Sleep is one of, if not the, most important aspects of a healthy lifestyle. When you are well rested you have more energy, are able to perform more complex tasks, remember things more effectively, and generally feel better. Unfortunately, poor sleep is an incredibly common struggle amongst Americans and the rest of the world. Whether it’s poor sleep, or full blown insomnia, finding a way to sleep better can be a struggle, especially without taking unnatural substances.
In recent years, a number of people have turned to CBD and CBD edibles to assist with sleep. But whether you use it, or are considering CBD as a sleep aid, you may still be asking how it impacts sleep at all. Here is a basic guide to how CBD impacts sleep.
If we are going to talk about CBD and how it helps with sleep, we first need to get this out of the way. CBD is not THC. Many have heard cannabis and marijuana used interchangeably, thus thinking that CBD—a cannabinoid—will cause them to “get high.” This is not the case.
A cannabinoid is anything that is made from the cannabis plant. Certain parts of the cannabis plant contain THC, while other parts do not. To smoke, or ingest THC is what causes the sensation of being “high.” CBD, however, while it does affect the nervous system, does not get you high.
CBD poses nearly no development of dependency or addiction, and in its sold forms is an approved substance that you can purchase at your local natural grocery store in any form from oil to edible.
The Endocannabinoid System
So, how does CBD affect our sleep? While scientific research does not have an exact answer, there are a number of theories and observances that show a cause and effect correlation.
To understand how CBD impacts sleep, we need to understand the endocannabinoid system. This is a neuromodulatory system that interacts with the nervous system. Essentially, it is a series of receptors that affects the way our nerves fire, from body to brain. These specific receptors are sensitive cannabinoids, such as THC and CBD. It’s why smoking THC leads to a happy, calm feeling. It’s also why taking CBD can help with sleep.
There is a consensus amongst the scientific community that the endocannabinoid system is closely connected to our circadian rhythms. Our circadian rhythms are essentially our body’s sleep, wake, and energy schedule. When you start to get tired, when you wake up, when you have energy throughout the day. These are all part of your circadian rhythm.
Sleep is the most important aspect of a person’s circadian rhythm. With poor sleep, circadian rhythm can be thrown off, and energy levels can become inconsistent. Alternatively, an unbalanced circadian rhythm can lead to poor sleep habits.
Because our circadian rhythms are so closely linked to the endocannabinoid system, and CBD is a cannabinoid (meaning it impacts that system), CBD has the potential to help regulate our circadian rhythms. This may lead to better, or more consistent sleep and more energetic days.
A large reason why people struggle with sleep, or insomnia is due to anxiety. This anxiety can be caused by the events of the day, worry about the day to come, and even a fear that the person struggling will not be able to fall asleep.
When we suffer from anxiety, our entire nervous system experiences a reaction. This is why we experience wild and incomplete thoughts, nausea, aches, muscle tension, and panicked breathing when dealing with anxiety. When this occurs close to bed time, the body falls out of its sleep attempt due to the triggering of a fight or flight response.
This is where CBD can help intensely as a sleep aid. While something like melatonin triggers the body’s “go to bed” reaction, CBD is known to calm the nervous system. This is due to its interaction with the endocannabinoid system, which tells the nervous system to, in essence, relax, and helps to lessen or remove anxiety symptoms.
While this is not an innate sleep aid, the reason for many people’s insomnia is anxiety associated. Removing the anxiety factor can make bedtime practices far and beyond easier.
The scientific community is still in the process of researching the endocannabinoid system, and how it is affected by THC and CBD alike. The truth is, we are still breaking ground regarding why CBD helps us fall asleep. However, we do know that it does help us fall asleep. A number of studies have shown that CBD is a helpful sleep aid.
Luckily, CBD has next to no adverse side effects. If you’re struggling with sleep, give it a try. If it works, awesome. If it doesn’t, try something else. There is no hurt to giving CBD a try as your sleep aid, and odds are it works!