CBD Oil and Insomnia
We often think of sleep as something that we can simply manipulate into our schedules. How many times have you cut your snooze short by two or even a handful of hours to meet a deadline, binge your favourite Netflix show or have one more dance?
Evolution took 3 million years to refine humans’ essential need for 7-9 hours of sleep per night, the consequences of ignoring this evolutionary handiwork can cause severe deficits to our day-to-day lives, not to mention our overall health.
Although many of us make a choice to slash our sleeping hours for work or fun, for others, there is no choice in the matter.
There are various prescription or over-the-counter sleep aids available, but increasingly people are considering the CBD oil benefits seeking out plant-based alternatives like CBD oil to support their sleep.
Chronic insomnia in Australia
The Australian Sleep Foundations 2019 report reveals that nearly 15% of Aussies suffer chronic insomnia as defined by international standards.
Shockingly close to 60% of our population experience at least one symptom of sleep disturbance with a high frequency (more than three times per week). These sleep symptoms included:
- Having trouble falling asleep, also called sleep onset latency.
- Sleep maintenance disruptions, where people frequently wake in the night or have difficulty falling back asleep after waking
- Waking too early in the morning, without need or desire
Men were more likely than women to experience insomnia, and despite how common sleep troubles are, less than 30% of people report having discussed insomnia or sleep changes with their doctor.
These sleep trends will have changed over the past two years as we have lived with Covid-19 but it doesn’t take a sleep scientist to say the direction won’t be dreamy.
The importance of sleep
Did you know that lack of sleep decreases your ability to recognise positive facial expressions and social cues?
Research also tells us that chronic insomnia and even short-term sleep loss changes connectivity in areas of the brain that regulate emotions and cognitive functions, where poor sleep reduces your attention span, working memory and heightens the stress response.
At a more fundamental level, adequate and restful sleep is integral to the function of the immune system, heart health; not to mention its influence on the risk of developing cancer, diabetes and cardiovascular diseases.
If you needed more convincing about the importance of sleep, Australian research has shown after being awake for 17 hours, your driving is as impaired or worse than someone with a blood-alcohol level of .05%, and driving ability continues to worsen the longer you’re awake.
How CBD oil can help sleep
Cannabis has a long history of use as a sedative and sleep aid. While research into its medicinal actions for sleep has primarily surrounded THC, a growing body of research supports CBD for insomnia.
Unlike some pharmaceutical medications, CBD oil doesn’t force your body to sleep, instead it elicits sensations of calm and relaxation whilst supporting your body’s natural mechanisms that promote restful sleep via the endocannabinoid system.
The endocannabinoid system (ECS) plays a crucial role in the regulation of sleep. We have yet to discover the full extent of CBDs effect on the ECS and sleep but preliminary research suggests that CBD can regulate key processes that are out of balance for people with insomnia.
Can CBD oil treat insomnia?
CBD also influences key neurotransmitters and chemical signals involved in sleep and rest. Adensosine is a molecule that tracks how long you’ve been awake for; it continuously builds throughout the day and exerts “sleep pressure” – a biological push towards sleeping.
Via the ECS, CBD can affect the adenosine pathways to promote sleep. It’s influence over other neurotransmitters such as GABA and serotonin may reduce anxiety or an overactive stress response that impedes restful sleep.
Studies support CBD oil for insomnia
From research and the clinical practice of medical cannabis doctors, it is estimated that 60% or more find benefits from CBD for insomnia. However some people might not find any improvements in sleep or alternatively feel a sense of alertness.
One earlier investigation into CBD for insomnia showed that with doses of 40, 80 or 160mg CBD improved sleep duration or reduced the time it took to fall asleep when compared to a placebo.
When assessing sleep disturbances secondary to other conditions such as chronic pain, PTSD, Autism or anxiety – CBD oil consistently offers improvements in sleep. Although results for CBD oil improving sleep are promising, further large scale, rigorous clinical trials are needed to confirm the benefits of CBD for insomnia.
Australian studies into CBD oil for sleep
It is still early days for research into CBD and sleep; with very few studies assessing CBD alone for sleep (many including some amount of THC). Now that low-dose CBD oil is legally available in Australia, several trials are underway or about to begin evaluating the effects of CBD on sleep.
These local trials will give us more specific details on the benefits of low-dose CBD oil for insomnia, watch this space!
CBD oil dosing for insomnia
CBD oil affects individuals in a dose-dependent manner, which can be highly dependent on the tone of the endocannabinoid system and numerous other factors.
Very low doses of CBD (15mg) may have an alerting effect, while moderately high doses 25-150mg may support sleep processes. Furthermore, given CBD regulates innate processes in the body related to sleep it can take up to 2 weeks to see positive effects.
Regardless of what condition CBD is being taken for, the advice for dosing is always start low and go slow. There is no typical dose for CBD oil, so the goal of starting low is to build the dose of CBD slowly until the sweet spot is found where optimal therapeutic action is found.
Accessing legal CBD in Australia
Accessing legal CBD oil through CA Connect’s virtual consultation processes is fast and simple. Our treatment plans provide low-dose CBD oil for people with insomnia or sleep disturbances who haven’t had success improving their sleep through other avenues.
Ongoing follow-up appointments and care from CA Connect pharmacists and healthcare team are included in our Connect Care journey, supporting you to get the best guidance and therapeutic benefit with CBD oil.