With 1 in 3 adults reporting that they don’t get the recommended 7-8 hours of sleep each night, it’s no wonder that there are so many products on the market that help people sleep. Insomnia has been linked to numerous chronic health conditions, including heart attack, COPD, stroke, cancer, depression, and coronary heart disease. Not getting enough sleep can contribute to accidents and affect work quality, causing an estimated $63.2 billion in lost productivity annually.
As you can see, this is a pretty serious issue, and one that needs more attention. In this article, we’re going to take a look at insomnia and other sleep issues, as well as some of the causes of insomnia, common treatments, and how CBD may help.
Causes of Insomnia
Let’s start by looking into the causes of insomnia. From time to time, we all experience a night where sleep is elusive. However, insomnia can become a longer-term issue that’s caused by underlying health conditions.
Here are some of the most common reasons for sleeplessness:
- Changing time zones or Daylight Savings
- Overeating in the evening
- Poor daytime habits
- Too much caffeine
- Medical conditions
- Alcohol consumption
Short-term insomnia can last a few days or weeks, but chronic insomnia lasts for a month or longer. Experiencing issues for longer than a month should warrant a consultation with a medical professional to evaluate any underlying conditions that could be causing it.
Symptoms of Insomnia
As surprising as it may seem, some people don’t realize they’re experiencing sleeplessness at first. They may feel a bit sluggish during the day or notice a few minor symptoms that seem innocuous. However, over time, this prolonged lack of sleep can interfere with their ability to work, operate a vehicle, or interact socially.
Sometimes, the symptoms can have minor effects, but others can affect your home and work lives, too. These are some of the minor indications of a sleep disorder:
- Unable to fall asleep or stay asleep
- Sluggishness during the day
- Waking up tired
- Difficulty paying attention
- Making mistakes at work or school
- Issues with memory
Over time, sleep disruption can result in more serious health conditions, so getting it under control should be a priority. Some of these issues can include:
- Weight gain
- High blood pressure
- Anxiety or depression
- Job loss
- Sleep apnea
- Chronic pain
If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, an evaluation by a healthcare professional can determine if insomnia is the cause, and what treatments can be helpful.
Common Remedies for Sleep Disorders
Getting to the root cause of insomnia can help determine the best course of action. While taking a sleep aid can help, treating the cause of the sleep disruption can help to keep it away for the long term. For example, if pain is the cause, then treating the problem with an effective pain management regimen could help resolve insomnia.
While medical interventions could be the right course of action, other integrative activities may also help. Before seeking any holistic, alternative, or integrative therapies, first check with your healthcare provider to make sure they don’t interrupt or conflict with other treatments.
These are some of the ways you can promote relaxation and prepare yourself for sleep:
- Yoga or deep stretching
- Cognitive behavior therapy (CBT)
- Practicing good sleep hygiene
- Reducing caffeine and alcohol consumption
- Putting away screens at least an hour before bedtime
- Deep breathing techniques
- Phone apps for sleep
Experimenting with different activities can help you figure out just the right regimen. Be patient and give this time to work, and if something isn’t working after a few weeks, try another technique. Everybody is different, and you may find that a combination of these activities is exactly what you need!
Does CBD Help Insomnia?
If you’re reading this article, you’re likely already exploring the various ways that CBD could help your wellness overall. And you’re possibly wondering how and if it can help you sleep better. Let’s look at some ways that CBD and its sister cannabinoid CBN could be beneficial.
CBD, also known as cannabidiol, has been studied for its calming effects, but is sought after partly because it doesn’t produce a psychoactive “high” as THC does. Clinical evidence has pointed to its value in helping epilepsy and mental health conditions. Additionally, researchers have studied it for its ability to calm the central nervous system (CNS).
In a study that evaluated people who suffer from insomnia and anxiety, patients reported that they found relief for anxiety after taking CBD over time. Sleep scores improved by a smaller degree. If stress is the root cause of insomnia, then improving the anxiety could possibly help sleep.
This study used 25mg/d capsules, which were administered depending on the patients’ complaints. If anxiety was the main cause of sleeplessness, then doses were given in the morning, and sometimes in the evening after dinner. If insomnia was the primary concern, then doses were given only in the evenings.
What is CBN?
CBN, or cannabinol, is another type of cannabinoid. CBN is also non-psychoactive and is extracted from older cannabis. Many CBD products on the market have trace amounts of CBN in them, but some products isolate the CBN during the extraction process to create products with higher levels of CBN.
