A good night’s sleep is essential to your overall health and well being. That’s why the experts recommend a solid eight hours each night, preferably on a consistent schedule before recommending a sleep aid.
Unfortunately, more than 70 million Americans have trouble sleeping or staying asleep due to a variety of sleep disorders and other sleep-related troubles.
Today, many people with sleep disorders and sleep issues are beginning to turn to CBD oil for a more natural way to ease the very things that keep them up at night. Of course, the big question is: Does CBD make you sleepy?
Trying to find a natural sleep aid that won’t cause unnecessary drowsiness or cause you to sleepwalk (ehem, Ambien, we’re looking at you) can be a bit cumbersome. There are a ton of products on the market, but CBD seems to be putting them all to shame.
So, the reason you’re here: Does CBD make you sleepy?
Let’s find out.
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CBD and Your Body Explained
Cannabidiol (CBD) is one of over 120 identified compounds in the Cannabis Sativa plant. More specifically, it’s a non-psychoactive phytocannabinoid that’s largely found within the hemp variety of the plant.
One of the primary reasons so many people ask does CBD make you sleepy? Is because it’s heavily associated with its psychoactive counterpart, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). THC is obviously well known for the high it gives its users, which can often result in a certain level of sleepiness or extreme calmness.
While CBD doesn’t produce a high for its users, it still produces certain beneficial effects which include supporting healthy sleep cycles as well as creating a sense of calm or focus, among other things.
These non-psychoactive benefits are made possible by the way CBD interacts with the human body. Essentially, all cannabinoids are synthesized by our Endocannabinoid System (ECS) and bind to the various cell receptors throughout our bodies.
You can think of the ECS as your body’s command center. It’s responsible for controlling all the other systems within your body, and it’s constantly at work trying to maintain a balance by sending out endocannabinoids (the body’s natural cannabinoids) to mitigate physiological responses to external factors.
These external factors would include things like stress, anxiety, pain, temperature, hunger, and just about every other naturally occurring situation that requires a bodily function that you can think of.
By binding with the cell receptors throughout our bodies, CBD is able to imitate the body’s endocannabinoids to enhance natural responses to the above-mentioned factors.
CBD and Sleep
It’s safe to say that CBD is more than capable of delivering a sedative effect. However, it depends on who you ask as well as the less obvious factor of strain type. For example, it is commonly known that sativa strains often provide users with a more uplifting effect while indicas tend to be better for their calming effects—and that goes for both THC and CBD.
Where CBD is concerned though, the general consensus is that it does not make you sleepy. It can, however, aid in the battle of sleep disorders.
How is this possible, you ask?
When you break it down, there are two ways in which CBD can help you sleep: The first way is how CBD directly interacts with the cell receptors in your brain, which are responsible for dictating your body’s natural wake and sleep cycle.
The second way is how CBD interacts with the cell receptors in both your brain and body to alleviate pain and stress, which are two things that contribute to sleep disorders.
Once CBD is ingested and synthesized by the ECS, it begins binding with and activating the receptors that are sending out signals for help.
Here’s a breakdown of how that works in terms of the various means of sleep support:
Neurochemicals, such as melatonin and serotonin, are essential for a good night’s sleep.
Melatonin works to control your sleep cycle. Melatonin production begins once the sun goes down, acting on certain receptors to encourage you to fall asleep.
While serotonin is mostly recognized as the mood stabilizing hormone, it actually impacts your entire body by allowing your brain cells and nervous system cells to communicate. In this case, serotonin is what the body uses to synthesize melatonin.
When CBD is involved, the phytocannabinoid binds itself to the receptors that influence the release of the two neurochemicals to help stimulate their production.
Muscle Tension Relief
Believe it or not, sore or tense muscles can interfere with both your sleep quality and ability to fall asleep. This is especially true when it comes to certain muscle conditions, such as hypermotility and muscular dystrophy.
CBD, however, is able to ease tension and promote relaxation as it inhibits the release of certain excitatory neurotransmitters like acetylcholine, which are known to trigger muscle contractions and rigidity.
Cortisol, affectionately known as the “stress hormone,” is produced to help your body respond to stressful situations by essentially giving it an energy boost. Of course, a spike in cortisol levels triggered by even mildly stressful situations can cause sleep-disrupting anxiety.
Because CBD induces a calming effect on both the body and mind, it can help regulate your body’s stress response and therefore cortisol production and, which in turn can help you not only fall asleep quicker but aid in more restful sleep throughout the night.
Nightmare and PTSD Reduction
Several recent studies and clinical trials have shown promising results in relieving individuals from their PTSD and its consequential nightmares and night terrors.
