According to the CDC, adults need seven or more hours of sleep a night for optimal health and well-being. If you scoffed at that with a resounding “Pshaw!”, you’re likely one of 50-70 million adults that has some kind of sleep disorder.
What Is Insomnia?
Insomnia is difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep, even when you have the chance to do so. People with insomnia are often frustrated with their sleep experience and usually have at least one of these symptoms: fatigue, low energy, difficulty concentrating, mood disturbances, and decreased performance in work or at school.
If you’re not getting enough of that sweet, sweet shuteye, or if you’re sick of purchasing 4-6 hours a night with a sleep aid for the price of grogginess and side effects the next day … read on! Cannabinoids may be the safe, all-natural alternative you’ve been dreaming of.
What Are the Causes of Insomnia?
In order to treat insomnia, it’s important to understand the cause. Moreover, sometimes insomnia is the primary problem, and other times it’s the result of another condition. According to the Mayo Clinic, if the underlying problem is not treated, chronic insomnia can persist for years.
Stress is often the culprit. Other common causes include:
- Travel or work schedule, which can throw your sleep/wake cycle out-of-whack.
- Poor sleep habits like irregular sleep times, stimulating activities before bed, uncomfortable sleep environment, etc.
- Eating too much at night.
Other causes contributing to chronic insomnia could be:
- Mental health disorders
- Medical conditions
- Sleep-related disorders (sleep apnea, restless legs syndrome)
- Caffeine, nicotine, and alcohol
Aging is a factor, as well, that can cause insomnia because of changes in sleep patterns, activity, health, and medications.
What Are the Causes of Poor Sleep?
One of the reasons people have sleep issues is because of their sleep quality. According to SleepFoundation.org, poor sleep quality could be linked to an increased risk of Alzheimer’s disease.
Here are some of the signs that you have poor sleep quality:
- It takes you more than 30 minutes to fall asleep.
- You often wake more than once a night.
- You’ve been diagnosed with insomnia.
- When you wake up in the middle of the night, you can’t go back to sleep right away.
- You don’t sleep at least 85 percent of your time in bed.
Reasons why you might have poor sleep quality:
- Lack of sunlight during the day
- Too many electronics before bed
- Poor diet
- Frequent urination
- Sleeping disorders (sleep apnea, insomnia, RBD, night terrors, etc.)
Do Cannabinoids Work for Insomnia and Poor Sleep?
A recent national Consumer Reports survey revealed that almost 80 percent of Americans have trouble sleeping at least one night a week. In another CR survey, about 10 percent of Americans who have tried CBD said it was for sleep, and most of them found that it worked.
Even though more, larger human trials are needed to support the use of cannabinoids for insomnia, many doctors are already convinced. Our friend and medical director at Ananda Hemp, Dr. Capano, has personally observed that CBD with higher levels of CBN has improved insomnia and restless leg syndrome in patients.
Additionally, Sleep Doctor (and sleep guru to Dr. Oz) Michael J Breus, Ph.D. shares his endorsement of CBN as an “up and comer as a natural sleep therapy” in his recent article in Phycology Today.
Dr. Dustin Sulak, DO—founder of Healer.com and Integr8 Health, a Maine medical practice that uses medical cannabis as a treatment for a variety of ailments—describes CBD as “extraordinarily safe”, even at high doses. He said in an article on the Leafly website that he ensures all his patients of its safety.
According to a HuffPost journalist who tried CBD for her insomnia, “My racing thoughts seemed to come to a screeching halt within an hour of taking it, and when I got into bed I fell asleep as soon as my head hit the pillow. Even better, I woke up feeling refreshed and ready to take on the day.”
How CBD Works for Insomnia and Poor Sleep
You may have heard of the endocannabinoid system or ECS. We all have one, in fact all vertebrates and some invertebrates have them. The ECS is made up of receptors in the brain and all over the body.
Cannabinoids are chemical compounds that bind to ECS receptors. The two main receptors are CB1 and CB2, which are found in the central nervous system, immune system, and gastrointestinal tract, among other places.
The ECS plays a vital role in regulating several activities that keep your body in a balanced state, or homeostasis, including:
- sleep/wake cycles
- blood pressure
- pain sensation
CBD and other cannabinoids seem to work in three main ways to treat insomnia: through ECS receptors for anxiety, for pain receptors, and with receptors for sleep/wake cycles.
Treating Your Anxiety with CBD to Treat Insomnia
In this 2015 NIH study on generalized anxiety, CBD reduced stress in animals.
In a very recent published case study from 2019, a majority of patients with anxiety-related insomnia experienced improved sleep with CBD. Out of 72 patients, anxiety scores decreased in 57 patients within the first month, and sleep scores improved in 48 patients in the first month. Additionally, the study showed that CBD was well tolerated in 98 percent of the patients.
