Scientists don’t yet know exactly why we sleep, though the effects of sleep deprivation are well known – especially to the chronically sleep-deprived struggling to get through their day-to-day responsibilities.
Not getting the recommended seven to nine hours of sleep can negatively impact mood, raise blood pressure, increase risk of heart disease and diabetes, and weaken the immune system, leading to increased risk of infection. Lack of sleep can also impair memory and learning, sex drive, and balance.
While the stress of our regimented modern lives certainly plays a role in rampant sleeplessness, other environmental stressors and biological conditions can promote insomnia and other sleep disturbances.
Fortunately, emerging scientific research suggests CBD, one of over 80 biologically active compounds found in cannabis, may help treat the underlying conditions associated with sleep deprivation.
What is CBD?
Cannabis, or marijuana, has been used for its medicinal properties for millennia, with its first recorded use as medicine appearing over five thousand years ago in China. Ancient healers used cannabis to treat conditions such as insomnia, peripheral nerve pain, nausea, sexual dysfunction, and constipation.
What these ancient healers did not yet realize was the healing properties attributed to marijuana were a consequence of a number of bioactive plant compounds called phytocannabinoids, or cannabinoids for short (“phyto” indicates something is of plant origin).
Unfortunately, the nature of these compounds would remain a mystery, as governments suppressed cannabis use due to its psychoactive effects.
It wasn’t until the 1960s that scientists were able to accurately describe several cannabinoids, including tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the main psychoactive compound, and cannabidiol (CBD), the primary non-psychoactive plant compound.
Though THC has been the primary subject of marijuana-related research, CBD has been attracting increasing interest over the past few decades. While both compounds have therapeutic properties, cannabidiol, unlike THC, has not been known to impair mental or motor functions or produce the feeling of being “high”.
The non-psychoactive nature combined with the potential healing properties of CBD make the compound ideal for use in patients of a wide range of ages and in numerous settings, including private, professional, and academic.
Research indicates CBD acts as an antioxidant and anti-inflammatory and may be useful in the treatment of conditions such as depression and anxiety, diabetes, cancer, and neurodegenerative diseases.
CBD is extracted from the marijuana plant and sold as tinctures, sprays, ointments, and liposomal-enhanced oils, such as Colorado Hemp Oil.
How CBD can help you sleep.
Several studies have shown promising results for the use of CBD as a potential treatment for sleep abnormalities and conditions associated with unhealthy sleeping patterns, including:
- REM behavior disorder (RBD). During the rapid eye movement (REM) stage of sleep, motor functions are normally dampened or paralyzed, a state known as muscle atonia, preventing us from physically reacting to our dreams and nightmares. RBD is characterized by free movement during REM sleep, meaning people with RBD can physically react to or act out their dreams or nightmares, increasing the risk of injury to themselves or others while they are unconscious. CBD has been shown to especially inhibit RBD associated with Parkinson’s disease.
- Sleeplessness caused by chronic pain. Aches and general physical discomfort can prevent chronic pain sufferers from falling and staying asleep. While researchers remain uncertain of whether CBD has a direct effect as an analgesic, or pain reliever, studies show cannabidiol may alleviate pain by acting as an anti-inflammatory. People suffering from chronic pain caused by conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis, neuropathy, and certain neurodegenerative diseases may benefit from the use of CBD.
- Anxiety-induced sleep disturbances and insomnia. Though the precise mechanism remains unclear, CBD may effectively reduce anxiety by playing a role in serotonin receptor signaling. Anxiety conditions, including generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), are often marked by sleep disturbances, such as insomnia and REM sleep abnormality. Rather than regulating sleep cycles directly, CBD likely improves sleep quality via an anxiolytic effect.
What is the suggested dosage of CBD for improving sleep?
Doses ranging from 10 to 600 mg have been shown to effectively treat insomnia, while amounts as high as 1,500 mg are generally regarded as safe for the treatment of a wide variety of conditions. While severe side effects are rare or nonexistent, people using CBD may experience tiredness, diarrhea, and fluctuations in weight and appetite.
Because individual tolerance levels will vary, it is best to start with the smallest dose and gradually increase the dosage.
Of course, before beginning any health-related regimen, including using naturally-derived substances, you should always consult your physician. Though mild symptoms are associated with CBD use, cannabidiol can affect the way certain medications are broken down by the liver and may cause excessive sleepiness when used in conjunction with other sleep-inducing supplements, such as melatonin.