Sleep is the cornerstone of good physical and mental health. It has such powerful ripple effects throughout your life. Sleep is a “keystone habit”, i.e. if you can improve the quality of your sleep you’ll find it will automatically improve every other area of your life.
Research and clinical experience show that insomnia is associated with reduced quality of life as well as depression. In turn, depression can lead to sleep problems. Insomnia can also lead to feelings of anxiety, frustration, hopelessness, exhaustion, and an inability to concentrate.
“Over 70 percent of those people with depression also have insomnia symptoms, so by focusing on people before they reach a clinical level, we are in a better position to prevent both the worsening of sleep symptoms, and the onset of depression.” – Dr Werner-Seidler
CBD may help you sleep
Cannabidiol — also known as CBD — is one of the main cannabinoids in the cannabis plant. Cannabinoids interact with your endocannabinoid system, which helps your body maintain a state of balance and stability, or homeostasis.
CBD isn’t psychoactive, meaning it won’t get you “high.” Instead, it has a range of health applications, like reducing seizures in people with epilepsy and pain relief from various conditions.
Some research and anecdotal evidence suggest that CBD can also help you get a good night’s sleep. Here’s what you need to know about using CBD for sleep.
What the research says about CBD and sleep
To understand whether CBD can improve sleep, we first have to understand what causes poor sleep.
Many things can cause you to sleep badly. According to the Mayo Clinic, insomnia can be caused by:
- mental health disorders, such as anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and depression
- medication, which can disturb your sleep-wake cycle
- physical conditions, such as chronic pain and restless leg syndrome
- caffeine, especially when consumed late in the day
- environmental factors, such as loud noises or an uncomfortable bed
If your insomnia is caused by external factors or related conditions, CBD may help by treating the causes of sleeplessness.
While research on CBD is still in its infancy, some research suggests that CBD can treat anxiety.
Research published in 2019 looked at whether CBD could improve sleep and or reduce anxiety. The study involved 72 subjects, with 47 experiencing anxiety and 25 experiencing poor sleep. The subjects were each given 25 milligrams (mg) of CBD in capsule form each day. In the first month, 79.2 percent of the patients reported lower anxiety levels and 66.7 percent reported better sleep.
Pain, which may also cause sleep problems, can be helped by CBD as well. A review in Frontiers in Pharmacology noted that there’s a fair amount of evidence to support the claim that CBD soothes pain. The authors note that by reducing chronic pain, CBD can improve sleep.
Other research tells us that CBD affects the sleep cycle. Research from 2014 looked at four patients with Parkinson’s disease. It found that CBD improved the symptoms of REM sleep behavior disorder (RBD), a disorder in which a person acts out their dreams. RBD is associated with poor sleep and nightmares.
A 2017 review also noted that CBD may be helpful in treating RBD, and that it shows potential for treating excessive daytime sleepiness.
Grogginess, another symptom of insomnia, might also be affected by CBD. A 2014 review found that CBD could have the potential to promote wakefulness, based on both human and animal research. The authors noted they weren’t sure exactly how or why CBD promoted wakefulness in some instances.
CBD may help treat:
- the causes of sleepiness
- excessive daytime sleepiness
How CBD works to improve sleep
Even studies that conclude that CBD can improve sleep aren’t always able to say why this is the case. Most of the above-mentioned studies emphasise that we need more research on CBD before we fully understand how it affects our sleep.
However, as mentioned above, many researchers say that CBD improves sleep because it tackles the root causes of insomnia.
As more research is done on CBD, we’ll learn more about why and how it can help us sleep.
How to use CBD for sleep
There are a number of ways to take CBD. It comes in a few different forms, including:
The dosage of CBD you use, and the time you take it, will depend on a number of factors. Your weight, personal body chemistry, and the nature of your sleeping troubles will affect how the CBD works. What works for some people might not work for others.
Most clinical trials on CBD and sleep have involved giving the subjects anywhere between 50 mg to 1,500 mg of CBD per day. It’s best to start with a low dosage and gradually increase it until you find something that works for you.
Much of the research on CBD, anxiety, and sleep has noted that many patients don’t notice an immediate difference. The 2019 study mentioned above noted that it took about a month for the subjects to notice a difference. Be patient, and remember that you’re unlikely to get immediate results.