By Igor Bussel
Does it seem like it is harder and harder to sleep as you get older? Your insomnia is not in your mind. According to the National Sleep Foundation, sleep patterns naturally change as we age. While it may be harder to fall asleep and stay asleep as you get older, your sleep requirements remain constant. Unfortunately, chronic insomnia can lead to major health issues because your body and mind require sleep to be healthy.
Many older adults are not satisfied with their sleep quality. Because of poor sleep at night, they feel fatigued during the day. Previous studies on sleep habits show that older Americans often require more time to fall asleep and wake up more often during the night. In addition, they have a general decline in active dreaming or REM sleep. All of these reasons mean that you are more likely to develop a sleep disorder as you become older.
The National Sleep Foundation took a poll that found that 44 percent of older adults experienced one or more instances of insomnia on two or more nights a week. Obviously, it is important to talk to your doctor if you are experiencing insomnia because your sleep problems could be linked to a physical condition, medication or mental disorder. If you have already checked for other conditions and reduced your caffeine intake, there are still options that can help. Cannabidiol (CBD) could help with your insomnia.
What Is CBD?
Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is the most famous part of the cannabinoid system, but it is not the only cannabinoid found in cannabis. There have been at least 113 cannabinoids identified in cannabis. Scientists believe that each cannabinoid is responsible for different effects, but they still do not know what each cannabinoid can actually do. While THC is the compound that gets you high, CBD does not cause any high or euphoria at all. Instead, CBD helps with things like pain, stress and anxiety.
Every kind of cannabis makes cannabinoids, which means that hemp still creates cannabinoids like CBD. Unlike other strains of cannabis, hemp does not contain THC and psychoactive compounds. These cannabinoids are made to work exclusively with the cannabinoid system found in the human body. Your brain has CB1 and CB2 receptors that are made for working with cannabinoids. This is why cannabis causes immune and psychoactive responses in the body.
Thanks to new developments in cannabis production and consumption in the last decade, it is now possible to use ingestion methods like vaporization and edibles. This has also made it easier for patients to get consistent doses of CBD instead of trying to guess how much CBD is in a joint. Researchers are still working to figure out exactly what CBD does for different conditions, but the previous prohibition on cannabis means that many of these trials are still underway. Anecdotally, many people have reported using CBD to treat conditions like arthritis, cancer, epilepsy, anxiety and chronic pain.
There is a growing interest in the therapeutic effects of CBD, so new trials are underway to figure out how CBD can benefit the human body and treat various conditions. In total, there are around 150 trials going on around the world that involve CBD. Currently, researchers are looking at the way CBD can treat alcoholism, schizophrenia, skin conditions, autism and other conditions.
The current research shows that CBD may cause an antipsychotic effect in people who have schizophrenia, as well as regulate aggression and anxiety. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has also approved a drug called Epidiolex for treating a rare type of epilepsy.
Does CBD Treat Insomnia?
In order to figure out if CBD will help you sleep, you also need to figure out the cause of your insomnia. Sleep problems can happen because of drinking excessive caffeine or physical conditions like chronic pain. Environmental factors like an uncomfortable bed, bright lights or loud noises can make falling asleep difficult. Mental health conditions like depression, anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) can also lead to insomnia. Unfortunately, the medications you take to treat these conditions can also cause a case of severe insomnia.
CBD can help treat insomnia caused by some of these conditions. It is primarily useful for treating insomnia that is caused by external factors. Since CBD can alleviate ailments like chronic pain and anxiety, it may also be helpful for treating insomnia caused by these conditions.
If your insomnia is caused by external factors or medical conditions, CBD may help by treating the underlying cause of your sleeplessness. In 2019, researchers found that CBD could effectively reduce anxiety levels and improve sleep quality. The study looked at 72 different patients. Out of this number, 47 patients had anxiety. The other 25 patients suffered from poor sleep. Each subject took 25 milligrams of CBD each day. During just the first month of using CBD, 79.2 percent of patients enjoyed having lower levels of anxiety. Another 66.7 percent of patients had a better quality of sleep.
CBD is also useful if chronic pain keeps you awake at night. Previous studies of CBD show that this drug can help to soothe pain. By reducing the amount of pain you experience, CBD can improve the overall quality of your sleep. In 2015, a small trial of patients with Parkinson’s disease also found that CBD alleviated REM sleep behavior disorder (RBD). This disorder is when someone acts out their dreams, and it often leads to a poor quality of sleep.
How Can You Use CBD for Insomnia?
Currently, researchers generally think that CBD helps insomnia because it treats the underlying cause. By alleviating conditions like RBD, anxiety or chronic pain, CBD can remove the obstacles that prevent you from sleeping at night. Since more research needs to be done on CBD, researchers still do not know the exact dosage or consumption method people need to take.
