CBD and Sleep – Most people don’t get a full eight hours of sleep every night. And for some of us, a bad night’s sleep every now and then doesn’t have much impact on our overall wellbeing.
But when not getting enough sleep becomes the norm, that can result in a sleep debt. And the consequences of sleep deprivation can be very serious. In the long term, it increases the risk of conditions like heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, and obesity.
And even moderate sleep deprivation can cause impaired judgement and coordination. One study compared people who had been awake for 28 hours with people who were given substantial amounts of alcohol. The result? The sleep-deprivation group performed as poorly, or even worse, on tests of reaction time, coordination, and reasoning, as those who were intoxicated.
If you’re dealing with sleep issues, you know how much it can affect your life. Getting enough sleep is crucial to feeling your best. And with more and more people turning to cannabidiol, or CBD, for insomnia or other sleep issues, you may be thinking of trying it out for yourself.
Are you considering using CBD for sleep? Here are the top three things you need to know.
The Research is Confusing
It seems that, at least for some people, CBD does impact sleep. But there’s no consensus about how it works.
And when you start looking into the research, the results can appear contradictory — at least on the surface. That’s because some studies have found that CBD helps people sleep, while others reported that it promotes wakefulness.
Right now, the best explanation seems to be that these effects are dose dependent. In other words, low doses of CBD seem to promote alertness. But at higher doses, it has the opposite effect and can cause sleepiness.
While these effects may seem counterintuitive, they actually might mean that CBD is a particularly flexible tool in managing sleep problems. For example, a lower dose during the day could help stave off drowsiness, while a higher dose at night could help with drifting off to sleep.
CBD Works in Mysterious Ways
CBD is one member of a group of cannabis-derived substances known as phytocannabinoids. These substances affect the body in a variety of ways by mimicking the behavior of substances that the body produces naturally (a.k.a. endocannabinoids).
Most animals on earth have a network of receptors for endocannabinoids, which is known as the endocannabinoid system. These receptors are found in tissues throughout the body, from organs to immune system cells.
Unlike the most famous phytocannabinoid, THC, CBD is not intoxicating. In other words, while it may have an effect on mood and alertness, it doesn’t make people feel high the way THC does.
So, how does CBD affect sleep?
Well, we still have a lot to learn about the mechanisms by which CBD influences sleep. But it seems to affect the brain by increasing levels of the neurotransmitters serotonin and glutamate, which affect sleep, memory, and learning.
But CBD’s broad spectrum of action means that it could also affect sleep in other ways. For example, if CBD reduces insomnia triggers like painor anxiety, it could have a powerful — albeit indirect — effect on wakefulness.
When it Comes to Sleep, CBD and THC may be BFFs
In 2007, a review in the journal Chemistry & Biodiversity evaluated studies on the impact of THC and CBD on sleep. It evaluated results from studies that looked at each phytocannabinoid separately and compared them to research on the drug Sativex (nabiximols), which combines THC and CBD in equal parts.
In general, the researchers found that CBD tended to promote wakefulness, while THC-based treatments had a more sedative effect.
But when the two were used together in equal proportions, the patients experienced a substantial improvement in their sleep, with 40 to 50 percent of patients reporting “good” or “very good” quality of sleep after as long as four years.
There is still a lot to learn about using CBD for sleep. For now, anecdotal evidence seems to suggest that it’s very effective for some people. But it might not work for everyone.
If you’re thinking of using CBD for reasons unrelated to sleep, you might be wondering whether it will cause problems with your sleep patterns. After all, if you’re not looking for wakefulness or a sleep aid, that is a very reasonable concern.
But in 2018, a double-blind, randomized study followed volunteers after taking either CBD or placebo. They found that, for these healthy volunteers, CBD did not affect sleep.
No matter why you’re thinking of trying CBD, you should consult your doctor before you add it to your regimen. This is especially true if you’re taking other medications.
That’s because CBD has the potential to interact with some common medications and can either increase unwanted side effects or decrease the efficacy of your medicine. Your doctor can help you adjust your dosage if necessary, to make sure that you’re getting the most effective care possible.