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How Much CBD for Sleep

Jun 20, 2019
How Much CBD for Sleep

Good sleep is essential to good health. You spend one-third of your day sleeping in order to recharge and recover, so you'll have the energy to function and perform during the remaining two-thirds.

Sleep is just as important as the air we breathe and the food we eat. Study after study, science has shown how sleep deficiencies can impact our health – from mood and cognition to weakened immunity and poor balance

Those who suffer from sleep deprivation know that insomnia is no joke. Tossing and turning in bed all night can leave you feeling tired, cranky, and groggy the next morning. And then you repeat the process for weeks or months until your body is extremely exhausted.

According to the CDC, insufficient sleep has become a public health epidemic. There are now over 70 million Americans who suffer from some form of sleeping disorder. [R]

Our ancestors have been consuming cannabis for its therapeutic effects for a long time – as far back as 1500 B.C. The first record of cannabis for inducing sleep was described in a 1200 A.D. Chinese medical text.

Today people are once again turning to cannabis to help them sleep, specifically the cannabinoid called CBD.

Traditional treatments such as over-the-counter sleep medication, sedative hypnotics, and antidepressants are often ineffective and present dangerous side effects. This is why more and more people who have trouble sleeping are looking for natural alternatives.

The current body of scientific research on CBD as a sleep aid is small but the results have been promising.

In April 2017, a literature review showed that CBD may have therapeutic potential for the treatment of insomnia, REM sleep behavior disorder, and excessive daytime sleepiness. CBD also helps induce a restful sleep when taken at least an hour before bedtime. [R]

A case study was conducted last January 2019 on the effects of CBD on anxiety and sleep. Findings suggest that CBD might help people with short-term sleep problems. [R]

What is CBD?

What is CBD?

Cannabidiol (CBD) is one of 113 cannabinoids found in the cannabis plant. This natural chemical compound interacts with the human endocannabinoid system which regulates various cognitive and physiological processes in order to promote homeostasis. When CBD is introduced into the body, it has shown potential to reduce pain, improve sleep quality, boost appetite, and ease stress.

CBD may help reduce symptoms associated with the following conditions:

  • Insomnia and other sleep disorders
  • Pain and inflammation
  • Epilepsy
  • Nausea
  • Anxiety and stress
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder
  • Chronic pain
  • Skin disorders
  • Parkinson's disease
  • Huntington's disease
  • Alzheimer's disease
  • Lennox-gastaut syndrome
  • Conditions compromising the immune system such as HIV or cancer

Cannabis is often associated with feeling high but this is not entirely true. The euphoria can be traced to one specific cannabinoid – tetrahydrocannabinol, more popularly known as THC.

CBD is non- psychoactive, which means it will not produce the same mind-altering effects as THC.

According to the World Health Organization, there is no "high" associated with CBD. It also does not disrupt deep, restorative sleep known as REM which is a common effect of THC. Instead, CBD has anti-anxiety and anti-psychotic properties – making it an ideal sleep aid. [R]

Cannabinoid extracts from hemp have low concentrations of THC and high concentrations of CBD, whereas extracts from marijuana contain the opposite.

Thanks to the Farm Bill of 2018, hemp was decriminalized at the federal level so it is now legal to grow, sell, and buy hemp-based CBD products in all 50 states.

It is important to note that there are currently no studies on the long-term effects of CBD as the industry is still very young. There have been side effects observed in some trials including dry mouth, diarrhea, appetite change, tiredness, and temporary drop in blood pressure. However, most experts agree that CBD is reasonably safe for human consumption.

CBD and sleep

CBD and Sleep

Sleep problems can be a symptom of a medical disorder or the result of a hectic lifestyle. Either way, sleep deprivation has become a serious problem in the country. More than 70% of adults have reported getting insufficient sleep at least one night a month. Around 11% report that they do not sleep adequately every night.

