For those who have never suffered from insomnia, it’s hard to understand the reach and severity of its long-term effects. While the occasional sleepless night causes little worry, prolonged sleep deprivation is another beast entirely.
It’s difficult to comprehend the frustration inherent in it; the internal pleading with one’s mind to shut off and allow you to sleep. Coming with a host of negative side effects, including irritability, anxiety, depression and lack of focus, insomnia can start to impact every area of an individual’s life.
It leaves sufferers with an obvious question: ‘how can I combat my condition and regain some semblance of normality?’. For some, CBD products may just be the solution they were waiting for.
WHAT IS INSOMNIA?
Insomnia is a common sleep disorder. Believed to affect as many as a whopping one in three people, it comes with a range of frustrating symptoms, including difficulty falling and/or staying asleep. While it influences different individuals to varying degrees, its effects are not only felt nocturnally; it can also impact the hours when you’re awake.
For example, those suffering with chronic insomnia may feel tired throughout the entire day – every day. Some people describe it as sapping their energy, and it can impact your mood, health, professional performance and broader quality of life, too.
Common symptoms include:
- Disturbed sleep
- Trouble falling asleep
- Waking up before you’ve had enough sleep
- Not feeling well-rested after you’ve slept
- Daytime lethargy and tiredness
- Difficulty focusing, forgetfulness and inattention
- An increased likelihood of errors and accidents
In some severe instances, the long-term effects of insomnia also extend to irritability, anxiousness, exhaustion and depression.
WHO GETS INSOMNIA AND WHY?
Although we already concluded that an estimated third of adults will encounter insomnia, this number includes both very mild and very severe cases. This means that most of us will have trouble sleeping at some point in our lives, but how much this impacts us will vary from person to person.
It’s important to note that insomnia is not only about how much sleep you’re getting. While most adults require seven to eight hours a night, it can also be normal to need more or less. Rather, it comes down to whether the amount you’re getting is sufficient for you.
So why might you suffer from insomnia? Most adults will experience short-term sleep issues at one point or another, usually connected to temporary worries. Typically, this will last for days or weeks, but when it endures for a month or more, it develops into a condition known as chronic insomnia.
There are a number of reasons why you might be impacted. Most commonly, insomnia is linked to stress or emotional trauma, whether this derives from bereavement, divorce or financial worries.
However, certain lifestyle factors can also be implicated, such as changes in work shifts or frequent traveling. That’s because these disrupt your body’s biological clock, meaning it’s unsure of when it should be sleeping.
Poor sleeping habits can be problematic, too, such as napping during the day, not having a set bedtime or overstimulating your mind before you turn in for the night. A proper nighttime routine could therefore make all the difference to how you sleep.
Certain medical conditions could also be the cause, including mental health disorders such as anxiety and depression. Medications can be implicated too, along with sleep-related illnesses such as sleep apnea and dietary stimulants like tea and coffee. Insomnia also becomes more common as you age.
Those most at risk of suffering from insomnia include:
- Individuals over 60
- Those with physical or mental disorders
- Individuals who are stressed
- People with an irregular sleep schedule
WHAT CAN BE DONE TO AVOID INSOMNIA?
Some of the causes of insomnia are beyond our control, such as medical issues, stress and aging. However, there are certain ways to reduce one’s risk factors. These include reviewing your sleeping environment, routine and diet.
For starters, sticking to a regular bedtime can make a big difference. This means having a fixed time for turning in, avoiding longer naps during the day and spending a few hours before bed winding down. Try to avoid screen time from around 9pm onwards, as well.
Next, evaluate your sleeping environment. Is it dark enough? If not, invest in blackout curtains or an eye mask. Is it quiet? If the answer is ‘no’, find a solution to fix this. Are you comfortable or would you do well to invest in a new mattress?
Another risk factor that can be crossed off is nutrition. Look not only at what you’re consuming as part of your diet, but your eating habits too – when and where. Snacking in bed should be avoided and you don’t want to take your meals too late in the day, which can cause physical discomfort and sleeplessness, whether due to heartburn, acid or an energy rush before bed.