In a study published by the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Ecology (FASEB) that compared it to NSAIDs for its use as an anti-inflammatory, CBN was found to reduce collagen-induced arthritis. If pain and inflammation are the root cause of insomnia, CBN may, over time, help to mitigate pain-induced sleep disruptions.
Psychology Today has touted CBN as a “powerful sedative” and says that it may prolong sleep time. It is a known CNS depressant. Research linking CBN to sleep improvement is relatively new, but we anticipate that after the Farm Bill of 2018 legalized industrial hemp, we could see more on the horizon.
CBD, the ECS, and Sleep
The endocannabinoid system (ECS) that regulates homeostasis in your body also plays an essential role in the quality of sleep you get. It regulates your sleep cycles, wakefulness, and even your dreams. Additionally, it oversees your stress levels, emotions, and pain, all of which can affect your sleep.
Your body produces cannabinoids naturally that bind with receptors in your body to regulate specific functions. However, phytocannabinoids such as CBD, CBN, and CBG can also interact with these receptors. These compounds can modulate your ECS to produce the hormones that promote sleep, as well as adjust neurotransmission rates and create a calming effect.
Best Forms of CBD for Sleep
Many forms of cannabidiol exist, but one size does not fit all. Here, we’ll look at some of the most popular forms of CBD products on the market, as well as the best products to use for those sleepless nights.
Forms of CBD:
- Tinctures and oils
- Softgels and capsules
- Topical creams, lotions, and salves
- Edibles, gummies, and candies
There is truly something for every preference, right down to the dosage, flavor, and form you prefer. That said, some forms of CBD work differently than others.
For example, taking an edible such as a gummy will take longer to start working in the system, but it will last longer than vaping or smoking. And conversely, vaping will take effect within minutes, but its effects will not last as long as an edible form.
CBD oil, however, should be held under the tongue (sublingually) for a few minutes before swallowing. This allows for quicker absorption into the bloodstream and a higher bioavailability because it doesn’t have to pass through the digestive system first. When taken sublingually, CBD oil can take effect in 5-20 minutes, compared to oral consumption, taking anywhere between half an hour to two hours.
Finally, topical creams and lotions allow for cannabinoids to absorb through the skin’s surface, which will enable them to interact with cannabinoid receptors. This can be a good option for those who experience inflammation and need an onsite application. However, when applied topically, the peak effect happens around 90 minutes after application.
When it comes to sleep, how you take CBD could be influenced by some key factors. If achy joints cause sleep disruption, applying a topical could be the way to go. If stress and anxiety are the issue, you may decide to opt for drops. Or, if you’re waking up too early in the morning and desire a longer-lasting effect, the capsule or gummy could be most helpful.
This information is meant to inform and not to replace any advice given by your medical doctor. Our goal is to provide you with enough information to have an informed conversation with your medical provider or pharmacist, who can guide your healthcare.
Terpenes and Insomnia
Terpenes are found on plants and can influence how cannabis works in the body. While CBD has its own qualities, the terpenes work in concert with cannabinoids to produce the entourage effect. This means that the effects of the cannabinoids and the terpenes together create a more amplified result than just taking one or the other.
When considering CBD or CBN products to help you sleep, you might also consider the terpenes in the product. To determine which terpenes are in your product, take a look at the third-party lab testing, which will list the amounts as well. Side note: avoid cannabis products that don’t have this independent testing—they may not contain quality ingredients or even the amount of advertised CBD in them.
Here are some of the recommended terpenes that may help you sleep better:
- Caryophyllene: may produce calming effects, as well as help with pain and insomnia. Known for its relaxing and analgesic properties, and can bind with your body’s cannabinoid receptors.
- Linalool: could help to calm the body and create a drowsy effect. Potentially promotes the production of adenosine, and hormone that is responsible for inducing sleep.
- Myrcene: a commonly found terpene found in the cannabis plant known for its possible sedating effects.
- Nerolidol: known for its sedating effects, this terpene may also reduce inflammation and promote deeper sleep.
- Terpinolene: can induce sleepiness and sedative effects and may interact directly with your body’s CNS.
When it comes to using CBD for sleep, the full effects can take time to achieve. We recommend starting with a lower dose, then working up incrementally until the maximum effect is achieved. If you wake up feeling groggy, you might give it a few days or weeks to see if your body adjusts.
We are looking forward to seeing more research emerge in this field in the months and years to come!