Hemp Oil For Sleep and Insomnia: CBD, CBN and More
Hemp oil, or more specifically, full spectrum hemp oil which is rich in CBD, CBN, and other phenolic compounds with sedative properties may be a promising natural sleep remedy.
Sleepiness is estimated to cost the United States $411 billion dollars annually, a whopping 2.28% of our GDP. According to the National Institutes of Health, over one-third of American adults report daytime sleepiness that interferes with work, social functioning and driving at least a few days out of every month.
Studies have established a clear link between hemp oil phenolics (e.g. cannabinoids, terpenes, flavonoids and others) and sleep, supporting hemps role as a natural sleep aid with few to no side effects.
Cannabinoids such as CBD, CBN, and THC are a unique type of phenolic compound produced by hemp flowers or buds. They are unique because they can interact with our body’s endocannabinoid system, which plays an important role in sleep and relaxation.
Cannabidiol, or CBD, the main cannabinoid found in hemp oil has been found to lead to sedation or sleepiness in higher doses and wakefulness in lower doses. In contrast, cannabinol (CBN) has the opposite effect: triggering sedation in low doses and wakefulness in higher doses.
Unlike the high producing tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), CBD and CBN do not make you high. They also have not been reported to lead to major negative psychological side effects such as anxiety, paranoia, and memory impairment, making their therapeutic benefits useful in everyday situations.
While the majority of cannabis research has focused on the cannabinoids CBD and THC, recent findings suggests that the cannabinoid CBN may be an even more potent sedative than other cannabinoids found in hemp.
Because the amount of CBN, even in full spectrum hemp oil, is limited, we created a CBD + CBN Sleep Blend that features added CBN along with organic and wildcrafted botanicals used in traditional sleep remedies.
In addition to cannabinoids, full spectrum hemp oil is also rich in other phenolic compounds which studies have shown to possess calming and sedative qualities that may help the body to ease into more restful sleep.
These phenolic compounds are what makes full spectrum hemp oil so special. Whereas isolated cannabinoids may have limited effects when administered alone, when they are administered with the other phenolics in full spectrum oil, they act synergistically to enhance each other’s desired effects.
Hemp Oil and Sleep Research
Cannabinoids have long been shown to affect the sleep-wake cycle. Preliminary research and anecdotal evidence strongly suggest the therapeutic potential of full spectrum hemp oil in helping alleviate insomnia and promoting more restful sleep.
Despite studies examining the effects of cannabinoid administration on sleep dating back to the 1970s, few clinical trials exist. Thus, hemp oil’s mechanisms of action and dose-response remain somewhat ambiguous.
Research into the effects of cannabinoids (mainly THC) on the sleep cycle began in the 1970s and a link was established early on. It wasn’t until more recently, however, that researchers became aware of the many varying effects triggered by the more than 100 different cannabinoids in the cannabis plant. This awareness was a critical turning point in the discovery of CBD’s sedative and non-psychoactive effects making it a prime target for sleep therapy research.
CBD, THC and other cannabinoids like CBN interact with our body’s endocannabinoid system. Every human, dog, cat, mammal, amphibian, and even the ancient sea squirt possesses an internal cannabinoid system.
Implicated in a wide variety of biological functions, the endocannabinoid system has been shown to play an important role in the regulation of the circadian rhythm sleep-wake cycle.
Available data supports a relationship between endocannabinoid signaling and sleep wake cycle processes (Vaugn, et al 2010) indicating that the endocannabinoid system has the capability to modulate circadian rhythms (Sanford, 2008).
When our endocannabinoid systems are activated by either internal (i.e. anandamide or 2-AG) or external cannabinoids like CBD, CBN, or THC, a number of beneficial reactions are triggered in our bodies. Sedation, anxiolytic effects, neuroprotection, neurogenesis or the formation of new brain cells, anti-inflammatory effects, pain relief, a boost in metabolism, feelings of improved well being and a positive impact on brain levels of the depression-related neurotransmitter serotonin have all been observed.
In light of these effects, it is somewhat unclear how much of the sleep improvements experienced by hemp oil users are related to these other benefits versus a direct effect on the sleep cycle.
THC and Sleep
Though the link between cannabinoids and the sleep cycle was established decades ago, it was limited by our incomplete understanding of cannabis and its constituents.
Early research from the 1970s included several sleep studies that recorded brain waves, blood oxygen level, heart rate, and breathing, as well as leg and eye movements. These studies found that cannabis had an effect on sleep, but perhaps because they mainly looked at THC rich marijuana, their findings were mixed.
