Get to know CBD and if it can help you sleep better

CBD often promoted for its ability to help people sleep, but does this trendy treatment work?
Published July 8, 2021

You may have heard the acronym “CBD ” thrown around a lot in the past few years. CBD or Cannabidiol is a compound found in cannabis plants that is often promoted for its ability to help people sleep among other things. However, you might still be wondering what exactly is CBD? And can it help you sleep better?

What is CBD?

With the legalization of cannabis products in Canada, you have probably come across talks of CBD at some point. CBD is a cannabinoid, a chemical compound naturally produced in our bodies and some plants. Cannabinoids are called endocannabinoids when created in our bodies and phytocannabinoids in plants. We have endocannabinoids in our bodies whether we use cannabis products or not.

There are two cannabinoids in cannabis plants that have effects on humans, Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and Cannabidiol (CBD). THC is the cannabinoid responsible for the “high” produced by consuming cannabis products. CBD on the other hand does not have any intoxicating effect but rather is touted as easing mental and physical conditions.

How does CBD work?

Research into how CBD works is still new and ongoing, but here is what they do know. Cannabinoids like THC and CBD interact with our body’s endocannabinoid system (ECS) which helps in regulating a range of bodily functions and processes. Some of these functions include appetite, mood, pain, motor control, sleep, stress, and inflammation. All of these functions contribute to homeostasis or the stability and balance of our internal systems.

Cannabinoids work by attaching to our body’s two types of Endocannabinoid receptors. These receptors are referred to as CB1 and CB2. The first are mainly found in our central nervous system, the second are found in the peripheral nervous system.

THC binds to both receptors, which creates the physical and mental high you feel when consuming products high in THC. On the other hand, it is believed that CBD might not bind to the receptors at all or bind to a new receptor that hasn’t been discovered yet. CBD is also thought to prevent our bodies from breaking down our endocannabinoids, allowing them to have a greater beneficial effect on our bodies. Unfortunately, there is much more research needed to be done on the endocannabinoid system as a whole to truly understand the benefits CBD has on our bodies.

Is CBD legal?

Under Canada’s Cannabis Act, CBD products remain strictly regulated and are only legal when sold under compliance with the act and its regulations. You might see CBD products in the USA however their CBD products come from a different source. If a cannabis plant has less than 0.3% THC it can be considered hemp. Hemp plants have more CBD and less THC while typical cannabis plants have more THC and less CBD.

Generally, there isn’t much of a difference between the CBD products that come from either source, but in most states only hemp-derived CBD is legal. In Canada, both hemp-derived and cannabis-derived CBD products can be purchased through legal authorized retailers.

How do you take CBD?

There are several ways to take CBD but some of the most common forms of consumption include:

  • Oils and tinctures
  • Pills and capsules
  • Edibles such as gummies and tea

There are also different topical products like lotions, bath bombs, and shower gels that contain CBD.

Does CBD help you sleep?

It’s important to first note that while there are many benefits associated with CBD there often isn’t scientific validity to confirm these claims just yet.

Many researchers believe that CBD improves sleep because it can address the root causes of insomnia. Some of the causes of insomnia include mental health disorders, physical conditions, environmental factors, caffeine, and medications.

One study from 2019 looked at how taking 25mg capsules of CBD each day helped 72 adults suffering from anxiety or insomnia. Results in the first month showed 79.2% of people had less anxiety and 66.7% reported sleeping better. This same study also suggests that CBD might help reduce cortisol also as the “stress hormone” in individuals with insomnia. So if you find your racing, anxious mind is keeping you awake at night, CBD might be worth considering.

Pain that is contributing to insomnia might also be lessened by taking CBD. One 2018 study concluded that CBD can regulate our perception of pain by affecting the activity of our body’s pain receptors. However, this study also mentions that not enough research has been done on using CBD on its own without THC for pain relief.

Some research suggests that CBD itself might be sedating if the right dosage is taken. It’s been observed that a small dose of CBD might be energizing while a large dose might be sedating.

However, the exact dosage to recreate these effects varies amongst adults.

Is CBD safe?

Despite the lack of research done on CBD, the consensus is that it is a safe product for adults to use. Back in 2017, The World Health Organization concluded that CBD is generally safe.

While there have not been any reports of an overdose from CBD consumption, there are a lot of factors that go into determining what dosage is right for you such as:

  • Bodyweight
  • The issue you are treating
  • Level of CBD concentration in the product you are taking

One scientific study reported that even taking large doses up to 1,500 mg daily was well-tolerated by participants. However, studies that have been conducted used sample doses of anywhere 20 and 1,500 milligrams (mg) per day.

In general, it’s best to start with small doses and slowly work your way up to a level that you feel benefits you. CBD retailers should be able to provide a dosage guideline for you as well. However, talking to your doctor is always a good place to start figuring out what dose is right for you.

There have been very few reported side effects to taking CBD products as well. One known potential serious side effect is that CBD could interfere with our liver’s ability to break down medications. If you are taking any other medication and are thinking about trying CBD to help sleep, ease anxiety or pain talk with your doctor first.