According to estimates, sleep-related problems affect 70 million Americans across different ages, genders and socioeconomic classes. The prevalence and severity of sleep disorders are more pronounced in minorities and underserved populations. [R]

CBD has the ability to reduce anxiety, and by managing anxiety we are able to limit insomnia and get better sleep.

The body has a natural clock for sleep called circadian rhythm. CBD can stimulate alertness and reduce daytime sleepiness, which helps keep your circadian rhythm consistent.

The latest study on CBD and sleep was published in The Permanente Journal early this year. Colorado researchers evaluated 72 patients who were treated with CBD for either anxiety or poor sleep. Anxiety scores went down during the first month in 57 patients (79.2%) and continued to decline during the three-month period. For those with sleep problems, scores improved within the first month in 48 patients (66.7%) but were inconsistent the rest of the way. [R]

There is evidence to suggest that CBD may provide insomnia relief, and this has something to do with how our endocannabinoid signaling receptors regulate sleep.

A study on mice showed that CBD helped increase NREM sleep time and stability. During NREM sleep, the brain waves are typically slow, breathing and heart rate are regular, blood pressure is low, and the subject is not in motion. If CBD can move your body from REM sleep to a deeper and more restful NREM sleep, then it could help treat the insomnia itself. The effects are far better than taking sleep medications, which can leave you out of sorts when you wake up.

During REM sleep, the body of a healthy person is paralyzed. Those who are suffering from Parkinson's do not experience this paralysis, which is why REM behavior disorder is a major symptom of the disease. CBD can help regulate this constant movement during sleep. It may also help improve sleep abnormalities in people with post-traumatic stress disorder.

Dr. Aimée Gould Shunney, a licensed naturopathic physician at Santa Cruz Integrative Medicine, says CBD can also prevent the endocannabinoid called anandamide from being broken down. With lots of anandamide circulating, our body will be able to respond better to stress.

Dr. Joseph Maroon, a clinical professor and neurosurgeon at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center who has researched the effect of cannabis on the brain, says that CBD has properties that could help ease anxiety and pain – two factors that make it harder to fall or stay asleep.

According to a 2017 review of sleep and cannabis literature in the journal Current Psychiatry Reports, CBD may affect sleep directly by interacting with receptors in the brain that regulate the daily sleep/wake cycle of the body. [R]

CBD and insomnia

CBD and insomnia

As we mentioned earlier, CBD can help reduce anxiety, regulate your circadian rhythm, and mitigate symptoms of neurological disorders that are preventing you from getting a good night's sleep.

CBD might be able to reduce some of the time your body spends in REM sleep so you dream less. Dreams can be disruptive to sleep quality. Ideally, you want more NREM sleep where the majority of neurological and physical healing takes place.

Those who are suffering from insomnia could potentially find relief from CBD and finally get a more restful sleep.

CBD and sleep apnea

CBD and sleep apnea

CBD may actually help with sleep apnea. During the clinical trials for Sativex® from 2002 to 2004, this synthetic version CBD and THC showed positive outcomes in 50% of the subjects who suffered from sleep apnea.

While there is no definitive explanation on how CBD helped with sleep apnea, scientists believe that CBD has the ability to increase upper airway muscle tone. This can result in a firmer glottal region and reduction of the effects of sleep apnea.

If you are currently suffering from sleep apnea and do not want to wear those obtrusive masks or pay for expensive surgery, CBD could be worth a shot.

How much CBD should you take?

How much CBD should you take?

There is no universal CBD dosage. The optimal dose for you depends on individual factors such as body type, severity of symptoms, and CBD tolerance. The type of CBD product is also an important consideration as bioavailability comes into play.

