You've taken a hot bath, had a cup of chamomile tea, sprinkled your pillow with lavender oil, and even traded scrolling Instagram for reading a book before bed, all in hopes of getting a solid night's sleep. But it's 3 a.m. You're wide awake. Again.
You might have trouble sleeping due to chronic pain and the inability to get comfortable regardless of what crazy contortions you try. Or it could be anxiety, a seemingly endless reel of worry, self-doubt, and memories of cringe-inducing slipups on replay in your brain. Maybe depression has reared its ugly head too, making the weight of exhaustion an even more unbearable burden on your body and mind.
Often, after a long day, the best healer is a restful night's sleep. "Everything will be better in the morning," we might tell ourselves. But when you can't sleep, things are rarely better in the morning.
In fact, symptoms of exhaustion can be similar to those of being drunk. But not in a fun way! Irritability, mood swings, impaired thinking and difficulty concentrating, sluggishness, and increased susceptibility to illness are common symptoms. Plus, if you already have anxiety, depression, chronic pain, or another health condition, exhaustion can exacerbate symptoms, because that's exactly what you need when you already always feel like a cranky zombie with a cold.
There is good news, though. Insomnia, defined by the Sleep Foundation as the brain's inability to stop being awake, is treatable. Essentially, treatment requires re-establishing balance in the brain's wake/sleep cycle. The imbalance that leads to insomnia can be caused by physical or psychological factors, both of which cannabidiol (CBD) may help with.
Common Symptoms of Sleep Disorders
- Chronic fatigue
- Difficulty falling asleep/taking more than 30 minutes to fall asleep
- Falling asleep at inappropriate times
- Feeling uncomfortable while trying to fall asleep
- Unusual breathing patterns
- Feeling irritable or tired even after seven hours of sleep
- Waking up several times during the night and remaining awake
- Difficulty concentrating
- Taking frequent naps
- Loud snoring, breathing, or gasping noises while asleep
What Causes Sleep Disorders?
Sleep disorders can be caused by medical factors or lifestyle. These are the most common medical conditions that cause difficulty sleeping:
- Nasal/sinus allergies or infection
- Gastrointestinal issues, such as acid reflux
- Parkinson's disease
- High blood pressure
- Chronic pain, including back pain and arthritis
- Clinical depression
- Endocrine problems, such as hyperthyroidism
Having trouble sleeping once in a while (like before a big event or after you've had one too many iced coffees) might be nothing to worry about. But if you're regularly having trouble falling asleep or experiencing any of the above symptoms, your first step should be to consult with your doctor. While it's important to find a way to get a better night's sleep, it's also essential to address the problem's underlying cause.
In some cases, the solution to better sleep is adjusting your lifestyle. For instance, you might want to cut back on caffeine or sugar, institute a no-screen policy after 10 p.m., get more exercise, set and stick to a regular sleep/wake schedule, or all of the above.
How CBD Can Help You Sleep Better
Pharmaceutical medications are available to treat anxiety, pain, and insomnia. But there is a huge caveat. Most drugs have adverse side effects, some of which can exacerbate existing issues, including fatigue and difficulty sleeping. Pain and sleep medications, for instance, often cause fatigue, which, especially if you're already not sleeping well, is not ideal. These drugs also tend to carry a risk of dependency and addiction. Again, not ideal.
Anti-anxiety drugs have their drawbacks too. Side effects can include agitation or restlessness, dizziness, nausea, weight gain, headaches, dry mouth, excessive sweating, and difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep. Some anti-anxiety medications even exacerbate depression (which often occurs comorbidly with anxiety) and may increase thoughts of suicide or self-harm.
In part because of these sometimes serious, even dangerous, side effects, many people do not seek help for their conditions. Some people resort to self-medicating with over-the-counter drugs or other means, such as alcohol, which can have adverse health effects.
Fortunately, an increasing number of people are giving holistic, natural remedies like CBD a try. The Brightfield Group surveyed 5,000 people and found about 60 percent of people who use CBD have taken it for anxiety, while many more use it for pain and arthritis.
Safe, effective, and with few or no side effects, CBD can be a constructive alternative to pharmacological treatments. Many people use it in conjunction with other natural supplements used to combat anxiety, pain, and sleeplessness, such as l-theanine, melatonin, and willow bark, and practices such as yoga, meditation, massage, acupuncture, and therapy. But CBD can be helpful on its own too.
CBD interacts with the body's endocannabinoid system (ECS), an intricate network of endocannabinoids (neurotransmitters) and receptors. The ECS controls an array of functions and processes and is responsible for maintaining balance, or homeostasis, in the body and mind.
CBD mimics the cannabinoids in the body and interacts with cannabinoid receptors (CB2 specifically) to improve the ECS' effectiveness. The result is a reduction in sleeplessness, pain, inflammation, stress, and anxiety.
A growing body of evidence confirms what many CBD users already know. One example is a study published in The Permanente Journal. Researchers examined 72 adults with anxiety and insomnia and found 79% slept better after taking 25 mg of CBD daily.
With virtually no risk and potentially significant benefits, why not give CBD a try? You can find it in a broad range of forms, including CBD oil, tinctures, gummies, and capsules. There are also cosmetic products, including topical balms, you can apply directly to the skin to ease inflammation and pain. If you're not sure how to get started, check out our dosing guide here.