Few things are more frustrating than a bad night’s sleep. Besides leaving you feeling tired, grumpy and anxious, it can impair your memory and concentration, affecting everything from your work to your relationships. Down the road, sleep deprivation increases your risk of health conditions such as hypertension, diabetes and depression.
The Cleveland Clinic reports that up to 50% of adults in the US have insomnia, symptoms of which include difficulty falling asleep, difficulty staying asleep, and waking up earlier than intended. Insomnia can be intermittent or chronic; either way, it has a detrimental impact on our physical and psychological wellbeing.
Currently there is a lot of talk about cannabidiol (CBD) as a natural solution to insomnia. But can this marijuana ingredient really help you get that elusive eight hours? If so, what’s the best way to administer it? That’s what we’re here to investigate.
What is CBD?
The cannabis plant contains over 100 chemical compounds known as cannabinoids. Among these, CBD and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) are the most significant. THC, as you probably know, is the psychoactive cannabinoid in marijuana.
Although CBD doesn’t get you high, it does affect the brain by nurturing a chemical that helps regulate mood, pain and psychological activity. It also restrains the psychoactive effects of THC, making marijuana safer and more tolerable.
What are the benefits of CBD?
Researchers are working to understand the therapeutic properties of CBD. And while they can’t always say why CBD has the effects that it does, much evidence exists demonstrating that CBD is beneficial to our health in various ways.
According to a number of studies, CBD is a safe and effective treatment for epilepsy. This is particularly true when the CBD is combined with other marijuana constituents like THC and terpenes.
It is also an anti-anxiety agent. In 2011, Neuropsychopharmacology published a paper detailing the effects of CBD on people who have a fear of public speaking. The authors of the study observed that, following a 600 mg dose of CBD, the participants were less anxious while giving a speech.
There are further indications that CBD can be used to treat degenerative brain diseases like Alzheimer’s and multiple sclerosis, as well as chronic pain and inflammation associated with arthritis.
CBD and sleep
If early research is anything to go by, CBD is an efficient sleep aid, too. This is no surprise. After all, insomnia is oftentimes the result of an underlying problem: anxiety, chronic pain, inflammation, etc. As we’ve seen, CBD is effective in managing such conditions. If you’re able to successfully treat the root cause of your insomnia, it follows that your sleep hygiene will simultaneously improve.
As an example of this, one study analyzed the effects of CBD on Parkinson’s patients who suffer from a sleep disorder called REM sleep behaviour disorder (RBD). Four of the patients treated with CBD “had prompt and substantial reduction in the frequency of RBD-related events without side effects.”
A broader investigation into the link between CBD and sleep was done in 2019. The study included 72 adults with either anxiety or insomnia. After a month of CBD treatment, 67% of patients with insomnia said their sleep had substantially improved.
How to use CBD
Unlike THC, CBD is entirely legal and widely available. It also comes in many forms, from oil, capsules, and lotions to candy and beverages. Whatever product you select, be sure to buy from a trustworthy company that includes ingredients and dosing information on the product label.
When using CBD for insomnia, it’s generally best to take it one or two hours before you intend to go to bed. That being said, the quickness and intensity of its effects will vary from person to person, so you’ll probably have to experiment with dosage and timing until you find what works best for you.