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Today’s fast-paced society and jam-packed schedules often little room for longer bouts of deep, restful sleep. Those struggling with insomnia or otherwise insufficient or irregular sleep patterns often turn to a variety of sleep aids for relief, from prescription drugs to over-the-counter supplements.
As cannabis and CBD oil products continue to flood the market, users and health care providers frequently cite improved sleep among these products’ most notable and common benefits. This anecdotal evidence along with a growing body of clinical research studies seems to confirm that CBD oil products may help many people who struggle to fall asleep, stay asleep, or achieve REM sleep.
The questions of exactly why and how CBD impacts or regulates a person’s ability to sleep or sleep routine remains up for debate.
What research has confirmed is that CBD, or cannabidiol, is one of the hundreds of cannabinoids, a type of compound found in the hemp or cannabis plant. Studies show that cannabinoids attach to two primary receptors of the endocannabinoid system of the body, known as CB1 and CB2.
The endocannabinoid system, which includes a network of these and other receptors throughout the brain and central nervous system, plays a role in maintaining various functions of the body. These include mood and appetite, in addition to sleep and regulating the body’s circadian rhythms. CBD, in particular, may also interact with receptors that specifically influence the body’s natural sleep/wake cycle.
Besides sleep/wake cycle regulation, CBD may also mitigate or provide relief from other factors that can disrupt an individual’s sleeping habits. Anxiety and racing thoughts, as well as acute and chronic pain commonly, prevent many people from enjoying healthy sleep.
Anxiety and pain are two of the most common symptoms from which CBD oil consumers are seeking relief. A 2019 study examined the effects of CBD on anxiety and sleep. Within the first month, 79.2% of participants had decreased anxiety scores, which remained steady for the duration of the study. Additionally, 66.7% of patients had improved sleep scores, but those scores did fluctuate over time.
Further, by enabling better, more restful sleep patterns, CBD may facilitate other types of healing in the body beyond the effects of the cannabinoid itself. Sleep is vital for countless processes within the brain and body. If an individual uses CBD oil products and is able to sleep longer and more restfully, they may also enjoy relief from other mental and physical ailments that were caused or exacerbated by their previous poor sleep patterns.
However, because of the relative uncertainty around CBD’s benefits, research, and regulations, widespread adoption of CBD as a common sleep treatment has not yet taken hold. According to a Consumer Reports survey, about 10% of Americans who had tried CBD did so to help them sleep. But of those who did specifically seek improved sleep, Consumer Reports said a majority confirmed that taking CBD had helped.
More research over time may confirm or adjust expectations that CBD oil buyers have for the potential sleep benefits these products can offer. But as the amount of anecdotal and clinical evidence supporting these claims continues to build, CBD-based sleep aids may become increasingly common on store shelves.