Struggling with the new ‘Coronasomnia’ phenomenon? Hot flashes at night? Or maybe it’s a mystery to you why you’re unable to sleep a full, healthy 8 hours or drop off with ease. Whatever’s disturbing your sleep pattern, it’s clear that finding a solution is high on the list of priorities for a huge number of people in the UK, as the 1.28 million online searches for Melatonin, 387,600 searches for an over-the-counter sleep medication and 63,600 searches for a benzodiazepine-related sleeping pill over the past 12 months would suggest. But, with a boom in cannabis-related research demonstrating how CBD might safely and effectively impact sleep, and a wide range high quality CBD products now available, this natural supplement is fast becoming the sleep-aid of choice – and with good reason!
In this article we’ll be answering the burning question on many sleep-deprived minds: ‘Does CBD help with sleep?’, and if so, how?
Does CBD help with sleep?
There have been many studies investigating the effects of cannabis, and cannabis-derived cannabinoid CBD, on sleep and so far the results have been impressive. One 2019 paper published by the National Institutes of Health noted that 66.7% subjects given 25mg CBD (in capsule form) each day reported better sleep within a month. In addition to this, the study also found that 79.2% of subjects experienced lower anxiety levels. But how exactly does CBD help with sleep? Well, it’s likely to be in a wide variety of ways…
Wondering why there are all those searches for melatonin? Well, this natural hormone produced by the pineal gland is absolutely essential for getting to sleep and staying asleep. But, many of us are probably not making enough of it. While you can take synthetic melatonin supplements, it’s always best to find a way to help your body re-balance to the point where it’s functioning correctly without having to give it something it should already be producing. And CBD oil may be able to help with this.
One of the ways the CBD molecule is known to interact with the body is by directly activating serotonin receptors. When serotonin receptors are activated, serotonin is released. This particular neurotransmitter is best-known for it’s effects on mood, however, it’s responsible for an awful lot more than that! Including digestion, sexual function, pain transmission and sleep. Without appropriate levels of serotonin, the body can’t produce melatonin with is essential to regulate sleep-wake cycle.
Without serotonin, there is no melatonin. Without melatonin, there is no sleep! But by taking CBD regularly, and kicking your serotonin receptors back into gear, you can nudge your body back into a state of equilibrium where everything is working as it should.
It’s also worth noting that hemp seed oil (which does not contain any cannabinoids, but is often the carrier oil for CBD) is also very helpful for promoting melatonin production as this contains a potent combination of amino acid L-Tryptophan and vitamin B6, which together makes up the precursor for melatonin.
Reduce Anxiety, Increase Sleep!
Perhaps unsurprisingly, anxiety is a big trigger for poor sleep. But why is this?
If you experience a lot of stress during the day, you’re going to have high levels of cortisol and adrenaline in your body. These stress hormones are released as part of the ‘fight or flight’ response, which is cleverly designed to make you hyper-alert in times of danger or urgency. This can be very useful indeed when released appropriately, and extremely unhelpful when not. Neither of these hormones make it easy to fall asleep, or stay asleep, because you’ve got signals flying around telling your body that it needs to stay awake to survive!
Another key way that CBD interacts with the body is by supporting the endocannabinoid system – a complex network of receptors in the body which work alongside neurotransmitters (called endocannabinoids) to restore and maintain balance in all bodily functions.
This is very important when it comes to stress, as anandamide (one major endocannabinoid, named after the Sanskrit word for ‘bliss’) is essential for regulating the fight or flight response in the brain. When appropriate levels of anandamide are synthesised and produced in the body, which taking a regular dose of CBD supports, it acts like a gate-keeper for stress – keeping those stress hormones contained until absolutely necessary. When our endocannabinoids are not produced properly (which many cannabis experts believe can occur as a result of lack of sleep, chronic stress, poor diet etc) and we are left with low levels of anandamide in the brain, there’s nothing there to prevent that stress cascading at the drop of a hat!
Furthermore, increased endocannabinoid signalling in the central nervous system has been shown to decrease wakefulness and increase slow-wave sleep and REM sleep, while also increasing levels of adenosine, which plays a role in promoting sleep and suppressing arousal.
Is it better to take CBD oil at night?
Our sleep is not just affected by things that happen at night, or right before bed. Everything we experience during the day and the overall wellbeing of our body and mind needs to be taken into account. So, if you’re planning on using CBD for sleep, it’s best to use it every day, throughout the day and a higher dose about an hour before bed.
By helping to keep your body in balance and your stress response in check, you’re highly likely catch some more zzzs! So, can CBD help with sleep? It would certainly appear so, and many CBD fans all over the world would agree!