CBD and Its Effect on Insomnia
Why Do We Sleep?
Everyone has to sleep; many of us have a set in stone bedtime routine while others struggle to both fall and stay asleep on a regular basis. According to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders, humans spend about one third of our lives sleeping and that it is just important to everyday functioning as food and water are. While sleep affects almost every system in the human body, scientists still don’t quite understand its main biological purpose. What they do know though, is that a lack of sleep or even poor quality sleep can affect the body in a plethora of negative ways. This can include things like depression, anxiety, high blood pressure, and even obesity.
There are two different types of sleeping to consider, REM sleep and non-REM sleep, REM stands for rapid eye movement. There are three stages of non-REM sleep that occur before our bodies fall into full REM sleep. Stage one is the change from being awake to being asleep, stage two is a period of lighter sleep, and stage three is the stage of deep sleep that helps someone to feel refreshed in the morning. We then enter REM sleep, about 90 minutes after stage one, this is the stage where we dream and our body is essentially paralyzed in sleep. Scientists also believe that this is where we consolidate our memories, both long and short term.
What Is Insomnia?
Insomnia, according to the Mayo Clinic, is a common sleep disorder affecting one's ability to fall asleep, stay asleep, and/or the inability to go back to sleep after waking up very early. While the amount of sleep each person gets is variable for each individual, seven to eight hours of sleep is average for an adult person. Insomnia can be acute, where it only lasts for a few days or weeks, often triggered by a traumatic event or some sort of physical ailment. It can also be chronic, meaning that someone is having trouble with sleeping for more than a month at a time.
Chronic insomnia can be triggered by a plethora of reasons such as; stress, traveling (both pleasure and for business), generally poor sleep habits, and/or eating too much in the evening. But insomnia can often be a symptom of other health conditions such as, anxiety, PTSD, medication side effects, chronic pain, sleep apnea, and for some just the use of caffeine can cause significant sleep problems.
Can CBD Help and How?
There are plenty of commercially available sleep aid’s on the market, many of them including things like melatonin, lavender, chamomile, and vervain. Many people looking for help with sleep have turned to CBD as well, hoping that the relaxing effects of the cannabinoids may be the answer to their sleepless nights. But does CBD actually have the potential to help with sleep? According to the American Sleep Association, researchers discovered that the endocannabinoid system can have an effect on certain bodily functions such as; mood, appetite, and even sleep.
It has been shown that CBD specifically, can cause changes in the sleep/wake cycle but more often CBD is known to relieve the symptoms that cause people to not sleep as well. If someone is experiencing pain or stress, those are both factors that can cause sleep disruption! CBD can potentially help to alleviate those symptoms, therefore helping the person to fall asleep or stay asleep more soundly than prior.
In a study published in 2018, 409 participants ranging from moderate to severe insomnia were given cannabis flower to smoke in one form or another. The average percentage of THC was around 20% and CBD content around 6% and was used by either smoking or vaporizing. At the end of the study, when symptoms were recorded again, participants reported on average about a 50% increase in their sleep and sleep quality. While this study helped us to understand the use of cannabinoids generally in sleep, researchers would not have been able to determine which of the cannabinoids present was the reason for improved sleep quality.
There have not been many studies on this subject since then but research is continuing into how CBD can benefit those with sleep disorders. Ultimately, there are many things that can also be incorporated into a sleep routine that also include CBD which is why it is important to speak with a doctor about possible causes of the sleep disorder and what treatments may work best.