When it comes to treating sleeplessness and insomnia, it’s THC’s and CBN’s sedative effects that reign supreme. Cannabidiol (CBD), on the other hand, is known to have the opposite effects to THC. This means that, at low-to-moderate doses, CBD is actually more likely to keep you awake, as it is an antagonist of CB1 receptors. Yet, there are many people who have reported that CBD has helped them sleep better. Here are three good reasons why CBD can help treat insomnia and help you get a better night’s sleep.
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1. CBD Helps Treat Anxiety, PTSD, Depression and Chronic Pain
For many people, their insomnia is linked to the fact that they also suffer from anxiety, depression and/or chronic pain. Feeling on-edge all day, regular negative thought loops and being in constant physical pain can all affect one’s sleep. Stress hormones are still in the body, and this means that getting to sleep at night becomes more difficult.
CBD, which is a partial agonist of serotonin receptors, an anti-inflammatory and an allosteric modulator of opioid receptors. This means that CBD can effectively “turn down the volume” of both pain and anxiety, and its mood-boosting properties can help treat depression. CBD’s multi-receptor targeting makes it very useful for treating several conditions, and can help reduce the intake of some medications as well.
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2. CBD’s Biphasic Effects
We have mentioned CBD’s awakening, energetic effects when taken in low or moderate doses. However, in high doses, CBD does seem to have more sedative effects. A 2018 study on 27 healthy subjects showed that 300 mg of CBD taken 30 minutes before bedtime had no effect on their sleep-wake cycle. In a similar study, 600 mg of CBD had a sedative effect on healthy patients. Interestingly, the same study showed that those who had insomnia found much lower doses of CBD (160 mg) to be effective in getting them to sleep.
This suggests that, for those who have a sleep disorder, more moderate doses of CBD may still be helpful in treating insomnia. For those who are healthy and don’t need too much extra help getting to sleep, much higher doses of CBD are needed. Although we don’t know precisely why this is the case as of yet, those with insomnia may need lower doses of CBD in order to trigger sleep hormones, suggesting that an endocannabinoid deficiency of some sort is associated with insomnia.
3. CBD and REM Sleep
There are two types of sleep: non-rapid eye movement sleep (NREM) and rapid eye-movement (REM) sleep. In most cases, 90 minutes of NREM sleep leads to REM sleep, which is when dreaming occurs. Most people are unable to move very much during REM sleep, and their limbs are effectively paralysed.
Those who have disturbed REM sleep (e.g. those with Parkinson’s disease or PTSD) do not have paralyzed limbs during REM sleep, and they are able to flail and act out vivid and violent dreams. One study on the efficacy of CBD for movement disorders found that a dose of between 75 mg and 300 mg of CBD helped reduce anxiety and improve sleep in those with movement disorders such as dyskinesia or Parkinson’s disease.
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Some Overall Advice on Using CBD to Treat Sleeplessness & Insomnia
- Moderate to high doses will be needed to get a sedative effect from CBD.
- CBD is best combined with THC and CBN in order to get more sleep-inducing effects.
- CBD can help treat insomnia due to its anxiety-reducing effects.
- Combine CBD with more relaxing terpenes such as linalool, humulene and myrcene. Some pinene and limonene can also help induce sleepy effects, but when in high doses and combined with beta-caryophyllene, many have reported more awakening effects.
- If you have been prescribed benzodiazepine, barbiturate or any other sedative medication to treat your insomnia, it would be wise to taper their use when utilizing CBD. Long-term sedative users ought to do so under medical supervision, as withdrawal from sedatives can be dangerous and possibly life-threatening. Ingested and dosed properly, CBD and medical cannabis can help reduce or replace the intake of harsher, more addictive medications.