We often take for granted the value of a good night’s sleep — at least until we’re struggling to stay awake and stifle our yawns while in the middle of a business meeting, or we’re finding it difficult to concentrate on even the simplest tasks.
Some sleep problems only occur occasionally; others become a nightly predicament. If you suffer from chronic insomnia or other sleep difficulties, you may have already developed a sleep disorder. Whatever the degree of your sleep difficulties, CBD may offer some relief. Read on to learn more.
What causes sleep disorders?
Sleep disorders encompass a variety of conditions that affect one’s ability to fall asleep and/or sleep well on a regular basis. They can be associated with a health condition or caused by environmental factors.
Chronic sleep problems that interfere with daily life may indicate a sleep disorder.
Common causes of sleep disorders include:
- Hectic schedules
- Stress and anxiety
- Depression and other mental health conditions
- Certain medications
- Chronic pain, such as arthritic pain, lower back pain, fibromyalgia, or inflammatory bowel disease
- Other underlying medical conditions, such as allergies and other respiratory problems or frequent urination
Proper diagnosis and treatment of a sleep disorder is important to remedy its negative effects on one’s daily life and prevent further health consequences.
Treatment for a sleep disorder depends on the nature of the condition. Some require lifestyle changes and life tools, such as:
- Reducing sugar intake
- Eating more vegetables
- Eating low-carb meals before bedtime
- Reducing stress and anxiety through exercise or calming activities like yoga and meditation
- Strictly following a regular sleep schedule
- Maintaining a healthy weight
- Limiting caffeine intake
- Limiting alcohol intake and tobacco use
Others may require medical therapies, such as:
- Medications, like melatonin supplements, sleeping pills, allergy medications, or cold medications
- Medications for any underlying health condition
- A breathing device or surgery (for sleep apnea)
- A dental guard
- Psychotherapy or cognitive behavioral therapy (for depression or PTSD)
There are also natural sleep aids that help calm the nervous system. Popular ones include drinking calming herbal teas, such as chamomile, valerian root, and passionflower; using lavender essential oil in a diffuser or spraying it on your pillow, or taking a lavender supplement; and taking red ginseng tincture.
Another natural sleep aid that shows a lot of promise is cannabidiol, or CBD, from the hemp plant. Let’s take a closer look at how CBD works.
How can CBD help promote a good night’s sleep?
CBD produces different health effects through its interaction with the body’s endocannabinoid system (ECS), which regulates a number of processes — including sleep. CBD has also been shown to potentially provide relief from some of the factors that contribute to sleep problems, such as anxiety, stress, depression, and pain.
One study on anxiety and sleep looked at CBD’s potential calming effect on the nervous system and findings revealed that among the 72 adult participants with anxiety or poor sleep, 79.2% experienced reduced anxiety within the first month of treatment with CBD, and 66.7% experienced improved sleep.
A review from 2018 also found that CBD can reduce overall stress levels.
Another study involving patients with Parkinson’s disease who also experienced sleep problems due to rapid eye movement (REM) sleep behavior disorder (RBD) found that CBD treatment can improve sleep quality by substantially reducing the frequency of RBD symptoms without any side effects.
A 2018 review of numerous studies on CBD and pain concluded that CBD has great potential as an analgesic, particularly for neuropathic pain, fibromyalgia, and cancer-related pain.
Since treatment of sleep disorders involve addressing the causative factor/s, CBD may prove most helpful for individuals whose sleep problems are caused by anxiety, stress, pain, or even RBD.
Choosing CBD Products for Better Sleep
Choosing the most suitable CBD product will depend on the severity of your sleep problem and your body’s level of tolerance for CBD.
For example, mild stress or anxiety may respond well to low-potency CBD products, such as CBD topicals (CBD balms, creams, or lotions). Chronic anxiety or pain, or RBD, may respond better to high-potency CBD products such as CBD oil, capsules, or sublingual sprays.
CBD products that are specially formulated for sleep and contain other natural sleep-aid ingredients, such as melatonin or lavender oil, may work even better.
CBD edibles may not be a good choice, particularly if the product contains a lot of sugar or even caffeine, such as in CBD chocolate.
When choosing a CBD product to help you sleep better, make sure to check its certificate of analysis (COA) for the following:
- The exact CBD content, which should be consistent with the content indicated on the product label.
- The presence of other cannabinoids, if the product is full-spectrum or broad-spectrum; the presence of flavonoids and terpenes may also be indicated.
- The presence and exact amount of THC present, if the product is full-spectrum; take note that the THC content should be no more than 0.3%.
- The absence of residual solvents, if the CBD was extracted using solvents, i.e., to produce CBD isolate and CBD tinctures.
- The absence of pesticides, heavy metals, and other contaminants.
A good-quality CBD product from a reliable company or seller should be able to provide a recent COA (it should be dated within the last 12 months) to assure customers that the product underwent quality testing from a third-party lab.
How to Use CBD for Better Sleep
For products that require proper dosing (such as with CBD oil or tincture), start with the lowest recommended dosage for your weight. You can find general dosage recommendations online, but a good-quality product should also provide these on the product label.
Stick to this dosage every night for a week; if you don’t experience any improvements in your sleep, gradually increase the dose — by about 5 mg — and observe your body’s response for another week. Keep making gradual increases on a weekly basis until you’re finally sleeping like a baby through the night. But avoid going over the maximum recommended dose for your weight group or starting with a high dose right away; too much CBD may lead to side effects, such as dry mouth, diarrhea, fatigue, and appetite and weight changes.
CBD oils and tinctures are best absorbed by the body when the drops are placed directly under the tongue (sublingually); but you can also mix the CBD into your food or drink — keep in mind that the efficacy may be reduced if you do this.
If you’re already taking medications for your sleep disorder, consult your doctor before adding CBD to your treatment regimen as it may have adverse interactions with the drug.
CBD shows great potential as a natural sleep-aid as it may not only help calm the nervous system, but may also help relieve some of the factors that cause sleep problems. As long as you choose a good-quality CBD product, you can rest assured that CBD is generally safe.
If your sleep disorder is caused by an underlying health condition, consult your doctor before using CBD.