July 30, 2021 7 min read

CBD got its initial fame as a solution for managing childhood epilepsy, but a range of other uses have since risen to the surface. CBD for insomnia is piquing the interest of people all over the world, probably because the sleep-depriving condition wreaks havoc on daily life and can be difficult to treat. 

A man laying on a pillow awake due to insomnia

In fact, as many as 1 in 4 people in the U.S. develop insomnia every year, and sleep deprivation can have some serious side effects, like impairing memory, increasing the risk of heart problems, and causing depression.

Many people who suffer from insomnia reach for prescription medications only to find out that they aren't all effective, and some come with risky and uncomfortable side effects.

Researchers have found that CBD may offer a suitable alternative, and with far fewer side effects. Of course, we don't know everything there is to know about CBD for insomnia, and the efficacy may be circumstantially based on the underlying cause of your condition.

Still, using CBD for insomnia is proving effective for people around the globe, and CBD manufacturers are working out ways to improve their formulas to help target sleep ailments and improve sleep quantity and quality.

Sound too good to be true?

Let's dig into the roots of insomnia and how CBD may help:

Table of Contents
Insomnia Causes and How They’re Treated
CBD for Insomnia Research
Is using CBD for Anxiety Safe?
How to Use CBD for Insomnia
CBD for Other Sleep Disturbances
Resources

Key Takeaways

  • Insomnia is a common condition that can cause a series of side effects that interfere with your health and everyday life.
  • Although many medications exist for treating insomnia, they often come with a lengthy list of risks. Many are ineffective, leave you feeling groggy, or worsen many of the existing side effects of insomnia.
  • Instead, many people are reaching for CBD to treat their insomnia. CBD may work by managing the underlying causes of insomnia, and for many people is a gentler, safer option.
  • Depending on the cause of your insomnia, your CBD for insomnia routine may differ from the next person's. We offer some tips below for creating a CBD routine that is effective for you.

Insomnia Causes and How They're Treated

A woman holding a handful of pills that are traditionally used to treat insomnia

Insomnia is a tricky condition because there isn't a single root cause. Still, experts believe that there are a few common reasons that one may develop sleep disorders like insomnia:

  • Mental health conditions like PTSD, anxiety, or depression, especially conditions causing nightmares
  • Medications or lifestyle choices that disrupt the body's natural sleep-wake cycles
  • Other disruptions to sleep-wake cycles, such as major lifestyle changes, which may result in daytime sleepiness
  • Various physical conditions causing pain
  • Movement disorders or conditions like restless leg syndrome
  • High caffeine intake, especially later in the day

As you can see, the root cause of insomnia may vary greatly from person to person.

Traditional sleep medications essentially work by overriding the body's natural responses to these conditions and forcing the body to sleep anyways, referred to as "sedative effects." While you may find that you get more rest, many people complain that they still don't feel rested, while others complain of daytime grogginess after taking sedatives the night before.

The main concern is that insomnia medications usually don't treat the underlying cause, meaning you'll likely have to continuously rely on the medications to help you sleep. Some medications prescribed for sleep ailments may even be habit forming, like benzodiazepines.

Some other side effects of popular sedatives include drowsiness, confusion, memory impairment, slowed breathing and heart rate, mood swings, worsening of depression and anxiety, and even death due to overdose.

To us, a lot of those side effects sound similar to the effects of sleep deprivation to begin with. For many people, it's not worth the risks.

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CBD for Insomnia Research

Fortunately, researchers have discovered that CBD may be an effective, natural option for managing sleep caused by many of the factors listed above. What's best is that CBD may work by managing many of the underlying causes, not necessarily due to sedative effects, which may mean more restful sleep and less grogginess the next day.

Although it doesn’t boast strong sedative effects like some medications, CBD has also been shown to impact sleep cycles in a way that may be useful for people managing insomnia without a clear cause. Here’s what the research says:

CBD may manage anxiety.

Research has shown that CBD has plenty of potential as an anxiolytic supplement, and anxiety relief is one of the most common reasons that people take CBD every day. Some research has even linked CBD’s anxiety relieving properties to improved sleep quality.

CBD has been shown to reduce pain.

CBD has been evaluated for its anti-inflammatory and pain relieving properties, and some sources even suggest that it could be an alternative to opioids. By relieving pain and discomfort, CBD may be beneficial for people who experience pain-induced insomnia.

CBD may be useful for certain movement disorders.

Some research centers around CBD’s potential for managing chronic conditions like Parkinson’s disease and multiple sclerosis. Many factors come into play, like CBD’s neuroprotectant properties, but one common denominator is that CBD may help relax muscles to prevent spasming. Although no research has specifically evaluated CBD’s impact on restless leg syndrome (a common cause of insomnia),CBD’s muscle relaxant potential is something to consider.

