How CBD Can Help Improve Sleep

Getting adequate sleep every night is crucial to maintaining our health.  Unfortunately, whether from the stress of working too much or the distractions of modern life—or due to illness—about a third of us are not getting good rest.  In the short term, insufficient sleep leads to impaired memory and irritability while in the long term it elevates stress hormones, becoming a risk factor for diabetes, heart conditions, and stroke.  

Finding treatment for sleep issues goes a long way towards improving quality of life.  There's certainly no shortage of pharmaceutical options available but many of them have unpleasant side effects or lose efficacy over time.  It should follow as no surprise that many instead seek out natural remedies.  One such remedy is CBD—or cannabidiol—which is showing promise as a potential sleep aid.

It would be misleading to say that we know exactly how CBD helps people sleep better, as scientists do not even entirely yet understand how sleep works—much less how CBD works.  The truth is that more research is needed to piece the puzzle together.  With that said, however, and based on the studies available, it appears that CBD may be helpful in both decreasing the time needed to fall asleep as well as increasing sleep duration.

The most popular theory is that CBD primarily affects the factors causing our sleep problems rather than affecting the inner mechanisms of the sleep process.  Scientific and anecdotal evidence has already established that CBD can relieve stress, anxiety, and pain.  Since these three things are common causes of insomnia and other sleep difficulties, it's easy to understand that alleviating these symptoms by taking CBD would thus lead to improved sleep for many people.  And, that's generally what the studies conclude.

But, what if your sleep problems are not caused by anxiety, stress, or pain?  Well, for starters, it's important to speak with a doctor about the variety of factors that can be causing your sleep difficulties: physical or mental conditions, medications, caffeine, and lifestyle and environmental factors are all very common contributors to insomnia and poor sleep.  Identifying the factors relevant to your situation will help determine the next course of action to take—and whether CBD would be a benefit to you.

 If you're interested in trying CBD as a safe, potential sleep aid, here are some guidelines to consider based on what we know so far:

  1. Dose. Studies suggest that CBD works better as a sleep-aid when taken at higher doses (i.e. 25mg+).  Small doses of CBD may cause a gentle state of alertness and alleviate daytime drowsiness.  CBD is non-toxic at even much higher doses (600mg+), so it's safe to experiment in order to find the right dose for you.  Note: if you take other medications, please consult your doctor regarding potential interactions prior to taking CBD.
  1. Time. Studies indicate that in order to receive the full benefits of using CBD for sleep, it must build up in the system: daily dosing for a full month is recommended in order to assess whether it's helping with your sleep or not.  Note: taking CBD in the morning is best for treating anxiety while taking it at night is better for sleep.
  1. Behavioral Causes. Our own lifestyle choices are the #1 cause of our sleep issues, meaning that CBD isn't a cure for improper sleep hygiene.  Learning to recognize the factors that cause sleep problems and making changes wherever possible can only increase the effectiveness of CBD as an adjunct treatment.

 While more scientific research on this topic would be welcomed, the available data suggest that the use of CBD may decrease the symptoms of insomnia and increase the quality of sleep by reducing stress, anxiety, and pain.  If the idea of taking CBD already appeals to you, then it really can't hurt to give it a try, as it's safe to ingest and demonstrates no potential for dependency.  Sleeping better may seem like a challenge right now, but with some daily CBD and some attention to your sleep routine, feeling better and more productive may just be right around the corner.