How Does Cannabis Help With Sleep and Insomnia?

Many people find high-quality CBD helpful in the treatment of sleep disorders like insomnia, insufficient sleep, and restless leg syndrome. Sleep disorders refer to changes in sleeping patterns or habits that negatively impact health. Sleep disorders are surprisingly common, affecting 50-70 million adults in the United States. 

Unfortunately, most physicians prescribe pharmaceuticals to combat sleep disorders rather than managing the disorder naturally. Medications like sleeping pills and allergy/cold medicine are habit forming, unhealthy, and induce negative side effects when taken regularly. Your body develops a psychological dependency on sedative-hypnotic drugs like Ambien and Lunesta, and they often leave you with residual feelings of grogginess in the morning, even after a full 8 hours of sleep. 

The good news is that natural, plant-based remedies like CBD have helped thousands get off pharmaceutical sleeping pills. In addition to making lifestyle changes that facilitate a better night’s sleep, ingesting CBD oil before bed will help provide you with a restful night’s sleep – naturally.

Imagine waking up in the morning feeling rested and awake – no more residual grogginess or impairment. In order to understand how CBD helps modulate sleep, we turn to a series of medical studies that have been conducted over the past ten years. These studies evaluated CBD’s medical efficacy in treating those who suffer from various types of sleep disorders. We will address the results below. 

The interesting thing about CBD and sleep is that in small to medium doses, CBD is mildly alerting – stimulating the same receptors as caffeine. However, several patients with insomnia report that consuming CBD oil (in tincture or extract form) a few hours before bed leads to a great night’s sleep. So why do the anecdotal results contradict the reported medical studies? 

For starters, research on cannabis and sleep is in its infancy and has yielded mixed results. But there is more to it than that. The root cause of many sleep disorders is actual another disease like anxiety, stress, PTSD, or chronic pain – and CBD helps manage all of these conditions. So, while CBD may not be inherently sedative, it combats the underlying condition that is the root cause of many sleep disorders.

What Studies Exist to Support the Use of CBD in Sleep and Insomnia?

CBD was discovered almost a century ago, but only recently did researchers begin to uncover evidence of it’s prominent health benefits. Although still in its early stages, research regarding CBD is advancing rapidly. Because of various anecdotal reports and bits and pieces of information regarding the endocannabinoid delivery system’s involvement in sleep-wake cycles, researchers are increasingly interested in the effects of CBD for sleep.

One conflicting side of the argument suggests that CBD has wake-promoting properties, which may sound counterintuitive, but could be useful for managing daytime sleep disorders, like daytime fatigue. Evidence suggests that cannabidiol could be useful in managing many of the underlying conditions that cause sleep disorders, which led to research specifically into the use of CBD for PTSD-related insomnia. 

In fact, several studies have confirmed the anxiolytic effects of CBD, and one main way that CBD may improve sleep is by improving overall anxiety. The same rule applies to insomnia caused by pain, which may also respond well to CBD treatment. 

Sleep is one area of particular interest for researchers since most of the mechanisms of sleep are still poorly understood. Research efforts regarding CBD for sleep are expected to continue to incline, but the following studies show a useful connection between cannabidiol and sleep disorders:

1. Effectiveness of Cannabidiol Oil for Pediatric Anxiety and Insomnia as Part of Posttraumatic Stress Disorder: A Case Report.

A 2016 study evaluated the effects of CBD on a 10-year-old girl with pediatric anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder. “Pharmaceutical medications provided partial relief, but results were not long-lasting, and there were major side effects. A trial of CBD oil resulted in a maintained decrease in anxiety and a steady improvement in the quality and quantity of the patient’s sleep. CBD oil, an increasingly popular treatment of anxiety and sleep issues, has been documented as being an effective alternative to pharmaceutical medications. This case study provides clinical data that support the use of CBD oil as a safe treatment for reducing anxiety and improving sleep in a young girl with post-traumatic stress disorder.”

Learn more: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27768570 

2.Cannabis, Cannabinoids, and Sleep: a Review of the Literature

A 2017 peer review of the existing studies relating to cannabinoids and sleep concluded that “CBD may hold promise for REM sleep behavior disorder and [combating] excessive daytime sleepiness…”

Learn more: https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2Fs11920-017-0775-9

3. Cannabidiol in Anxiety and Sleep: A Large Case Series

A 2019 series of case studies suggests that “The final sample consisted of 72 adults presenting with primary concerns of anxiety or poor sleep. Anxiety scores decreased within the first month in 57 patients (79.2%) and remained decreased during the study duration. Sleep scores improved within the first month in 48 patients (66.7%) but fluctuated over time. In this chart review, CBD was well tolerated in all but 3 patients.”

