Will CBD help you sleep?

Will CBD help you sleep?

Many of us have trouble falling or staying asleep. CBD oil, or cannabidiol, is a phytocannabinoid derived from the hemp plant (Cannabis sativa) with science pointing to its ability to help people sleep. In this article, we dig into this research and track down the best CBD oil for sleep.

Unlike the other famous cannabinoid, THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), CBD does not cause psychoactive effects. But by interacting with cannabinoid receptors in the brain, CBD is able to positively impact sleep as well as other health issues like pain and anxiety, which are common culprits of sleep loss.

A Sleepy World

Seven to nine hours per night is the recommended amount of sleep for adults. Easier said than done. Many factors compete with these evidence-based recommendations, making them feel more like an aspirational goal. As a result, 35 percent of US adults are experiencing a lack of sleep—most of them getting less than 7 hours of sleep per night.

Chronic lack of sleep has consequences. It can weaken the immune system, increase inflammation, and elevate risk for a variety of serious health conditions. These include cardiovascular disease, hypertension, heart attack, stroke, diabetes, obesity, depression, and even neurodegeneration associated with dementia.

CBD and Sleep Science

The cannabis plant has thousands of years of medicinal use behind it, and CBD and sleep go way back too. In a medical journal publication from 1843, Dr. O’Shaughnessy describes hemp as a “powerful sedative.” Fast forward to present day, and research is beginning to build, supporting CBD’s calming impact on the central nervous system.

A 2019 case series recently found that CBD supplementation improved sleep within 1 month of treatment (25 to 175 mg CBD/day) in two thirds of patients receiving care at a psychiatry outpatient clinic. Whether this improvement also occurs in healthy adults is unknown. But, a 2019 review of clinical trials found that many studies indicated positive effects of cannabinoids on sleep quality.

The study involved 72 subjects, with 47 experiencing anxiety and 25 experiencing poor sleep. The subjects were each given 25 milligrams (mg) of CBD in capsule form each day. In the first month, 79.2 percent of the patients reported lower anxiety levels and 66.7 percent reported better sleep.

Dr. Patricia Frye, a board-certified cannabis clinician and Chief Medical Officer at HelloMD, pointed out that there is evidence that high doses of CBD can modulate adenosine pathways in the brain. “Adenosine is the substance that accumulates during the day and deactivates the sensory neurons in the area of the brain that keeps us awake.”

CBD may also trigger tiredness or a sleep response through its reported effects on the 5-HT1a serotonin receptors, as observed in a study published in the medical journal Pain. “When binding to the 5-HT1a receptors, CBD essentially blocks those receptors from other agonists binding to them,” Ford explained. “Depending on the individual's body chemistry, when CBD binds to these receptors it can essentially block the anxiety or depression-causing molecules, leading to immediate relief.” As a result, some individuals may feel a sensation of sleepiness.

Bottom line

There is some evidence that CBD may reduce anxiety and promote feelings of calm and relaxation, which could lead to better sleep in some people.