For instance, one THC study showed a decrease in sleep onset latency, or the time it takes individuals to transition from full wakefulness to sleep (Cousens & DiMascio, 1973), while different studies did not replicate these findings.
Another study examining the effects of THC observed increased waking after sleep onset and a decrease in REM sleep (Pivik et al, 1972). REM, or rapid eye movement sleep, is a phase of sleep unique to birds and mammals. It is generally characterized by low muscle tone throughout the body, vivid dreaming, and random/rapid movement of the eyes.
REM is the 5th stage of sleep and happens throughout the sleep cycle. Experts believe REM sleep helps us process emotions and solidify certain memories, but researchers are unclear as to how much REM sleep is optimal and whether varying amounts can be pathological. For example, one recent study found an association between higher amounts of REM sleep and depression, but it was unclear whether one caused the other.
Other THC work from this period found a decrease in slow-wave sleep latency, an increase in slow-wave sleep, and an increase in total sleep time (Feinberg, et al. 1975 & Barratt et al, 1974). Slow-wave sleep, or SWS, refers to phase 3 of the sleep cycle. Thought to play an important role in memory consolidation, SWS sleep is the deepest phase of non-rapid eye movement (NREM) sleep. Sleepwalking and dreaming can occur during SWS.
As the research community’s understanding of cannabis and its constituents became more sophisticated and the varying effects of different cannabinoids were discovered, researchers began focusing on the types of cannabinoids (THC vs CBD vs CBN), the ratio of cannabinoids, dosage, the timing of administration, and the route of administration, all of which have been demonstrated to play a critical role in sleep outcomes.
CBD and Sleep
CBD has been found to have biphasic effects on wakefulness. In low doses, CBD acts as a stimulant (Carlini & Cunha, 1981, Nicholson et al 2004). In medium and higher doses CBD exhibits sedative properties (Nicholson et al 2004, Zuardi 2008). These sedative properties have made CBD a viable research target for sleep disorders.
In 1981, Carlini and Cunha published a CBD study on individuals with insomnia. They showed that administration of 160 mg/day of CBD resulted in increased total sleep time and decreased frequency of nighttime arousals. Although their study showed that CBD administration reduced dream recall, they did not find CBD to produce any ‘hangover’ effects.
In 2004 Nicholson and colleagues published a pilot study in humans showing that high-dose CBD was associated with sleep improvements. Further, unlike the use of THC as a sleep aid, which studies have reported to produce next-day memory impairment as well as increased sleepiness and mood changes, CBD did not appear to result in these negative side effects.
In a 2012 study examining the effect of medium and high dose CBD in rats, Hsiao and colleagues found that CBD blocked anxiety-induced REM sleep suppression and increased the percentage of total sleep time.
Similarly, in 2013, Chagas and colleagues published a study that found an increase in the total percentage of sleep in rats after the administration of mid-range and high-dose CBD injections as compared to placebo.
The following year, Chagas and colleagues published another study on four adults with REM sleep behavior disorder (RBD) and Parkinson’s disease. RBD is characterized by the loss of muscle rigidity during REM sleep accompanying nightmares and can involve individuals acting out behaviors associated with dreams. Their study found that CBD was tolerated well by all patients and efficacious in suppressing behaviors associated with RBD.
A recent and allegedly first of its kind double-blind, placebo-controlled randomized clinical study from the Center for Applied Health Sciences looked at the effects of CBD rich hemp oil extract consumption on 65 overweight, but otherwise healthy adults. Individuals who took the hemp oil extract every day over a period of six weeks experienced a 22% improvement in sleep quality and a 21% improvement in sleep quantity. They also reported experiencing a 12.5% improvement in pleasure from life.
Another study from the University of Colorado and Colorado State University recorded the effects of hemp oil use on 72 patients with anxiety and sleep-related disorders over a month-long period. After one month of hemp oil use, 67% of participants reported improved sleep, while 79% reported experiencing less anxiety.
In a 2018 study by Vigil and colleagues, 409 individuals with insomnia used a mobile app to measure which characteristics of medical Cannabis flower were associated with changes in perceived insomnia. Participants recorded real-time ratings of self-perceived insomnia severity levels prior to and following consumption over 1056 cannabis administration sessions. The study found that while cannabis as a whole improved sleep rating, CBD was associated with greater statistically significant symptom relief than THC.