  • Body weight. In general, heavier people need higher doses of CBD to experience its effects whereas people who weigh less may achieve relief from lower doses.
  • Tolerance. The body may develop a tolerance to CBD over time. The effects you feel now may not be reduced in the future even when you continue to take the same dosage. Talk to your doctor if you feel that you need to adjust your dosage.
  • Concentration. Concentration – measured in milligrams – refers to the total amount of CBD in a product. If you have a 30ml bottle of tincture with 1500mg of CBD and a 1ml standard serving size, you should be getting approximately 50mg of CBD in each serving.
  • Desired effects. The optimal dose for you ultimately depends on the level of pain or discomfort that you are experiencing. Higher doses are required for patients who are suffering from chronic pain or severe anxiety. Those with a milder condition may prefer a lower dose.

Calculating the best dosage

Calculating the best dosage

The table below is a suggested dosage program based on body weight and effect level. These approximations are mere recommendations and should not be taken as medical advice. Always consult your physician before trying CBD for the first time.

Weight

Mild Effects

Moderate Effects

Strong Effects

Light <130 lbs

11 mg or less

12 mg to 14 mg

15 mg to 17 mg

Medium 130-230 lbs

18 mg or less

19 mg to 23 mg

24 mg to 27 mg

Heavy >230 lbs

23 mg or less

24 mg to 30 mg

31 mg to 45 mg

Note that these numbers are for helping you sleep. Stronger doses may be required if you are treating symptoms of more serious conditions such as epilepsy or PTSD. Ramping up dosage is relatively safe but you should do it gradually while monitoring closely how your body reacts. Increasing dosage in small increments has helped many beginners find the right dosage for their desired effects.

There is data to suggest that low doses might not be very effective for insomnia. In a 2004 study, researchers found that 15mg doses did not help people fall asleep and might even make you more wakeful.

Dr. Mitch Earleywine, psychology professor at the State University of New York (SUNY) at Albany and board member of the marijuana advocacy group NORML, suggests starting with a dose of 30mg and slowly working up if you do not feel any effects.

How long should you take CBD?

How long should you take CBD?

CBD may be able to help improve sleep but the effects could diminish over time which is why it is not recommended for daily or long-term supplementation.

According to Dr. Scott Shannon, assistant clinical professor of psychiatry at the University of Colorado-Children's Hospital, people who have trouble sleeping improved with CBD in the first month but the effects faded in the next two months. [R]

Michael Backes, a cannabis science expert and author of Cannabis Pharmacy: The Practical Guide to Medical Marijuana (BDL/Hachette, 2014), suggests that when people are no longer chronically sleepy, CBD might actually keep them awake.

Choosing the right CBD product for sleep

Choosing the right CBD product for sleep

The type of CBD product is also an important factor that affects concentration and dosage.

Dr. Earleywine says "vaping works faster because inhaling CBD delivers the compound to your body right away". However, tinctures, pills, and edibles might help you sleep longer because they release the CBD more slowly. It is best to take CBD about an hour before bedtime.

Oils and tinctures

Concentrated CBD oil drops are typically administered sublingually (under the tongue) or mixed with food. These products come in 15ml or 30ml bottles with concentrations varying from 100mg to 5000mg.

Tincture dosage is usually 1ml per serving. If you have a 30ml bottle with 5000mg CBD, then each 1ml serving should contain roughly 166.7mg of CBD. If you have a 30ml bottle with 100mg CBD, each 1ml serving only contains around 3.3mg of CBD. Keep this difference in mind when measuring dosage.

Beginners should start with lower concentrations. If you do not feel anything, gradually increase dosage. CBD oil drops do not take effect as quickly as vaping but the effects last longer – up to three or four hours. Let the oil stay under your tongue for 60 seconds for best results.

Vaping liquid

Vaping liquids combine hemp-derived CBD oil with a cutting agent such as propylene glycol vegetable glycerin. The formula is loaded into a vape pen which produces inhalable vapor. The effects of vaping CBD are almost instantaneous and can last for up to an hour. Inhale the vapor for up to three seconds and hold it in for up to five seconds for best results.

Vaping liquid concentrations range from 200mg to 1500mg. Each serving size contains 6.6mg to 50mg of CBD.

