The cannabis plant is filled with hundreds of different compounds, several of which have been studied for decades for their therapeutic benefits. The cannabis compounds that have captured the most scientific interest are collectively known as cannabinoids. Cannabinoids are now used in treatment for a variety of conditions and symptoms. Sleep deprivation is a problem that affects 80% of people on both sides of the gender spectrum and CBD is making massive headway in creating alternative medications that have an adverse effect on psychological states outside sleep patterns and daily behaviour.
This article will delve deeper into the therapeutic qualities and benefits of CBD as it relates to sleep—which brands are the best, preferred types, dosages, and so on. By the end, you will be able to determine whether CBD as a treatment for sleep is right for you. But first, let’s get to the basics of this new scientific product.
What is CBD?
Cannabidiol, or CBD, is one of the many chemical compounds found within the cannabis plant. It is not to be confused with the plant’s most recognized cannabinoid, Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), which produces that familiar, intoxicating high. Unlike THC, CBD offers no psychoactive effect—it is more commonly known for its calming, therapeutic properties. In fact, CBD is often used in combination with THC to counteract THC’s mind-altering sensation. When used therapeutically, CBD promotes ease in its user, rather than amplifying their senses. The most common uses for CBD involve the treatment of pain, anxiety, and insomnia. However, the precise amount of CBD required for each of these ailments is not exactly measurable, hence the therapeutic association.
The science behind CBD: How does it work?
Scientists discovered the first cannabinoid in the mid-1960s, and have since gone on to identify more than 80 individual cannabinoids, researching each for their potential symptom-relieving and disease-fighting abilities. Though generally considered unfavourable by the medical establishment, CBD continues to show promise during independent scientific studies. For example, over the years, CBD has demonstrated great success in its ability to reduce anxiety, which can be helpful in reducing sleep difficulties and improving sleep quality. CBD may also increase overall sleep periods and improve insomnia—it has even been shown to reduce insomnia in people suffering from chronic pain. In smaller doses, CBD promotes alertness, restricts daytime sluggishness, and bolsters general performance during the wake cycle.
In addition to those who are sleep deprived, there have even been studies conducted on CBD’s effect on bodies during sleep. CBD may help to improve REM (rapid-eye-movement) sleep abnormalities in people with PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder), as well as those suffering from REM behavior disorder—a serious medical condition where people act out physically during dreaming, leading to disruptive sleep and potential injury.
Scientists have made a lot of progress in understanding how CBD produces its calming, pain-reducing, anti-inflammatory effects in the body—and there is still much more to learn. What has been established is CBD’s interaction with many different receptors, proteins, and other chemicals in the human brain. Such interactions create changes in the activity of hormones and neurotransmitters throughout the brain and body. It is through these interactions that CBD seems to be able to affect many of the body’s functions, from inflammation, pain reception, and seizures, to sleep-wake cycles.
If you, or someone you know, are interested in incorporating CBD into your daily routine to help with sleep issues, it is best to know what type of CBD product is right for you. CBD is produced in pill form, as well as in sprays, tinctures, and inhalers. But let’s go a little deeper…
How are CBD products made?
In order to produce CBD by-products, harvesters and producers begin by selecting a hemp or cannabis plant source with naturally potent levels of CBD. This ensures both a greater yield and better quality product. Once the plant is cultivated, the oil can then be extracted in a number of ways—the most common of which is whole plant alcohol extraction.
In order to extract oil from the leaves, producers soak the whole plant in a solvent, like grain alcohol. After this period of fermentation, the resulting liquid becomes rich with CBD and other cannabinoids. Once the solvent is then put through another stage, evaporation, the substance that remains is CBD oil. This can either be consumed in its current state, added to food (edibles or supplements) or used as a topical agent or analgesic. It can even be applied to the cannabis plant in its whole form, rolled in paper, and then smoked.
Another method of extracting CBD is via CO2. This process is much more complicated and should be handled only by skilled professionals, however, it does tend to yield the greatest quality product. CO2 extraction is fairly self-explanatory: using a series of chambers, CO2 is forced through the cannabis plant in order to extract the oil. As the cannabinoids begin to separate, the chambers (which control temperature and pressurization levels) collect the individual solutions, allowing the extractor to choose which cannabinoids to add to their products (edibles, topicals, etc.)
CBD isolates are 100% pure CBD—and contain no other cannabinoids. This is the purest form of CBD extraction available and its effectiveness as a sleep aid depends almost entirely on the quality of the harvested plant from which it originates. Those looking for CBD products guaranteed free of other cannabinoids, like THC, would be advised to stick with CBD isolates.
In addition to extraction methods, CBD is also produced synthetically. Both extracted CBD and synthetic CBD can be found in supplements and medications specifically developed to take advantage of this compound’s therapeutic abilities.
