Quality sleep is crucial for human emotional, physical and mental health, yet it eludes approximately 70 million Americans, according to the American Sleep Association. There are over 70 different sleep disorders. The most prevalent ones include:
- Insomnia: One can’t stay asleep or fall asleep.
- Sleep apnea: Impaired breathing during sleep.
- Restless leg syndrome: Discomfort, pain or tingling sensation in the legs that intensifies at night and is often relieved by movement.
- Circadian rhythm disorders: Disturbed sleep patterns when one’s internal clock is off.
- Parasomnias: Entails unusual activities including movements while sleeping like nightmares and sleepwalking.
- Extreme daytime sleepiness: Experiencing persistent drowsiness during the day from medical conditions like narcolepsy.
Modern treatment techniques for sleep disorders include drug prescriptions and behavioral therapy. Although conventional pharmacological treatment like temazepam and benzodiazepine may be effective, they also have unpleasant side effects. As such, most consumers avoid using them. Could CBD oil be a viable option?
History of CBD and Sleep
For centuries, cannabinoids have been extensively used to improve sleep. In the medical reference Materia Medica, cannabis featured as ‘narcotica’ and ‘anodyna’ meaning pain reliever.
In 1843, Sir William B. O’Shaughnessy reintroduced cannabis to Western medicine. The introduction led to several studies that emphasized the use of “Indian hemp” in managing sleep disorders.
German researcher Bernard Fronmueller noted that the Indian hemp produced something close to natural sleep. In addition, there were no extraordinary excitement of vessels, fear of dangerous reactions, secretions suspensions and paralysis in 1860.
Nine years later, Fronmueller observed that the Indian hemp cured 53% of patients with sleep disorders. In the study of 1000 patients, 21.5% got cured partially while 25.5% showed little or no effects.
Sleep-related challenges drive most people to seek relief with CBD oil. Inadequate can result in physiological body changes that can cause the following:
- Slow reaction times
- Reduced cognitive performance
- Aggravated pain and inflammation
- Low energy
- Overeating or craving for “comfort foods” such as high fat and high carbohydrates.
About 50% of long term cannabis consumers acknowledged using cannabis to help them sleep, according to a 2014 research. 48% of medical marijuana patients also reported using cannabis to combat insomnia.
A significant number of sexually abused victims and military veterans use cannabis to treat post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptoms. Clinical data obtained from a 2016 case study authenticated the use of CBD oil for improving sleep and treating anxiety in a young girl struggling with PTSD from sexual abuse.
Pharmaceutical drugs offered minimal relief. In fact, the meds resulted in adverse side effects. However, CBD oil reduced anxiety and improved the patient’s sleep.
Why CBD Oil Improves Sleep
1. Reduces Anxiety and Insomnia
Stress and anxiety are the leading causes of insomnia. In the United States, 30% of adults report suffering from short term insomnia while 10% have chronic insomnia, according to the American Sleep Association. As lifestyles become busier every day, most people struggle relaxing and insomnia cases rise.
Being a stress reliever, CBD oil helps in reducing anxiety and stress. Fortunately, it’s less addictive when compared to traditional medications and more effective.
2. Treats Sleep Apnea
Imagine being woken up by your own inconsistent breaking. That’s what people suffering from sleep apnea experience. The soft tissue in their breaking tract relaxes at night, blocking the airway and interrupting normal breathing for a few minutes or seconds. These events can occur 30 times an hour. As a result, they feel tired even after sleeping for the few hours remaining.
Studies show that CBD oil can reduce sleep apnea. A 2013 study shows that a high dosage of CBD is more effective than a low dosage. The study underscores the view that CBD stabilizes respiratory patterns and strengthens muscles in the nodose ganglia.
3. Alleviates Chronic Pain
With chronic pain, one cannot sleep as the brain is constantly sending and receiving impulses from nerve endings. If this continues all night, you lack deep sleep needed for relaxation and rejuvenation.
CBD oil shows promising results in chronic pain management. CBD interacts with brain receptors called endocannabinoids. These receptors receive signals from various stimuli, helping cells to respond in many ways. CBD oil develops anti-inflammatory and pain killing effects which are beneficial to people suffering from various types of chronic pain.
4. Reduces Rapid Eye Movement (REM)
REM is a sleep behavioral disorder in which one acts out physically and vividly. Sometimes this is usually accompanied by unpleasant dreams, vocal sounds or violent leg and arm movements. In a REM cycle, the body is nearly paralyzed.
The region of the brain responsible for controlling muscles gets suppressed and one is unable to move. Only the heart and breathing muscles function normally. As a result, one physically acts out what they’re dreaming. CBD oil can reduce REM behavioral disorder. Most CBD users report positive results in managing motionless REM.
5. Minimizes Depression
Depression is an emotional cause of sleeping challenges. Also, lack of enough sleep can cause depression. Sleep deprivation also makes one agitated, tense and irritable and the effects can be overwhelming.
Since depression is rooted in the nervous system, it’s often caused by chemical imbalance. According to Dr. Charles Raison, CNN’s mental health expert, CBD oil can restore the chemical imbalance and help in dealing with depression, leading to improved sleep.
6. Aids in Managing PTSD
PTSD is a mental condition that mostly affects people with first-hand experience of traumatic events such as violence, sexual abuse, military combat and devastating natural disasters. A major sign of PTSD is lack of sleep or sleep difficulty.
People with PTSD often become hyper aroused due to high brain activity. They feel anxious and lack sleep. Usually, the body produces anandamide, a chemical substance that helps in managing stress. Individuals suffering from PTSD have extremely low amounts of anandamide making them unable to work out their stress.
When one takes CBD oil, it triggers the body to produce anandamide giving you the ability to cope with stress.
7. Reduces Restless Leg Syndrome
An estimated 10% of people in the US suffer from restless leg syndrome (RLS). This condition creates an overwhelming urge to move legs while trying to sleep. Often, these urges become uncomfortable causing lack of sleep. Although the cause of RLS remains unknown, researchers believe it may be as a result of abnormalities in the central nervous system.
Some patients show signs of less RLS symptoms when they use CBD oil. May be because CBD inhibits prostaglandin biosynthesis and obstructs pain receptor pathways. As a result, the urge to move legs disappears temporarily.
How to Take CBD Oil for Sleep
There are various ways to take or use CBD oil for sleep disorders, including:
Tincture contains oil and a diluting agent like alcohol or oil base. Typically, tinctures have low amounts of CBD per dose and can be effective in managing sleep disorders. Just drop the tincture on your tongue and give it time to dissolve before swallowing. You can also combine it with another beverage if the taste becomes difficult to swallow.
You can take CBD oil along other supplements or vitamins as your daily treatment. Keep in mind that capsules take longer for the body to digest and absorb. For side effects to kick in on time, take them in advance before going to bed.
You can also take CBD oil in vapor form. Just vaporize and inhale. It’s one of the best ways to take CBD oil since its effects kick in quickly.
CBD and sleep relationship remain complex and intriguing. New studies continue supporting the link between CBD oil and effective management of sleeping patterns. However, if you intend to explore its use as a sleep aid, it’s prudent to consult a medical cannabis practitioner.