Finally, there is some evidence regarding CBD’s specific impact on sleep, energy, and wakefulness:

CBD may increase wakefulness, reducing the need for caffeine.

CBD has been identified as a wake promoting agent, meaning it may help you feel awake without the need for caffeine. For this reason, CBD has been suggested as a solution for managing daytime sleepiness caused by insomnia.

CBD impacts sleep-wake cycles, which can help regulate them.

CBD’s wake promoting properties may sound confusing when considering using CBD for insomnia, but keep in mind that these effects aren’t quite the same as a strong stimulant, like caffeine. Instead, CBD may help regulate the sleep-wake cycles, balancing the circadian rhythm and helping your body fall asleep more naturally when the time comes. In other words, by fighting daytime fatigue, your body may become more apt to sleeping at night.

CBD may reduce nightmares, which may be useful for people combating.

Research has shown that CBD may help combat nightmares (specifically in patients with PTSD) that disrupt sleep. The patients in this study also experienced relief from general PTSD symptoms when using CBD.

Is Using CBD for Insomnia Safe?

CBD's safety profile is relatively sound on its own, but it shines in comparison to the common side effects for popular sleep-inducing medications. The most common potential side effects reported for CBD were tiredness, appetite changes, and diarrhea. Studies involving CBD have reported no toxicity even from incredibly high doses, and leading organizations suggest that CBD has no public safety risks.

Of course, we still have more to learn, but for many people CBD is a milder option than most prescriptions.

CBD may react with some medications, however, and you should never swap out your daily medications with CBD without talking to your doctor first. Your doctor may be able to better help you assist the benefits and risks of using CBD for insomnia.

A CBD oil tincture, one of the most common methods chosen when using CBD for insomina

How to Use CBD for Insomnia

Because CBD is most likely to work by managing the underlying conditions causing insomnia, there is no one best way to use CBD. In order to create a CBD routine that works to manage your sleep disruptions, consider the following tips:

  • Try taking CBD at night to manage mental stressors that make it difficult to sleep or pain and discomforts that keep you awake.
  • If you find that your normal sleep routine has been disrupted and you're feeling sleepy during the day, you may benefit from a CBD dose in the mornings.
  • Some people may benefit most from two doses of CBD, one in the morning and one at night, to help regulate sleep cycles.
  • For more effective nighttime doses, look for a CBD product designed for sleep management. This type of CBD product may contain other sleep-enhancing ingredients, such as the natural cannabinoid CBN or melatonin.
  • Keep track of your dosing routine by writing down how much CBD you take and at what time. Then, record your results, such as how much anxiety or pain you feel, how well and how long you sleep, or how you feel when you wake up. That will give you a reference to look back on when fine tuning your CBD routine.
  • Keep in mind that CBD may be most effective when taken daily, so you'll want to wait a week or more to evaluate the full effects.

CBD for Other Sleep Disturbances

Although insomnia is one of the most common sleep ailments, it's not the only condition that's known to impair sleep. In fact, poor sleep is often linked to a variety of chronic conditions, like multiple sclerosis and Parkinson's disease.

Some evidence has shown that CBD may be effective for improving sleep in these cases as well, and researchers are working tirelessly to understand the full impact that CBD has on the Endocannabinoid System, a regulatory system that controls many important bodily processes, including your sleep cycle. For more information, read CBD for Sleep.

Looking for CBD products to improve your sleep routine? We recommend checking out our Dream Collection

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Resources

  1. “One in four Americans develop insomnia each year: 75 percent of those with insomnia recover” https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/06/180605154114.htm
  2. “Cannabidiol as a Potential Treatment for Anxiety Disorders” https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4604171/
  3. “Cannabidiol in Anxiety and Sleep: A Large Case Series” https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6326553/
  4. “Antioxidative and Anti-Inflammatory Properties of Cannabidiol” https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7023045/#:~:text=Therefore%2C%20it%20has%20been%20suggested,of%20immune%20cells%20%5B66%5D.
  5. “Cannabinoids in the management of difficult to treat pain” https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2503660/
  6. “Cannabidiol in Parkinson’s disease” https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7115444/
  7. “Cannabinoids in the management of spasticity associated with multiple sclerosis” https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2626929/
  8. “Cannabidiol for neurodegenerative disorders: important new clinical applications for this phytocannabinoid?” https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3579248/
  9. “Potential Effects of Cannabidiol as a Wake-Promoting Agent” https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4023456/
  10. “Effects of acute systemic administration of cannabidiol on sleep-wake cycle in rats” https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/23343597/
  11. “Cannabidiol in the Treatment of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder: A Case Series” https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6482919/#:~:text=Conclusions%3A%20Administration%20of%20oral%20CBD,a%20symptom%20of%20their%20PTSD.

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