How CBD Works - How does CBD work for sleep
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We all do it.
Some of us sleep like babies (like…babies!).
Some of us look longingly on those days!
We all know sleep is important but do we understand how important?
Scientists just found an entire system in the body whose role is to remove waste and toxins resulting from metabolism out of the body.
When does it get turned on??
Go figure…when you sleep.
But only if you sleep deeply.
A lot goes on when you sleep:
We live in a world full of enemies to good sleep.
The list goes on and on.
We’re a country of sleep-deprived zombies grasping for straws (and coffee).
Some of us are grasping for more.
Sleep aids, both over-the-counter and prescription, are used by millions of Americans.
The side effects can be nasty!
New research points to long term use and dementia
Many others have worst side effects (some even tout insomnia as a possible side effect! Really???)
We need relief and we need an alternative.
Cannabinoids in general.
Let’s dig into the research to see what’s available.
If you want to jump to the CBD products specifically for sleep click here:
Otherwise, jump to any section on CBD and sleep here:
The research is pretty amazing.
Let’s get into it before we nod off!
Let’s break down the many aspects that have to work properly for us to sleep well.
We’ll start with our favorite topic…Hormones
Signals from outside (light, activity, etc) send relays to the brain to increase or decrease certain hormones.
Some of these hormones are calming (GABA and Melatonin) or excitatory (cortisol being primary).
Learn all about CBD and GABA here.
The calming hormones obviously are critical to sleep while the excitatory are critical to waking and alertness (or to impairing sleep if present at the wrong times in the wrong amounts).
This ebb and flow follow a natural rhythm called the circadian rhythm.
This rhythm can change over time.
It just so happens that a later start time results improve performance, mood, and general well-being in teens.
Perimenopause can also throw a wrench at the clock!
There’s a whole cycle for each hormone pathway with genetic factors and basic nutrients that play key roles.
With MTHFR, you can’t process vitamin B12. You need to supplement methylated B12.
B12 is so critical across multiple pathways in the body!
So check out 23andme and find out what you have there.
You’ll be surprised…you probably have at least 1!
You just need to supplement those!
So…where does CBD come into play?
We ALL have a vast internal system called the endocannabinoid system.
The one we’re focused on for sleep is the endocrine system which governs…wait for it…
There are CBD receptors (CB1 and CB2) throughout the body. Millions of them.
CBD is thought to boost this system.
When cortisol gets out of whack or is high at the wrong time, sleep falters.
When melatonin is inadequate (it drops with age), sleep suffers.
Melatonin is a derivative of Serotonin so if it drops, sleep may suffer.
Again, it’s a rich dance that can be affected by all sorts of things present in our modern world:
Many of our current health issues (insomnia and poor sleep) may be a function of the choreographer of our hormones being overwhelmed and overworked.
That’s the endocannabinoid system.
CBD directly helps that system.
Don’t take our word for it. Let’s look at the research.
Let’s look at different aspects of CBD and sleep in the research.
First, a quick summary:
This shows there’s a promise for CBD and sleep across a few factors.
Let’s dig deeper still.
First, a nice summary of other studies:
Furthermore, they found that CBD didn’t have the sluggish after-effect like other sleep aids.
CBD’s effect on sleep may come down to its impact on a naturally occurring endocannabinoid in the body, Anandamide.
Interestingly, CBD can increase alertness during light cycles.
This points back to CBD’s effect on balancing the hormones rather than just sedating a person.
There’s a natural cycle of alertness and sleepiness.
CBD doesn’t just cause a phase of sleepiness. The theory is that it helps to strengthen the internal pathway for the whole cycle.
This is the role of the endocannabinoid system which CBD nudges into action.
More is found here.
You’ll see lots of talk about “modulation” and “regulation” or cycles.
Sleep is a function of many things but hormones govern the core mechanics of it.
CBD directly interacts with the endocannabinoid system in a positive way.
Let’s look at specific questions people often have on CBD and sleep.
Despite its track record for aiding sleep, CBD is not a sedative.
It can have a calming feeling and some people may experience drowsiness as a result of removing anxiety or inflammation.
It doesn’t knock you out!
Conversely, it appears to help people be more alert during light cycles.
Best of both worlds!
Insomnia is one of the conditions receiving intense study with CBD.
We’re starting to get some data on this front.
Most of our current information is anecdotal…people swear by CBD for sleep.
Especially, women in perimenopause and menopause.
Check below for the best CBD for sleep.
Interestingly, we’re seeing data that CBD may affect certain types of sleep apnea.
Personally, I have stopped snoring and “catching” at night after CBD.
My wife is shocked (and happy)!
This is anecdotal but we’re starting to see data on this (and I’m not complaining).
