For anyone suffering from insomnia, finding wholesome, holistic solutions can be tough. Sure, you’ve tried staring at the ceiling, ruminating on your problems, and unsurprisingly, it didn’t help. Perhaps you’ve tried cutting back on the post-dinner espressos, limiting yourself to just the one, but that doesn’t seem to have made any impact either.

If you’re still searching for solutions, have you considered CBD? Some preliminary studies have suggested that the cannabis derivative may help mitigate external factors which are keeping you awake, such as anxiety, stress and a tendency to suffer from daytime sleepiness. 

If you’re interested in finding out more, here’s how CBD may help you sleep more soundly this Winter.

FIRSTLY, WHAT ARE CBD AND CANNABINOIDS?

Cannabinoids are chemical compounds that bind to central nervous system receptors functioning as chemical messengers. Based on the particular cannabinoid, there can be a number of impacts on the body.

The most widely known and possibly most studied cannabinoids are cannabidiol (CBD) and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the latter being the cannabinoid that contributes to the “high” which has long been associated with cannabis use.

CBD varies from THC as it doesn’t (for better or for worse) trigger a psychoactive reaction. Because it doesn’t get you high and is believed to bring about beneficial health responses in some, scientific research has recently begun to validate its potential efficacy. 

We stress the word ‘potential’ here. Though there has been hugely promising progress in treating the ‘’cruelest childhood epilepsy syndromes, such as Dravet syndrome and Lennox-Gastaut syndrome (LGS), which typically don’t respond to antiseizure medications’’ (according to the Harvard Health Blog), its wider application, for helping mitigate anxiety, inflammation and other issues is still being researched.

That said, early studies do look encouraging. More recently, CBD has been prescribed to help adults suffering from nausea caused by chemotherapy and people experiencing stiffness brought about multiple-sclerosis.

The purity of CBD sets it apart from THC, ensuring that you get some of the benefits of marijuana without the harmful and illegal aspects of cannabis that THC contains (CBD can only be declared legal in the UK if it contains less than 0.2% THC).

THE ENDOCANNABINOID AND SLEEP SYSTEM

But how might the use of CBD help promote better sleep? Research has also shown that the endocannabinoid system plays a part in regulating some functions of the body and brain, such as mood, appetite, sleep, and circadian rhythm control

But how, we ask again?

Let’s get into the science of it a little; CBD works in the body by binding with the cell receptors within the ECS or endocannabinoid system, which has numerous functions associated with immune response, inflammation, brain function, and more.

Indeed, the ECS is comprised of endocannabinoids that occur naturally in the human body. Throughout the body are ECS receptors, which are one among the primary channels that the body uses to send response signals from environmental stimuli. Basically, CB1 receptors and CB2 receptors are the receptors in the ECS that react with CBD.

CB1 receptors are those found mostly in the central nervous system and digestive system, glands, heart and spleen. These are known for their significant effects on motor activity, mood, and appetite. On the other hand, CB2 receptors are found throughout the human body, particularly in your peripheral immune system cells and tissues. Both receptors are the main signalling pathways of the body for inflammation, anxiety, stress and pain reception. These interactions are fuelling research into the potential benefits of the substance.

BUT WHAT INTERACTION MIGHT CBD HAVE WITH SLEEP? 

We’re glad you asked. That potential for anxiety and stress relief we mentioned earlier can help in giving you a better night’s sleep, potentially mitigating the causes of insomnia in some cases.

Many people take CBD to potentially aid relaxation and help with sleep, as it has been posited that the extract could ease anxiety and pain, making it easier to get those zeds. It’s also been suggested to regulate the stress hormone, cortisol, which directly affects a person’s sleep cycles. Sleep problems and this stress hormone are closely connected. 

If you’re feeling tense and stressed, then the quality and quantity of your sleep can easily be affected. You may struggle to fall asleep, suffer from insomnia, or fail to settle into a bedtime routine. Well, CBD can be used to help get those much sought after, highly desirable 40 winks and 8 hours. While research is ongoing and in its relative infancy, the early signs are that the oil may reduce anxiety and in turn help us sleep more peacefully. Result.

THE INTERACTION BETWEEN CBD AND SLEEP

While CBD research still has a long way to go before any concrete conclusions are declared, some research suggests that it could indeed help you sleep better. Research and analysis published in January 2019 revealed that 25 mg of CBD pill intake in the first month indicated the following:

  • 79.2 % of all participants said that CBD resulted in lower levels of anxiety.
  • 66.7 %f all participants claimed CBD gave them a better sleep experience.

In another scientific report undertaken in 2014 by researchers at the University of São Paulo, Brazil, patients who have REM sleep behaviour disorder (RBD) found lessened symptoms following CBD use. In line with the RBD report, another research reported in Springer Nature concluded that CBD ingestion could help treat the condition, as well as helping those who suffer from daytime sleepiness. [Source]

THE BOTTOM LINE

Studies regarding the effectiveness of CBD in treating anxiety and helping with insomnia are still in their infancy. Whilst there have been some positive early indications, some doubt has been cast on the validity and quality of the research carried out thus far.

Should you be looking to include CBD in your routine to promote better sleep hygiene, it’s imperative you first consult your GP, who will help you identify if it’s a medical issue or external factors (such as stress, the temperature of your room, recreational drugs or even the comfort of your bed) causing this. 

Good luck and we hope you sleep better tonight! While you’re here, why not check out our piece on why you should make sleep a priority and the IDEAL ways to do just that.