For part one of this blog, visit Can't Sleep: Why You're Still Awake!
When it comes to natural treatments for insomnia, sleeplessness, and low quality of sleep, it is always best to try before you judge and after you educate yourself. You’ll never know if something works for you otherwise.
The 2020 Craze: Can CBD Really Help Me Sleep?
Is your mind racing?
Is your body in pain?
Inflammation and anxiety can really kill the mood for sleep. Thankfully, it's in the arena of inflammation and anxiety relief that CBD's potential really shines. While research into CBD is still fresh and constantly ongoing, there is a growing body of research that supports CBD for both anxiety, inflammation, and pain relief.
The Optimal State for Sleep: No Inflammation, No Anxiety
A healthy body is programmed with an inflammatory response for good reason: this knee-jerk reaction for extra inflammation can be the difference between infection, injury, cellular damage, and good health. Rather unfortunately, inflammation is also ingrained in our biological response to stress, otherwise known as the fight or flight reflex.
When we stress, our Endocannabinoid System (the ECS) reacts by prioritizing certain functions over others.
- As a reminder, the ECS is a crucial biological system found in all humans and most animals since the development of spines hundreds of millions years ago (literally).
- The ECS has a hand in many human functions, including sleep, mood, pain, inflammation, appetite, arousal, memory, and much more.
- You can think of the ECS as your body’s internal scale.
- The ECS periodically weighs the various functions of your body to ensure that they’re running the way they should be, in the right place and at the right amount.
- Functions that are delivering too much are scaled back and functions that aren’t delivering enough are amped up, allowing your body to maintain (or regain) internal balance or homeostasis.
Things like stress, a constant in our modern life of tech and work-work-work, can make it difficult for the ECS to do its job. It’s important to remember that the ECS developed at a time when human life was much simpler.
The stress response is a good example of this. The stress response solidified during the caveman era. Back then, it made sense for our bodies to react to stress with fight or flight.
Most issues that could stress you out, after all, could just as easily be solved by fighting or running.
- Bear attack? Fight or flight.
- Murderous hail? Fight or flight.
- Threatening humanoid? Fight or flight.
Today’s issues induce the same levels of stress. The big difference is that the issues that stress us out today can rarely be solved by physically fighting or fleeing the situation. Thus, the dilemma.
Understanding the basics of the stress response can help illuminate how easy it is for our bodies to not only slip into a state of fight or flight but also stay in that state.
The dangers of chronic stress can’t be overstated.
- Chronic stress overtaxes the ECS, forcing it to prioritize survival over balance.
- Chronic stress leads to an ugly cycle where your body and mind view life itself as fight or fly, live or die. For obvious reasons, a state of constant do or die can make recovery from this state seem impossible, compounding the problem.
Potential CBD Benefits for Anxiety and Inflammation
CBD is a phyto (from a plant) cannabinoid. We produce our own endo (from the body) cannabinoids. When our ECS is overtaxed and our own cannabinoid production is left lacking, CBD may prove the ideal supplement for any deficiencies.
Taking CBD daily may help your ECS better manage increases in stress in the long-term.
- Studies like this, this and this show CBD as having exciting promise for fighting excess inflammation.
- Studies like this, this, and this show that CBD may have powerful properties for anxiety and depression relief, two conditions that often accompany insomnia, chronic stress, and excess inflammation from injury, infection, and overly strenuous physical activity.
- Even better: studies on CBD use for anxiety and depression are finding that CBD may help promote neurogenesis, or the formation of new neurons in the brain. This is great news for rewriting old habits of anxiety and depression with new habits of wellness.
Research on CBD Benefits for Sleep: What We Know (So Far)
CBD research can be confusing. Anecdotal evidence surrounding CBD use can be even MORE confusing!
Many CBD supporters claim that CBD can both energize and sedate you. How is that possible?
The answer is dose, dose, dose. Most studies have found that at lower doses, CBD may confer a general feeling of happiness. Higher doses of CBD, on the other hand, have been found effective in studies on those with sleep disorders.
Ultimately, the question of how to use CBD for sleep versus energy remains unanswered today. Much of the literature existing on CBD’s benefits for sleep doesn’t focus on CBD isolate alone. Rather, most studies on sleep and CBD use cannabis or hemp.
- This is worth noting because "cannabis" and hemp are very different from just CBD. "Cannabis" has high levels of THC.
- THC has its impact on sleep and THC in combination with CBD is an animal separate from both THC served solo and CBD served solo. Hemp, similarly, has a number of terpenes, flavonoids, and other phytocannabinoids.