Finally, try to identify whether you should remove any foods from your diet. Caffeine can act as a stimulant, so try not to drink tea, coffee or other caffeinated drinks after 4pm. Nicotine can have the same effect, so smoking could be a trigger. Lastly, look at your alcohol intake: too much can cause you to wake at random times throughout the night.
WHAT ARE THE LONG TERM EFFECTS OF DEALING WITH INSOMNIA?
As we mentioned earlier, insomnia can have some serious and detrimental long term effects, which is why it’s a good idea to address it early on. These include not only an increased risk of accidents and injuries, but mood swings, anxiety disorders, depression and an inability to focus.
While these can clearly have a negative impact on your mental wellbeing and professional performance, there are also certain health issues linked to the long term effects of insomnia, including an increased risk of:
- Heart attack
WHEN SHOULD ONE LOOK TO USE A SLEEPING AID?
While insomnia is common, it can nonetheless be difficult to deal with, and once it begins to impact your daily life — it may be time to consider a sleeping aid.
There are various options available, from over-the-counter sleeping tablets to prescription medications and other natural remedies such as CBD oil for sleep.
WHAT KIND OF CBD PRODUCTS ARE AVAILABLE TO SUPPORT SOMEONE DEALING WITH INSOMNIA?
For those considering CBD as an option, there are a number of products to choose from. These typically combine various cannabinoids with terpenes and other ingredients to produce a supplement designed to combat stress and soreness.
- Liposomal CBD and melatonin capsules (declining levels of the latter in older adults is a common cause of insomnia)
- Hemp extract infused gummies
- Hemp infused patches
- CBD oil for sleep
- Broad-spectrum cannabinoid tinctures
- CBD sleep creams
This means there are plenty of products to explore if you’d like to try CBD as a sleep aid.
ARE THERE ANY RISKS OR KNOWN SIDE EFFECTS TO TAKING SLEEPING AIDS?
CBD products have very few documented side effects, but like any supplement, prescription or herbal medication, they can occasionally cause minor issues. While CBD oil for sleep is usually well-tolerated, these include:
- A dry mouth
- Reduced appetite
They can also, on occasion, interact with certain medicines, such as blood thinners. This is something you should check with a professional before you try them.
HOW OFTEN SHOULD YOU TAKE SLEEP AID PRODUCTS?
As a rule, most sleep aid products are not recommended for use beyond two to four weeks. If your issue hasn’t resolved by this time, medical experts recommend using these only as and when necessary hereafter.
However, this is very much a blanket statement and will differ from sleep aid to sleep aid. For this reason, it’s always advised that you read the information leaflet that comes with the product to see whether there are any limitations on how often and for how long it should be used.
IS THIS A LONG TERM SOLUTION FOR RELIEVING THE EFFECTS OF CHRONIC INSOMNIA?
As mentioned previously, some sleep aids can only be used for a finite amount of time, while others are safe to take over a prolonged period. This is entirely dependent upon the individual product, but if you’re suffering from long term or chronic insomnia, we’d recommend consulting with a medical professional to see what they advise.
If your insomnia endures, you may be best looking for the root cause, as many sleep aids become less effective over time. However, in the case of CBD oil specifically, numerous studies have indicated that this is well tolerated even when used in the long term.
OTHER OPTIONS TO EXPLORE
If you decide that CBD products are not the right choice for you, you have lots of other options, many of them explored in the body of this article. These include making healthier lifestyle choices, tweaking your diet and trying over-the-counter medications.
In more severe cases of insomnia, it may also be worth speaking to your doctor to see whether they can prescribe you a suitable medication or else refer you to a specialist in order to find the root cause.
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What is CBD?
Cannabinoids, which can be either made by plants (phytocannabinoids – phyto pertaining to plants) or produced naturally by the body (endocannabinoid – endo is short for endogenous, meaning originating in the body), are chemical compounds that interact with the body’s own endocannabinoid system. This system is known to manage homeostasis and regulate many bodily processes.
Scientist and physicians are leading many studies on the effects of CBD for a broad variety of conditions including chronic pain, insomnia, PTSD, anxiety, epilepsy, dementia, cancer, and more. Plenty of preclinical research and a fair amount of clinical studies have shown that CBD has strong anti-oxidant, anti-inflammatory, anticonvulsant, anti-depressant, anti-psychotic, anti-tumoral, and neuroprotective qualities.
