Can CBD Help With Insomnia?

Can CBD Help With Insomnia?

*Despite what you might read elsewhere on the internet, CBD has not been medically proven to prevent, treat, or cure insomnia. This article discusses ongoing research into the endocannabinoid system and should not be the foundation of any medical or health recommendations or diagnosis. If you have or suspect you may have insomnia, talk to your doctor.*

If you have trouble falling asleep or staying asleep, you might be wondering if CBD may help. Your insomnia symptoms could be short-term, chronic, or may come and go (intermittent). There are two types of insomnia.

  • Primary insomnia is not linked to any other health condition. It may be related to sleep habits, lifestyle choices, or changes to your sleep schedule.
  • Secondary insomnia is triggered by a health condition, such as depression, cancer, heartburn, or asthma. Certain medications, pain, or substances like alcohol, can also trigger secondary insomnia.

The American Academy of Sleep Medicine declared March 12, 2018, Insomnia Awareness Day. The day is intended to highlight the sleeping problems that millions of people struggle with each night. Statistics tell us:

  • Up to 35% of all people have brief symptoms of insomnia
  • 20% have sleep difficulty that lasts less than three months
  • 10% have a chronic problem that happens at least three times a week for at least three months

Sleep problems can affect your cognitive function, including your memory and concentration. Chronic sleep deprivation can increase your risk of high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease, and cancer. 

Seek medical attention if you have chronic sleeping problems. Treatable health conditions can trigger sleep problems like insomnia. But, if your physician does not find other health problems, let's consider how cannabidiol (CBD) may improve your situation.

CBD and the Endocannabinoid System

If you were asked about the major organ systems in your body, the endocannabinoid system might not come to mind. Your endocannabinoid system is a network of receptors located throughout your body. Receptors are structures on your cell that bind with neurotransmitters (chemicals) that tell cells to take action. 

Your body has two types of endocannabinoid receptors - CB1 and CB2. For the most part, your brain has CB1 receptors and your immune system, and your gut have CB2 receptors. You do have CB2 receptors in the brain, but there are not as many.

Your endocannabinoid receptors interact with cannabinoid-type chemicals your body produces. These are endogenous cannabinoids. In other words, your body is hardwired for cannabinoid-like chemicals to help maintain homeostasis (stability). 

CBD is one of the most heavily studied cannabinoid compounds found in the Cannabis sativa plant. In recent years it has exploded in popularity. This is due in part to the potentially beneficial effects and the lack of psychoactivity associated with tetrahydrocannabinol (THC).

Interestingly, CBD does not bind well with either CB1 or CB2. Instead, research shows that it helps by improving or delaying the action of other chemicals with your endocannabinoid system. Those chemicals can be produced by your body (endogenous) or cannabinoids included in full-spectrum CBD oil (exogenous). 

How CBD Affects Insomnia

A dysfunctional endocannabinoid system can affect multiple other organ systems. This is called endocannabinoid deficiency. It's not a disease but rather an underlying condition that may trigger headaches, generalized body pain and affect your gut health. Your CB1 and CB2 receptors in the brain help modulate your sleep-wake cycles. If the system is deficient, it can affect your ability to fall asleep and stay asleep.

Research evidence has shown that CBD may have a calming effect on the nervous system, which may have helped the participants in the study to sleep better and potentially calm their anxiety. Short-term studies show patients do not experience withdrawal when use is abruptly discontinued.

There is also research evidence to suggest that CBD may help with several types of sleep conditions. This includes insomnia, REM sleep behavior disorder in people with Parkinson’s disease, and excessive daytime sleepiness.

Struggling to get a good night of sleep is frustrating. It increases your risk of other health conditions and may affect your cognitive abilities during the day. When your sleep challenges are not associated with an underlying medical condition, CBD oil may help reduce your symptoms of difficulty falling asleep and staying asleep.

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