Have you ever wondered if CBD could help you sleep or how it works for sleep? The short answer is that yes it can, but to fully understand how CBD can help you sleep, it’s important for us to first take a look at exactly what sleep deprivation is and some of its symptoms and coping strategies.

Fifty to 70 million of us suffer from sleep problems, according to the National Sleep Foundation. And it’s not just falling asleep that vexes us. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention found that one-third of the U.S population — 100 million people — aren’t staying asleep during the night.

Sleep deprivation is a serious problem. It can cause a whole host of health concerns. The amount of sleep that a person needs varies from one person to another, but on average most adults need about seven to eight hours of sleep each night to feel alert and well rested.

The primary effect of sleep deprivation is excessive daytime sleepiness. A sleep-deprived person is likely to fall asleep when forced to sit still in a quiet or monotonous situation, such as during a meeting or class. This degree of severe sleepiness can be a safety hazard, causing drowsy driving and workplace injuries. The other effects of sleep deprivation are widespread.

Sleep deprivation can have dramatic effects on your mood. It can cause you to feel irritable, depressed, have anxiety, and even experience a lack of motivation. In addition to mood, sleep deprivation can do a number on how you are able to function during the day. It can cause you to lack concentration, lack energy, cause restlessness, cause forgetfulness, increase reaction times, and lead to poor decisions.

As if these symptoms weren’t bad enough, sleep deprivation can also lead to many serious health issues. Those that experience sleep deprivation are at an increased risk for high blood pressure, obesity, heart attack, and diabetes.

Sleep Coping Strategies

You may be thinking to yourself do I have sleep deprivation and if so how would I know? Well you are likely using one of several coping strategies to deal with sleep deprivation if you are experiencing a lack of sleep. The most common strategy to help you deal with sleep deprivation is to ingest caffeine. In fact, nearly 80 percent of American adults use caffeine regularly to help give themselves a little pick me up.  The challenge with using caffeine frequently is that you can develop a tolerance and consistently need more to have the same effect. Caffeine also has withdrawal symptoms and can cause its own health problems.

In addition to using caffeine, you may find yourself taking more frequent naps either throughout the day or even before sleep in the evening. Naps can help decrease some of the negative effects of sleep deprivation and can make you more alert, but they aren’t a long term replacement for good quality sleep.

In more extreme circumstances, some people may even turn to more potent stimulants than caffeine like amphetamines. While these stimulants can reduce some of the symptoms of sleep deprivation, they aren’t without significant health risks and potential for addiction.

CBD and Sleep

A good alternative to traditional sleep aids is CBD. Many people will use cold, flu and antihistamines medicines such as Nyquil or Benadryl for sleep. The issue with using these medications for sleep is that they can often be in your body for 10 to 12 hours which is often well beyond the time frame that many people sleep for. This means they can still be causing drowsiness for you even after you wake up. In addition, there are other issues that can occur from using these types of medicines for sleep such as issues with forming a habit.

This is why CBD can be a good alternative to traditional sleep remedies.  If taken a half-hour before bed, CBD can be very effective in helping you sleep.

“CBD is commonly used to address anxiety, and for patients who suffer through the misery of insomnia, studies suggest that CBD may help with both falling asleep and staying asleep,” Peter Grinspoon, M.D., professor at Harvard Medical School, wrote in a blog post.

CBD has a calming effect on the central nervous system, reducing anxiety by regulating the production of the stress hormone cortisol. It also serves as a pain reliever and muscle relaxant, helping patients with movement disorders such as Parkinson’s and Huntington’s disease to find better sleep. There is even some evidence that CBD helps to eliminate nightmares in those suffering from REM sleep behavior disorder.

While more research is still needed, one study published in the Permanente Journal was done with 72 adults that have anxiety and poor sleep. The participants completed anxiety and sleep assessments at the start of the study and at the first-month follow up. Study participants were given 25 mg of CBD in capsule form. Those that predominantly had sleep complaints took the dose in the evening. Participants that had anxiety as their predominant complaint took CBD in the morning.

After the first month, anxiety scores decreased in 79 percent of the people. Sleep scores improved in 66 percent of the participants, which indicated less trouble sleeping. The results suggest that CBD decreased sleep difficulties in many of the participants.

Scientists have some biological explanations for how CBD may affect both sleep and anxiety. Recent studies have shown that cannabis compounds interact with receptors throughout the body—the endocannabinoid system—including in the brain. At least one of those type of receptors is thought to affect the body’s sleep/wake cycle, offering one explanation for how CBD could affect sleep directly. And CBD also interacts with another receptor in the brain that researchers have linked to anxiety.

Overall, there is scientific research that supports the theory that there are CBD health benefits. While more research needs to be done, the use of CBD can potentially decrease your symptoms of insomnia and help you get more quality sleep.