What is a Sleep Disturbance?
The American Psychiatric Association (APA) has defined sleep disorders as problems with the timing, quality, and quantity of sleep a person receives. Should these factors not be optimal, they may suffer significant distress or impairment in their day-to-day functioning during daylight hours. Anyone who has had a restless night and had to get up for work in the morning can empathize with a person suffering from a sleep disorder like insomnia, to name one example. This may be one reason, at least, why many people are considering using CBD for sleep, or to support their sleep patterns. The difficulties we experience with sleep are usually linked to our physical or emotional well-being. The APA reports that around a third of the population report problems with insomnia, with around 10% of the population meeting the diagnostic criteria for insomnia.
What Causes Insomnia?
Not everyone gets insomnia or experiences sleep disturbances. However, certain risk factors can predispose a person to insomnia or a sleep disturbance; here are a few to watch out for from ## the NHBLI:
- Persistent High-stress levels
- Psychological or emotional problems such as depression or a significantly distressing life event
- Work shift changes from day to night or vice versa
- Being in a lower income bracket
- Changing time zones
- Menopause can be a contributing factor
- Suffering from obesity
What Does Insomnia Look Like?
How would you recognize the symptoms of insomnia? The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute recognizes that insomnia is typically characterized by lying awake for extended periods and being unable to drop off to sleep. However, it can also mean only being able to sleep for short intervals at a time, with repeated periods of being awake between sleep periods. Some people also report waking too early in the morning and being unable to return to sleep after waking. However, this affects you; these symptoms all seem to have the same result: Low quality sleep leaves you feeling unrested, irritable, sleepy, or fatigued during the day, and difficulty focusing on tasks.
Could I use CBD for Sleep Disturbances like Insomnia?
The good news is that although the research is still a little thin on the ground at this stage, one promising research study suggests that CBD is useful for anxiety, which may be one of the causes of sleep disturbance. At least one larger-scale study has examined the effects of using CBD for sleep. Test subjects were given CBD to assist with sleep and anxiety, and the majority showed some improvement in anxiety over the course of the study, while the results for sleep were mixed with some fluctuation over time. They also reported that CBD seemed to be better tolerated by the test subjects than the standard psychiatric sleep medications. As usual, at this early stage of scientific inquiry, the researchers have recommended that more controlled studies be done in this area.
Does Cortisol Play a role?
We know that our cortisol levels–a hormone associated with stress and stress responses–usually peak in the morning for people with healthy sleep patterns. However, individuals who have insomnia often have cortisol levels that seem to peak at night, associated with waking at night.
CBD for Sleep and Cortisol Levels.
Research into sleep and the effects CBD may have on our cortisol levels revealed that cortisol levels decreased in test subjects who received a 300 – 600mg dose of CBD oil. A promising result for those struggling with wakefulness at night. The implication seems to be that CBD plays some sort of role in the release of Cortisol, but more clinical research will be needed to confirm this ‘sedating effect’ of CBD for sleep.
A study focusing on using CBD for sleep enlisted 103 test subjects who reported anxiety and poor sleep. Researchers reported that CBD doses of 25mg were an effective dose for managing the anxiety of these test subjects and that for more sedating effects from CBD, the test subjects required higher doses. Although this seemed to work well initially, some subjects (around 25% of the group) reported their sleep patterns worsening. From this, it looks as if CBD may be able to help with sleep initially, although there was mixed success for the long-term benefits of CBD and sleep–definitely an area that needs to be explored more in the future.
Although more research is needed, the scant evidence we have at the moment seems to indicate that CBD helps manage the effects of anxiety and, to some degree, may have a sedating effect which could be beneficial for sleep when taken in higher doses. The studies are limited at this time and are anything but conclusive at this point. However, they remain good indicators of the path ahead and that, in the future, there may be some hope for people suffering from sleep disturbances and anxiety who are looking for a cold-pressed CBD oil to help them. Be sure to check out our 5 tips for better sleep post if you are struggling with good sleep habits.
The information contained in this post is for general information purposes only. These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. Please consult your healthcare practitioner to make sure that CBD oil is the right choice for you.