With any of the above methods, the resulting oil extracts are considered raw. While CBD oils generally have little to no taste, some raw extracts may not be palatable to new users—especially if you are planning to ingest as a tincture (drops placed under the tongue just before bedtime).
If you intend to incorporate CBD extracts into your daily sleep routine, you will want a type that has both a mid to high potency level and a pleasing taste and / or aroma. Oils are often mixed with flavourings, incorporated into digestible capsules or infused with scents and mixed into topical creams. Choose the right extract for you.
The Best CBD brands for sleep
There are many types of CBD products on the market, and choosing the right one for your individual sleep needs can be overwhelming. According to The Sleep Help Institute, there are a number of preferred brands of CBD oils that offer assistance with sleep.
NuLeaf Naturals, a Colorado-based company, offers organic CBD oil that is certified by laboratory testing to contain only CBD—no additives or preservatives. As a brand, NuLeaf specializes in full-spectrum CBD oil, meaning that their extracts of whole Cannabis flowers contain terpenes, CBD, and other cannabinoids like CBG and CBDA. Many customers prefer the effects of full-spectrum oil over those which isolate only CBD.
Plus CBD’s line of products includes Raw Drops and the Gold Formula CBD Oil—both of which are made using non-GMO agricultural help grown in Europe, and free from pesticides, herbicides, or fertilizers. The Raw Drops are a full-plant extract containing high amounts of terpenes and cannabinoids. The Gold Formula is placed through an added step, further refining the plant material from the Total Plant Complex. The final product contains only CBD, minor cannabinoids, and plant-based fatty acids.
This brand offers a broad-spectrum oil—essentially, a hybrid of full-spectrum oil and pure CBD isolate. cbdMD ensures great control over their product lines, ensuring that absolutely no residual THC enters the final product. This oil is derived from non-GMO, organic hemp plants—free of herbicides and pesticides—grown in Kentucky.
Always consult your doctor before you begin taking a supplement or make any changes to your existing medication and supplement routine.
Can you take too much CBD?
CBD has a pretty favorable safety profile and is generally well tolerated by healthy adults, especially when compared to its THC counterpart (smoking medical marijuana, like any inhalant, is harmful to your lungs and upper respiratory system). The main concern when taking CBD is the possibility of it adversely reacting to other drugs.
Using CBD Generally, users should begin with the smallest suggested CBD dose, and gradually increase until it has achieved the desired effect. Doses can range anywhere from 10mg to 500mg.
Side effects of CBD
Possible side effects of singular CBD use (when not combined with other medications or supplements) include dry mouth, lightheadedness, sluggishness in movement and / or thought (psychomotor slowing), and low blood pressure. Those with the following conditions should definitely consult with their physician before using CBD:
• Pregnancy and / or breastfeeding. As a rule, it is generally suggested that women who are pregnant or breastfeeding not use CBD.
• Parkinson’s disease. Heavy doses of CBD have been shown to worsen muscle tremors or other muscle movements in people living with Parkinson’s disease. Always exercise caution when dose-ing—even with your doctor’s approval.
CBD: Potential interactions with medication
Like any ingestible substance, CBD interacts with liver enzymes which may enhance or hamper the levels of other drugs in your system. Antidepressants and benzodiazepines, common treatments for anxiety, should be avoided when taking CBD. Side effects of these interactions can include: increasing or decreasing sleepiness and drowsiness, interfering with medication’s effectiveness, and interfering with the condition that is being treated by the medication.
Positive interactions with other supplements
CBD generally helps with the bioavailability of herbs and other vitamins. There is also the potential for adverse reactions when CBD is used in combination with other herbs or supplements, especially those which promote calming or sleepiness. These can include, but are not limited to:
• L-tryptophan and 5-HTP
• St. John’s Wort
CBD and minors
Due to its association with marijuana, CBD remains controversial, even in Canada where recreational marijuana use has been legal since 2018. Parents who give CBD to their children for therapeutic purposes face greater controversy due to the stigma associated with pot.
The Canadian Pediatric Society has released a statement on the therapeutic treatment of children with cannabis, insisting that “there is little evidence supporting the use of medical cannabis in children and most front-line doctors should not be prescribing the drug to young people.” That being said, there are parents who insist that CBD oils and tinctures are a godsend, helping to alleviate overactivity, epilepsy, and anxiety in their kids. When using CBD as directed on products purchased from a licensed cannabis retailer, there is no evidence to suggest that it is harmful to children. However, with any consumable therapeutic supplement, talk to your child’s physician.
There you have it! A comprehensive look at the history, science, and benefits of CBD oil’s effect on sleep. Hopefully, with this information, you are now able to make an informed decision about whether this health alternative product can help you get a better night’s sleep. For more information on all things CBD, be sure to check out this blog section as we attempt to explore and cover everything CBD related!