CBD and sleep. What we know so far

Juliet D'cruz

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The importance of sleep can’t be underscored. It is an opportunity for the body to rejuvenate itself, physically, mentally, and emotionally. Insomnia affects most people occasionally. However, chronic sleep deprivation is dangerous to health and can lead to anxiety, depression, seizures, high blood pressure, low immunity, weight gain, and so many other ailments.

Sleep deprivation is not a disease but is usually caused by an underlying factor. These issues include sleep apnea, insomnia, narcolepsy, restless legs syndrome, aging, medication, depression, chronic pain, illnesses, stress, and anxiety.

CBD oil has shown promising results as a natural, non-habit forming sleep aid. More than 80% of the population has reported having trouble sleeping, and more than 75% of the population has a loss of sleep weekly. Many are saying that CBD oil has helped with relaxation, anxiety, and pain relief, contributing to getting that shut-eye.

Consuming CBD for sleep will not make you high. That is because cannabidiol or CBD is a non-psychoactive compound within the cannabis plant. THC or tetrahydrocannabinol is the compound responsible for the elevated feeling when consuming marijuana.

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Our bodies react to the cannabis plant through the endocannabinoid system. Within this pathway are receptor cells, in this case, CB1 and CB2 receptor cells. Each of these receptors recognizes different parts of consumed cannabis.

CB1 cells mostly reside in the brain, and some are in the rest of our bodies as well. These cells, which are responsible for thinking, memory, pleasure, coordination, react to the THC component of cannabis, and this could produce a psychoactive effect, elevation, and feeling ‘high.’

CB2 receptor cells are primarily in our peripheral systems and are responsible for our immune response, inflammation, muscles, nervous system, and more. CBD is recognized by these cells and has been reported to help with issues such as pain, arthritis, anxiety, skin issues, and sleep.

CBD is usually extracted from the flowers, leaves, and plant matter of the hemp or marijuana plant. CBD derived from the hemp plant is legal in the U.S., thanks to the 2018 Farm Bill. Under this bill, CBD is legal if it comes from the hemp and not the marijuana plant. The CBD must also have 0.3% THC or lower, for it to be covered under this bill.

CBD oil and hemp oil are not the same, although many have reported that both help with sleep. CBD is an extraction of the cannabis plant’s leaves, flowers infused into hemp, jojoba, flaxseed, olive, or coconut oils. Hemp oil is a product of the plant’s seeds being pressed into an oil.

Sleep Disorders

The endocannabinoid system is becoming of interest to researchers at discovering how it can help with improving sleep. CBD oil has shown positive results to many users, reporting that it is more effective than prescription medication for sleep.

Sleep disorders include insomnia, restless leg syndrome, sleep apnea, and narcolepsy – these can occur or their own, or as a result of some other issue such as anxiety or chronic pain. The medication prescribed for these issues often has unwanted side effects such as fatigue, brain fog, and even nausea upon waking up.

A research review looked into cannabis’s potential use as a treatment for insomnia. The study stated that while THC may help with getting short-term rest, it may harm long-term sleep quality. The review felt that CBD could help REM sleep behavior disorder and excessive daytime sleepiness.


Anxiety is a leading cause of insomnia. Many users report that CBD oil has helped with anxiety, and keeping thoughts calm and at bay when it’s time to sleep. 

CBD oil’s antidepressant and anti-anxiety properties come from the cannabinoids’ ability to regulate serotonin, a hormone that influences social behavior, mood, and one’s general state of happiness.

CBD oil also helps the body create melatonin, a well-known hormone that aids sleep and works with our circadian rhythms to fall asleep faster while improving sleep quality.

A clinical study tested a CBD treatment on 72 patients for about a month to see if it would help with sleep and anxiety. The average age for patients with anxiety was 34 years, and 36.5 years for patients with sleep disorders. The study said that the men in this sample had a higher anxiety diagnosis, while the women sampled had more sleep-disorders. The study found that anxiety and sleep levels improved in patients and that these improvements were sustained.

Chronic Pain

Chronic pain has a significant impact on sleep quality, and many with this condition are skeptical about taking potentially addictive and dangerous prescription medication for pain relief and sleep. According to CBD Kryo, studies are showing that CBD oil has helped alleviate pain for patients in clinical settings. 

Many pre-existing conditions such as arthritis, spine injury, inflammation, and more lead to pain that remains over time. In this state, many are given prescriptions for opioids, which is causing an addiction epidemic in the U.S. Patients taking these strong medications also experience unwanted side effects such as brain fog, irritability, and light-headedness. CBD oil is becoming a popular alternative and natural treatment for pain management, as well as sleep quality. 

Other Conditions

Aging has a considerable effect on sleep quality, as our hormones decline, sometimes so does our sleep. As the body matures, taking certain medications, along with the prevalence of medical problems affects sleep quality as well.

Sleep deprivation is also common during chronic illnesses and disorders, including depression, schizophrenia, cancer, heart disease, stroke, Parkinson’s, and Alzheimer’s. According to GiftWits, CBD oil has helped patients in clinical studies relieve symptoms of Parkinson’s and other chronic ailments. In one particular study, CBD helped Parkinson’s patients control tremors and sleeping difficulties.

About 10 percent of Americans who said they used CBD reported that it helps them sleep, most claiming it worked. CBD is mostly unregulated as it is a supplement. It is essential to ask a healthcare professional for dosage information if CBD is being used to treat a severe condition.

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