Will CBD make you high and is CBD addictive?
Simple answer is NO. THC is the main culprit in cannabis that causes a “high”, although there are other cannabinoids that will cause intoxication and euphoria. If you are sensitive to THC, there are many products that are made with 99%+ pure CBD that should be void of any amount of THC that would cause this effect.
Another important point is that CBD is NOT addictive. This might make CBD a potential alternative to opioid medications, like Oxycontin, for pain relief. CBD has reduced negative effects, like addiction while maintaining pain relief. CBD is though to even be beneficial for withdrawal from other drugs, like heroine.
Are CBD products legal in all 50 states and what is the difference between hemp and marijuana?
According to the federal government yes, as long as they are derived from hemp, not marijuana, and contain less than 0.3% THC. You do not need a medical marijuana card to buy or use hemp-derived CBD products. One caveat is that some states, like Nebraska and Idaho, have different state laws and only allow CBD if it has no THC (0.0%). Laws are changing everyday, so double check with your state laws to be safe.
What is the difference between hemp and marijuana?
Although both hemp and marijuana are Cannabis, there are significant differences between them both chemically and legally. Cannabis as hemp is federally legal and is defined as having less than 0.3% THC, with higher amount of CBD (usually about 5-15%). Cannabis as marijuana is federally illegal and is typically cultivated to produce very high amounts of THC, sometime upward of 25%.
HOW DO I TAKE CBD?
One of the most popular types of CBD are CBD gummies. CBD gummies are in the “edible” or “ingestible” category. These are eaten just like the non-CBD gummies, but you probably shouldn’t eat the whole bag of the CBD variety. These are popular because of their tasty, fun form factor. Not all CBD gummies are created equal though. Other ingestible CBD products include CBD capsules, some tinctures, tablets, chocolates, beverages, suckers, and more.
CBD tinctures are one of the most popular types of CBD products. A simple CBD tincture is often only two ingredients, CBD isolate or a full-spectrum high CBD extract and a carrier oil (commonly fractionated coconut oil called MCT oil). You use these by placing them under your tongue for a short time and then swallowing. It is recommended to hold the oil under your tongue for about 1-2 minutes. This is because the CBD can be absorbed through blood capillaries under the tongue. You can also just swallow the tincture if you would like. CBD tinctures are often also flavored tastier experience.
Topical CBD products are a great way to apply CBD to a targeted area for direct effect. This category includes CBD lotions, CBD creams, CBD facial serums, and more. Topical CBD lotions and similar products are applied just like you would use a hydrating lotion for rough skin or cooling pain relief cream to a sore area. If you are having skin irritation or joint pain, you just rub the topical CBD onto the affected area.
Transdermal patches are a great way to get sustained release of CBD throughout your day for lasting relief. Similar to lidocaine and nicotine patches, CBD transdermal patches are designed to enhance the penetration of CBD so that it can get through your skin and into your bloodstream. CBD transdermal patches are placed on an area with a of arteries and veins, like the wrist, and stay on for up to 8 hours. Discrete, travel friendly, and ease of use make transdermal patches a great choice for CBD oil based products.
There are many more form factors, but the above just highlights some of the popular types. You can also find vapes and hemp flower for those who inhale, suppositories, shampoo, lip balm, and even pillows. Some of these have more therapeutic value than others (still scratching my head about the pillow).
HOW DOES CBD WORK?
Overall, the way CBD actually works is abundantly confusing. There is actually little classical cannabinoid receptor (CB1 and CB2) activation like many other cannabinoids, most notably THC. CBD does act on the endocannabinoid system, just in a somewhat unique fashion. One way is to inhibit an enzyme that breaks down endocannabinoids, thereby enhancing your natural endocannabinoid tone. CBD also acts through a variety of other receptors including GPR55, various TRP channels, PPAR-gamma, and more (even opioid receptors involved in pain). As Science progresses, we will undoubtedly start to create a more full and accurate picture of how CBD work, but for now, if you find relief with CBD, then it does not really matter that we do not know how it works.
