CBD & Sleep — Feb 26, 2019

February 26th, 2019 by Cara Oorbeck

CBD & Sleep

We have been talking about a variety of concerns over the last few weeks. One question we get all the time is “will this help me sleep?” So we thought we would tackle it in a blog!

There seems to be a common misconception that CBD acts as a sleep-inducing depressant, that it puts you to sleep. This is unsupported by current research literature. Many CBD products are marketed to help increase alertness and reduce daytime drowsiness, so how can CBD help you sleep? While it seems counter-intuitive (and in some ways, it is), current studies support the use of CBD to facilitate healthy sleep but only in certain circumstances. I cannot stress enough that CBD is not a cure-all that will give a full rest to whoever uses it.

CBD and Staying Alert

I want to first look at how CBD helps the body stay alert and awake during the daytime. In earlier blogs, I discussed the use of CBD to balance the body’s cell receptors and ensure a functioning body. These earlier blogs have direct implications on how the body stays alert during waking hours. One study found that CBD increased alertness when used in small doses on rats. This study found that CBD use measurably contributed to a lack of drowsiness in rats because of how it increased the activation of neurons in the hypothalamus and DRD (dorsal raphe nucleus), two areas of the brain that regulate drowsiness and sleep. Because of the outcomes of this study, the doctors who conducted it believed that CBD might be useful in sleep disorders where an unusual drowsiness is common (called excessive somnolence).

CBD Can Impact Our Sleep In Some Cases

So how would it help those who want to sleep? CBD may help reduces REM behavior disorder in people with Parkinson’s disease. REM behavior disorder is a condition that causes people to act out physically during dreaming and REM sleep. Typically, during REM, the body is largely paralyzed, a state known as REM atonia. This immobilization keeps sleepers from reacting physically to their dreams. In REM behavior disorder, this paralysis doesn’t occur, leaving people free to move—which can lead to disruptive sleep and to injuring themselves or their sleeping partners. Cannabis may also work to reduce pain and improve sleep quality in people with Parkinson’s disease. This can be true for people struggling with other chronic pain issues as well.

When we are not in pain we can get more restful sleep. “CBDa has also been found to show anti-inflammatory potential. So far, research hasn’t made it beyond the preclinical stage, but scientists have found that CBDa inhibits key inflammatory mediators called the COX-1 and COX-2 enzymes. COX-2, in particular, is responsible for a wide variety of inflammation responses in the body, and its inhibition is one of the key mechanisms of common non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS). Research is very much in its infancy regarding CBDa’s role as a potential pain-relieving, anti-inflammatory drug. The next stage would be to test the cannabinoid on animal models and eventually humans.”

CBD and Sleep Disorders

Preliminary research into cannabis and insomnia suggests that cannabidiol (CBD) may have therapeutic potential for the treatment of insomnia, the inability to sleep properly at night. This may be due to CBD’s potential as a calming agent, which as been found in some studies. Delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) may decrease sleep latency (the amount of time it takes for one to fall asleep. The shorter one’s sleep latency period, the more fatigued one is.) but could impair sleep quality long-term. Novel studies investigating cannabinoids and obstructive sleep apnea suggest that synthetic cannabinoids such as nabilone and dronabinol may have short-term benefit for sleep apnea due to their modulatory effects on serotonin-mediated apneas.

Synthetic cannabis is different than the Cannabis we sell at Green Wellness Life. It is important to be careful when looking for CBD to know what you are purchasing. “While CBD has a favorable safety profile, the damaging health effects of synthetic cannabinoids are well documented. The human body is not equipped with the tools needed to catabolize synthetic cannabinoids.” Often synthetic CBD is less expensive and can have side effects naturally grown CBD does not.

This basically means that CBD might have the potential to affect certain cells in the body that deal with how serotonin, a primary sleep chemical produced in the brain, is produced and sent to other parts of the nervous system. CBD may hold promise for REM sleep behavior disorder and excessive daytime sleepiness, while nabilone may reduce nightmares associated with PTSD and may improve sleep among patients with chronic pain.

We Have A Lot To Learn

Once again, most of this is just based on research that we currently have available. While we know that CBD use in controlled doses has increased sleep latency, which is an indicator that it helped with the regulation of healthy sleep, we also know that, on other groups of rats, CBD showed the potential to increase alertness and decrease sleepiness. This is a new field, with a lot of unanswered questions. As research becomes more common, it is likely that these questions will be answered; but for now, we can only attempt to read up on as much as we can and hope that more studies come out to either confirm or deny the existing research literature.

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