Good sleep is crucial to good health. Who hasn’t been a little off their game or downright grouchy after a poor night of sleep? According to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, “Sleep deficiency can lead to physical and mental health problems, injuries, loss of productivity, and even a greater risk of [early] death.” There are documented physical and mental health side effects from not sleeping enough or not sleeping well. Unfortunately, some of us know this better than others.
In 2013, the CDC reported that “[a]n estimated 50 to 70 million Americans suffer from sleep disorders or sleep deprivation.” Adding, “Only a third of Americans get the recommended 7 to 9 hours of sleep a night.” Only a third of us are getting enough sleep! If that doesn’t seem fair or reasonable to you, you are right. It’s not fair. We deserve good sleep.
Especially since during a good night of sleep our ability to commit things to memory and to learn new things are enhanced. Our immune response is heightened making us less susceptible to getting sick. The hormones that control appetite are released, helping us eat when we are actually hungry, not just bored or tired. Additionally, during a good night of sleep our muscles repair faster, our blood sugar levels are more consistent, our bodies become less inflamed, and heart health is increased.
All of these physical changes that happen during our sleep impact our mood throughout the next day. Per Harvard Health, sleep disruption effects our stress hormones and levels of neurotransmitters, which in turn impact our ability to manage our emotional health. Aka we can regulate our emotions and our thoughts better after a good night’s rest.
Why Not Something Else?
We know we need to sleep, we want to sleep, but sadly for many of us we can’t fall asleep. Spending hours with our heads on our pillows, awake, is pretty terrible. Because of the psychical and mental toll of not sleeping, people have come up with many solutions for the poor sleep problem.
According to the CDC, “nearly 9 million Americans use prescription sleep aids.” Of the ten most common prescription sleep aids on the market, only half help you both fall asleep and stay asleep. Per the Mayo Clinic, 80% of those prescription medications can lead to dependency. Other side effects include nausea and persistent drowsiness through the morning, and Ambien and Lunesta have been associated with sleepwalking.
Other prescription sleep aids include low-dose antidepressants with sedative side effects. These aim to treat sleeplessness by reducing anxiety while also inducing drowsiness, similar to CBD. But unlike CBD, they come with a litany of side effects including sexual dysfunction and constipation.
With some prescription medications people are trading their insomnia for side effects that are just slightly better than no sleep at all. Additionally, people have also turned to alcohol to help them sleep. While alcohol has been known to cause sleep, it actually leads to fewer hours slept and poorer sleep quality.
CBD can offer a natural and safe alternative to help you fall asleep and stay asleep. The World Health Organization has noted that CBD is generally well tolerated and has not found evidence of abuse or dependence. CBD is a non-intoxicating compound found in hemp, which was legalized Federally in 2018 under the US Farm Bill.
How does CBD work for sleep?
Instead of inducing an artificial drowsiness, CBD invites you to sleep using your own circadian rhythm. It has also been found to offer relief from grogginess, and the persistent fatigue left by other sleep medications during the day.
CBD works with your endocannabinoid system (ECS), and it regulates our body’s systems and cycles, like appetite and mood. The ECS appears to promote “homeostasis” –the optimal state of your body where all needs like hunger, sleep, and mood, are satisfied. When your body is well regulated and well rested, you are more efficient and feel better. Adding to the sleep benefits of CBD, it helps to regulate circadian rhythms, to assist you with feeling tired at night and awake during the day.
Perhaps the most comprehensive study to date collected two years of data from over 400 people. Published in the 2018 journal of Medicines, the study asked participants to rate the severity of their insomnia each night on a scale of 1-10. The study found that, using CBD over time, the average self-report of severity dropped from 6.6 to 2.2. People’s insomnia improved.
In a more recent study, published in The Permanente Journal in 2019, over 100 people were treated with CBD for sleep and anxiety. They concluded that “Sleep scores improved within the first month in 48 patients (66.7%). The same data also found, “anxiety scores decreased within the first month in 57 patients (79.2%),” adding, CBD was “well tolerated in all but 3 patients.” Overall sleep was improved, and anxiety decreased. Additionally, CBD did not negatively interfere with the sleep cycles of healthy volunteers.
CBD for sleep wrap up
CBD is a natural sleep aid that will not become habit-forming. It appears to be helpful with falling asleep, staying asleep, and waking up well rested. To top it off, it has zero to minimum side effects. It is proving to be a great sleep aid and one we hope will work for you too.
One recommendation before you go, CBD reduces blood pressure, it may interact with blood pressure and blood thinner medications, so consult your doctor if this presents a risk. Please speak with a doctor about persistent restlessness or excessive grogginess to rule out underlying conditions such as sleep apnea, which CBD cannot treat.