We have usually heard about the issue of sleeplessness in elderly people. But now adults are suffering from it too. All of these sick people are desperate for quality sleep. According to (CDC) Disease Control and Prevention’s survey, around 70 Million U.S. adults are currently suffering from chronic sleep problems.
Various medications, supplements, and resources are available to improve their sleep. Besides that patients also use sleep coaches and high-tech gadgets for their treatment. Modern day researchers are working to find out new ways. They are considering to use of cannabidiol (CBD) as their alternative. In this article, you will learn about the potential benefits and risks of using CBD for sleep.
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The Overview of the Endocannabinoid System and Sleep
Before studying the effect of CBD on sleep, we want you to understand the endocannabinoid system (ECS). The term ECS itself contains the word “cannabinoid”. It illustrates the active ingredients of the cannabis sativa plant that influence the ECS.
Chantel Strachan, MD at Columbia Primary Care, New York has described the concept of ECS in a comprehensive way. According to her, the endocannabinoid system is a multiplex neurochemical network in the body. Its function is to regulate several bodily functions such as emotions, pain, and sleep. Moreover, the natural release of endocannabinoid molecules by the body can affect the body via the ECS.
Daniel Whitelocke is MD, owner, and Chief Executive Officer of Ozark MMJ Cards. This company helps patients to get medical marijuana cards. Whitelocke illustrates that the hypothalamus also plays a primary role in the ECS. It also influences sleep control in the body. He adds that the hypothalamus is a peanut-sized structure fully covered in the brain. It is filled with cannabinoid receptors and controls the circadian rhythm of our sleep-wake cycle. These rhythms are 24-hour cycles that assist our bodies to sleep at night and wake up in the morning.
We will address the concept of CBD and its impact on sleep based on the research of Chantel Strachan and Daniel Whitelocke.
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How Can CBD Benefit in Sleep?
Do you know about the composition of the cannabis sativa plant? CBD is the second most abundant composite in it. It produces psychoactive effects but is less high than those associated with delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol (THC).
Latest studies suggest that CBD indirectly contributes to better sleep. It is effective for people suffering from sleep disorders like insomnia, restless leg syndrome, and other negative conditions. Now you must be wondering how. Don’t worry, we are about to reveal it.
CBD helps sleep disorder patients to relax by relieving their anxiety and pain. As Dr. Strachan says, anxiety and pain are two factors that make it difficult for patients to fall or stay asleep.
The hypothalamus has a major contribution to various sleep-related functions. It regulates body temperature and company sleep patterns. As Dr. Whitelocke said earlier, CBD plays a role in helping insomnia patients as it works in coordination with the hypothalamus to regulate stress.
Now the question is how insomnia occurs. Dr. Whitelocke answered it in a way that insomnia occurs as a result of an overactive stress reaction. Insomnia patients face this condition while they are at rest and aren’t trying to process conscious trauma.
Moreover, CBD can suppress this abnormally regulated stress hormone over activation cycle. It normalizes sleep and wakes rhythm through counteracting hormones. While studying the effects of cannabis on insomnia, researchers found CBD more effectively contributes to decreasing the symptoms of insomnia than delta-9 THC.
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The Circadian Rhythm Disorders
Now let us tell you a little about the Circadian rhythm disorders. They are also called sleep-wake cycle disorders. Do you how it occurs? It results when the body’s internal clock is misaligned with your environment. Your internal clock regulates the timing of your sleeping and waking up.
This disorder usually develops for various reasons. For instance, it may occur when there is a change in sleep patterns due to travel or work and sometimes due to medical conditions, aging, or genetical issues. Mostly, nurses experience circadian rhythm disorders due to their jobs in shifts, where sleep windows change depending on their work schedule.
It’s time to shed some light on the fact that CBD contributes to improving the sleeping pattern. It ensures the body’s progress by enhancing the quantity and quality of sleep in patients with circadian rhythm disorders. It does it during the normal stages of sleep and rapid eye movement without any interruption.
Dr. Whitelocke states that CBD’s action on cannabinoid receptors commences a series of events. It results in a more natural timing of sleep related to the daily routine of night and day. But this info isn’t just enough, more research is necessary to address this topic.
Besides treating insomnia and circadian rhythm disorders, CBD has a potential treatment for anxiety disorders. It improves sleep by decreasing anxiety. Several clinical trials are underway to examine the safety and efficacy of CBD to treat anxiety. More research is a need of the hour to address this topic.