People have used cannabis for its health benefits for thousands of years. In fact, cannabis was mentioned in an ancient Hindu text known as the Atharvaveda more than 3,000 years ago. In a Chinese medical text from 800 years ago, Chinese doctors talked about how cannabis could be used for inducing sleep.
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Today, nearly 80 percent of Americans have problems sleeping at least once a week. Current treatments like over-the-counter medication and prescription drugs carry side effects and are often ineffective. Because of this, around 10 percent of people who take CBD say that they use it to help them sleep. Among people who have tried CBD for insomnia, the majority of people said that it worked for them.
You can use CBD in a few different forms.
- Capsules and pills.
- Vape concentrates.
- Edibles like baked goods and gummy bears.
Your consumption method will determine how fast CBD gets into your system and how long it lasts. Edibles take longer for your body to absorb, but they are also effective for a longer period of time. Vaping CBD will help you experience the effects faster, but the effects do not generally last as long. In addition, there are some respiratory risks associated with vaping.
The amount of CBD you take depends on the conditions you have, your body chemistry, your weight and other factors. In clinical trials, researchers have given participants 25 to 1,500 milligrams of CBD per day. As a general rule, you should start out with the lowest dose possible before gradually increasing it until you find the lowest dose that is still effective for your insomnia.
If it does not seem like the CBD is working at first, do not give up too quickly. In research trials, many patients did not see immediate effects. Instead, most participants began to notice a difference after about a month of using CBD.
Is CBD Legal?
The 2018 Farm Bill made it legal for farmers to grow and process hemp as long as it had a THC level that was lower than 0.3 percent. As long as your CBD products are derived from hemp, they are completely legal on a federal level. Almost three dozen states also allow CBD products as well, so the majority of the country lets you use hemp-derived CBD. You should still check with your state’s laws to be certain.
Are There Side Effects?
If something can have an effect on the human body by inducing sleep, it can also carry side effects. Many studies have looked at CBD and determined that it is a relatively safe treatment. Minor side effects like weight changes, diarrhea, changes in appetite and fatigue are possible. CBD may also interact with the drugs you currently take, so talk to your doctor about your current medications before taking CBD.
Before you try CBD, you should always talk to your doctor first. If your insomnia is due to an underlying cause like PTSD, your doctor may want to treat the cause instead of just the symptoms of your disorder. Your doctor may also want to conduct a physical exam or change your current medications before you try CBD.
Things to Remember
CBD may be able to help you sleep better at night. Since it carries minimal side effects, it is a relatively safe option for sleep problems. Before you take CBD, there are a few final things that you should keep in mind.
Focus on Short-Term Use
Many drugs are less effective if you take them for a long period of time. Because of this, you may want to stick to taking CBD for a short time period of just a month or two. You can also consider using CBD on only the days when you suffer from insomnia the most. In at least one clinical trial, CBD actually woke people up. It seems like CBD may actually cause wakefulness if you do not suffer from insomnia. If your insomnia has been successfully treated, CBD may stop working and can even keep you awake.
Consider Using It for Anxiety
Interestingly, it seems like CBD may be more effective for anxiety cases than it is for sleep problems. If anxiety is the reason why you stay awake at night, then taking CBD can certainly help. CBD is also useful if you have disruptive thoughts at night and cannot calm your mind enough to sleep.
Think About Higher Doses
Some research seems to indicate that a higher dose works better than a lower dose. Back in 2004, one study found that low doses of just 15 milligrams may have caused wakefulness instead of putting participants to sleep. Instead, a relatively large dose like 160 milligrams seemed to help patients fall asleep better. You can try starting with a dose of 30 milligrams a night and gradually increasing it until you find a level that is effective for you.
Find High-Quality Products
One of the major problems with using CBD right now is finding a reputable supplier. Unfortunately, the FDA doesn't regulate supplements like CBD. Some consumer reports have found that many CBD products do not contain the amount of CBD that they say they do. In addition, some products were found to contain pesticides and harmful substances.
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You can make sure you get a quality product by buying from a reputable supplier. If the supplier has a high-quality product, they will be willing to show you lab reports from a third-party laboratory. You will also be able to find positive reviews of the company online.
Discover the Form That Works for You
Your body chemistry is unique, so different medications and consumption methods may work differently for you. Many people like vaping CBD because this method allows the compound to enter the body’s cannabinoid system as quickly as possible. Other people prefer edible products, pills and oils because these methods release CBD slowly. This means that you can sleep longer with edibles, but the edibles and oils may take longer to take effect. No matter what method you end up choosing to use, remember to take it about an hour before you go to bed at night.