Recent cannabis legalization in many US states and nationally in Canada has led to increased popularity of a cannabis-derived substance called Cannabidiol (more commonly known as CBD). It used to be that only people with medical conditions were using it, considering its plentiful health benefits that range from reducing chronic pain to stopping seizures in people with epilepsy. But legalization has led to increased research on the substance, which has in turn exposed so much more that CBD can do in terms of health and wellness than previously thought.
One of the most popular new uses of CBD is as a sleep aide. Studies have shown that CBD can help people with serious sleep disorders get a good night’s rest. It can also help people who simply have trouble sleeping once in awhile get to sleep too.
What is CBD Oil?
The cannabis plant is made up of 104 naturally occurring chemical compounds called cannabinoids. The most well-known one is THC, which is psychoactive and makes you feel ‘high.’ CBD is another one, though unlike THC, it is not psychoactive and does not give even the slightest sensation of feeling high. When CBD is extracted from the cannabis plant, it is often mixed with a carrier oil like coconut or hemp seed oil, and from there you get CBD oil.
CBD oil is being produced more and more these days because of its therapeutic properties, combined with the fact that it is a non-addictive and safe substance to use. Some examples of its uses are in treating anxiety, neurological conditions, chronic pain, glaucoma, inflammation, depression, epileptic seizures, and insomnia, to name a few. It also may have anti-cancer properties. Much of the research that has led to discovering this wide array of CBD’s medical uses has been sponsored by the US government.
Why is CBD oil for sleep helpful for you?
Those with insomnia and other issues sleeping are often left feeling desperate for a safe solution to the problem. CBD may very well be just the solution they have been looking for. CBD can make you tired, as it turns out. Scientific research is nowhere near finished where CBD and sleep are concerned, but so far, what research has discovered is looking promising.
The reasoning behind CBD’s usefulness in helping people sleep rests in how it interacts with the body’s endocannabinoid system. That system helps with regulating sleep, appetite, mood, and it can induce in us a state of relaxation.
When a person has trouble sleeping, a variety of issues may be at play, including anxiety and pain, which can be powerful in disrupting sleep. As CBD not only interacts directly with how the body regulates sleep, but with its mood and pain systems as well, it can improve how well a person sleeps on many accounts.
Studies have indicated that CBD may be able to help specifically with REM sleep abnormalities, increasing the quality and amount of sleep a person gets. In addition to that, other research has found that CBD may decrease how much time sleeping is spent in the REM phase. There are two parts of sleep which cycle on repeat, a REM phase and a non-REM phase. Non-REM sleep is the restful portion, where REM sleep is where dreams occur. Therefore, more time in non-REM sleep, thanks to CBD, means more restful sleep.
CBD seems like an excellent alternative to other pharmaceutical drugs used to sleep. Sleeping pills tend to have moderate to strong side effects, like dependency, that are often unwanted and sometimes even dangerous. No serious side effects have presented themselves so far in CBD research.
Types of CBD, including CBD forms
Tinctures and Concentrates
Both tinctures and concentrates are the most common ways to consume CBD, in part because they are the purest. There is no additional manufacturing or processing of the CBD oil other possibly than adding a bit of flavor (generally only done with tinctures to make consuming it more pleasant). With a concentrate, it comes in a syringe, and is typically one of the strongest dosages available for CBD. For both tinctures and concentrates, you simply apply the CBD under your tongue. It is said that the effects are more powerful if the liquid is not swallowed immediately so that some can be ingested sub-bilingually.
Capsules and Edibles
CBD capsules are just like any other supplement that comes in pill form. Taking capsules makes it easy to keep track of how much you are taking daily. Edibles are CBD oil put into a food product. The options for this are plentiful and include but are not limited to gummies, chocolates, lollipops, lozenges, and honey. Edible products are labeled according to how much CBD is in each bite.
Vaping, or vaporizing, CBD oil requires a vape pen or another kind of vaporizer. The oil turns into vapor when it is heated in the pen and is then inhaled. Many reviews have said that vaping is less effective than other ways of consuming CBD, and there is also a question of safety. As you inhale, you may also be inhaling some of the metals in the equipment you are using, though not enough research has been done to verify this and its possible effects. On the other hand, vaping does tend to make the effects more rapid than oral consumption of CBD, felt almost immediately.
Sprays and Topicals
You can also get CBD in the form of sprays, lotions, salves, and lip balm. Sprays are meant to be sprayed directly in the mouth and tend to have a low concentration. One downside is that it is hard to measure exactly how much you are getting as sprays can be inconsistent. Topical CBD is used for its skin treatments, potentially providing benefits such as relief from inflammation and chronic pain, reduction of acne, and anti-aging. A benefit of all these products is how easy they are to bring with you and use while you are out or traveling.
Bioavailability effectiveness of CBD oil for sleep
CBD is effective because the body absorbs it into its system through the bloodstream. From there, it finds its way through the body to interact with both cannabinoid and non-cannabinoid receptors. Its point of entry, or how it is consumed, will impact how well the CBD is absorbed and thus how effective it is. You can consume CBD through oral ingestion by inhaling it, by way of pills, food, or tinctures, sub-bilingually through mucus membranes, and also topically.
When you inhale CBD, the body absorbs it very quickly and the effects are pretty much immediate. If your goal is immediate relief from things like pain and anxiety, inhaling CBD is a good choice. Such a rapid reaction is the result of the lungs having a large surface for absorption into the bloodstream. Once it’s in the bloodstream, it quickly moves to other parts of the body.
Taking CBD orally (swallowing it) is the most popular method of consumption because it is the easiest and most convenient. However, it does not act as quickly because swallowing something means it has to pass through the digestive system before it enters the bloodstream. This is not a quick process. First it goes through the digestive tract, then to the hepatic portal system, onto the portal vein, and then to the liver. The liver metabolizes CBD compounds, which leads to reduction in the cannabidiol concentration, meaning the effects are lessened.
The body is not very efficient at absorbing CBD in high concentrations when orally consumed. Plus, you might have to wait up to two hours to feel any effects. That being said, there are ways to improve the body’s ability to absorb CBD when it is consumed orally, including combining it with the consumption of fatty acids.
Sublingual consumption of CBD, where you hold it under your tongue for a couple minutes to allow the mucus membranes to absorb the CBD, means it does not have to go through the digestive system and through the liver at all before reaching the blood steam. This means its effects can be felt more quickly and it does not have decreased efficiency.
Applying CBD topically by way of oils, creams, and balms means it never reaches the bloodstream. Instead, relief is targeted to the specific area where it has been applied. The CBD is absorbed into the skin and is then able to interact with nearby cannabinoid receptors. Our skin is not great at absorbing CBD, meaning that you have to apply it generously, or it will likely not work.