Sleep. It’s vital, yet often neglected. Everyone does it, but it’s easier for some than for others. For something that’s supposed to be hardwired in our DNA, why can falling asleep and staying asleep be such a challenge? Numerous factors come into play when it comes to sleep issues, which is why there are numerous treatments, supplements, and lifestyle changes designed to promote rest. Although many options have proven to be successful, at least temporarily, there’s a new sleep aid on the rise that’s quickly making a name for itself. Whether in the form of oils, softgels, mints, or creams, CBD is showing to have some incredible slumber benefits.
What Is CBD
To start, Cannabinoids (CBD) are the compounds that contain the health properties associated with Cannabis sativa and are heavily concentrated in the hemp variety. Although the research on CBD is fairly new, using cannabis to treat physical and mental ailments has been around for thousands of years. Cannabis sativa (the hemp variety in particular) has been a medicinal staple for generations and was likely used as herbal medicine starting in Asia around 500 BC. The medical field has taken more interest lately in how the compounds found in hemp interact with the body to encourage healing and wellness.
CBD has been directly linked to supporting our endocannabinoid system (ECS), which is a complex internal system that plays a role in regulating all types of processes and functions, including:
- reproduction and fertility
Endocannabinoids, which are also referred to as endogenous cannabinoids, are molecules similar to CBD that are made by your body. When CBD from plants is consumed, it strengthens the body’s already-existing molecules to keep them from being broken down as quickly. Essentially, taking hemp CBD for your endocannabinoid system is like taking a vitamin C supplement to support your immune system.
Why Sleep is Vital
The best way to understand CBD’s connection to sleep is to understand why we need sleep. While we sleep, our bodies and brains go through crucial processing, rebuilding, and strengthening. Memories are solidified and consolidated, placing experiences and thoughts into short-term and long-term buckets for future use. When we sleep, muscles grow and repair while hormones develop and synthesize. At the end of the day when the mind clears, we slowly drift into a state of unconsciousness, during which time our body is working overtime to accomplish everything it needs to in its short 6 to 8-hour time frame.
Sleep Deprivation and the Heart
In a research study conducted by the University of Warwick in 2011, sleep irregularities, whether it was too much sleep or too little, had massive effects on people’s cardiovascular systems. Short periods of sleep had a direct link to developing or dying from coronary heart disease and increased the risk of suffering a stroke.
Sleep Deprivation and the Brain
Sleep deprivation negatively impacts everything from healthy cognitive function to decision-making. And the memories we cherish so dearly have a harder time storing in the brain if we don’t give our bodies enough time to process them.
Sleep Deprivation and Immune Function
Without adequate sleep, your body creates fewer cytokines, a type of protein designed to target inflammation and infection. Healthy amounts of cytokines are key to having a quick immune response when bacteria and viruses are present. Cytokines are produced and released while you sleep, meaning if you don’t get enough rest, your body might struggle to fight off sickness and infection.
When we sleep for long periods, say 6-8 hours, we’re able to counteract other negative factors such as:
- Puffy eyes
- Lack of focus
Nearly 70 million Americans have a hard time falling asleep or staying asleep, so it’s no wonder why countless amounts of people reach for sleep aids, such as CBD, to assist with the process. There are many treatment options for those who don’t get enough sleep due to an overactive mind, restless muscles, stress, or overall poor health. Some of these treatments are simple and natural, but many are time-consuming, costly, and are not recommended for long-term treatment.
Sleeping Pills for Sleep
If you talk to a friend about the lack of sleep you’ve been getting, more often than not they will recommend their sleeping pill of choice. Medication has become so common in America, most don’t even stop and think about what the potential side-effects are. Although sleeping pills do a good job of knocking you out quickly, many negative impacts should make you think twice about taking them.