The study of Dr. Whitelocke reveals that CBD plays a role in lowering stress and anxiety without generating stony lethargy. This is why, it is an ideal tool to calm intrusive thoughts before falling asleep.
More specifically, cannabidiol reacts with the endocannabinoid receptors in the limbic system. The limbic system contributes to the regulation of emotions, establishing learning patterns, storage of memories, sexual arousal, and olfaction.
The imbalance of the limbic system occurs when an intrusive memory develops anxiety and insomnia in patients. During this condition, cannabidiol acts as an equalizer and restores the hormone balance. It activates the endocannabinoid system to suppress the intrusive memory and pave the way for sleep.
(RLS) Restless Leg Syndrome
Restless leg syndrome is a neurological state that suppresses your quantity and quality of sleep by causing an unwanted desire to move the legs. According to Dr. Whitelocke, earlier research illustrates that CBD lessens the frequency of abnormal nerve firings that pave the way for involuntary muscle twitching. It is the major symptom of RLS. He further said that this is beneficial for a person who is prone to waking as a result of limb movement during sleep.
Like the above statement, many other preliminary findings also glorify the role of CBD in improving RLS symptoms. It isn’t just a statement, it is based on the patient’s personal experiences. Studies are underway to confirm CBD’s potency as a treatment method for RLS.
Other than the above major contribution, CBD has something to offer for the people suffering from chronic pain. Cannabidiol has shown promising efficiency in relieving the pain. Researchers tell us that the use of products with CBD oil in painful areas reduces pain and swelling.
According to Dr. Whitelocke says that for people who cannot tolerate the intoxicating effects of THC use CBD as an alternative for analgesia or pain relief. This adequate pain control is crucial to relax both body and mind without worrying about the addictive or toxic effects of other analgesic alternatives.
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Actual Risks of using CBD for sleep
Both Dr. Whitelocke and Dr. Strachen said that CBD is low-risk interference and drug interactions with CBD products are rare. So, the CBD user has to consult your doctor before using it. It is mandatory because it may increase liver enzymes in people who intake medications metabolized by the liver. These medications are available below:
- Anti-epileptic drugs (AEDs).
- Anti-inflammatories (including ibuprofen and naproxen).
- Certain anti-hypertensive medications.
- Blood thinners.
Also, some studies reveal that THC can cause sleep disturbances and other related issues. Many CBD products do contain THC, even in minor amounts. So, tell your doctor about the presence of THC.
The hemp-derived CBD products are declared legal in the 2018 Farm Bill. They contain less than 0.3% THC by dry weight. However, access to CBD depends on the area where you live. Dr. Strachan said that CBD-containing products are progressively available without a prescription. However, these products are not controlled by the FDA for sleep. What the FDA does is that they monitor the companies that market and sell CBD illegally. Remember, CBD products do not need the approval of the FDA.
Ideas to Lack of Regulations
According to Dr. Whitelocke, the best idea for purchasing a new CBD product is to thoroughly check the background of the source. It is better to check the label for actual CBD content. Also, make sure that the product was independently tested by a third-party laboratory to ensure quality and purity.
Generally, many CBD products contain a certificate of analysis (COA). It approves that a third-party laboratory has tested the particular product for accurate potency. The certificate also ensures the product doesn’t contain any harmful contaminants like pesticides, molds, and heavy metals.
A QR code is available on the label of the CBD product. You can find a product’s COA by scanning the QR code or you may check the manufacturer’s website. If you don’t find any product’s COA, you can contact the company and they will send it to you.
Why & Should you choose CBD for Sleep?
This is the last section where we will address whether should you choose CBD for sleep, if yes then why? Honestly, the choice of using CBD for sleep depends on you and your health professional. Dr. Strachan says that people usually use CBD for sleep if they want to try a plant-based option or use an alternative to ineffective conventional treatments.
Dr. Whitelocke further added that CBD is a safe alternative to prescribed sleep medications, especially when you prefer the low toxicity of CBD products. The use of CBD for sleep is a suitable choice for someone looking to improve the quality and quantity of rest. CBD is available in several delivery forms like capsules, edibles, tinctures, and topical products like patches, sprays, creams, etc. You can take it in any way.