In one recent study, out of 11 patients suffering from PTSD and concurrent nightmares received CBD orally for a duration of eight weeks while also under psychiatric care. The CBD treatment had a 91% success rate as most patients saw a decrease in the severity of their PTSD and nightmares.
The study also concluded that CBD was generally well tolerated among individuals with PTSD, and each patient continued their CBD regimen after the study was closed.
Sleep/Wake Cycle Correction
If you’ve ever experienced daytime drowsiness, you may be dealing with somnolence. Somnolence can occur for several reasons that have nothing to do with an underlying disease.
For example, it can be caused by too much caffeine or even a caffeine withdrawal, excessive drug or alcohol use, high stress levels, large meals, and certain medications. Either way, somnolence can interfere with your body’s natural sleep/wake cycle, causing you to nod off during the day while making it difficult to fall asleep at night.
Since CBD aids in melatonin and serotonin communication and synthesis, taking CBD at the right time can help reset your internal clock.
Pain, much like muscle tension can also interfere with the quality of your sleep or the ability to fall asleep.
CBD is often used to help treat pain and inflammation because when it interacts with the body’s receptors, it works to inhibit the intensity of the “pain signals” being transmitted to your brain.
Can CBD Help With Sleep Disorders?
So far, we can deduce that CBD supports better sleep, generally speaking. But what about actual sleep disorders?
While some sleep disorders are genetic, they usually take time to develop, with the cause most often being anxiety and depression. Of course, the root cause can be a number of different things, both psychological and physiological—which is why it can be difficult to pin down CBD’s effectiveness on sleep disorders.
Let’s take a look at the two most common sleep disorders:
Yep, you read that right. Snoring is considered a sleeping disorder, especially when it’s consistent and severe. Snoring significantly reduces your quality of sleep as it impacts your breathing by essentially cutting off the oxygen supply to your brain.
However, there are a ton of things that can cause a person to snore from allergies to a soft palate that narrows your airways. Therefore, whether or not CBD can help a person snore less or stop completely is up for debate depending on the cause.
For certain conditions that cause snoring, such as sleep apnea (OSA), research suggests that CBD may be able to protect the brain by suppressing the symptoms associated with OSA.
Insomnia is another sleep disorder that develops over time and can have several causes, including an irregular sleep schedule, stress, anxiety, depression, trauma-related PTSD and more.
Depending on the severity of an individual’s insomnia, it’s possible that CBD can remedy one or more of the components contributing to it as previously listed.
What Science Says About CBD and Sleep Disorders
While CBD research is still in its preliminary stages, the last decade alone has seen a growing interest in its pharmacokinetic and psychological benefits—which has encouraged virtually the entire scientific community to study how CBD affects the body and brain.
So far, there are several studies suggesting that in high doses, CBD can support better quality sleep as well as sleep correction.
For example, a study involving 72 subjects revealed that 25 mg of CBD over the course of one month showed significant changes for both sleep difficulties and anxiety.
At the conclusion of this study, 79.2% of the subjects claimed the CBD helped alleviate their anxiety and 66.7% reported having an easier time falling asleep and having an overall better sleep experience.
A second study involving two control groups, one given a placebo (5 mg of nitrazepam) and the other given 160 mg of CBD, measured the increase in sleep duration. Much like the previous study, those who began a CBD regimen saw an improvement in their overall sleep experience over the course of one month.
In a third study regarding CBD and sleep, 103 subjects experiencing poor sleep and anxiety were recruited. This study, in particular, was to investigate the effects of CBD when combined with prescribed medications.
With the CBD dosage ranging from 25 to 175 mg, it was reported that 25 mg was best for anxiety but higher dosages were necessary for better sleep quality.
Does CBD Make You Sleepy?
So, does CBD make you sleepy?
The short answer here is no—not in the same way as an over-the-counter or prescribed medication would. Of course, it could have slight sedative effects depending on the type of CBD you take and how your body adjusts to different doses.
However, judging by recent studies on CBD and sleep disorders and the way CBD works in the body, it’s safe to say that CBD’s potential for offering a natural way to help you adjust to not only a better sleep schedule but better quality sleep over time is pretty great.
If you’re considering adding CBD products to your daily regimen to help improve sleep quality, be sure to speak with your physician first, especially if you’re already taking other medications.
Stay tuned for more informative and up-to-date articles on CBD.
Katie DeVoe is an in-demand educator, speaker, and thought leader in the hemp space. Over the last 12 years, she has started multiple, successful CBD businesses and been a guest speaker at numerous hemp and CBD conferences.