Also, another case report outlines how CBD successfully treated the pediatric anxiety and insomnia of a ten-year-old girl with post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The child had been severely abused and neglected. As a result, she suffered from symptoms of PTSD, including anxiety and insomnia. Pharmaceuticals meds had provided some relief, but they were not lasting and came with major side effects.
CBD was able to provide sustained relief to the 10-year-old, for both sleep and anxiety, and proved, with clinical data, to be a safe form of treatment.
Recommended CBD Forms for Anxiety
For chronic anxiety, slow-releasing softgels like Ananda Hemp CBD work well. They can be taken first thing in the morning and again at night for constant coverage. Along with these we also suggest keeping a Puffin Hemp or Ananda Hemp tincture on hand as a spot treatment for breakthrough anxiety.
The Puffin Hemp Liposomal Carrier and Ananda Hemp tincture are powerful and fast-acting options that offer immediate relief from situational anxiety. Puffin Hemp Liposomal Carrier comes in three strengths—350 mg, 700 mg, or 1000 mg—so you can really tailor it to your needs. Not only is it water soluble and broad spectrum (meaning it contains a range of cannabinoid and cannabis plant nutrients), but Puffin Hemp is also the fastest acting, highest absorbing CBD product available.
Ananda Hemp’s tincture is also fast-acting and comes in several strengths: 200 mg, 300 mg, 600 mg, and a whopping 2000 mg. This full spectrum product is loaded with additional beneficial cannabinoids and plant nutrients. Take it sublingually (under your tongue) for rapid relief.
Both of these products are stellar at relieving panic attacks. And because they are made from high-quality hemp, they are safe and non-intoxicating.
Treating Your Pain with CBD to Treat Insomnia
Sometimes pain can be the cause of insomnia. Arthritis, Fibromyalgia, and other inflammatory disorders can keep you from resting at night, causing worse days and keeping you in a vicious cycle that can severely impact your quality of life. For a personal account about how CBD from The Hemp Haus changed Ginny’s quality of life, read her story in HERLIFE Magazine.
In this 2018 scientific review, authors shed a light on the already fair amount of evidence that CBD can be used to treat pain. They also mention that reducing pain can help with insomnia.
Recommended CBD Forms for Pain
If you’re seeking relief from arthritis or lower back pain, we recommend Ananda Hemp softgels over tinctures, because they’re longer lasting. This full spectrum product is loaded with additional beneficial cannabinoids and plant nutrients.
The Puffin Hemp Liposomal Carrier and Ananda Hemp tincture are powerful and fast-acting options for immediate relief from acute or breakthrough pain.
Ananda Hemp’s tincture comes in several strengths: 200 mg, 300 mg, 600 mg, and a massive 2000 mg, and is also full spectrum.
Puffin Hemp Liposomal Carrier comes in three strengths—350 mg, 700 mg, or 1000 mg—so you can really tailor it to your needs. Again, it’s water soluble and contains a range of cannabinoid and cannabis plant nutrients. Most significantly, it is the fastest acting, highest absorbing CBD product available.
For muscle pain, Ananda Hemp spectrum salve is also a great option on its own or in addition to the Ananda Hemp softgels, tincture, or Puffin Hemp.
For keeping pain at bay during sleep, the Ananda Hemp softgels are perfect, while Puffin Hemp is better for taking the edge off pain in order to fall asleep.
CBD for Treating Sleep/Wake Cycle Disorders
A large study published at the end of 2018, concluded that natural medical cannabis flower was associated with “significant improvements” in insomnia.
In 2014 a case series determined that CBD is able to control the symptoms of REM sleep behavior disorder (RBD), a condition often associated with Parkinson’s patients. It found that “patients treated with CBD had prompt and substantial reduction in the frequency of RBD-related events without side effects.”
A review of the literature in 2017, supports claims that CBD can treat sleep/wake cycle disorders such as REM sleep behavior disorder (RBD) and excessive daytime sleepiness.
RBD and the Elderly
RBD is when a person acts out their dreams and is common in Parkinson’s patients. It’s associated with nightmares and is a cause of poor sleep. Symptoms include kicking, punching, arm flailing or jumping from bed, in response to action-filled or violent dreams. In the dream, the patient may be defending themselves from or trying to escape an attack. They may also make noises through talking, laughing, shouting, emotional outcries or even cursing.
The risk factors, according to the Mayo Clinic, for RBD are:
- Being male and over 50 years
- Having a certain type of neurodegenerative disorder, such as Parkinson’s disease, multiple system atrophy, stroke or dementia with Lewy bodies.
- Having narcolepsy, a chronic sleep disorder characterized by overwhelming daytime drowsiness
- Taking certain medications or withdrawing from certain drugs or alcohol
CBD and Chronic Night Terrors
A night terror is a sleep disorder that occurs in N3 sleep, which is the deepest stage of non-rapid eye movement (NREM) sleep and the same stage in which sleepwalking happens. While night terrors occur in adults, they are more common in children 3-12, which means they can potentially disrupt entire households.