First off, sleeping pills are only prescribed for short-term use for temporary bouts of insomnia related to temporary physical conditions, stress, or traveling. They are not meant to be used long term, making them less ideal for those who struggle with sleep on a daily basis. They are designed for one thing: to help you fall asleep. Although they do that quite well, they don’t treat the cause of your restlessness, leading you to take them more than is recommended if chronic restlessness or insomnia is what you struggle with. Secondly, sleeping pills are prescription medications that contain loads of potential side-effects. Not only are they highly addictive, but they can also impact your health in other ways such as:
- Difficulty breathing
- Chest pain
- Daytime drowsiness
With the potentially dangerous health impacts from sleeping pills, along with the inability to take them long term, it’s no surprise that people of all ages are seeking other alternatives for a better rest.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Sleep
The goal of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, better known as CBT, is to target and essentially fix the factors that may contribute to long-term insomnia, such as sleep-related anxiety, irregular sleep drive, and sleep-interfering behaviors. This is accomplished through numerous rounds of therapy designed to treat the root cause of the issue by changing sleep-related behaviors and thoughts. CBT has great results essentially, but there are many reasons why CBT is not an option for everyone:
- CBT is designed for those who have suffered or are predicted to suffer long bouts of insomnia, meaning it’s not recommended for those who have restless nights now and then, which is most of the population.
- Treatments are very time-consuming. An average treatment lasts close to an hour, and on average, eight weekly sessions are needed for best results. That’s roughly eight hours of treatments stretched over two months.
- CBT is expensive. Group classes online start around $150 a session where personalized treatments can run over $2,400 in total. Plus, there is no guarantee the therapy will work.
- Results are not instant. Most participants don’t see results until close to a month after treatment, which is not ideal for those who are looking for immediate relief.
CBD for Sleep
If you feel like you’ve exhausted every other sleep treatment, the time, money, and frustration you’ve experienced may prompt you to throw in the towel and accept defeat. Although that might seem like a logical response, hold on just a moment. Take a minute to learn how using CBD promotes healthy sleep patterns by targeting the root cause of insomnia and restlessness. It just might be the perfect solution for you.
Why CBD for Sleep Works
In a typical scenario, stress hormones, better known as cortisol, peak in the morning. This provides humans with the necessary jolt to get out of bed and get the day started. The healthy cycle of cortisol, among other hormones, is shown to be supported by the cannabinoids that our endocannabinoid system (ECS) produces.
People with insomnia often have sleep issues because of abnormal cortisol cycles and often experience high cortisol levels at night. For some, they may be able to fall asleep just fine, but a peak of cortisol a few hours after falling asleep can wake them up from their restful
slumber, or it prevents them from going into that deep REM cycle that’s required for ultimate rejuvenation.
In one study examining how plant CBD affects the ECS system, researchers found that cortisol levels of those suffering from insomnia decreased significantly when participants took CBD oil before bed. These results suggest that CBD may have a positive effect on the releasing of cortisol, acting as a sedative to encourage normal sleep cycles. Because CBD appears to interact with a network of proteins, receptors, and other chemicals in the brain, CBD may play a key role in normalizing our sleep-wake cycles to give us a more balanced and predictable sleep schedule.
CBD Dosages for Sleep
Because everyone processes supplements, vitamins, even proteins differently, CBD dosages will vary depending on the individual and may change according to the cause of sleep deprivation. If you suffer from insomnia, you may have better results with a higher dose of CBD, around 60 mg per day, while taking 10-15 mg/day may be sufficient if your sleep deprivation is associated with stress or anxiety. More studies are still needed to determine other factors associated with recommended dosages, such as age, weight, and gender, to get more concrete data, so for now, users can play with potency and different CBD types to figure out what works best for them. That’s why Zelm Labs offers a variety of products in different potencies to help you select the best product for your needs
Best CBD Products for Sleep
If falling asleep is your biggest challenge, reach for a quick-release product such as oil, gum, or mints. CBD gets absorbed into the system rapidly through mouth tissue, so it starts working in as little as 10 minutes. For many, waking up numerous times throughout the night is what they struggle with the most. If you find yourself in that category, try a slow-release product such as a gummy or a softgel. When a slow-release product is consumed, CBD starts kicking in about two hours later and continues to release a slow, even dose for up to six hours.
Being a new CBD user or trying a new product means you’ll probably have to go through the process of figuring out the ideal dose for you. This will take some time, so be patient. Although effects are minor, you may experience mental sedation, nausea, and fatigue for the first while until you find your sweet spot. Consuming high doses of CBD regularly may cause more serious adverse reactions such as decreased fertilization capacity and inhibition of drug metabolism in the liver, so make sure the dosage you’re taking doesn’t succeed your needs. Starting small or discussing CBD with a health practitioner is highly recommended, especially for those who are taking prescription medications or supplements.
Combining CBD with other healthy habits such as meditation, reducing the use of electronics before bed, acupuncture, and other relaxation techniques may be exactly what you need to put your body in prime condition to enjoy some serious z’s.