Tossing and turning at night? Struggling to fall asleep or stay asleep? With approximately two out of every 10 Americans suffering from a sleep disorder, you are not alone. And according to a NSF Sleep in America poll, women are more likely than men to have difficulty falling and staying asleep.
Biologically, things like our hormone levels during our menstrual cycles, pregnancy or menopause can affect how well we sleep. Add to that the daily pressures of our working lives, having to take care of your family and aging parents, having to take care of our relationships with our partners and friends with everything else on top of that, for many of us the only way to get everything done is by compromising on sleep. And when we keep on doing that for a while, it very often leads to chronic insomnia.
Sleep is an important basic human need – in fact it is just as important to good health and wellbeing as breathing, hydration, eating and moving is. When we sleep our bodies have the time to rest while our brains are active, sorting through the events of that day, forming new pathways, processing information and laying the groundwork for the next day.
WHAT ARE SLEEP DISORDERS?
When most people think of sleep disorders, they think of insomnia. However, insomnia is only one type of sleeping disorder. Sleep disorders run the gamut and also include things like sleep apnea (when a person’s breathing is interrupted during sleep), circadian rhythm disorders and parasomnias like rapid eye movement (REM) behavior disorder or other types of behaviors that occur while you are asleep.
Of all the types of sleep disorders, insomnia is probably the most prevalent with up to 30% of Americans reporting that they have suffered from bouts of insomnia. And according to the Mayo Clinic, the most common causes of insomnia is stress and anxiety. When we are worrying about things like work, health, finances, and family, feelings of stress and anxiety it is only natural that we find it difficult to fall asleep. But over a long period of time, this can develop into chronic insomnia which comes with a different set of issues.
What Causes Sleep Disorders in Women?
- Changes in hormone levels which influence sleep either directly but changing sleeping patterns, or indirectly by affecting mood and emotional state
- Trying to cope with the roles of wife, mother, caregiver and worker
- Lifestyle factors such as working in rotation, night shifts or erratic schedules
- Inactivity and a lack of exercise
- Depression and anxiety
- Sleep-disordered breathing like sleep apnea which is often caused by lower estrogen levels
- Being overweight or obese
The Long-Term Effects Of Insomnia & Sleep Deprivation On The Body
Prolonged sleep deprivation can affect the quality of our lives as well as our health and lead to a whole range of physiological, psychological and cognitive issues. These can include:
- Lowered cognitive performance
- Forgetfulness and other memory issues
- Slowed reaction times which can lead to accidents
- Depression and anxiety
- Cardiovascular and heart disease
- High blood pressure and stroke
- Insulin resistance, weight gain and even Type II diabetes
HOW CBD CAN HELP SLEEP
CBD for Sleep: It Balances the Endocannabinoid System
By now there are numerous studies showing that CBD has a balancing effect on the endocannabinoid system (ECS), helping it to maintain a sense of balance in the body.
But where CBD is particularly helpful when it comes to the ECS is that it also prevents the breakdown of anandamide. Anandamide is referred to as the “bliss molecule” and strongly associated with areas of the brain which are important to mood, memory, motivation and higher thought processes.
When our bodies are in a state of balance with an abundance of anandamide which make us feel better, it also helps us respond better to stressful situations in turn allowing us to sleep better.
CBD for Sleep: Reduces Anxiety
CBD also has the special ability to reduce anxiety, helping us get a better night’s sleep. In addition to balancing our bodies via the ECS and regulating the levels of anandamide in our bodies, CBD also has powerful anxiolytic effects by acting on and affecting various other physiological systems within our brains and bodies.
Several studies now show that CBD’s powerful anti-anxiety effects are due to three main reasons:
- Firstly, CBD prevents the overstimulation of your CB1 receptors which cause the decrease in anandamide in the first place;
- Secondly, CBD binds to the 5-HT1A serotonin receptor which is thought to play the biggest role in anxiety disorders;
- And lastly, CBD encourages neural regeneration, particularly in the brain area called the hippocampus which is responsible for mood regulation and reducing anxiety.
CBD for Sleep: Promotes REM Sleep
A lack of sleep not only leaves us feeling tired and irritable during the day, but it also creates a downward spiral where the less we sleep, the worse we feel, the less we sleep. And the reason for this is due to something called rapid eye movement sleep or REM sleep for short.
During REM sleep your brain is most active, making new connections and processing information. It is because of this neural connection-making and information processing that our dreams are most vivid and intense during this sleep-stage and why sleep researchers believe that a lack of REM sleep can lead to negative self-judgements, anxiety and depression.
Luckily, a recent study investigating CBD for sleep found that CBD promotes REM sleep, helping to reduce many of the negative psychological effects of sleep deprivation while having therapeutic potential for the treatment of insomnia.
HOW TO USE CBD FOR SLEEP
Paradoxically, a lot of women take CBD to help them feel less tired, more alert and more focussed. So why then can we also use CBD to make us fall asleep?
The trick seems to be in how much CBD we take, with anecdotal evidence and common CBD-lore stating that lower doses of CBD causes a stimulating and alerting effect, while higher amounts of CBD has a calming and sedative effect. For instance, an early study on the effects of CBD on sleep showed that for people are “normal” and do not suffer from sleeping disorders, very high doses of around the 600 mg mark is needed for them to feel a sedative effect.
But this is not the full story. The same study also found that people with insomnia only needed doses of a 150 mg to 160 mg of CBD to help increase sleep duration and reduce sleep disruption, which is why we recommend “starting low and going slow”.
If you are considering using CBD as a natural treatment option for helping you fall asleep, a good rule of thumb is to start off with a dose of 40 mg, gradually working your way up to a dosage where you find relief with an effective dose being anywhere between 150 mg to 600 mg.
Similarly, look for a high-quality CBD product which has been third-party tested for purity and strength to ensure that you are getting an effective and safe product.
DISCLAIMER: These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. Consult with a physician if you have a serious medical condition or use prescription medications. A doctor’s advice should always be sought before before embarking on any new treatment.