- Until we have more research, it is hard to pinpoint whether it is CBD or the combination of CBD and other cannabis-derived plant parts that helps inspire sleep.
In spite of all this, the studies that do exist on CBD use for sleep are there and they are positive.
- This 2014 study found CBD effective for treating symptoms of REM sleep behavior disorder
- This 2007 study found that Sativex, a CBD-THC sleep aid combo drug, was effective long-term in maintaining healthy, high-quality sleep
- This 2018 study used raw hemp flower over a long-term period to test CBD benefits for sleep in 409 people. The findings support CBD for use as a natural sleep aid.
- Interestingly, the study particularly notes that the effectiveness of CBD for sleep was higher than the effectiveness of THC for sleep.
- This sleep study used a pool of 72 people to study the link between CBD, anxiety, and sleep. Of the 72, 48 patients had improved sleep scores in the first month and 57 patients had decreased anxiety scores.
- The study notes that the sleep scores fluctuated during the duration of the study while the anxiety scores did not.
- Project CBD has an excellent resource that is extremely comprehensive on CBD’s potential benefits for sleep. They surveyed 1,521 people that reported taking CBD for sleep.
- Those surveyed reported that it took them 62 minutes to fall asleep without CBD; with CBD, it took them only 20 minutes to fall asleep! Similarly, participants reported waking up 4.3 times without CBD and 1.4 times with CBD.
Fun fact: one of CBD-rich hemp flower’s most plentiful terpenes, myrcene, may have a great part to play in CBD’s benefits for sleep. Myrcene is also present in hops and hops has been used since ancient times as an herbal remedy for sleeplessness.
5 CBD Products Every Insomniac Needs
This artisanal full-spectrum CBD soap ($15.99) from Holy Leaf is cold-pressed to give you relief of the highest quality and potency. Infused with 350 mg of CBD, essential oils, and plant extracts, this soap is handcrafted with love for targeted CBD use for stress relief, skincare, and sleep.
For the restless mind: lavender, like CBD, is a natural remedy for pain thanks to its powerful anti-inflammatory benefits. It helps soothe skin, relax the muscles, and prepare the body and mind for sleep. The scent of lavender inspires relief for stress and anxiety.
Buy Holy Leaf's CBD Soap with Lavender Essential Oils here!
It's hard to sleep when you're stressed and sore! These soft gels ($89.95) from Joy Organics use proprietary water-soluble nanoemulsion technology to combine the benefits of CBD with melatonin. That means your body will absorb more CBD, faster!
When CBD soothes your tense muscles and calms your mind, you'll be sure to fall asleep soundly night after night. There's 25 mg per softgel and 30 softgels per bottle.
Buy Joy's Softgels with Melatonin for Sleep here!
cbdMD understands that sleep feels out of reach when we're stressed and our bodies hurt. PM for Sleep ($44.99) gives you the relief your body and mind need with 500 mg of CBD. CBD works hard to calm your mind and relax your muscles by reducing inflammation. Stress melts away as CBD tells your brain to feel happy, returning you to a balanced state.
Plus, cbdMD adds in 150 mg of melatonin and herbal extracts used to promote sleep since the start of medicine. Chamomile, valerian root extract, passionflower, cascade hops, and lemon balm complete this sleep aid powered by plants for a natural solution that tastes minty fresh.
Buy cbdMD's PM for Sleep here!
With 500 mg of CBD isolate derived from hemp, these bath crystals ($40) from Life Flower are the perfect self-care indulgence for your nightly pre-sleep prep. Use these bath crystals as a body scrub to exfoliate the skin in the shower or pour them into a hot bath and soak to release tension and soreness in muscles. Do this before bed and let the lavender and eucalyptus essential oils lull your mind and body, helping you combat insomnia by preparing you for a restful night of sleep.
Buy Life Flower's Herbal Bliss Bath Crystals here!
Infused with 250 mg of CBD isolate derived from hemp, this sleep aid essential oil roll-on ($30) from Blissful Medicinals is chock full of essential oils known in herbal practices to promote rest, bodily relaxation, and quality sleep. This roll-on's essential oil blend of chamomile, lavender, and frankincense has been used since ancient times to combat insomnia. Swipe it on your wrists before bed, or on the delicate dip beneath your nostrils for extra calming aromatherapy benefits.
Buy Blissful Medicinals' Sleep Essential Roll-On here!
Disclaimer: This blog post and any recommendations made within this blog post have not been approved by the FDA. This blog post should not be regarded as making any medical claims, offering any medical advice, or as offering criteria for diagnosis. CBD research is ongoing and any strong statements made within this blog post should be regarded as the opinion of the writer.