Many people are benefiting from CBD as a recovery aid from the aches and pains that can accompany an active lifestyle. In addition to pain relief from reduced inflammation, a good night's rest is also essential for recovery. The cannabis plant has long been used for medical purposes and some studies are demonstrating that CBD may also be an effective sleep aid.
What current research suggests:
In the last decade, growing public interest in the benefits of marijuana, and CBD in particular, has encouraged researchers to study its effects. Early studies indicate that CBD may support sleep. One investigation found that, compared with a placebo, CBD increased sleep duration.
Typically, cortisol levels peak in the morning. Conversely, people with insomnia may have high cortisol levels at night which may negatively affect sleep.
Wait, what’s cortisol’s function again?
Cortisol, the primary stress hormone, increases sugars (glucose) in the bloodstream, enhances your brain's use of glucose, and increases the availability of substances that repair tissues. Cortisol also curbs functions that would be nonessential or detrimental in a fight-or-flight situation. This helps explain why independent of insomnia, having high cortisol levels at night is associated with an increased number of nighttime awakenings.
Researchers have found that cortisol levels decreased more significantly when participants took CBD oil. (dosages vary between users) These results suggest that CBD affects the release of cortisol, therefore possibly acting as a sedative.
A more recent analysis of CBD and sleep recruited 103 participants who had anxiety or poor sleep.
Researchers studied the effects of CBD combined with those of other prescribed medications.
The CBD dosages ranged from 25–175 mg. Researchers found that 25 mg was the most effective dosage for anxiety and that addressing troubled sleep required higher dosages. Trail, in combination with keeping a journal of dosages taken, helps individuals zero in on what dosage is most effective for them personally.
During a 90 day study, participants were polled monthly. The first follow-up reported that nearly 68% reported an improvement in sleep. However, 27% had worsened sleep. The second follow-up reported that 56% experienced continued improved sleep while 27% had worsened sleep.
During the study, the participants were polled monthly. In the first follow-up, 66.7% reported an improvement in sleep, but 25% had worsened sleep. At the second follow-up, 56.1% of the participants reported improved sleep, but 26.8% had worsened sleep.
This would suggest that CBD may help slightly more than half the people who try CBD for sleep. Sustained effects are not yet substantiated. This would suggest (like in other studies) the benefits of CBD can be more or less effective depending on the individual, frequency of use, and dosages.
Side effects and other risks of CBD:
Overall, the available evidence suggests that CBD is well-tolerated. In some cases, people report fatigue and mental sedation with CBD use. However, researchers believe that this may be related to the dosage.
Taking 10–400 mg of CBD per day for extended periods did not have a toxic effect on participants in a large retrospective study. Even dosages of up to 1,500 mg per day were well-tolerated, other researchers report.
Still, it is a good idea for anyone who wants to use CBD to speak with a healthcare provider first.
Other uses of CBD:
CBD has several properties that may make it an attractive therapeutic agent. Researchers also are interested in CBD’s effects on:
- Anxiety and other psychiatric disorders
- Nausea and vomiting
The first CBD-based medication approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is Epidiolex, which doctors prescribe to treat rare and severe forms of epilepsy.
Sativex is a CBD and THC combination medication used to help ease spasticity in people with multiple sclerosis. However, the FDA has not approved this for use in the United States.
Researchers believe that CBD may also help treat or prevent:
- Opioid addiction
- Chronic pain
- Some types of acne and other inflammatory skin conditions
- High blood pressure
It's important to note that the capacity of CBD to address these issues remains unclear, and further research is necessary.
Other sleep aids:
In addition to CBD, popular insomnia treatments include behavioral therapy. Some effective techniques include:
- Relaxation techniques
- Stimulus control
- Sleep hygiene practices
In some cases, individuals may still require medications. Doctors may recommend controlled-release melatonin or prescribe doxepin for adults. Or, they may recommend a Z-drug — a class of medications that help people stay asleep. Among them are zolpidem (Ambien), eszopiclone (Lunesta), and zaleplon (Sonata).
Other sleep aids include Benzodiazepines, (depressant drugs). This means that they slow down the activity of the central nervous system and the messages traveling between the brain and the body. However, doctors do not recommend Benzodiazepines, as a sleep aid because of their high abuse potential.
Other sedative drugs that people sometimes use to support sleep include:
- Antihistamines — treat allergy symptoms like congestion, runny nose, sneezing, or itching. Swelling of the nasal passages. Hives and other skin rashes.
- Antiepileptics — work in different ways to prevent seizures
However, doctors do not recommend these as sleep aids unless a person requires them for another purpose.
When to see a doctor
Insomnia is common, especially among older adults and people with other medical and psychiatric disorders. Anyone who is experiencing difficulty sleeping should speak with a doctor first. The best approach to treatment depends on the type of difficulty sleeping. A doctor may recommend behavioral therapy, medication, or a combination.
Insomnia is a common condition. Doctors typically recommend behavioral changes, sometimes combined with prescription drugs. But many people are finding that taking CBD is an effective solution to their sleeping problems. Research supports that using CBD appears to be safe, but it’s important to remember that long-term research into its effects, is still limited. Doctors are still unsure whether CBD helps people sleep, but growing evidence suggests that it may improve sleep duration.