Alongside a balanced diet and regular exercise, getting a good night’s sleep is one of the essential elements of a healthy lifestyle.
The National Sleep Foundation recommends that adults should get between seven and nine hours sleep per night. However, according to a study from The Guardian, 35% of adults in the UK sleep for fewer than the minimum seven hours.
John Hopkins Medicine says the effects of sleep deprivation are varied and far-reaching. Insufficient sleep has been proven to increase the risk of obesity, heart disease and type 2 diabetes. There is also a greater risk of developing neurological conditions such as dementia.
CBD is used by people across the world for treating conditions such as anxiety, PTSD and chronic pain. It is now becoming increasingly popular as a treatment for insomnia and other sleep-related issues.
As interest in CBD’s potential health benefits continues to grow, many people are turning to the compound for a natural alternative to sleep pills such as diazepam (Valium) and zolpidem (Ambien). These can be addictive and often prevent users from experiencing REM sleep; the deepest sleep stage.
The effect of cannabis on sleeping patterns remain an underdeveloped area of research, however academic interest is growing with a number of early stage studies showing the potential for CBD as an effective treatment.
The most common sleep condition amongst adults is insomnia which can vary in severity. For some it can mean being unable to sleep for an entire night, but for most people, the symptoms are far milder.
People with mild insomnia may report frequently waking up in the night for short periods, struggling to drift off after getting into bed or waking up early and being unable to fall back to sleep again.
These symptoms can be caused by a number of things, from mental health issues such as depression and anxiety to an intake of too much caffeine, or external factors like noise pollution.
The most common cause of insomnia, however, is stress. Whether it’s due to work or personal issues, stress is something that everyone experiences and often impacts on sleeping patterns.
The stress hormone, known as cortisol, is usually at its highest level in the morning, however those with insomnia or those who experience frequent night-time awakenings will often have higher than normal levels at night.
One study from 2019, showed that cortisol levels reduced significantly in participants who took between 300 and 600 mg of CBD oil.
Another 2019 study of 103 participants with anxiety or poor sleep found that a higher dose was needed to improve their ability to fall and stay asleep. After a month on a 25mg dosage of CBD oil, 66.7% of patients said their sleep had improved.
It still remains unclear if CBD has a direct impact on sleeping patterns, however, its ability to reduce anxiety and pain, which are all common causes of insomnia, is more widely researched and accepted amongst the academic community.
For example, a review of published research from Frontiers for Pharmacology concluded that evidence from existing academic research supports the use of cannabis in treating chronic pain.
In an article from the University of Michigan, Deirdre Conroy, clinical director of the Behavioural Sleep Medicine Clinic at Michigan Medicine said: “It’s a tricky question to answer. There have been few studies on CBD and its effect on sleep, and those published have few participants with differing doses and forms of CBD administered.”
“However, many of these studies suggest there could be some benefit to using CBD as a sleep aid, and it’s worth researching. For example, there’s evidence that CBD can be helpful in managing anxiety. If someone’s anxiety is creating their sleeping problem, a CBD product may benefit them.”