We’re sure you’re no stranger to CBD – the acronym for ‘cannabidiol’, which is a compound found within all plants of the genus ‘cannabis’ and often touted as the non-psychoactive cousin to Tetrahydrocannabinol, or ‘THC’.

THC is responsible for getting recreational marijuana users high, and is not to be confused with CBD, which offers no such experience. However, CBD is known to interact with the body’s endocannabinoid system, which is made up of CB1 and CB2 receptors, each responsible for a myriad of bodily functions.

CB1 receptors are concentrated in the brain and the central nervous systems. They’re associated with motor function, pain perception, and memory. CB2 receptors are found mainly on white blood cells, meaning they saturate the gut (where the immune system modulates intestinal inflammatory response).

What are sleep disorders?

Sleep disorders are far more common than you may think. In fact, a 2017 study found that approximately 16 million adults in the UK suffer from sleepless nights, with a third (31%) reporting insomnia.

Sleep apnea, Insomnia, Narcolepsy, and REM behaviour disorder are some of the most common sleep disorders experienced by people in the US and UK.

They can arise from a number of different problems, including various medical conditions, breathing disorders, disrupted sleep/wake cycle, circadian rhythm disorders, and hormonal changes.

Sometimes, there is no obvious reason as to why a person is suffering from a sleep disorder.

What do people currently use to treat sleep disorders?

Currently, doctors in the UK are hesitant to prescribe sleep aids at the first signs of a sleep disorder. Often, they’ll suggest lifestyle changes such as abiding by a strict bedtime routine, cutting out caffeine and other stimulants, and adjusting the ambience of the patient’s bedroom in order to stimulate melatonin production.

If the problem persists, doctors may look to short-term solutions in prescription medication. These may be any of the following:

Benzodiazepines
A short-term solution, benzodiazepines include drugs like diazepam (Valium), and clonazepam (Klonopin). They are developed as anti-anxiety drugs, but are highly addictive and may cause further sleeping and memory problems long-term.

Barbiturates
These are rarely prescribed as patient-administered drugs, as they depress the central nervous system and cause sedation. They may be used sparingly to induce sleep in a sleep-deprived patient but can cause death in overdose.

Other sleep aids
There are other, newer sleep aids that promote sleep in different ways. Drugs like eszopiclone (Lunesta), zaleplon (Sonata), and zolpidem (Ambien), bind to the same areas in the brain as Benzodiazepines but are considered to be less habit-forming, and therefore suitable for longer-term treatment.  

Ramelteon (Rozerem) works by increasing melatonin production in the brain and is not thought to be addictive.

As with most medications, sleep aids tend to feature a variety of side effects, although they do vary from person to person. Patients being treated with sleeping pills may report the following side effects:

  • Constipation
  • Dizziness
  • Dry mouth
  • Headache
  • Heartburn
  • Drowsiness
  • Stomach pain
  • Memory problems/slowing down of cognitive function
  • Unusual dreams
  • Weakness within the body
  • Allergic reactions

Other more complex side effects may include dependence (addiction), and parasomnia (performing ‘awake’ activities whilst asleep).

How can CBD help with sleep?

Melatonin is the body’s natural hormone that regulates night and day cycles (also known as sleep-wake cycles). Darkness causes it to overproduce, making the person feel sleepy; and light decreases its production, causing the person to wake.

Unlike melatonin, CBD doesn’t actually interact with your body in a way that promotes sleep, at least not directly. ¬†Instead, it interacts with the body’s endocannabinoid system in a way that stimulates serotonin production and inhibits feelings of stress and anxiety.

Many sleep disorders – although extremely physical problems – are psychosomatic disorders resulting from overt stress, anxiety, and emotional imbalance.

Though more serious sleep disorders may benefit from traditional treatment, at least in the short-term, CBD has proven effective at regulating sleep-wake cycles in a number of anecdotal accounts and clinical studies.

CBD has proven effective in reducing symptoms of Parkinsonian disorders such as REM behaviour disorder, as well as promoting a healthier, deeper rest once the person has fallen asleep.

Interested in how CBD could help you sleep?

SmartCBD stocks a range of full-spectrum oils, balms, and pastes, in a variety of strengths so you can find the perfect product for you. Browse here.