According to the American Sleep Association (ASA), as many as 70 million people in the United States may be suffering from a sleep disorder.

From inability to get to sleep to inability to stay asleep, the consequences of not getting enough sleep or high quality sleep can be dangerous and even deadly.

Yet many of the modern medical remedies for sleep disorders are problematic in some way. Some cause unwanted side effects while others are habit-forming. Still others simply don’t work!

Is there another option to find the rest you crave and need? In this article, we take a look at scientifically-verified ways that CBD can help you get a good night’s sleep.

1. CBD calms your central nervous system.

A 2019 study in The Permanente Journal uncovered some important information about how CBD is able to promote improved sleep: CBD works to calm the central nervous system and thus, the brain and body.

This study, which investigated CBD for use with both sleep disorders and anxiety disorders, found a positive correlation between use of CBD and cessation of symptoms of each.

Most importantly, it only took an average of four weeks for anxiety reduction and improved sleep in the great majority of research participants.

2. CBD is able to provide benefit both in falling asleep and staying asleep.

A summary paper written by Harvard Medical School Health blog stated that CBD has shown benefits for chronic insomnia on two levels: in falling asleep and in staying asleep.

The Harvard summary also pointed out that CBD has shown value in reducing chronic pain, which for some people may be a complicating factor preventing sleep or good quality sleep.

3. CBD is a better choice than THC for sleep disorder treatment.

A 2017 review of literature in Current Psychiatry Reports highlighted CBD’s superior performance versus THC in reducing incidence of insomnia.

Specifically, research studies to date have shown that CBD can be useful for treating REM sleep behavior disorder and excessive daytime sleepiness as well as insomnia.

Interestingly, this research also linked the ECS, the body’s endocannabinoid system, with regulation of the circadian rhythm, or natural sleep/wake cycle. The ECS system exists primarily in the brain, central nervous system and peripheral nervous system. It consists of a series of lipids and receptor sites which can bind with cannabinoids like THC and CBD.

THC binds to CB1 and CBD binds to CB2. Because of this, CBD is able to incite desirable benefits without producing the “high” that THC is known for. Some people are sensitive to THC and others are not able to use THC because of employment or other factors.

For all of these reasons and more, CBD is increasingly viewed as a better option for treating insomnia and related sleep disorders.

4. When treating for sleep, CBD dosage can make a difference.

In the current modern world of supersizing everything the represents the “more is better” mentality, this does not necessarily hold true when it comes to dosing CBD for sleep disorders.

Researchers now know that, while a medium to high dose of CBD is ideal for promoting quicker sleep and better quality sleep with less night time wakefulness, a lower dose of CBD is best for combatting daytime sleepiness associated with insomnia.

5. CBD is best used on a short-term basis rather than constantly when treating for sleep disorders.

Any sleep disorder can have a number of co-occurring or underlying factors that contribute to the sleep difficulty. These can include anxiety, chronic pain, depression, circadian disruption, certain serious diseases such as Parkinson’s and more.

When treating for insomnia, REM sleep behavior disorder and other sleep issues, over-reliance on CBD may lead to habituation and even withdrawal symptoms. It is important to use CBD as just one aspect of a broader sleep management regimen.

6. CBD is a superior remedy to many common over-the-counter sleep aids.

Sleep disorders are sufficiently common that people have tried all kinds of different remedies to get to sleep and remain asleep.

Common remedies that are available without a doctor’s prescription include antihistamines, cold and flu medications and even allergy medicines. But many of these medicines have other ingredients that the insomniac often doesn’t need, including pain relievers and decongestants.

Some of these can create a daytime sleepiness that is not unlike a hangover effect. Some users have also reported other worrisome side effects like irregular heartbeat and headaches that can make driving and staying focused at work problematic at best.

Even more worryingly, such medicines are not designed to really induce deep, restful sleep, but rather simply sedate the body in a way that mimics good quality sleep.

In contrast, CBD calms the central nervous system (see number one here for more on this) and in turn reduces systemic levels of the stress/fight or flight hormone cortisol. Reduction of cortisol tells the body it is okay to shut down, rest and heal.

7. The kind of CBD can also make a difference when treating sleep disruption.

There are a number of different preparations available today that contain CBD. Some are faster to act and also faster to wear off, while others are slower to act and thus longer lasting.

For people who struggle to get to sleep, the faster acting CBD preparations such as vape cartridges, inhalers, tinctures and sublingual sprays can induce sleep more rapidly. But these will wear off more rapidly, of course.

For people whose main struggle is to stay asleep or to go back to sleep after waking in the night, CBD edibles, topical oils and capsules that have to pass through the body’s digestive system are slower to take effect but then will be longer lasting in turn.

For people who have trouble both in getting to sleep and in staying asleep, the best approach may be a combination of CBD products. It can take some time to adjust the dose and delivery method to find the best results.

By understanding what the research shows about using CBD for better sleep, it is possible to use CBD knowledgably and confidently to remedy specific types of sleep issues on an as-needed basis.

If you are taking any medication to manage an ongoing health condition, talk with your doctor first.

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Written by Paul Harrison

Paul Harrison is a qualified meditation teacher and writer with more than 15 years experience in meditation and mindfulness. He studied meditation in Oxford, UK, and Hamilton Ontario Canada, and earned his degree at Staffordshire University. Paul has helped thousands of people to discover their true potential through mindfulness, yoga and meditation.