How to Use Hemp Oil as a Sleep Aid
Although research is still in its infancy, studies point to the ability of medium to high doses of CBD to increase total sleep time, decrease the amount of time it takes to fall asleep, and reduce problem sleep behaviors like RBD related sleepwalking and the number of times individuals wake during the night.
If you are ready to try CBD as a sleep aid, be sure to select a high-quality hemp product and a healthy method of administration. CBD rich full-spectrum hemp oils can be vaporized, taken orally, and applied as topical treatments, which is probably not the best administration choice for alleviating insomnia.
Because there are some bioavailability caveats when it comes to edibles, we recommend holding the full spectrum hemp oil under your tongue for one or two minutes to get the most out of your product. This method helps your body absorb the highest concentration of CBD without any harmful side effects.
Check that your oil is produced from a proven cannabis source like an all-natural Colorado sunshine fueled hemp-farm run by farmers who care about the integrity of their product. Make sure the company you source from has not watered down the product with fillers. Avoid anything with corn syrup, propylene glycol, GMOs, pesticides, trans fats, or artificial additives.
Look for products that are cold processed and lab tested. Lab testing can help assure consistency and verify that the product you’re receiving is free of bacteria, pesticides, solvent residues, mold, and other contaminants.
Carlini EA, Cunha JM. Hypnotic and antiepileptic effects of cannabidiol. J Clin Pharmacol. 1981;21(8–9 Suppl):417S–27S.
Chagas MH, Crippa JA, Zuardi AW, Hallak JE, Machado-de-Sousa JP, Hirotsu C, et al. Effects of acute systemic administration of cannabidiol on sleep-wake cycle in rats. J Psychopharmacol. 2013;27(3):312–6
Chagas MH, Eckeli AL, Zuardi AW, Pena-Pereira MA, SobreiraNeto MA, Sobreira ET, et al. Cannabidiol can improve complex sleep-related behaviours associated with rapid eye movement sleep behaviour disorder in Parkinson’s disease patients: a case series. J Clin Pharm Ther. 2014;39(5):564–6.
Cousens K, DiMascio A. (−) Delta 9 THC as an hypnotic. An experimental study of three dose levels. Psychopharmacologia. 1973;33(4):355–64.
Hsiao YT, Yi PL, Li CL, Chang FC. Effect of cannabidiol on sleep disruption induced by the repeated combination tests consisting of open field and elevated plus-maze in rats. Neuropharmacology. 2012;62(1):373–84
Nicholson, A. N., Turner, C., Stone, B. M., & Robson, P. J. (2004). Effect of Δ-9-tetrahydrocannabinol and cannabidiol on nocturnal sleep and early-morning behavior in young adults. Journal of clinical psychopharmacology, 24(3), 305-313.
Pivik RT, Zarcone V, Dement WC, Hollister LE. Delta-9- tetrahydrocannabinol and synhexl: effects on human sleep patterns. Clin Pharmacol Ther. 1972;13(3):426–35.
Sanford AE. Cannabinoids and hamster circadian activity rhythms. Brain Res. 2008;1222:141–8.
Vaughn LK, Denning G, Stuhr KL, de Wit H, Hill MN, Hillard CJ. Endocannabinoid signalling: has it got rhythm? Br J Pharmacol. 2010;160(3):530–43
Vigil, J., Stith, S., Diviant, J., Brockelman, F., Keeling, K, & Hall, B. (2018). Effectiveness of raw, natural medical Cannabis flower for treating insomnia under naturalistic conditions. Medicines, 5(3), 75.
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What is cbd oil for sleep better
In recent years, the use of marijuana and CBD for the treatment of a variety of conditions has risen significantly. Specifically, CBD has been found to have potential health benefits for symptoms like insomnia. Here’s a little background on what CBD is and how it impacts your sleep and body.
What Are Cannabinoids and CBD?
Cannabinoids are chemical compounds that bind or attach to certain receptors in the central nervous system and act as chemical messengers. Depending on the specific cannabinoid, it may have varied effects on the body.
The most well-known and probably most researched cannabinoids include cannabidiol (CBD) and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). We know that THC is the cannabinoid that leads to the “buzz or high” from cannabis use.
CBD differs from THC and does not cause psychoactive effects or a “high.” Because it does not cause the psychoactive effects and it might help certain conditions, such as pain, anxiety, and insomnia, CBD is gaining traction as a possible treatment for several diseases.
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How Do CBD and Cannabinoids Work?
Not everything is completely understood about how cannabinoids (including CBD) work. What we do know from research is that CBD and cannabinoids interact with proteins and cells in the brain. A relatively newly discovered system may also hold some answers.
