Many people across the world suffer from sleep problems. Common symptoms of insomnia include waking up during the night, battling to fall asleep or waking up too early in the morning.
According to the National Institute of Health, around 30% of the general population in the U.S. has trouble falling asleep or staying asleep. Over 10% of adults have problems with chronic insomnia, which lasts for longer than three months and billions of dollars are spent annually on medical costs related to sleep disorders.
Why do people have such a hard time sleeping?
According to most insomnia statistics, frequent causes of sleep problems are everyday stress, illness, reaction to certain medications, anxiety and depression. Lifestyle habits, like following an irregular sleep schedule, getting too little physical exercise, using caffeine, nicotine or alcohol, and using electronic devices close to bedtime, can raise the risk of sleep problems.
A lack of sleep can cause drowsiness, mood changes, lack of focus and other conditions. If this happens on a consistent basis, it can contribute to serious health problems such as depression, pain, hyperthyroidism, arthritis, and anxiety.
What current solutions do people use?
Good sleep hygiene, regular exercise, meditation, cutting down on caffeine intake, and taking magnesium or melatonin are some of the ways people try to solve their sleep problems. However, many people resort to using prescription medications, which often have unwanted side effects.
What is CBD?
Cannabidiol (CBD) is one of many different cannabinoid compounds in the cannabis plant. It does not trigger a “high” like tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), which is also found in the cannabis plant. CBD is legal in the U.S. if it contains 0.3% or less of THC. The fact that it does not cause a “high” makes it suitable for a wide range of people of all ages.
Why using CBD could provide a solution
Cannabidiol (CBD) appears to help with sleep because of its ability to promote relaxation. It has an effect on the human endocannabinoid system (ECS), which regulates various bodily functions, such as sleep, appetite and mood.
This system helps the body to go back to a natural state of balance or homeostasis, whether it has a surplus or a lack in some chemical pathway. Many conventional medications will only lower or increase the aspect that is out of balance. When the human body does not produce enough of its own endocannabinoids, CBD appears to help fill in the gap.
Studies on the use of CBD for sleep problems
Research still has to catch up with the anecdotal evidence that CBD can help with the problem of insomnia, although some studies already show promise.
An early study wanted to find out whether administering CBD had an effect on the sleep cycle of rats. Four groups of rats received injections of 2.5 mg/kg, 10 mg/kg, and 40 mg/kg and a placebo. Sleep improved significantly in rats which received 10 and 40 mg/kg of CBD compared to the control group.
A review was conducted of clinical trials using CBD in healthy volunteers, insomniacs, and epilepsy patients. Doses of 40mg, 80mg, and 160mg of CBD were compared to a placebo and 5mg of nitrazepam in 15 insomniac volunteers. Subjects who received 160mg of CBD reported having slept significantly more than those receiving a placebo.
A 2019 study was conducted by Scott Shannon, MD et al. to determine whether CBD could help improve sleep and/or anxiety. The 72 participants included 25 who had difficulty sleep and 47 with anxiety. Ingesting a 25mg CBD pill for a month in a clinical practice setting showed that nearly 70% of all participants found CBD gave them a better sleep experience.
Factors to consider when using CBD for insomnia
Everyone has a unique response: As everyone has a different reaction, some people may find that CBD makes them feel more alert so it may not help them to sleep. Others find it helps them to relax and feel less anxious, which helps them to fall asleep. Some find it helps to reduce their pain, which in turn helps them to sleep.
The type of CBD product: This may influence effectiveness. For example, it is possible to take pure CBD, or a broad or full-spectrum CBD. Many people believe that CBD alone does not work as well as a combination of all the chemical compounds found in the cannabis plant. This is known as the “entourage” effect.
The form of CBD: CBD products come in many different forms, from edibles to tinctures. CBD oils and tinctures are placed under the tongue where they enter the bloodstream. This means they work quite quickly. Edibles and capsules have to go through the digestive system, so they take longer to work.
The CBD dosage: There is no standardized dosage due to individual differences such as body weight, concentration of CBD and metabolism. As concentration may vary by product, some people may require more or less to feel the results.
It is always better to start off slow and take a low dosage at first. Many people start off with administering about 0.5ml to 1ml of CBD oil under the tongue about half an hour before bed every night.
Safety: CBD is safe to use and there are no known cases of overdosing. People generally have few to no side effects but some do experience diarrhea, nausea, vomiting or irritability.
Product quality: The quality of the CBD product will influence effectiveness. Make sure about where the hemp used in the product was grown, what extraction method was used, and whether there are third-party laboratory test results.
A final word
So, is CBD worth using to help with sleeplessness? There is not much scientific data to corroborate the anecdotal evidence yet but many people report finding relief from insomnia when using CBD. As more large-scale studies are done, it is possible CBD could enter the mainstream as a scientifically proven remedy for insomnia. This could bring relief to countless people worldwide who suffer from this problem.
Effects of acute systemic administration of cannabidiol on sleep-wake cycle in rats https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/23343597/
Cannabidiol in Anxiety and Sleep: A Large Case Series https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6326553/
Hypnotic and antiepileptic effects of cannabidiol https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/7028792/