Learn More: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6326553/ 

Which CBD products help with sleep and insomnia?

Before you design a CBD routine for managing any condition or illness (like sleep disorders) it’s important to understand that CBD must be used as a preventative measure first. Establishing a baseline concentration in your system and maintaining a regular dose helps stabilize the endocannabinoid system. CBD can also be used to manage acute flare-ups, but preventative dosing is most important. 

There are multiple options available, but for managing the symptoms associated with various types of sleep disorders, we recommend ingesting full spectrum CBD oil daily in the form of Tinctures or Gel Capsules for maximum relief

Both products contain the same active ingredient: high-quality full spectrum CBD oil. The main difference is the dosing style—tinctures are taken sublingually, and capsules are swallowed like any other pills. High-quality CBD tinctures or capsules will also utilize MCT oil, and ingredients needed by the body for full absorption of the cannabidiol. 

After using CBD regularly to manage sleep disorders, many people still find that they need a safe way to manage acute symptoms. In addition to the products we’ve outlined above, we recommend vaporizing CBD isolate to combat these sleep disorders. Vaping is one of the fastest dosing mechanisms—it allows cannabidiol to be absorbed into the bloodstream almost instantly. CBD isolate is a form of cannabidiol that is 99% pure, and it can be vaporized to help provide high-quality, immediate relief for the entire body. 

If you wish, you can take more capsules or another tincture dose to help manage these flares. Just remember that these methods take significantly longer to take effect than vaporizers—about 90 minutes. 

Often, the best way to manage moderate to severe sleep conditions is to combine different CBD products for all-day preventative and therapeutic coverage. The below products are some of our tried and true recommendations for combating anxiety related symptoms.

What is the correct CBD dosage to help treat sleep disorders and insomnia?

Your experience with cannabidiol will be unique, and it takes a bit of consideration to build a personalized routine. The best dose for you will vary based on personal factors, like your tolerance to cannabinoid products, your weight, or the type and severity of ailments you hope to manage. 

We suggest those suffering from sleep disorders start with 5-10mg per day of CBD. If this dose doesn’t seem to bring relief, we suggest increasing the dose by 5-10mg daily until you experience complete relief. Tinctures make it easy to dose this way, since you can increase by small increments, one or two drops at a time. 

Alternatively, CBD capsules offer the convenience of pre-measured doses. There’s no harm in starting with a low dose CBD gel cap, like 10mg, because CBD has no serious side effects and you can’t overdose on it. 

After you’ve established a baseline dose and monitored the effects, you can begin to slowly increase the dose as needed. Be sure to take time between doses to monitor the effects, as ingestible CBD products like these may have a delayed onset time of up to 90 minutes. However, the way the body slowly metabolizes these products may also explain the sustained relief they provide. In fact, many people report that the relief the feel from tinctures and gel capsules lasts all day.

Dosing for CBD vaporizers are different, as it can be difficult to accurately meter doses without special tools. The benefit to CBD vaporizers, however, is the near-immediate onset. Because you can usually feel the full effects of vaporized cannabidiol within 10 minutes, you can easily take one puff at a time until your symptoms reside. 

A Note About CBD and Drug Interactions

Many organizations have extensively analyzed CBD and its practical uses before confirming the positive safety profile of the cannabinoid. Despite evidence that CBD is safe for most people, it’s important to note that it may interact with common medications because it utilizes the same pathways, through cytochrome P450 liver enzymes, for absorption. 

Interactions could include many of the prescription medications taken for sleep disorders, like benzodiazepines or other sleep aids, which utilize cytochrome P450 pathways for absorption. The interaction is not necessarily dangerous (unless the medication is prescribed to treat life-threatening conditions) but it may cause the medication to be less effective. 

CBD’s effect on these liver enzymes is only temporary, so many people are able to solve this problem by spacing out their CBD and medication doses. Of course, you should always talk to your doctor about CBD before using it, especially if you take daily medications. He or she will be able to best help you determine the benefits and risks of incorporating CBD into your wellness regimen.