It’s awful when you can’t sleep – your body needs rest, but your brain has other ideas. Your mind wants to focus on worries about work, concerns about your kids, and anything and everything that promotes restlessness. You get restless because anxious thoughts trigger stimulants in your body to raise your heart rate and boost your brain. You wake up, yet you need to get some sleep because you have to get up in the morning for work or school. The next day’s obligations just add to the stressors that are already keeping you awake. It’s a vicious cycle when you have insomnia, and it can lead to exhaustion with serious physical and psychological damage.
Everyone has trouble getting a good night’s sleep now and then. We’re not talking about an occasional bout of restlessness at night. People with insomnia generally have sleepless nights, day after day after day. Insomnia describes a long-term pattern of being unable to sleep through the night.
Whether you can’t get to sleep at all or do fall sleep but then wake up at night, you might have cause for concern. You shouldn’t worry too much though unless a pattern emerges that lasts for more than a few days.
If you’re reading this, then we can assume you’re looking for some answers. Possibly you’ve considered CBD to help you get to sleep and stay asleep. We’ll take a look at sleeplessness, its causes and effects, and what CBD can do to help you get more rest.
What Is Insomnia?
There’s actually a difference between sleep deprivation and insomnia. Sleep deprivation happens when you semi-voluntarily lose sleep because you don’t have the opportunity. Newborn babies who wake you by crying for middle of the night feedings cause sleep deprivation. Staying up all night cramming for an exam in school also causes sleep deprivation. A hot fudge sundae before bed can cause sleep deprivation. When you have opportunity to sleep but can’t because of worrisome thoughts then that would be insomnia. Other causes include substance abuse, particular health conditions, or sleep disorders in general. In fact, most psychologists and psychiatrist consider it a sleep disorder.
Disorders tend to be long-term. As we noted above, insomnia lasts for several nights and has lasting effects on your physical and mental health. Both sleep deprivation and insomnia can leave you feeling tired and out of focus. One night’s sleep deprivation won’t adversely affect your long-term well-being. With insomnia, negative effects worsen because you can’t just catch up on your sleep the next day.
Symptoms might manifest in difficulty falling asleep, frequently waking up during the night and then being unable to go back to sleep. Sufferers find themselves waking up very early in the morning and often feel tired after waking.
There are a number of things that could cause you to not be able to sleep at night. Root causes range from job stresses and job loss to divorce, physical pain, medication interactions and some psychological disorders. Physicians and psychologists, or psychiatrists can diagnose whether or not you have a sleep disorder like insomnia.
After being diagnosed through physical exam and sleep study, traditional medications and treatments for insomnia might involve both therapy and medication. Psychologists could try to modify your behavior by teaching you relaxation techniques. Physicians also might prescribe sleep aids like Lunestra and other similar prescription pills. Residual grogginess and potential addiction would be potential downsides of pharmaceuticals.
There have been many concerns raised by opiates and other addictive medications. You don’t want to trade one problem for another – drug addiction. So, is there a low-risk alternative to using prescription drugs to treat the condition? Some think that alternative is CBD.
What Is CBD?
One of the main cannabinoids in the cannabis plant, cannabidiol — commonly known as CBD — has become quite popular in the past several years. Cannabinoids, like CBD, interact with your body’s endocannabinoid system. The endocannabinoid system helps your body maintain a state of equilibrium, or homeostasis.
It isn’t psychoactive like THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), the other well-known cannabinoid. Unlike THC, CBD won’t get you high at all. Rather, it has some purported health benefits such as pain relief, reducing inflammation, seizure control and possibly helping you get some sleep.
A Harris poll recently revealed that 55% of CBD users take it to relax. Some choose it to reduce stress and anxiety, others to improve sleeping and lessen pain. Certain kinds of pain interfere with good sleep like muscle, chronic, and joint pain.
How Does CBD Work?
CBD works with your body’s endocannabinoid system to regulate a wide range of functions and biological processes. Regarding natural chemical’s interaction with the endocannabinoid system, or ECS, researchers have studied sleep, temperament, appetite, memory, reproduction and fertility. All of these areas seem to see an effect, to some degree, from use.