Night terrors are a vicious cycle. The homeostasis-promoting properties of CBD may be able to help re-regulate a person’s nervous system and break the vicious cycle that can affect the sleep quality of whole families.
Different Forms of CBD and How to Dose Them
Having a range of CBD form options is great. It makes it so that CBD and cannabinoids are a choice you can tailor to both your needs and your lifestyle. This has become more pronounced now that hemp flower is being cultivated in a variety of strains, so that you can find the winning combination of hemp actives (cannabinoids, terpenes, flavonoids, phytonutrients) that fit you.
We’re all different. Depending on certain criteria, like age, weight, diet, metabolism, and the tone of our endocannabinoid system (ECS), we all process CBD differently. (Learn more about the ECS, the master regulatory system that oversees our central nervous system, immune system, and various organs.) Therefore, target CBD doses vary from person to person.
Side Effects of CBD
There is no one-size-fits-all for CBD. As with most drugs, supplements, and even food, it can have varying effects on individuals.
All things considered, CBD has a fairly short and harmless list of side effects, compared to many traditional drugs, which includes:
- dry mouth
- low blood pressure
- change in weight/appetite
CBD may interact with some medications, so it is important to talk to your doctor about potential harmful interactions. Like grapefruit, CBD interferes with cytochromes P450 (CYPs), a group of enzymes that are involved in drug metabolism. Therefore, if you take any drugs with the “grapefruit warning”, know that CBD may also interfere with that medication.
There have been a few articles in the news lately about CBD and liver toxicity. The two studies that suggests this use very high amounts of CBD—much more than would be therapeutically used by most people—and involve only oral CBD. If you’re interested, please read our article on thehemphaus.com, “Can CBD Cause Liver Toxicity?”
Replacing Your Sleep Aid with CBD
For the sake of perspective, let’s take a look at a very commonly prescribed drug for anxiety and sleep, Xanax (a benzodiazepine). This drug, along with many others that have longer, more harmful lists of side effects, have been FDA-approved.
Common side effects of Xanax include:
- Slower than normal brain function
- Slurred speech
- Shallow breathing
- Lack of coordination
- Dilated pupils
Side effects of Xanax at higher doses may include:
- Impaired memory, judgment, and coordination
- Thoughts of suicide
- Agitation and aggressiveness
Combined with other substances (alcohol, opioids, etc.), Xanax could cause:
- Slow breathing
- Slowing of both heart and respiration
- Possible death
Xanax can have serious withdrawal effects, including seizures. This may cause a physical dependence. People can also develop a tolerance for Xanax, which can lead to a risk of overdose. Because of these factors, it may become addictive for some users.
In a recent Forbes article on “CBD Safety for Seniors”, cannabis journalist Abbie Rosner interviewed an Ontario-based family physician who works with cannabis-based clinics, Dr. Danial Schecter. In the article, Dr. Schecter said this about transitioning from a prescribed sleep med to CBD:
“If you’ve been on a sleep aid for many years, and you want to stop taking it and use CBD, I would not recommend that you all of a sudden stop taking the sleep aid and start taking CBD, because your insomnia will get worse. Under the guidance of your physician, you would want to taper in the CBD until you reach a stable dose.”
Poor Quality CBD WILL NOT Help You Sleep
With CBD, quality that matters most. There are several things to keep in mind when shopping for CBD oil. First, know where the hemp was sourced. This is important because hemp is a bioaccumulator, which means it leaches impurities from the soil. The hemp plant can literally be used to purify soil. This is why it’s important to know that your product has been tested. A certificate of analysis (COA) should be available either with the product or on the manufacturer’s or seller’s website through a batch number. This will show that there are no harmful levels of contaminants in your CBD product.
The other reason you’ll want a COA is because mislabeling has been a problem. In a 2018 study on the effects of artisanal CBD for the treatment of epilepsy, researchers stated that a key concern and challenge to their results was the variability that mislabeled CBD products introduced. They cited one study, conducted in 2015, in which all labeled CBD content was mislabeled 100 percent of the time.
Another 2017 study discovered that out of 84 CBD products (from 31 companies) purchased online, only 31 percent were accurately labeled.
The hemp industry is new and growing rapidly, and in the process, regulation has been unable to keep pace. It has fallen to the farmers, manufacturers, and sellers to self-regulate, and to the consumer to do their due diligence. A good brand will make all of this information and their practices, processes and the source of their ingredients available. Their team will have backgrounds in science, hemp experience, and food-manufacturing know-how.
The Nature’s Breakthrough educational resource is just one of the ways The Hemp Haus practices its sincere commitment to and passion for educating people about CBD and helping them find the right, high-quality product based on their needs.