Tylenol (acetaminophen/paracetamol) is taken all over the world everyday and we still don’t understand how it works. CBD is in the same boat. We are not 100% sure how it works, but we do know it works.
DO CBD topicals actually WORK?
CBD topicals have proven effective for a broad variety of issues, such as chronic pain, dry skin, eczema, psoriasis, acne, skin cancer, and more. Many individuals swear by them.
WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE? FULL SPECTRUM, BROAD SPECTRUM, ISOLATE?
- Full Spectrum: Full spectrum CBD is an extract that contains all compounds found naturally occurring in the plant, including terpenes, essential oils, and other cannabinoids. The full spectrum of cannabinoids, terpenes, and essential oils extracted from the plant work together to magnify the therapeutic benefits of each individual cannabinoid. This is commonly referred to as the “entourage effect“.
- Broad Spectrum: Broad spectrum CBD is a bit of a mix between Full Spectrum CBD and CBD Isolate. Like Full Spectrum CBD, the other compounds found within the plant are preserved in the extract; however, like CBD Isolate, THC is completely removed.
- Isolate: In scientific terms, an isolate is the purest form of a compound, which is produced by singularly extracting that compound from its environment and isolating it from all other compounds. With that being said, CBD isolate is the purest form of CBD, which is produced by removing all other compounds found in the plant including terpenes, flavonoids, plant parts, and other cannabinoids.
How much CBD should you take?
Many people wonder how much CBD they should take and unfortunately there is probably not a great solution for the exact amount. One complication is that everyone’s biology is different and will respond differently to the same compounds. Think about caffeine, some people cannot even have a sip of coffee without getting the jitters, while others need a double shot of espresso to get the morning started. There are even websites, similar to 23andMe, that will analyze your genetics then come up with a theoretical “best” THC to CBD ratio based on your particular genes. So a “one size fits all” is probably not realistic.
However to give an example of what is used, Epidiolex (the FDA approved version of CBD for seizures) can be used at 5 milligrams per kilogram of body weight (mg/kg) twice a day. So what does that mean? A 155 pound person is about 70 kilograms, so 5 mg/kg would equate to 350 mg CBD twice a day. Now this is pure CBD for a very specific disease, so it probably does not translate well to other disorders, but highlights the safety levels.
There is also something called the entourage (or ensemble) effect, whereby various cannabinoids and terpenes can work synergistically to enhance the effects of each other. So using a combination of other cannabinoids and terpenes in conjunction with CBD can reduce the amount of CBD you need.
Will I pass a drug test if I take CBD?
Unfortunately… it depends. Yes you will pass your drug test if you use only CBD (with a caveat). Most drug tests can distinguish between THC and CBD and their metabolites, but some low cost tests (like basic chemical reaction drug testing kits for the field and some antibody testing) can trigger false positives. Most legitimate testing labs will be able to distinguish between THC and CBD and their metabolites using a technology called mass spectrometry (mass spec or MS for short). The other caveat is that full spectrum products will contain some THC in them. Depending on the levels, this could also cause a positive reading on a drug test. You can however find many CBD isolate and CBD broad spectrum products that have had THC removed from them.
When does CBD start to work and how long does it stay in your system?
What we know from current data is that there is a lot of variability in study to study and from person to person. Tinctures are one of the most popular forma of CBD. Generally, CBD taken orally (by mouth, including other ingestibles like CBD gummies) tends to take about two to four hours to reach maximum levels in your blood and the elimination half-life has been reported anywhere from two hours up to 24 hours from a single use and two to five days for chronic oral administration. Your body also seem to absorbed more CBD when taken with a meal, particularly a high-fat meal.
One major vairable is that everyone’s biology is slightly different and will not respond in the exact same way to the same compounds. Using caffeine as an example, some people that take even a sip of coffee get the jitters, while others need their daily pot of coffee to get through the day. Some of this is tolerence, but a lot of it is genetics. There are even websites, like popular genetics genealogy websites, that will analyze your genetics then come up with a theoretical “best” THC to CBD ratio based on your particular genes. THis indicates that CBD and cannabinoids are not “one size fits all”.
