In recent years, CBD based products have gained popularity amongst people looking to ease stress, anxiety and depression, and the common resultant symptom: trouble sleeping.
One of the main reasons that CBD and other natural remedies are becoming more popular in treating the behaviours associated with bad sleeping is that they don’t pose the risks that some prescribed sedatives do: CBD isn’t addictive and does not present any known long-term health risks.
The THC that is present in marijuana is known to have sedative effects, but marijuana and THC remain illegal in the UK. CBD does not have the same sedative effects as THC, and therefore CBD vapes and oils do not cause drowsiness in low doses. CBD is instead thought to be able to treat the cause of insomnia and other sleep problems at its root – which is often stress or anxiety related.
The sleep cycle
There are five stages of sleep. Stages 1 to 4 are known as non-rapid eye movement (NREM) stages and stage 5 is what’s called rapid eye movement (REM) sleep. Each sleep cycle lasts around 90 minutes, but the precise amount of time we spend in NREM and REM stages varies.
Most adults likely need around 8 hours of sleep a night, with children and teenagers needing more, and the elderly needing less. Sleeping is restorative, no matter what age you are, and is something that the human body needs in order to repair and rest. Sleep deficiency can be a serious issue if ongoing and can have significant detrimental effects on mental and physical wellbeing.
Research shows that CBD can help to modulate the sleep cycle. This means that in low doses it can promote wakefulness and alertness, while in high doses it may make you drowsy. These qualities make it a great indirect way to improve your sleep habits and help to alter your sleeping routine.
Should I use CBD for insomnia?
Although CBD and THC are both compounds in cannabis, it is THC that has a sedative effect and makes users feel ‘high’. CBD does not have sedative properties, meaning that it is not an alternative to sleeping pills or other prescription drugs.
However, whereas sedatives can simply put a bandage on the problem by alleviating immediate sleep issues, anecdotal evidence shows that CBD could do more to address the root of the issue – which is often anxiety or stress related.
REM behaviour disorder
CBD also promotes REM sleep and can be helpful for sleep disorders in people with neurological conditions like Parkinson’s.
During the REM stage of a typical sleeping cycle, the body is usually paralyzed in REM atonia, meaning that normal muscle function is significantly reduced and movement is rare.
REM behaviour disorders can cause people to act out physically during REM sleep because the common sleep paralysis doesn’t occur and muscles are still active. REM behaviour conditions are common in people with Parkinson’s disease, and CBD can improve behaviours associated with REM sleep behaviour disorder in Parkinson’s disease patients.
Although we would never recommend using CBD as a replacement for prescribed medicines that have been recommended to help you sleep, it can be a great supplement to help you to better manage your sleep habits and reduce the stress or anxiety that could be the root of the issue.