Edibles

CBD can be eaten in the form of CBD gummies and gel capsules. When ingested orally, CBD has a delayed onset time as it has to travel through your digestive system first. The advantage, however, is that the effects are much more prolonged. CBD edibles may take effect within an hour of consumption. The effects are felt up to five hours depending on concentration.

Unlike oils and vaping liquids, CBD edibles make it easy to calculate dosage. Each piece represents one serving size and the exact amount of each ingredient is listed on the label.

CBD gummies come in concentrations ranging from 5mg to 100mg.

Topicals

Topicals

CBD is now available for topical application. One of the fastest-growing segments of the CBD market features CBD-infused lotions, creams, ointments, balms, and therapeutic oils. These products are rubbed directly on the skin for targeted relief. Topical CBD is the popular choice for pain relief in tired muscles and aching joints. It also helps ease discomfort from burns, stings and other injuries.

When applied to the epidermis, CBD creates a soothing sensation that is mostly isolated to that area. Many products also contain antioxidants and moisturizers to help revitalize the skin.

Calculating dosage can be tricky as there is no specific serving size. The amount of CBD that interacts with your body depends entirely on how much or how little salve you put on your skin. If you are experiencing severe pain, apply high-concentration CBD topicals for best results.

Let us summarize typical dosing methods for different CBD products.

Product type

Dosing Method

Serving Size

Concentration

Dosage Per Serving

Tinctures

Sublingually or mixed with food

1ml

100mg - 5000mg

3.3mg - 166.67mg

Vaping liquids

Inhaled

1ml to 1.5ml

200mg - 1500mg

6.6mg - 50mg

Edibles

Ingested orally

1 edible

5mg - 100mg

5mg - 100mg

Topicals

Applied to skin

Varies by application

250mg - 1500mg

Varies by application

No matter what type of CBD product you choose to take, the rule of thumb is that you want to get around 10mg to 20mg of CBD in your body. Any amount less than that may result in insignificant benefits.

These steps can help you find your optimal dose if you want to take CBD for sleep.

  • Start with the minimum dose
  • Take the same dose for a few days and give your body time to react
  • Keep a record of your dose and how you feel each day
  • If you do not feel anything after a week, slowly increase the dose by 5mg every two to three days
  • If you feel any discomfort, reduce the dosage
  • Do not dramatically increase or reduce dosage

Always listen to your body and monitor how it reacts to the CBD.

Can you overdose on CBD?

Can you overdose on CBD?

CBD is considered non-toxic and the side effects associated with it are considered minor and non-threatening. According to a report by the National Cancer Institute, overdosing on CBD is virtually impossible because unlike opioid receptors, cannabinoid receptors are not located in the brain areas that control respiration. [R]

The report also noted that cannabinoids are much less addictive than prescription medication although people may develop a tolerance to CBD over time. Some people experience withdrawal symptoms after getting off CBD including hot flashes and nausea but these are considerably mild compared to those from other addictive substances.

CBD is relatively new to the medical community and therefore lack extensive research on its long-term health effects. The emerging market is also now flooded with counterfeit products and it is of utmost importance for consumers to perform due diligence when choosing a seller.

In a 2018 report, the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) observed a spike in adverse reactions from CBD consumers in the state of Utah. Among the 52 cases investigated, the adverse reactions were linked to synthetically produced CBD products sourced from brands that did not disclose ingredients or extraction information.

To protect yourself from fraudulent manufacturers, always ask for a complete list of product ingredients, third-party testing results, and information about the extraction process. Do not purchase CBD products that are formulated with synthetic components.

CBD has been proven to help reduce symptoms in treatment-resistant childhood epilepsy but the Harvard Medical School stresses that more research is needed to establish effective doses for treating anxiety, chronic pain, and insomnia. [R]

More and more people are turning to CBD as a natural alternative to addictive pharmaceuticals. If you are suffering from insomnia, talk to your doctor about trying CBD. About time you finally get the sleep that you deserve.


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