CBD and Sleep

Picture of a woman sleeping in a bed with brown bedding

Why is Sleep So Good?

Sleep plays an important role in your physical and mental health and is vital to living a balanced, happy, and productive life. Despite attempts to regularly get a full night’s rest, millions of Americans struggle to fall asleep each night due to conditions such as chronic pain, anxiety, and sleep apnea. According to the CDC, adults not getting at least seven hours of sleep are at an “increased risk of developing chronic conditions such as obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, and frequent mental distress”.[1]

Each year, Americans spend billions of dollars fighting for a better night’s sleep. Persons struggling with insomnia may find themselves grabbing an over-the-counter product like NyQuil or a prescription drug like Ambien. However, these remedies can become addictive, result in lower quality sleep[2], and come with unwanted side-effects like grogginess, depression, and anxiety.[3] It’s no surprise, then, that consumers are beginning to look for other options, including CBD.

What is CBD?

Cannabidiol, also known as CBD, is one of the chemicals produced by the cannabis plant. CBD is one of just many chemicals, referred to as cannabinoids, produced by the cannabis plant and recent research suggests CBD may have medicinal properties for various conditions including insomnia, anxiety, pain, cancer, and overcoming opioid addiction[4].

Additionally, CBD has no psychoactive properties, meaning it does not produce a “high”.

Due to the legalization of medical marijuana across thirty-one states and the 2018 Farm Bill[5], interest in CBD’s properties has increased dramatically in recent years. In 2017, approximately $140 million was spent on funding cannabinoid research projects,[6] and the FDA approved an epilepsy medication that has CBD as the active ingredient this past year (2018) in April.[7]

Can CBD Improve Your Sleep?

Recent research, while still early, seems to suggest that CBD may have pain-reducing and anti-anxiety[8] properties. With this in mind, CBD may be able to address the most common reasons why people have trouble sleeping: chronic pain and anxiety. In fact, around 23% of chronic pain sufferers have inconsistent sleep patterns and trouble sleeping.[9] Studies also suggest that CBD may hold promise for REM sleep behavior disorder and excessive daytime sleepiness, though, clinical trials are necessary to validate these early findings.[10] Additionally, early animal studies suggest that CBD may increase the duration of sleep.[11],[12]

However, it’s important to keep in mind that CBD may have a “biphasic effect”. Taken in small amounts, CBD can cause someone to feel more alert, thus helping combat sleepiness during the daytime. Taken in moderate amounts, CBD may have a calming effect that is desired for sleep. This is known as a biphasic effect.

Additionally, when taken in very high amounts, CBD’s anti-anxiety properties may be less effective.[13]

Since so many factors go into how CBD affects your body, the amount needed to achieve the desired effects varies from person to person. The common rule is “Start low, go slow”, meaning one should start off with the lowest concentration and slowly work their way up until the desired effect is found. It is important to note that although taking CBD can help with sleep, in low doses it’s common for people to experience heightened alertness.[14]

The most common method to take CBD for sleep is through sublingual drops of an oil or tincture. While you may still feel effects on sleep by vaping CBD, anecdotes suggest the effects will be less pronounced and will last for about a third of the time than sublingual ingestion. Although mild, small effects should be felt in 15-20 minutes and may last for a few hours.

Disclaimer: This is not, nor should it be construed, to be medical advice. We recommend that you seek the advice of a medical professional before starting any new medications or supplements or sleep aids. The research into CBD, particularly in its relevancy to sleep, is still very nascent and mostly limited to animal studies.

References

[1] “CDC Newsroom.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 18 Feb. 2016, www.cdc.gov/media/releases/2016/p0215-enough-sleep.html.

[2] “Sleeping Pills: Medications to Help You Sleep.” American Sleep Association, www.sleepassociation.org/sleep-treatments/sleeping-pills/.

[3] “Understanding the Side Effects of Sleeping Pills.” WebMD, WebMD, www.webmd.com/sleep-disorders/guide/understanding-the-side-effects-of-sleeping-pills.

[4] National Institute on Drug Abuse. “Marijuana as Medicine.” NIDA, June 2018, www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/marijuana-medicine.

[5] Hanson, Karmen, and Alise Garcia. “State Medical Marijuana Laws.” Affirmative Action | Overview, June 2017, 27, www.ncsl.org/research/health/state-medical-marijuana-laws.aspx.

[6] “NIH Categorical Spending -NIH Research Portfolio Online Reporting Tools (RePORT).” National Institutes of Health, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 18 May 2017, report.nih.gov/categorical_spending.aspx.

[7] Kaplan, Sheila. “F.D.A. Panel Recommends Approval of Cannabis-Based Drug for Epilepsy.” The New York Times, The New York Times, 19 Apr. 2018, www.nytimes.com/2018/04/19/health/epidiolex-fda-cannabis-marajuana.html.

[8] Fasinu, P S, et al. “Current Status and Prospects for Cannabidiol Preparations as New Therapeutic Agents.” Current Neurology and Neuroscience Reports., U.S. National Library of Medicine, July 2016, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27285147.

[9] G, Ferguson. “Review Article: Sleep, Pain and Cannabis.” Journal of Sleep Disorders & Therapy, 8 Mar. 2015.

[10] Babson, K A, et al. “Cannabis, Cannabinoids, and Sleep: a Review of the Literature.” Current Psychiatry Reports., U.S. National Library of Medicine, Apr. 2017, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28349316.

[11] CARLINI, ELISALDO A., and JOMAR M. CUNHA. “Hypnotic and Antiepileptic Effects of Cannabidiol.” The Journal of Clinical Pharmacology, Wiley-Blackwell, 8 Mar. 2013, accp1.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1002/j.1552-4604.1981.tb02622.x.

[12] Chagas, Marcos Hortes N, et al. “Effects of Acute Systemic Administration of Cannabidiol on Sleep-Wake Cycle in Rats.” Journal of Research in Crime and Delinquency, 23 Jan. 2013, http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/0269881112474524.

[13] Guimarães, F. S., et al. “Antianxiety Effect of Cannabidiol in the Elevated plus-Maze.” SpringerLink, Humana Press, 24 Oct. 1989, link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2FBF02244012?LI=true.

[14] Zuardi, A W. “Cannabidiol: from an Inactive Cannabinoid to a Drug with Wide Spectrum of Action.” Current Neurology and Neuroscience Reports., U.S. National Library of Medicine, Sept. 2008, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18833429.