Your body creates natural endocannabinoids. Cannabis plants produce phytocannabinoids. Your ECS treats them similarly. CBD is a phytocannabinoid that your body treats like an endocannabinoid. Tiny receptors throughout your nervous system and other organs bind with CBD molecules, which modifies what they do. Primarily, CB1 receptors populate your central nervous system. You then find CB2 receptors within your spleen, tonsils, thymus and the immune cells. Those are two types of endocannabinoid receptors CBD can interact with.
CBD also interacts with serotonin receptors, producing an anti-anxiety effect. It interactions with this receptor can affect how your brain responds to anxiety, addiction, appetite, pain, nausea and sleep.
Connecting with various receptors, it acts to bring your body and brain into homeostasis, or balance. Therefore, it appears to be a good remedy for treating unbalanced conditions like pain, appetite loss, anxiety or sleeplessness.
Different ways to take CBD
You have to ingest CBD somehow. You accomplish that either orally or topically. Orally you can vape it, smoke it or eat it. Topically, it contacts your skin to seep through into sore muscles and pain spots. Whether taken orally or topically, eventually it enters your bloodstream.
Each method of consumption presents pros and cons. The strengths and weaknesses of these methods are also applicable to conditions other than insomnia.
|Gummies and other edibles – including CBD capsules||Discrete, portable, good for non-smokers, often premeasured dosage||Can take up to two hours to fully take effect, absorption may only be 20 – 30% of CBD, commercially-made edibles may contain more sugars and preservatives|
|Sublingual (absorbed through the mouth) – tinctures and oils||Fast results (effects felt within minutes), higher percentage of actual CBD absorbed (as opposed to edibles)||Potentially not as discrete, slightly less accurate dosing compared to edibles|
|Smoking and vaping||Very fast results (slightly quicker than sublingual), greater absorbency than edibles (over 50%)||Smoking and vaping could lead to lung issues such as emphysema; commercial vapes could contain carcinogens, not as discrete as edibles or topicals|
|Topicals – creams or rubs||Can provided targeted relief to particular pain areas, may contain other pain-relieving chemicals like menthol or lidocaine||Skin absorbs less efficiently than your mouth (as in sublingual dosing), not as effective for non-pain medicating|
|Patches||Can be discretely worn under clothing, time-released for longer benefit, also good for targeted pain relief||Similar to topicals – so not as good at absorbing CBD and usually better for pain than other issues|
For insomnia, using vaping, smoking and sublingual methods offer the fastest relief. For an ongoing condition, high-CBD patches might give you relief throughout the night. Some sufferers could find taking a capsule effective for helping them get to and stay asleep. Using trial and error, combined with education, you can likely find the method that works best for your sleep problem. Use slower ingestion methods earlier before bed, say an hour or so. Alternately, faster means of taking it could be good for just before bed or getting back to sleep. There’s nothing wrong with using a combination of intake styles – many users do.
Dosing with CBD
Now that you know how to take CBD for your insomnia, you need to determine the amount to take. What is the right amount of CBD to use? Not surprisingly, that answer varies from person to person and depends on your situation. As with any medication, your metabolism and physiology play a role in dosing. Thinner and younger people often need less than heavier or older people. The length and degree of your condition might also factor into measuring the amount to take. A higher-stress lifestyle might require more aggressive treatment than more relaxed circumstances.
As with many treatments, start slow and determine how that affects you. If a low dose seems to have little effect, up it gradually until you notice improvement. Do this over the course of a few days to give yourself some adjustment time. You call low-dosing CBD micro-dosing. Edibles, especially capsules, and sublingual drops are pretty easy to use in low doses. Capsules come in premeasured amounts and tinctures (or oils) use droppers to measure out quantity. The nature of smoking and vaping make it hard to be as precise with lower doses.
Here are some general guidelines for dosing with CBD:
CBD oil/pills – Cannabidiol capsules come in doses as low as 5 to 10mg, with the most common strength being 25mg. Certainly consult with your physician or healthcare provider before starting any medication. Most experts widely recommend that you start slowly and then gradually increase the dosage. In this manner, you can determine your ideal dosage as well as your tolerance.
Droppers usually hold 1ml of liquid CBD. A 1ml dropper typically holds 20 individual drops. The total milligrams divided by the number of milliliters per bottle gives you the milligrams in a dropper. Divide the dropper milligrams by 20 for the per drop dosage.
Here’s an example: a 500 milligram bottle ÷ 30ml = about 16mg per 1ml dropper. Divide that total by 20 to get .8mg per drop. So, if you want between 1 and 2mg of CBD then a couple of drops should do you. The higher the milligrams per bottle, the higher the potency per drop.