The Endocannabinoid System and Sleep
Researchers discovered that the endocannabinoid system plays a role in maintaining certain body functions, such as mood, appetite, sleep, and regulating circadian rhythms. Within the endocannabinoid system is a network of cannabinoid receptors in the brain and central nervous system.The two primary receptors identified are CB1 and CB2.
Cannabinoids attach to these cells and have various effects. As far as how they may affect sleep, some research indicates that the cannabinoid CBD may interact with specific receptors, potentially affecting the sleep/wake cycle.
Additionally, CBD may also decrease anxiety and pain, which can both interfere with restful sleep. By reducing certain symptoms, it’s also possible that sleep may improve.
What Does the Research Say About CBD?
Although more studies need to be performed, some research supports the theory that CBD and cannabinoids may improve sleep. This study published in the journal, Medicines, involved 409 people with insomnia. Data was collected from June 2016 to May 2018. Participants rated their symptoms of insomnia on a scale of 1 to 10 with 10 being the most severe. Starting symptoms were rated 6.6 on average.
The participants were treated using the cannabis flower with varied combustion methods including vape, pipe, and joint. THC potency on average was 20 percent and limited to 30 percent. CBD potency was on average 5.7 percent and limited to 30 percent. After using cannabis, participants rated symptoms on average to be 2.2, which was a decrease of 4.5.
The results indicated the cannabinoids in cannabis decreased symptoms of insomnia. But the study involved using the cannabis flower, which contains several cannabinoids. It’s difficult to determine if relief from insomnia was due to CBD or another cannabinoid.
In another study published in the Permanente Journal, 72 adults with anxiety and poor sleep were involved. The participants completed anxiety and sleep assessments at the start of the study and at the first-month follow up. Study participants were given 25 mg of CBD in capsule form. Those that predominantly had sleep complaints took the dose in the evening. Participants that had anxiety as their predominant complaint took CBD in the morning.
After the first month, anxiety scores decreased in 79 percent of the people. Sleep scores improved in 66 percent of the participants, which indicated less trouble sleeping. The results suggest that CBD decreased sleep difficulties in many of the participants. But while the decrease in anxiety symptoms remained steady for the duration of the study, the sleep scores fluctuated over time.
Several smaller studies have also supported the use of CBD oil to improve sleep. For example, a case study involving a 10-year-old girl with post-traumatic stress disorder and poor sleep was treated with CBD. A trial of 25 mg of a CBD supplement was administered at bedtime. An additional 6 to 12 mg of CBD was given via a sublingual spray during the day for anxiety. Sleep quantity and quality gradually improved over five months.
Though there is plenty of supporting evidence that shows CBD and cannabinoids can improve sleep, the results are not conclusive and more research needs to be done.
Forms of CBD
CBD is extracted from the cannabis plant and known as CBD oil. But it can be a little complicated. CBD may be extracted from either the marijuana or hemp plant, which are both strains of the Cannabis sativa plant. But they are harvested differently. Hemp comes from the seeds and stalks of the plant, which contains less THC than marijuana.
Because the THC content in CBD oil may vary, depending on the state it’s sold, there may be restrictions. For example, in some states, CBD oil is sold legally if all of the THC is removed. If CBD oil still contains THC or other cannabinoids, it may only be sold in states that have legalized marijuana use.
Depending on the laws in your state, you may need a doctor’s prescription for CBD oil. But laws continue to change quickly, so in the near future, it may be different.
CBD oil can be placed under the tongue. It may also be infused in different products including the following;
- Edibles: Various types of edibles infused with CBD oil are available including gummy bears, cakes, and cookies. Edibles usually list the concentration of CBD in milligrams.
- Vaporing: CBD extract can be used in a vaporizer or vape pen. As the extract heats up, it creates a vapor that is inhaled.
- Tinctures: CBD also comes in tinctures. A few drops of the liquid can be added to drinks.
CBD oil is available in different concentrations. Since research is ongoing, the exact dose to treat sleep issues may not be fully known. It might take some trial and error to determine what works best.
Because there are so many different ways to ingest CBD, there are tons of CBD products to choose from. If you aren’t sure where to start, here are the CBD products we recommend to try if you want to improve your sleep.
Overall, there is scientific research that supports the theory that there are CBD health benefits. While more research needs to be done, the use of CBD can potentially decrease your symptoms of insomnia and help you get more quality sleep. If you struggle with sleep issues, the best first step is to consult your doctor and learn more about causes and treatments.