It's easy to say you need a good night's sleep. However, for an increasing number of people around the world, quality sleep is nothing more than a dream. The causes of poor sleep can be wide-ranging from lifestyle and stress to sleep disorders. One thing is for sure, a lack of adequate, uninterrupted sleep can cause irreparable harm to your health, over time. Using CBD oil for sleep is a remedy people are turning to for help, and for good reason. More than a trend, CBD oil is showing positive results in early medical trials and studies. The medical community is learning why CBD oil is quickly becoming the go-to Sandman, whose growing impact is changing lives.
The National Sleep Foundation has reported that "building up a sleep debt over a matter of days can impair metabolism and disrupt hormone levels." This impaired metabolism has been linked to weight gain and obesity. Chronically low sleep duration has also been linked to negative changes to the hormones that regulate hunger, ghrelin, and leptin. Finally, poor or inadequate sleep has also been linked to an increased risk of developing Type II Diabetes, hypertension, and heart disease and stroke.
Even those who don't suffer from diseases and conditions are desperate to get control over their sleep habits. This is a concern if for no other reason than getting a better handle on their mood, concentration, and critical problem-solving abilities. These are just a few examples of the most common impairments suffered by those who miss out on quality sleep for even one night.
Solution-seekers will often lean on over-the-counter remedies like melatonin. However, this sleep hormone has its limitations. It only works under optimal conditions. It is also only available as a prescription in some places, such as the EU. On the other end of the spectrum, patients will seek prescriptions to induce sleep. This option comes with its own set of risks and side-effects, including the possibility that patients will develop new medical conditions.
As more studies and experiments are able to discover and replicate the positive results of cannabidiol (CBD) on sleep, we're seeing a growing willingness among consumers to explore this option.
What is CBD?
CBD is the abbreviation for cannabidiol. It's the naturally occurring chemical compound harvested from the cannabis plant. It can be hemp- or marijuana-based, although hemp-based CBD is more popular as it does not have traces of THC, the psychoactive ingredient that can alter one’s state of mine. According to recent research, there are over 100 cannabinoids in the cannabis plant.
These chemical compounds bind to receptors in the central nervous system, acting as chemical messengers. CBD and THC are the two most well-known cannabinoids.
Different cannabinoids can affect the human body in different ways. As stated, one of the most well-known and common chemical substances found in the cannabis plant is tetrahydrocannabinol (also known as THC). While THC is the psychoactive compound people rely on to get high, CBD merely imparts a sensation of relaxation and calm. CBD is the primary cannabinoid that has medicinal benefits.
While the way cannabinoids work on the body isn't completely understood, research has shown they interact with proteins and cells in the brain. Two primary receptors, called CB1 and CB2, play a role in maintaining body functions such as mood, appetite, and sleep. In fact, these receptors regulate your circadian rhythm, which your internal clock and innate ability to fall asleep and wake up.
Is CBD legal?
CBD is legal as long as it is derived from hemp. The confusion about CBD is that it can be derived from marijuana, which has varying levels of legality across the United States. Instead, CBD from hemp is legal at all levels, federal and across all 50 state. As long as it does not contain more than trace amounts (.3%) of THC, which is the psychoactive chemical that is illegal, it is considered a safe, over-the-counter alternative to many other sleep aids.
Is CBD safe?
The short answer is, yes. CBD is safe. That is why hemp-CBD is considered legal at the federal level and across all 50-states.
According to a report from the World Health Organization, "In humans, CBD exhibits no effects indicative of any abuse or dependence potential." Their review further reported that "to date, there is no evidence of recreational use of CBD or any public health-related problems associated with the use of pure CBD."
These findings are significant because they show that contrary to wide-spread public misunderstanding, CBD does not contain the psychoactive compound, THC, and is not addictive, and can be used as an over-the-counter substance.
CBD, while a natural substance, is a chemical acting on the body, which means it has some side effects. Examples include nausea, fatigue, and irritability. It can act as a blood thinner, equivalent to coumadin. It can also increase the impact of certain medication in your blood, the way grapefruit juice does. Those who are already on blood thinners or some medications will find CBD may be contraindicated.
An additional safety concern regarding CBD is the prevalence of its labeling as an unregulated supplement. Because the FDA doesn't regulate supplements, it can be difficult to know what the active ingredients are and what dosage is best. In fact, when it comes to understanding dosage, it is also unknown what therapeutic dosage is necessary for various medical conditions.
What are the health benefits of CBD?
At this time, there is only one CBD medication that is FDA-approved. Epidiolex uses CBD to treat certain types of epilepsy. There are many more medications up for review for a wide array of health conditions. This federal level of approval is just one of the many clear ways CBD is gaining acceptance for the variety of health benefits it offers.
A significant benefit of CBD is that it promotes more restful sleep. Remember that CBD acts explicitly on the CB1 and CB2 receptors that manage and regulate sleep. It's gentle and safe enough to be used without a prescription, but powerful enough to treat severe medical conditions like insomnia.
What are the common ways to consume CBD oil?