Early studies in animals here:
Again, this a quick test to see it’s effectiveness in your situation.
CBD is not sedative. It doesn’t knock you out.
It strengthens the internal system that makes you sleep and wake.
The endocannabinoid system keeps this cycle in balance.
CBD helps the endocannabinoid system when it’s overworked (which may be the health issue of our day!).
It partially depends on how you take it.
Here are the different delivery options:
Most people use the tincture for sleep since its effects are slower and longer-lasting.
There’s a nice calming effect but you will not feel “hit” by sedation.
This partially depends on the nature of your sleep disturbance.
Here’s a basic guideline to CBD dosage for sleep:
For therapeutic uses, 25 mg is generally ideal but work your way up to it.
Research on sleep specifically shows effects at 160 mg of CBD.
The safety profile for CBD is quite strong and there’s never been a recorded overdose.
See more on CBD safety here.
REM sleep IS sleep.
Most of the heavy lifting that sleep does is REM sleep.
The heavy lifting!
REM sleep is part of the cycle we’ve been speaking of throughout this article.
It’s actually the 3rd phase of sleep where you typically dream.
Many of the research items speak to REM sleep quality and CBD’s effect on it.
To some extent, sleep without REM sleep isn’t really sleep.
That would bare out in the results on total sleep quality above.
We expect a slew of new research to measure REM and CBD directly shortly.
Many times, the lack of quality sleep is more about what’s impeding it.
Many things can interrupt, disrupt, or affect sleep quality and quantity.
The two most common disruptors are pain and anxiety.
We’ve all been there.
Or worried about the test or interview the next morning.
This may be CBD’s greatest benefit for sleep quality.
Removing impediments like pain and anxiety.
The net net…both pain and mental health have their own cycles.
Their own pathways that the endocannabinoid system is working feverishly to keep in balance.
Those systems just happen to be under the influence of endocannabinoids like CBD!
CBD is not the only endocannabinoid available to us.
There are dozens of them.
Some aren’t even well documented or studied (for now).
CBD itself is not a sedative.
It does not “knock you out”.
Some people swear by THC for sleep and even pain.
A quick comparison of CBD and THC here.
That being said, if legal where you are, a blend of CBD and THC may have a stronger impact on sleep if the CBD itself doesn’t give you full relief.
There may be drawbacks to THC which need further research.
There are questions of short term sleep help at the expense of long term sleep quality.
CBD doesn’t have those same issues.
In general, CBD has a calming quality while THC can cause anxiety depending on a person’s chemistry.
Anecdotally, some people swear by THC for sleep.
If that’s the case, try to combine THC and CBD.
CBD will help to mitigate the psychoactive quality of THC.
Until recently, the only way people could get these benefits was from marijuana which is illegal Federally.
We no longer have that issue.
CBD is available directly now.
Before CBD, people would try anything to help with sleep.
A whole host of options have been used:
And a host of other prescription medications.
Throw into this, range herbs, teas, and other sleep aids.
Here’s the deal…
The traditional sleeping pills can be habit-forming, have nasty side effects, and not work long term.
The herbs and other remedies are not necessarily as effective as sleeping pills.
So what about CBD versus sleep pills?
First, the safety profile of CBD is much better.
We’ve discussed the effectiveness of CBD for sleep above.
Coming off of the sleeping pills can be extremely difficult.
CBD has even been shown to help with withdrawal!
What CBD should we look at for sleep?
First, the tinctures are the most popular way to use CBD for sleep.
This is a big deal.
All the research is based on CBD by itself.
We’ve seen first hand how people have bad reactions to full-spectrum which disappears when they take CBD to isolate!
The two best sleep options for CBD Isolate based on 3rd party testing and cost per mg of CBD:
You can check out the comparison of CBD oils here or go right to the product page here:
Dozens of Brands
“I was lost…there’s so many CBD products out there. Thank you for making this all make sense!”
“I literally lay down and I’m out. I wake one to use the bathroom and them I’m out again til morning. I almost NEVER am able to sleep like that! It’s pretty awesome”
“I feel like my body is oddly more flexible in the gym if that makes sense. I do notice that I sleep deeper.”
“CBD is the only way I get through the night. It’s been a life-saver for me. Thank you for the research!”
SEE Statement at bottom regarding FDA notification and legal statement on claims
“I love the comparison! It’s impossible to figure out what’s being offered and for how much. Thank you so much! I’ll make sure to send my CBD story to you!”
“I had no idea how important the lab results were with CBD. I won’t touch it without first seeing what’s in there now.”
“I was spending sooo much energy fighting off negative thoughts before CBD. I have so much more energy now.”
“Thank you so much for your marvelous work. I’ve told all my family members to check out the how it works page. Simple enough for even me to understand!”