Insomnia, a sleep disorder characterized by the inability to fall and stay asleep, is relatively common. Insomnia doesn’t discriminate, as people all age groups and backgrounds experience it.
Treatment for insomnia often varies and includes therapy or medications, like sleeping pills. Some individuals are choosing to treat insomnia with natural alternatives, like CBD.
CBD oil and insomnia
Determining how insomnia arises in individuals can be complicated, but several factors often contribute. These include mental factors, like anxiety and stress disorders, alongside physical characteristics, such as physical illness or pain (1).
All of these can disrupt the natural sleep-wake cycle of the body, negatively affecting your sleep schedule. Many traditional insomnia treatments are harsh or even dangerous for long-term use.
Luckily, CBD is a natural alternative that has been shown to ease many of these symptoms.
Anxiety and stress
Anxiety is often a cause of high stress levels. Similarly, anxiety can worsen stress symptoms, leading to a negative feedback loop (2). This can wreak havoc on your mental and physical health, resulting in health conditions, like insomnia.
The good news? CBD can be useful in the fight against anxiety and stress. CBD’s anti-stress properties may help calm a racing mind and a rapid heart rate.
Researchers have found that the calming effects of CBD are felt almost immediately, compared to antidepressants, which often take weeks to take effect (3).
Many studies have also linked CBD use to lowered cortisol levels, a stress hormone. When cortisol levels are high, this can result in high blood pressure, reduced energy levels, and poor sleep quality. Alongside this, high cortisol levels are also associated with increased anxiety and depression risk due to cortisol’s interaction with several brain receptors (4).
On top of all this, CBD’s calming effects are seen to be long-lasting and well-tolerated. This contrasts with traditional anti-stress or anxiety medication, which works to mask symptoms but can come with many side effects.
Physical illness and pain
Physical illness and pain throughout the body can be inconvenient and uncomfortable. Both of these symptoms make it hard to fall (and stay!) asleep. CBD is emerging as a promising treatment to ease pain due to illness.
What is interesting is cannabis has always been used for medicinal purposes. In fact, one of the earliest recorded uses of cannabis was for arthritis (5)! In NZ, about 1 in 6 people live with at least one type of arthritis, making it a relatively common condition (6).
Luckily, there is some evidence to suggest that people with anxiety who use CBD reported pain relief and, because of this, improved sleep (7). The cause of this lies in CBD’s unique anti-inflammatory properties, which affect how the body’s receptors respond to inflammation and pain.
Most of the research using CBD for pain has been related to nerve damage. Researchers have investigated other forms of CBD oil application in addition to oral and found that topical application is also useful. After determining how effective CBD is for pain when applied to the skin, neuropathic or nerve damage pain was decreased (8).
How does CBD help with insomnia?
While research has shown CBD’s interaction with the endocannabinoid system as the main reason pain and anxiety levels decrease, most studies are still inconclusive. The research on CBD and insomnia is still relatively new, and most researchers agree that more research on CBD is needed before we can fully understand its impacts on sleep.
However, what researchers know is that CBD’s interaction with the body eases many of the root causes of insomnia. The endocannabinoid system is involved in a lot of body processes, including mental health. This relationship is so strong that many researchers have pointed out individuals with mental health disorders with damaged or altered endocannabinoid systems (9).
CBD can interact with endocannabinoid system receptors to reduce feelings of anxiety, stress, or pain.
How to use CBD oil for insomnia
The rise in popularity of CBD products worldwide means a massive range of options is available for purchase. CBD oil is a great CBD product option due to its portable nature and fast-acting effects.
If you are concerned about using CBD for the first time or whether CBD is the right choice to treat your insomnia, talk to your doctor. They will assess your particular body composition and sleep needs to determine if CBD is a good option for you. This is important, as many factors, like your body chemistry, will affect how the CBD works.
So, when should you take CBD oil? It depends. Usually, CBD oils have immediate effects on the body since CBD oil is one of the more bioavailable CBD options (10). If approved by your doctor, some experimentation with dosage may be useful.
For insomnia, most people like to take a dose of CBD right before they head to sleep, while others prefer to have it in their systems throughout the day.
CBD side effects
Before choosing a CBD oil, make sure it is from a reputable company. Choosing CBD products from companies that consistently produce high-quality products is essential for product effectiveness. It limits the risk of any side effects.
However, because our bodies are so different, some side effects may be experienced even though CBD is generally well-tolerated. These include nausea, dizziness, fatigue, and diarrhoea (11). Talk to a health professional if you want to know more about any of these side effects.
The bottom line
Many people are choosing to use CBD oil over traditional medicine to ease their insomnia. If this is something you’re interested in, talk to your doctor. They will assess your individual sleep needs and whether CBD is the right choice for you.
CBD shows promise in easing many symptoms (and causes) of insomnia. These include anxiety, stress, and chronic pain.