There are three common ways to ensure the optimal intake of CBD oil for the best results. You can take it directly, or infuse it into a variety of products to then consume.
- Edibles include anything you might eat with CBD infused during the baking process. This might be CBD-infused butter that you spread on your morning bagel, baked goods, or even gummies. Edible will typically list the concentration of CBD in milligrams.
- Vapors are a CBD extract that is added to a vaporizer or vape pen. When the device heats up, it converts the CBD into a vapor that is inhaled. This can be less desirable for those with asthma. It's also more difficult to regulate the dosage.
- Tinctures are concentrated CBD. A few drops may be used as an entire dose. Some choose to add a few drops under the tongue to maximize quick absorption. Others will add a few drops to a favorite drink.
Research is still finding ways to understand the dosages needed to help the human body regulate sleep. Scientists are also looking at what dosage might be required for specific medical conditions. However, even though dosage may be unclear, because of the documented safety of CBD when it has been purified (THC separated and removed), it is known that CBD is safe to ingest. Individuals are often encouraged to use trial and error when finding the best CBD levels for their body and condition.
CBD oil indications for sleep
Millions of people report sleeplessness as a major problem in their lives. Most sleep aids have laundry lists of serious side effects. Plus, many sleep aids carry warnings that they may cause drowsiness even during waking hours after the medication has worn off, which can be unsafe. Additionally, many sleep aids can be addictive or are found to be ineffective. CBD oil, on the other hand, is considered a safe, non-habit forming, a natural substance that acts directly on the body's regulatory system that manages sleep.
- CBD interacts with the receptors in the nervous system that maintain mood and regulate your circadian rhythm.
- CBD helps to regulate cortisol, a stress hormone that has a significant impact on non-REM sleep cycles.
- CBD helps to reduce pain-induced sleeplessness by providing pain relief instead of the limiting effects of sedation that traditional sleep aids offer.
- CBD has been shown to successfully treat movement disorders, such as the tremors common to Parkinson's and Huntington's disease, helping with the related insomnia.
- CBD studies have shown the compound can be useful for helping women with the common struggle for restful sleep during pregnancy. While you should always consult a physician, the World Health Organization (WHO) has found that there are no adverse health outcomes for pregnant women who choose CBD oil to help them sleep.
- CBD can decrease the instances of nightmares, which can improve sleep by reducing the interruptions to sleep that nightmares cause. Case studies have shown better sleep with no negative side-effects.
- CBD doesn't just put you to sleep. It's use promotes healthy sleep-wake cycles, meaning it promotes wakefulness during the day, and relaxation at night. Insomnia, daytime sleepiness, and the ability to fall asleep when it's time are all positively influenced by the use of CBD oil.
- CBD has been linked to the specific anxiety experienced from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), which results in significant sleep disturbances.
How do I use CBD for better sleep?
In a nationally representative Consumer Reports survey, 10% of Americans reported trying CBD for sleep with positive results. Success rates for individuals will vary because of the challenge of understanding dosages. Other influences on the impact of CBD can be the type of product and how it is administered, the time of day, the dose, and the patient's body chemistry.
Quick reference FAQs
Short-term versus long-term use.
Some studies are showing diminished results over time, making CBD most useful and impactful in the short-term. For this reason, you may want to limit its use, or at least avoid using it daily. Some reports indicated sleeplessness improved in the first one-to-three months, but its effectiveness faded after three months, even when the dosage was increased.
The best way to use CBD for sleep is to combine it will long-term solutions, such as changes in your lifestyle that promote healthy sleep-wake cycles, a better mattress, exercise, sleeping in a cool, dark environment, avoiding naps within seven-hours of going to bed at night, and avoiding late meals.
What are the risks if I take CBD oil long-term?
While ineffectiveness is the most commonly reported side-effects with prolonged use, research has also shown that once a person no longer has chronic sleep problems, CBD can end up causing wakefulness.
Will higher doses be more effective?
Dosages for specific conditions and diseases are still being researched. Early results are indicating that higher doses can be something to experiment with when trying to find that sweet spot that will help you overcome sleeplessness. A low dose is considered 15 mg, while a large dose is considered to be 160 mg. When deciding where to start, some experts recommend starting with a modest dose of 25-30 mg and graduating upward in doses from there.
How do I know what form of CBD to use?
Tinctures and sublingual sprays will have an immediate effect because of their fast absorption. Edibles and oils are released more slowly, which can be a more relaxing way to ease into sleep, as well as helping patients sleep longer. Vaping can also work faster, but it can be difficult to regulate the dose. Authorities on the matter have recommended pills, oils, and gummies as the best way to supplement sleep because they are more likely to help the patient sleep longer, given the longer release time.
What about safety?
High dosages are considered safe. Long-term use can cause diminished results but is not considered unsafe. Also, experimenting with different products and ways to take CBD is recommended to aid each individual in finding the best combination for their body. It's also considered safe because there is no risk of addiction, unlike many other sleep aids, both over-the-counter and prescription. However, it's highly recommended that each individual share their medications and supplements with their primary care physician to ensure doses are properly regulated and interactions can be monitored.
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