users feel when using this drug.
Users of this compound, even when taking it medicinally, are advised to take the proper precautions before using it.
Does CBD Help You Sleep?
CBD, while also stemming from the cannabis plant, does not induce the “high” feeling that THC produces.
Instead, CBD allows you to enjoy many of its therapeutic benefits without this fear of “getting high” or dealing with any truly adverse side effects.
While it may reduce the amount of stage-three sleep you get at night (which is one of the deeper stages of more rejuvenating sleep), CBD also counteracts any sleepiness you would normally feel from this loss the next day.
The reaction time of this supplement works much faster when combined with THC. In fact, CBD is often used in combination with THC to combat the other compound’s slight mind-altering effects.
In modest doses, CBD can actually be mildly alerting, as it affects the same adenosine receptors in your brain as caffeine does and thus gives you a similar boost.
As such, CBD-infused products have also recently entered the food and beverage market as an alternative to energy drinks and protein bars.
However, unlike caffeine or other stimulants, patients with sleep disorders report that using CBD oil for insomnia a few hours before their normal bedtime has a sort of balancing effect that actually results in better sleep.
CBD overall interacts with many different receptors, proteins, and chemicals in the brain, which can create changes in neurotransmitter, hormone, and other cellular activity all throughout the brain and body. This does not mean that taking CBD will alter our bodies for the worse, however.
Our bodies produce our own cannabinoids in what is known as our endocannabinoid system. This system regulates many of our physiological processes, particularly the ones that affect mood, pain perception, appetite, and a number of other cognitive functions.
CBD interacts with this system and the various receptors connected to it to reduce both physical and mental pain.
Taking CBD oil for sleep then seems like a viable choice. CBD can reduce your anxiety levels enough to help you fall asleep—and stay asleep each night.
It may also help to reduce insomnia in those who suffer from chronic pain, as it will both relieve your physical pain as well as help you to calm down enough to lull yourself into a relaxing sleep.
CBD has also been shown to reduce the symptoms of REM behavior disorder in people with Parkinson’s disease. REM behavior disorder is a condition that causes people to physically act out their dreams during the REM stage of sleep.
Typically, your body is largely paralyzed in this stage to prevent such a thing from happening in the first place, but this particular disorder removes this essential limit and lets us act on our dreams.
This can be very dangerous, especially if you are prone to having violent dreams or any dreams where you are driving somewhere. This may also lead to more disruptive sleep or possible injury to yourself or those around you.
CBD’s calming effects will therefore not only help to quiet your mind during the night but also your body.
Still, people with Parkinson’s disease should always consult their doctors before deciding to take any CBD supplements, just to be on the safe side, as high doses of this cannabinoid may exacerbate any involuntary muscle tremors they already suffer from.
There is some study into using CBD to help improve REM sleep in people who suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder (or PTSD), but there has been very little research conducted so far.
Still, CBD’s effects have proven to be extremely useful for all sorts of conditions and disorders, so the outlook is hopeful.
Another promising study currently being conducted has even found that CBD may play a role in the growth of new brain cells. However, this study is still in its infancy, so the results are somewhat inconclusive.
Possible side effects of taking CBD regularly include dry mouth, lightheadedness, some sleepiness, sluggish movements or functioning, and low blood pressure.
Where to Get CBD for Sleep?
CBD has become available in many different forms, including capsules, oils, sprays, tinctures, and even inhalers. You can get CBD in stores that specialize in alternative medical practices, cannabis stores, or online.
If you are still tentative about taking any CBD supplements, be sure you always start with the lowest recommended dose possible and only increase your dosage gradually until you reach the desired effect.
Be sure to consult your doctor about any other medications you are taking before you take CBD for insomnia, as the effects of either your current medications or the CBD supplement may increase or decrease in effectiveness depending on the medication, which can be detrimental to your health.
You should not combine CBD with any other herbs or supplements that can increase drowsiness either, as this may double the effects of both and make you excessively drowsy.
Have you tried CBD for insomnia?