CBD is everywhere, so it’s no surprise that it has been advertised as a solution for just about any ailment. From back pain to epillepsy, CBD has been shown to have some life-changing effects. Now, more and more people are curious about using CBD for sleep issues. But is CBD really the cure-all it appears to be?
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CBD (aka the cannabidiol compound in marijuana and hemp plants that does not have psychogenic effects) is thought by many to have similar healing, relaxing, and pain-relieving qualities as medical marijuana, without the intoxicating effects of THC. However, the truth is that available research on CBD and sleep is very mixed. Some studies have found that it helped participants fall asleep and stay asleep throughout the night, while other studies showed very different results.
In a January 2019 study of 72 adults, published in The Permanente Journal, researchers found that the majority of patients showed a reduction in anxiety (79.2%) and improved sleep (66.7%) after only a month of taking CBD (although this second number fluctuated over time), and only three of the 72 participants were unable to tolerate the side effects. While it’s a relatively small study, the results certainly seem promising.
Some small case studies have looked at the reaction to CBD of patients with specific conditions, such as Parkinson’s disease. One 2014 case series published in the Journal of Clinical Pharmacy and Therapeutics , examined this particular population and found that CBD helped control symptoms of something called rapid eye movement sleep behavior disorder (RBD), a condition that can cause nightmares and disrupted sleep in patients with Parkinson’s disease. While the series only included four individuals, all four experienced a rapid and significant decrease in their RBD symptoms, and the results indicate that CBD may have a very real effect for similarly affected patients.
A larger study of 409 people, published in the journal Medicines, studied the effects of administering raw, natural cannabis flower to patients with insomnia and specifically investigated what compounds in the flower were most effective at inducing sleep. The study’s participants completed over 1,000 different sessions, during which they recorded the effects they felt following consumption, including perceived effectiveness at treating their insomnia as well as the cannabinoid contents of the various products consumed, method of consumption, and side effects.
The researchers concluded that CBD had a greater effect on the participants’ sleep than THC, and that the patients who consumed cannabis flower with higher CBD content showed greater improvement in their perceived insomnia symptoms. Side effects differed based on the compound used. Those conducting the study concluded that CBD reduced insomnia symptoms, but since patients were given raw cannabis flower – not isolated CBD – it’s impossible to know whether cannabidiol (CBD) was solely responsible for the changes they felt, or if other chemicals in the cannabis also had an effect.
In a nutshell, there is some favorable research that suggests CBD may be a successful insomnia treatment for some, but there’s no definitive answer to the question of whether or not CBD will help you sleep. With these conflicting results – and only a relatively small number of studies conducted on the subject of CBD and insomnia – more research needs to be done to provide both the medical community and consumers with definitive answers about its effectiveness.
Are There CBD Side-Effects?
Like any drug or chemical — whether naturally derived or made in a lab — CBD does have the potential to induce side effects in some people. Though it’s well tolerated by many, according to the Mayo Clinic, some people experience symptoms like dry mouth, diarrhea, fatigue, drowsiness, and even reduced appetite after use. Every individual reacts to CBD a little bit differently, so while some people may be very sensitive to it, experiencing a negative reaction or needing only a small amount to feel its effects, others won’t feel anything at all unless they take a much higher dose. As with any drug or supplement, it is best to consult your doctor before starting a CBD regimen to treat disrupted sleep and insomnia.