Sublingual administration is close to ingestibles in terms of absorption. Here a tincture is placed under the tongue and help in place for one to two minutes. This is thought to slightly increase the amount of CBD absorbed because of the high amount of blood vessels under the tongue. So, the effect might start somewhat quicker than a capsule or CBD gummies, but some of the tincture will ultimately make it to your stomach.
Many other types of administration can drastically change how your body processes CBD. Topicals are mostly beneficial for the skin disorders, but many people find muscle and joint pain relief as well. Topical CBD tends to start working fairly quickly (5-30 minutes) and can last for a fair amount of time (many hours). Inhalation (vaping and smoking) will act the quickest because your lungs are the closest to a direct link to your blood stream, besides a direct venous or arterial injection. Also a consideration is that quick into the bloodstream usually means quicker out of the bloodstream. That mean the effects will start taking place within 1-5 minutes and the half-life is thought to be much shorter (around 2-4 hours) that ingestibles (capsules, gummies, tincures).
How is CBD made and isolated from the cannabis plant?
Making CBD is very similar to techniques used in the medical marijuana industry. First, you must grow and harvest the hemp (cannabis) plant. After the hemp plant has been harvested, CBD along with other cannabinoids and beneficial plant compounds are extracted using a number of different methods. Two popular methods are CO2 and ethanol extraction, but other methods such as hydrocarbon (e.g. butane and/or propane) or solventless (e.g. rosin press) extraction can also extract the beneficial organic compounds from the cannabis plant. This extract can be used as is or can be cleaned up and be further processed to purify each of the cannabinoids and terpenes separately, which are then used to mix together in desired ratios.
What is the difference between CBD oil and hemp seed oil?
CBD oil is often referred to as “Hemp Oil” and the names are often used interchangeably. This can be an issue, becasue a cold-pressed hemp oil derived only from the seeds of the plant that does not contain CBD exists. It is important to understand the difference between hemp oil made from seeds that contain no CBD, and hemp-based oil made from the cannabis plant that does contain CBD.
There are many deceptive products that will tout “Cannabis Sativa” on the label, but the ingredients only show hemp seed oil. Hemp seed oil is basically void of any CBD. Seek clearly labeled amount of CBD in milligrams(mg). This indicates the amount of CBD in the product and dosing often times as well.
Is CBD Safe and Will CBD interact with my other medications?
Using common wellness dosing of CBD (often only 25 or 50 mg, but up to about 200 mg a day) it is unlikely that significant drug interactions would occur. However there is some possibility, especially as dosing amount rise, and there is more danger with some medications than others, like blood thinners. CBD and other cannabinoids can potentially interact with many pharmaceuticals by inhibiting the activity of cytochrome P450 (or CYP450). These CYP450 enzymes are found in the liver and account for the breakdown of a majority of pharmaceuticals on the market. People who use certain medications that require very tight blood level control (like blood thinners and other heart medication) should talk to their doctors.
What is CBD good for?
There are many potential benefits of CBD and it may be useful to treat:
- Chronic Pain
- Multiple Sclerosis
- Epilepsy & Seizures
- Parkinson’s Disease
- Alzheimer’s Disease
- Chronic Anxiety
- Inflammatory Diseases
- Huntington’s Disease
- Eczema and Psoriasis
- And more…
Although most of this research is preclinical in nature, the major evidence seems to be most strong with CBD reducing pain and inflammation, relieving anxiety symptoms, and alleviating nausea, although there is much research ongoing.
DOES CBD HELP SLEEP/INSOMNIA?
Currently there are many studies being done on whether CBD can help you sleep better and combat insomnia. A medical study published in 2019 called “Cannabidiol (CBD) in Anxiety and Sleep: A Large Case Series” looked at whether CBD can improve sleep and/or reduce anxiety (one of the common factors contributing to insomnia). The study surveyed 72 subjects, with 47 experiencing anxiety and 25 experiencing poor sleep and/or insomnia. The subjects were each given 25 milligrams (mg) of CBD in capsule form each day. In the first month, 79.2 percent of the subjects reported lower anxiety levels and 66.7 percent of subjects reported better sleep and reduced insomnia.
Research published in the National Institutes of Health found that administering 160 mg of CBD to subjects reported sleeping significantly more than those who took a placebo. Another study in the Journal of Pharmacology found that CBD increased sleep time in rats.