CBD vape/joint – The gaseous nature of smoke or vapor makes exact measurement tricky. The majority of 1ml cartridges dispense between 100-200 puffs altogether, depending on the length of draw. Thus a .5ml cartridge with 200mg doses at ½-1mg per puff. If you know your total CBD, divide by 100-200 and that’s your approximate single-puff dose.
As with CBD oils or pills, start with a low dose of just one puff and graduate up as needed.
CBD hemp joints typically might contain a gram or so of ground leaf, with around 15-20% CBD and less than .03% THC. Just like with vapes, you’d be wise to try a puff or two and then wait to see how it affects you.
CBD edibles – Commercially-made edibles usually note the total mg of CBD on the package. From there you can divide by the number of pieces. A 600mg CBD gummy package with 30 gummies inside will have a strength of 20mg per gummy. If you bake your own treats, divide the milligrams of tincture you used in the recipe by the number of pieces you made. A 250mg pan of CBD-infused brownies cut up into 10 even pieces would give you about 25mg per brownie.
CBD topicals – These skin solutions come in different-sized containers with varying potency. Topicals take the form of creams, lotions, ointments, or even dermal patches. Jars of CBD skin rub can often be found in .5oz, 1oz and 1.5oz jars. The strength of such rubs can range from 100mg on up to 1200mg or more. You basically use as much as you need in specific areas of pain.
You might not think of topicals as good remedies for insomnia, but pain sometimes interferes with sleep patterns. Edibles or pills can help with both pain and restlessness, as long as you take half an hour or more before bed. Sublingual ingestion of CBD is somewhat faster than outright ingestion, usually producing results within 10-15 minutes. Dosing via smoking or vaping gives you the fastest infusion of CBD. And, as we noted above, many people combine several methods to treat varying conditions including sleeplessness.
How Does CBD Help with Insomnia?
Research and user testimony suggest taking CBD may help insomnia sufferers get a better night’s sleep. CBD reportedly relaxes you, quiets anxiety and relieves pain – thus preventing those things from keeping you awake. Whereas prescription sleep meds could leave you groggy and confused, cannabidiol seems to have few if any side effects. Patients should discuss with a medical professional whether CBD would be appropriate to use as part of their insomnia treatment.
Patients are increasingly using, and some doctors are prescribing, CBD for various types of ailments and medical conditions. Diseases and disorders alleged to benefit from use include epilepsy, Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis, nausea, anxiety and depression. Also, like melatonin and other popular sleep-inducing supplements, CBD might help treat insomnia by promoting restful sleep.
Because cannabidiol appears to ease anxiety and pain, it keeps those issues from preventing or interrupting sleep. CBD apparently also affects sleep directly, by interacting with CB1 receptors in the part of your brain which regulates your sleep cycle. A 2017 review of sleep and cannabis in the Current Psychiatry Reports journal seems to support CBD’s usefulness to insomniacs.
Using CBD to Get the Sleep You Need
Should you get the green light to go ahead with CBD as part of your treatment plan, then you’ll have to decide how you want to dose with it. Vaping, smoking and sublingual methods of taking CBD yield the fastest results. While edibles, capsules and topicals take longer, they present no risk to your lungs compared to smoking or vaping. Topicals or patches can treat pain that prevents you from sleeping, but may not be the best options for directly affecting restlessness. The form of CBD you take depends on how fast you want results.
Planning ahead and taking edibles or capsules well before bedtime make them a viable option for combating sleep disruption. On the other hand, if you are woken from a sound sleep, vaping or smoking would get you back there more quickly. Combining methods might produce the best results for ongoing treatment of insomnia.
Figuring out your dosing involves a bit of trial and error. Starting slow and then gradually increasing your dosage can help you fine tune your treatment. You also want to carefully determine your tolerance or at least not exceed it. Most people take CBD without complication, which is why it has become so popular as a wide range treatment.
Insomnia can be a serious disruption to your life. Getting some reliable help and restoring some normality to your sleep can only benefit your overall health. CBD could be the solution you are looking for, or might help as an addition to other medications or treatments. Consider what you have read, then consult with your doctor or therapist. With so many ways to take CBD, you just might find one that will work to put an end your sleepless nights. Wouldn’t that be wonderful?