Cannabidiol (CBD) is sweeping the nation as a cannabis product that’s non-psychoactive and supremely helpful for treating multiple physical and mental health problems. It’s a hemp-derived product that, when sold legally, contains less than 0.3 percent THC. You can purchase it online throughout the United States or in dispensaries in states where cannabis products are legal.
CBD is commonly used to treat ailments like anxiety, pain, skin problems, and more. It’s also a commonly used sleep aid. Many who use CBD pills regularly to aid sleep claim that it’s better than using a sleeping pill. But does it really work to make you fall asleep faster?
How CBD Works
If you’re familiar with cannabis products, it might be confusing why CBD works so well when it has no psychoactive properties. It can’t give you an “out-of-body” experience to combat the pain and discomfort of your situation, so how is it effective at treating so many health problems?
CBD is made up of terpenes, cannabinoids, vitamins, and other nutrients. It works because your body is already full of cannabinoids that send messages to your endocannabinoid system. Like taking any supplement, taking CBD capsules increases levels in your body to help that system reach homeostasis.
The endocannabinoid system is responsible for hormone regulation. Oftentimes, a hormonal imbalance is the reason for sleep problems. A surge of anxiety, depression, fear, or adrenaline can all combat your body’s desire to rest, and CBD can help to correct that.
It’s all about changing brain chemistry. In her book CBD Oil: Everyday Secrets: A Lifestyle Guide to Hemp-Derived Health and Wellness, Gretchen Lidicker writes: “Studies mainly point to CBD’s ability to interact with … serotonin receptors and GABA receptors in the brain. Serotonin plays an important role in mood and anxiety, and GABA is known as the main ‘inhibitory’ neurotransmitter, meaning it calms excess activity in the brain and promotes relaxation. GABA receptors are the target of benzodiazepines, which are a class of anti-anxiety drugs.”
She also notes that CBD is linked with anti-anxiety properties, helping to promote relaxation and raising the body’s naturally occurring levels of melatonin. Taking CBD in combination with the correct dosage of melatonin supplement can make it even easier to fall asleep at night.
Studies on Sleep and CBD
The research on CBD and the human body is limited simply because of time. Since CBD was exposed as a product much different than THC, marijuana, and other cannabis products, there has not been a lot of time to develop comprehensive studies. It’s also relatively limited because it’s still considered a Schedule 1 drug in most states.
Yet, there have been a few recent studies to show how CBD works for promoting sleep: Here are a few of the most notable cases:
2019 Permanente Journal Study: Researchers here looked whether CBD could reduce anxiety and improve sleep as well as how the two work well together. There were 72 subjects, more than half of which experienced anxiety and a third of which had sleep problems. Each subject was given a 25mg CBD pill each day, and the first month showed that nearly 80 percent of participants had lower anxiety levels and more than two thirds had better sleep. The treatment of anxiety is more than likely an active reason for this study’s success.
2018 Frontiers in Pharmacology: Study authors examined the way that pain affects quality of life, including sleep. They used CBD to treat pain and found the following: “The study also showed improvements in the quality of life, sleep, and increased patient satisfaction.”
2014 PubMed Central: One of the most interesting finding about CBD for the treatment of sleep is that it doesn’t make you groggy. A 2014 review showed that patients who used CBD as a sleep aid did not wake up feeling groggy. In fact, many used it to treat grogginess after a poor night’s sleep. Researchers are uncertain why CBD works to both wake you up and put you to sleep, but it certainly helps erase one of the most unpleasant side effects of traditional sleep aids.
Side Effects of CBD for Sleep
Most CBD users like using the product because it has fewer side effects while helping them reach a peaceful slumber. That being said, there are still some side effects common for CBD users. Some of these side effects are part of sleep problems in general and some are from the increased number of cannabinoids in the body. Usually, side effects can be treated by adjusting the dosage.
Those using CBD to treat sleep report feeling irritable after taking a dose of CBD. This could be explained by the imbalance your body is already feeling for sleep problems, but it is present nonetheless. Nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea may occur with the wrong dosage as well.
Doctors strongly encourage CBD users to check with their primary care physician before taking CBD for sleep to make sure it won’t interact with a sleep aid. In some cases, sedatives mixed with CBD can cause a negative reaction you want to avoid.
In general, side effects for CBD use are much less invasive than side effects for sleep aids, particularly the prescription kind.
How to Use CBD Pills Effectively as a Sleep Aid
Countless individuals report achieving their sleep goals without harsh side effects, so how do they do that? It’s usually about getting the right dosage. According to Lidicker, the wrong dose of CBD “could keep [you] up all night…the way you react to cannabis is highly individualized.” Researching proper dosage for your weight and needs is important to getting the right dosage.
Additionally, CBD should be taken regularly to establish the substance in your system. With the right dosage and time, your endocannabinoid system will regulate, and you shouldn’t feel the side effects described above.
Everyone is different and some may feel side effects despite their best efforts to establish proper dosage in their everyday schedules. It’s always wise to seek the advice of a physician who’s familiar with CBD treatments to ensure you’re making the right choices for your needs and lifestyle.