Many users tout CBD oil as the answer to their sleep-deprived prayers.
If you’re looking to try CBD oil for sleep, you may be wondering if there is any validity to these claims. Is it really based on fact? Are there any negative effects on sleep when using CBD oil?
In this article, we’ll explore the science on CBD oil for sleep, how to properly use it to enhance sleep, and why full spectrum hemp extracts are more effective.
How Does CBD Oil Work?
Full spectrum hemp oils contain a wide spectrum of cannabinoids extracted from the industrial hemp plant. Unlike marijuana, this plant is extremely low in THC and produces extracts that are virtually THC-free. This makes them legal and obtainable without a prescription.
These cannabinoids, specifically CBD, CBG, CBV, and CBN (and more), work by binding to receptors that make up a bodily system called the endocannabinoid system (ECS). The most well-known are the CB1 and CB2 receptors, however, receptors in the TRPV and PPAR family are also a part of the ECS.
When cannabinoids bind to these ECS receptors, they catalyze various reactions in the body. They can act as both agonists and antagonists, meaning they can upregulate or downregulate certain functions depending on the receptor.
For example, CB1 receptors mainly regulate nervous system activity and modulate neurotransmitter action. CB2 receptors exist primarily in the immune system and influence inflammatory activity. TRPV receptors are involved in pain signaling, while PPAR receptors are involved in a myriad of cell functions.
In the context of sleep, the ECS may regulate sleep through the action of these receptors.
CBD Oil for Sleep: The Published Research
Research on CBD oil for sleep is still preliminary. This means that there isn’t a lot of hard data on how it truly impacts sleep. However, we can make some common sense connections. We can also look at how the endocannabinoid system regulates sleep.
The Endocannabinoid System and Circadian Rhythm
Research on the effects of the ECS on sleep suggests it may play more of a role in balancing sleep rather than directly promoting sleep.
FIndings of studies on cannabinoids tell us that their signaling influences circadian rhythm regulation (1). Circadian rhythm is a key component of how environment, especially light, influences sleep patterns. In animal studies, receptor and endocannabinoid (cannabinoids made by the body) levels fluctuate in response to normal sleep-wake cycles.
The ECS might also play a role in sleep recovery. CB1 receptors increase in density within rat brain regions following sleep deprivation.
Each cannabinoid found in hemp extracts has a different effect on ECS receptors. So, more studies are needed to fully understand how hemp cannabinoids impact ECS regulation of sleep. However, considering the intertwined relationship of the ECS and the circadian rhythm, there is a good chance full spectrum hemp extracts could have an impact via this route.
CBD Oil, Chronic Pain, and Sleep
Chronic pain and insomnia are closely associated (2). They exist in a very much “catch-22” relationship with lack of sleep exacerbating pain and chronic pain often contributing to sleep problems. These include issues falling asleep, frequent wakings, shorter sleep times, and poor sleep quality.
Cannabinoids, like the ones found in hemp, are powerful anti-inflammatories. All the cannabinoids found in hemp downregulate inflammation by inhibiting the production of pro-inflammatory molecules. Moreover, the flavonoids and sterols found in full spectrum hemp extracts provide an additional anti-inflammatory effect.
Cannabinoids also work with the nervous system to reduce pain perception. In an animal model of inflammatory pain, researchers found that the pain-relieving properties of CBD were a result of CBD’s action on the TRPV1 receptor, the receptor responsible for the burning sensation following spicy food (4).
A robust body of research supports the use of cannabinoids for chronic pain (5). In a review of over 10,000 studies on cannabinoids for chronic pain, The National Academy of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine concluded that there was “conclusive or substantial evidence” for their use. Another feature of their review stated there was “moderate evidence” to support the use of cannabinoids to temporarily improve sleep in chronic pain patients.
In summary, cannabinoids not only improve chronic pain symptoms but also help mitigate sleep problems closely associated with chronic pain conditions.
Inflammation, Cortisol, Depression, and Sleep
Inflammation is the body’s innate immune response to foreign invaders and infection. It is stimulated by the release of pro-inflammatory signaling molecules.
Psychological stress (which can be caused by lack of sleep, among other things) can stimulate inflammation. In response, the body secretes a glucocorticoid called cortisol, the body’s master stress hormone. One of its jobs is to regulate inflammation by acting as a potent anti-inflammatory.
When stress becomes chronic, the body responds by downregulating the expression of cortisol receptors (6). In turn, cortisol can no longer act as an anti-inflammatory and inflammation goes unresolved. Unresolved inflammation is suspected to play a role in the development of depression and depressed patients often report sleep disturbances (7, 8)
Excess cortisol in itself also contributes to sleep disturbances, with high cortisol activity associated with decreases in restorative SWS (9).
However, whether inflammation or stress that incites inflammation begins the cascade that leads to sleep disturbances is unclear. Nonetheless, cannabinoids may help to resolve some of the contributing factors.
As powerful anti-inflammatory compounds, hemp cannabinoids could break the cycle that leads to conditions associated with sleep disturbances. Additionally, the ECS may act as a regulator of the HPA axis, the system responsible for stimulating cortisol release (1).
