2020 has been one for the history books which means many are finding themselves struggling to find the good sleep that used to come naturally. There are many reasons a person might experience insomnia, but the result is always the same: reduced performance in daily activities and an overall reduction in healthy bodily functions. During a time when maintaining healthy habits is especially important, you should be getting the most and best sleep possible in order to keep your body and immune system functioning perfectly. One way to help ensure restful sleep is by adding CBD to your nighttime routine. In this article, we’ll discuss how CBD can help you fight insomnia.
The Endocannabinoid System
In order to understand how CBD can help with insomnia, you’ll first need to understand the basics of how CBD and other cannabinoids interact with the body. The endocannabinoid system (ECS) functions in our bodies as a way to maintain homeostasis and stabilize the body when trauma or dangerous processes are introduced. If some sort of disruption is introduced in the body, the ECS will activate and control the situation to make sure all systems it controls remain at an optimal level. This is a fundamental function of human physiology because all the internal systems need to be in a state of equilibrium to work effectively.
There are three primary elements that make up the endocannabinoid system:
- Endocannabinoids. Compounds that are produced by the body, but are very similar to the chemical compounds in cannabis, like CBD.
- Cannabinoid Receptors. Receptors found on the surface of cells throughout the body. Any endocannabinoids or ingested cannabinoids will bind to these receptors. The action of binding allows them to communicate with different systems in the body, helping the ECS maintain an equilibrium in each of the specific systems.
- Enzymes. After endocannabinoids attach themselves to the cannabinoid receptors and the ECS has maintained stabilization, enzymes break down the endocannabinoids to prevent overcorrection. Each type of endocannabinoid has a specific enzyme that works at breaking it down effectively.
In the same way that it maintains equilibrium of the immune, digestive, and nervous systems, the ECS is also responsible for homeostasis in sleep processes like the sleep cycle and circadian rhythm. Because cannabinoids can so easily interact with the ECS they are able to have an effect on sleep disorders including insomnia.
Causes of Insomnia
Some of the most common triggers for insomnia include:
- Stress. Life brings us new concerns on what seems like a daily basis. Whether it’s work, school, money, or the health of ourselves or our loved ones it can seem like we’re always worrying about something every moment of the day. That includes the time when we’re meant to be asleep. When the stress of life elevates, the chance of restful and routine sleep lowers and often people will experience insomnia.
- Schedule. Circadian rhythms are at their core just an internal clock, handing the cycle in which you sleep and wake as well as your metabolism and body temperature. When that rhythm is disrupted it can lead to insomnia. Sometimes our work or travel schedules are responsible for this disruption, so it’s important to get a handle on them as quickly as possible so a new routine can be instituted.
- Poor sleep habits. Maintaining proper sleep habits is difficult, especially in a world filled with screens and distractions. Poor habits can also include irregular bedtimes, daytime naps, stimulating activities before bed, an uncomfortable sleep environment, or even watching TV from bed. This of course includes using a computer or phone in bed, or playing video games.
- Eating too late. A light snack is fine, but eating a large meal immediately before bed can make you feel physically uncomfortable, especially when lying down. This can sometimes lead to heartburn or acid reflux which can also keep you awake.
- Mental health disorders. There are many different issues that can cause sleep disruption, but some of the most common are anxiety, PTSD, and depression.
- Medications. It’s fairly common knowledge that prescription medication can come with a slew of side effects. Medication for depression, asthma, or even blood pressure often end up leaving users feeling restless at night and suffering from insomnia. Even over-the-counter medication can cause sleeplessness because of the included caffeine in the product.
- Medical conditions. Our own health can also cause sleep disturbances. Conditions like chronic pain, cancer, diabetes, heart disease, asthma, acid reflux, thyroid disease, and Parkinson’s disease can cause a patient to lose sleep.
- Sleep-related disorders. A very common sleep disorder is sleep apnea, which causes a person to stop breathing periodically throughout the night. Another common sleep disorder that leads to insomnia is restless leg syndrome which causes unpleasant sensations in the legs and a strong desire to move them. Both of these conditions can cause a person to have difficulty sleeping.
- Caffeine, nicotine, and alcohol. Caffeine and nicotine are stimulants and should be avoided later in the day to ensure they don’t cause you to stay up late or sleep restlessly. Alcohol can be confusing because while it can help you fall asleep, it actually prevents the deeper stages of sleep and often causes frequent awakening during the night.
- Age. Unfortunately insomnia becomes much more common as we age. As people get older, they may find themselves changing their sleep patterns. Older people often get tired earlier in the evening and wake up earlier in the morning. Aging also means that a person may be less physically or socially active, which could lead to a more restless sleep at night. Additional changes in health and added medications in older generations are both situations that could lead to insomnia.
A recent study found that cannabinoids could be used as an effective treatment for those suffering from insomnia. The study included 72 adults who suffered from anxiety and insomnia. The participants of this study were given CBD in the form of 25 mg capsules, most of them being consumed before bed. After one month of this treatment, participants reported a 66% increase in the quality of their sleep .
Another study saw participants use an entire cannabis flower that included a variety of cannabinoids including CBD. This study asked the participants to use a number of different ingestion methods including vape, pipes, and joints. When the study began the participants were asked to rate their sleep disorder symptoms. That score was 6.6 on average. By the time the study had concluded the participants ranked their sleep disorder symptoms at a 2.2, showing a reduction of 4.5 from what they experienced before using cannabinoids to help their sleep .
A smaller scale study which involved just one participant experiencing insomnia due to PTSD showed that a 25 mg capsule of CBD consumed before bed helped her conditions improve over the 5 months the study took place .
If you’re interested in adding CBD to your routine in order to help with any sleep conditions you might be suffering from, the first step is to consult your doctor. It’s important to make sure adding CBD to your daily schedule will not interfere with any current medications or health plan you are currently on. A quick check with your primary physician will ensure you’re on the right track.
There are several ways to try CBD and which you select will depend completely on your own needs and health. Some of the most popular ways to consume CBD include:
- Edibles. These are often found in the form of gummies, but are also made into cakes and cookies. They are made with CBD oil and will usually list the concentration of CBD in milligrams on the packaging. Consuming a CBD edible is one of the easiest ways to get all the benefits CBD has to offer.
- Vaporing. When CBD oil is made into a special extract it can be used in vaporizers or vape pens and inhaled. Just like any other substance that is inhaled into the lungs, this may cause some health concerns so make sure to check with your doctor before selecting this plan of action.
- Tinctures. This method is pure CBD oil. It will often come in a bottle with a dropper and the oil can be applied directly into the mouth or into drinks or food. The oil does have a distinct smell and flavor, so the best way for you to consume it will depend on what works best for you and your senses.
- Smoking. Hemp flowers will provide a high and pure dose of cannabinoids, including CBD. You can buy the flower and smoke it in pipes or grind it up into rolled joints. For an even easier way to consume, you can also purchase pre-rolled hemp smokes made with premium and CBD rich hemp.
Insomnia doesn’t have to be a lifelong sentence. With CBD showing its potential for so many therapeutic benefits, taking a chance to try it for something as aggravating and unhealthy as insomnia is something anyone suffering should consider.