When you hear the lyrics, “Sweet dreams are made of this,” the first thing that comes to mind probably isn’t CBD. But, with preliminary evidence suggesting that CBD can help improve sleep in people with insomnia and other conditions that can cause difficulty sleeping, such as anxiety and Parkinson’s disease, it seems more CBD oils, teas, and gummies are finding their home in the sleep-aid category.
Trouble Sleeping? Join the Club
According to a 2017 report, the sleep-health industry is collectively estimated to be worth between $30 billion to $40 billion, growing by more than 8 percent per year. American consumers are cramming thousands of dollars into anything that will help them sleep better, and it’s not hard to see why.
Almost 80 percent of Americans reported to have trouble sleeping at least once a week, and one in four develops insomnia each year. Routine treatments for insomnia or trouble sleeping have traditionally been over-the-counter medicines and prescriptions. However, with a new trend of self-care and interest in alternative medicine spiking, many people are turning to CBD to help with sleep.
The Effects of Sleep Insufficiency
Sleep insufficiency, which is defined as sleeping less than seven hours a night, can be the result of mild sleeping disorders such as insomnia, sleep apnea, or anxiety. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 35.2 percent of all adults suffer sleep insufficiency.
Sleep insufficiency can lead to short- and long-term health problems that can decrease your general productivity. Without proper sleep, the immune system can weaken and mild cognitive impairment can occur, such as slower reaction times. Even worse, over the long-term, sleep insufficiency correlates with an increased risk of several chronic conditions, such as heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, obesity, stroke, and more.
The CDC reports that of all insufficient sleepers, 22.9 percent were at risk of developing depression and 11.1 percent were at risk of diabetes. In comparison, 14.6 percent of adults experiencing a sufficient amount of sleep per night were at risk of developing depression, and 8.6 percent were at risk of diabetes.
How Does CBD Affect Sleep?
Cannabidiol (CBD) is a non-psychoactive compound found naturally in the cannabis or hemp plant. Uses of hemp derivatives to help with issues such as pain, anxiety, and sleeping stretch back thousands of years. The Chinese were even using CBD to induce sleep all the way back in 1200 A.D. (yes, really.)
The verdict is still out on how exactly CBD helps coax us to sleep, but most notably, its sleep-inducing properties can be attributed to what scientists believe are its pain- and anxiety-relieving qualities. Researchers believe that CBD interacts with receptors in the brain and immune system, creating an anti-inflammatory and pain-numbing effect that helps with aches and anxiety. Once pain and anxiety have been diminished, it is assumed it can be easier to fall or stay asleep.
However, a 2017 review of sleep and cannabis in the Current Psychiatry Reports journal hints that CBD may actually affect sleep directly. Researchers hypothesize that the compound interacts directly with receptors in the brain that govern the body’s daily sleep and wake cycles.
Additional research is still needed, but current findings have been evidence enough for thousands of sleep-sufferers to turn to CBD. In a nationally representative Consumer Reports study released earlier this year, about 10 percent of Americans who reported trying CBD said they used it to help them sleep. A majority of those people said it worked.
Tips for Using CBD to Combat Insomnia
If you’re considering trying CBD for a better night’s sleep, there are a few things you should know. Of course, medical and recreational marijuana are not yet legal in all states. First guarantee that obtaining CBD in your city is permissible. Next, speak to your doctor to ensure that taking CBD will not interfere with any current medications or protocols you may be following.
If you’re currently taking medications for sleeping disorders, it is never advisable to simply quit cold turkey to try an alternative method without first consulting with a medical professional. But, if you have the green light to try your luck with CBD for insomnia, keep these tips in mind.
1. Consider the Form
CBD can be found in a wide variety of forms, from oils and tinctures to gummies and balms. Oils can be added to nighttime teas, taken under the tongue, or can be purchased as capsules. Tinctures are typically used exclusively for vaping.
Some believe that vaping CBD might work faster, as the method quickly gets the compound into your system. On the other hand, edibles such as gummies or capsules release CBD more slowly, which could potentially help you sleep longer. Realistically, the CBD market is so vast that you’re encouraged to mix and match until you find what works best for you.
2. Stick to Quality Products
Shopping for CBD products can be tricky, but as a general rule of thumb, steer clear of any products that contain ingredients you can’t pronounce. Likewise, look for products derived from hemp. While you want to avoid the head-high that comes with THC, hemp-derived compounds contain a maximum of just 0.3% THC – enough to maximize the therapeutic effects of CBD, but too little to actually cause any psychoactive effects.
3. Short-term May Be Best
Just like any compound you introduce to your body, you may develop a tolerance to CBD over time. For this reason, CBD’s ability to improve sleep may diminish the longer you use it. So, for the best results for you, you may not want to use it daily or for an extended period of time. Additionally, research on the long-form use of CBD is still in its infancy, and requires more research.
4. Trust What Works for You
Just because you have a friend that likes to take 80 mg of CBD before bed doesn’t mean that is what’s right for you. Start with a more modest 30 mg dose and slowly work your way up if you feel you’re not getting the desired effects. Most importantly, listen to your body. While CBD can be effective in helping many insomnia-sufferers get to sleep, it may not work for you, and that’s okay, too.
CBD may not have been declared the end-all, be-all of sleep-aids, but current studies have been enough to encourage thousands to make the switch. Ask your doctor if CBD could a beneficial option for you. It just might be your time to say goodnight and sweet dreams to insomnia.