Not surprisingly, animal studies also show that CBD exhibits anti-depressant properties in mice (10). For depressed patients that experience sleep disruptions, CBD may be beneficial.
CBD for Anxiety and Sleep
Anxiety and quality of sleep are closely related.
According to one study, people with insomnia are 17.35 times as likely to have anxiety (11). However, a study of over 1,000 youth found that anxiety preceded the development of insomnia 73% of the time (12).
This tells us that anxiety and sleep could have a bi-directional relationship — anxiety can lead to insomnia and vice versa. Breaking the anxiety-insomnia cycle is important for enhancing sleep and overall quality of life.
Thankfully, current research strongly supports CBD’s therapeutic action for anxiety (13). CBD is known to activate serotonin receptors to reduce anxiety. It also acts via the CB1 receptors of the ECS to enhance fear extinction, further promoting the anti-anxiety properties of CBD. Cell culture studies also tell us that CBD may affect GABA receptors which facilitate the transmission of GABA, the calming neurotransmitter (14).
CBD also stimulates hippocampal (the brain region responsible for regulating emotion) neurogenesis, the creation of new neurons (13). Interestingly, researchers have found that the effectiveness of anti-anxiety and antidepressant medications might be attributed to their ability to enhance neurogenesis (15). In animal studies, CBD’s anti-anxiety effects were dependent on its ability to promote neurogenesis (16).
Considering the multifaceted action of CBD on anxiety and the close link between anxiety and sleep issues, CBD may help promote healthy sleep through its anti-anxiety medications.
Are There Negative Effects On Sleep?
The psychoactive cannabinoid in marijuana, THC, is known to have a detrimental effect on sleep quality (17). This is especially true in chronic users. Conversely, CBD has not been shown to impact sleep in healthy subjects (18).
This may also be beneficial for anxiety sufferers considering anxiolytic (anti-anxiety) drugs are known to cause sleep disturbances. As a compound without these side effects, CBD may provide a hopeful alternative.
However, long-term studies on the effects of CBD oil and its effects sleep have not been performed.
How to Use CBD Oil for Sleep: Dose Matters
Studies show that CBD does have a sedative effect, however, it seems to be dependent on the dose (19).
For a person who weighs 130 pounds, a 10 mg per kg dose equates to about 590mg of CBD and a 40mg per kg dose to 2360mg of CBD. With our Phytologica products, for example, this is 2 doses for 590mg and 8 for 2360mg of our 3000mg tincture. However, it should be noted that the doses in the studies mentioned used CBD oil alone. Due to the Entourage Effect of our full spectrum products, you may not need as high of a dose for the same effect.
You should always consult your doctor before taking high doses of CBD in this way.
How to Find the Best CBD Oils for Sleep
To make the most of using CBD oil for sleep, you’ll want to purchase full spectrum hemp oils.
Products that use full spectrum hemp extracts retain all the additional cannabinoids (CBG, CBN, CBV, CBC), terpenes, flavonoids, and sterols. All of these compounds work synergistically with CBD to enhance its effects. They also provide their own unique properties that contribute to an overall more beneficial effect.
This synergistic action is known as The Entourage Effect. It suggests that all of the compounds present in the plant, as they are found in nature, work more efficiently than isolated compounds. Because of this, full spectrum hemp oils are more bioactive and effective than CBD isolates (22).
Equally as important is the way a full spectrum CBD oil is processed. Supercritical CO2 extraction and cold purification ensure that none of the beneficial compounds are denatured. This is a manufacturing process that Phytologica employs to ensure the most bioavailable, bioactive, and beneficial product.
An additional component of Phytologica’s process is finely milling the hemp plant to increase the surface area, allowing for optimal extraction. A unique chromatography selectively removes the THC to allow for a completely legal, non-psychoactive product.
CBD Oil for Sleep: Does It Really Work?
When it comes to using CBD oil for sleep, research is still preliminary. But, many anecdotal reports, as well as animal and cell culture studies, show that it can be effective for promoting healthy sleep.
CBD may be beneficial for insomnia associated with anxiety, depression, and stress. Studies also suggest the ECS, which CBD acts on, may play a role in regulating the sleep-wake cycle.
Moderate to high doses are sedative and sleep-promotive as opposed to low doses, which are stimulatory. You may be able to take a lower dose with full spectrum hemp products due to the Entourage Effect. The Entourage Effect describes the enhanced overall beneficial effect of including extracts of the whole plant as opposed to isolating just CBD.
Always be sure to consult your doctor prior to using CBD for sleep.
At Phytologica, we take the utmost care to use manufacturing processes that preserve the integrity and bioavailability of our full spectrum hemp products. We employ supercritical CO2 extraction, cold purification, and selective chromatography to process our finely-milled hemp plants.
We have various full spectrum hemp products that allow you to utilize the miraculous properties of hemp in a variety of ways. Click here to shop our full spectrum hemp balms, tinctures, and bioavailable softgels.
*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. FDA has not evaluated this product for safety or efficacy.