According to the CDC, insomnia plagues around a third of the population of the United States. During times of high stress, almost anyone can experience a few sleepless nights, but for those that have chronic insomnia, sleep can be as elusive as the unicorns of ancient myth. The research into the effects of cannabidiol (CBD) on your body is still relatively new, but CBD has been used throughout history with success it seems.
What are the Potential Causes of Insomnia?
If you cannot fall asleep easily or stay asleep during the night, you may have insomnia. While you have the option to use one of the many medications available to treat insomnia; they aren’t right for everyone.
Insomnia can be chronic or episodic and has many causes such as:
- Chronic Pain
- Neurological Disorders (like Parkinson’s disease)
- Restless leg syndrome
- Gastrointestinal disturbances
- Some Medications
- Poor sleep schedule
Research suggests that cannabidiol has the potential to treat insomnia and other sleep disorders. To understand how CBD alleviates insomnia, we need to delve a bit into how and why your body reacts to it.
A Field of Study: The Endocannabinoid System
All mammals have an endocannabinoid system (ECS) that is responsible for the regulation of many important system functions, including pain perception, emotional responses, and sleep regulation. Your endocannabinoid system is controlled by a complicated network of neurotransmitters (messengers) and receptors. The two main cannabinoids your body produces are anandamide and 2AG (2- arachidonoyl).
You also have two receptors that initiate a response, CB1 and CB2.
CB1 Receptors are mostly found in your brain, spinal column, and nerve endings.
CB2 Receptors populate your peripheral nervous system and your immune cells.
How Does CBD React with Your Endocannabinoid System?
Cannabidiol is a cannabinoid and it’s also exogenous, meaning it occurs from a source outside of your body (the cannabis plant). Since CBD is extracted from the hemp plant, it does not contain THC, the compound in marijuana that causes the intoxicating effects. That is why CBD is legal and available for purchase as a dietary supplement.
How CBD Eases Insomnia
The endocannabinoids your body produces on its own are produced as needed, and quickly broken down by enzymes. Since cannabinol once again is an exogenous cannabinoid, the effects on your receptors are stronger and last longer.
So, CBD has the potential to ease insomnia in several ways:
#1: Potential Relief from Anxiety
The standard pharmaceutical treatments for anxiety and depression increase the amount of serotonin the body by preventing the reabsorption of serotonin, to keep more serotonin available. CBD works in much the same way by increasing serotonin levels, reducing stress, anxiety and depression. This helps your body relax so you can fall asleep easily.
#2: Potential Relief from Pain
CBD also inhibits the absorption of anandamide by blocking the enzyme that breaks it down. When you have more anandamide in your system, you feel less pain. Since pain often keeps people from falling asleep or staying asleep, pain relief encourages sleep.
#3: Potential Effects for REM Sleep
Many people with Parkinson's disease experience REM behavior disorder. Typically, in REM sleep, your body is predominantly immobilized to keep you from physically reacting to dreams. In REM behavior disorder this immobility does not occur properly, and those with Parkinson's are free to move. CBD helps balance this function and is also shown to improve REM sleep in those with Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).
Note: Since your endocannabinoid system is also responsible for immune function and inflammation, temperature regulation and digestive processes, CBD may also be beneficial if your insomnia is caused by a disturbance in any of these functions.
Which Delivery Method Should You Go With?
The delivery method you choose can also effect dosing. The three most popular methods for ingesting CBD are vaping, sublingual drops or sprays, and oral products.
Vaping simply means heating the CBD oil just enough for it to turn into a vapor and inhaling it. Vaping passes the CBD directly into the bloodstream through the lungs.
Sublingual is just a fancy name for "under the tongue”. The sublingual method uses drops or sprays applied under the tongue that are absorbed by the mucus membranes of the mouth. This method also delivers cannabidiol straight into the bloodstream.
The oral route means that CBD is put on, or in, food and drinks and swallowed. It must then pass through the digestive system to the liver and then into the bloodstream.
There are many arguments that vaping and sublingual are the better methods. Why? Because a great deal of the CBD that you take orally is lost from passing through the gut, and what makes it through is altered by passing through the liver. Vaping and sublingual are also faster delivery methods since they pass CBD directly into the bloodstream.
Getting Enough Sleep is Vital to Your Health and Just Life in General
For the millions of Americans that have trouble sleeping, as you can see, with the research provides, cannabidiol might be able to help. CBD could help with many of the factors, like anxiety, depression, or pain that keep you from getting a goodnight's sleep. Figuring out which delivery system and dose work best for you may take some trial and error, but getting enough sleep may very well be worth the effort.