Sometimes life feels like a numbers game. After we’ve taken 10,000 steps, drunk two litres of water, and eaten five portions of fruit and vegetables in the day, we are each expected to sleep a whole eight hours in the night. It’s a lot to fit in!
But as the modern world knows, the ability to completely switch off from the day, stop those stressful thoughts swimming in the mind, and enter a blissful state of non-consciousness is a lot easier said than done. Lack of sleep can lead to a whole host of problems including weight gain, respiratory issues, and mood disorders.
It’s no surprise that sleep deprivation and anxiety go hand-in-hand, since lack of sleep negatively affects how we function mentally, and unwanted thoughts that are present throughout the day can keep us up to the early hours. CBD’s ability to naturally relieve feelings of anxiety is why it is commonly relied upon as an effective sleep aid, since a calmer mind leads to an easier drop off. The wonderful thing about CBD, is that it utilises the resources that are already stored in our bodies to help with this process. It’s simply there to give us that extra push.
As we know, CBD plays a vital role in keeping our ECS (endocannabinoid system) operating at a healthy and efficient level. When we take CBD, it triggers the 5HT1A receptor, which is responsible for the release and uptake of the neurotransmitter serotonin. Serotonin is an important mood regulator, since it is an inhibitory neurotransmitter i.e. it filters mood-defining messages to the brain. So, if we are experiencing excitatory messages that are causing us to feel anxious and not able to sleep, serotonin can step in at that point and ensure only the positive and reasonable ones get through.
By taking CBD before bed, it makes our bodies more sensitive to serotonin, which is important since serotonin is a pre-cursor to melatonin a.k.a. the body’s ‘darkness’ hormone. While this sounds unnerving, the reference comes from the fact that melatonin is produced when the body is in a dark environment, which makes it a key hormone for regulating circadian rhythms. When melatonin is released in the brain, it signals to the rest of your body that it is bedtime, thus closing the window between the moment you decide to sleep and the moment your body responds.
So, rather than acting as an instant sleep medication, CBD allows the mind to put anxious thoughts to bed, and utilise the bodily resources relied upon for falling asleep. It keeps things ticking as they should be, when they should be – which settles the confusion around the idea that CBD can be both energising and relaxing.
The effects of CBD also come down to dosage, which of course differs for each and every user. However, evidence suggests that higher strains of CBD are the most effective for sleep. A study published in the Journal of Clinical Pharmacology in 1981 measured the effectiveness of 40, 60 and 160 milligrams of CBD against a placebo and the sleeping pill Nitrazepam. The 160-miligram dose strongly improved sleep in those participants suffering with insomnia, with fewer sleep disruptions reported. People on higher strains also had less dream recall which implies that CBD increases non-REM sleep, aka ‘deep’ sleep, and the stage at which we are most rested.
Another reason why high-strain, full-bodied CBD products can be more effective for sleep are terpenes. It is suggested that the musky-scented myrcene (the most abundant terpene in cannabidiol) is a naturally sedating element, which could produce a more relaxing and drowsier entourage effect when taken with CBD oil.
We all know sleep is important, but it doesn’t need to be a part of life’s pressures. CBD is a natural element that prompts the body to recognise it is time for bed, relieves distracting elements of pain, and helps us to enter the sleep state that is the most effective for physical and mental wellbeing. It might just be worth a try if you’re struggling to catch all 40 winks.