A Serious Public Health Concern
In the United States, poor sleep is the number one reported medical complaint. Over 60% of American adults report difficulty sleeping several nights per week. And according to the American Sleep Association, it’s estimated that 50-70 million Americans are suffering from sleep disorders. While insomnia is the most common of them, over 70 other sleep disorders currently exist. For example, sleep apnea, REM sleep behavior disorder, narcolepsy, restless leg syndrome, and sleep paralysis.
And unfortunately, daytime sleepiness isn’t the only consequence of not getting your recommended 7-9 hours. Not only does consistent sleep deprivation affect one’s current functioning levels, but it can also lead to obesity in children and adults, anxiety and depression, impaired judgment, and diseases like diabetes, heart disease, and stroke.
The Dangers of Sleep Aids
With the decline of nightly sleep hours and quality, the increase in sleep aid use is not surprising. Prescription drugs like Lunesta and Ambien are becoming more and more commonplace and can provide temporary solutions to sleep problems. In fact, between 2006 and 2011, nearly 38 million Ambien prescriptions were written. In the U.S., over 4% of adults reported taking medication or sleep aids in the last 30 days.
However, these drugs are approved for short-term use and should be used with extreme caution. As with any prescription drug, sleeping pills may present users with a wide range of side effects. This may include headache, stomach pain, tingling in hands and feet, grogginess, unusual dreams, diarrhea, and dizziness. Some side effects–such as parasomnia (behaviors that occur while one is asleep and therefore is not aware are happening such as sleepwalking, sleep eating, sleep driving, etc.), dependency, and addiction–are far more dangerous and harmful. In fact, a study published in 2012 reported that those using sleeping pills were 35% more likely to develop cancer. Additionally, the study found that even casual sleep aid users (fewer than 18 doses per year) experienced greater mortality rates than nonusers.
CBD and Sleep Research
Studying and treating sleep disorders is a complicated task. Many sleep disturbances are symptoms of other chronic conditions (such as pain and illness) and vary from individual to individual. However, promising work involving the body’s Endocannabinoid System (ECS), Cannabidiol (CBD), and sleep are showing optimistic results.
Recent research on CBD and sleep indicate that it can be both sedating or energizing, depending on the dosage. One 2014 study showed that smaller doses (>15mg) of CBD can actually increase alertness while larger doses of CBD have powerful relaxing properties. This may mean CBD can be a powerful tool in alleviating insomnia as well as fighting daytime sleepiness. By taking a larger CBD dose before bedtime, research suggests one may be able to increase total sleep time. (Meaning no more waking up in the middle of the night unable to fall back asleep.)
CBD is often referenced for its ability to soothe anxiety and relax the mind, making it effective at improving sleep quality. Insomnia and other sleep disturbances are frequently linked to anxiety and depression, having a cyclical effect on the other. However, CBD’s ability to ease these feelings of anxiety and stress may be a factor in how it helps induce sleep. A new study examining cannabidiol in anxiety and sleep found that CBD decreased anxiety in 80% of participants and improved sleep in 66%. By working with the body’s Endocannabinoid System to naturally calm the central nervous system, CBD has a relaxing effect.
CBD as a Sleep Aid
While not a “cure” for insomnia, the evidence is mounting in favor of CBD as a sleep aid. Its relaxing and anti-anxiety properties make it a safe and natural option. Unlike traditional sleeping pills, CBD poses no risk of addiction and won’t leave users feeling groggy the next morning. These reasons may make CBD a better long-term alternative to traditional sleeping pills.
Further research on CBD as a sleep aid is still needed to determine long-term results, individual variations, dosing, and more. However, the initial findings are promising. So for individuals struggling to get restful sleep, CBD could be a low-risk and natural option to try. Proper Hemp’s CBD + Melatonin Sleep Softgels combine the relaxing properties of CBD with the sleep-inducing benefits of melatonin, resulting in restful and restorative sleep. Proper Hemp recommends consulting with your physician before adding new dietary supplements to your regimen.