Sleeping well is essential for our health and mental balance, but fewer and fewer people get it. Achieving a conciliatory dream becomes almost an impossible mission, especially as we advance in the calendar. Adding to the countless tossing and turning at night is daytime sleepiness, exhaustion, and irritability. Health problems are not long in coming either, since sleep is essential for our body to regenerate, particularly the brain.
In search of the magic elixir that guarantees restful sleep, Spain has become the world leader in the consumption of benzodiazepines, according to a report by the International Narcotics Control Board. These drugs are used, among other things, to treat insomnia but they have numerous adverse effects, from the possibility of developing dependency to their depressant action on the central nervous system, without forgetting that they often backfire as they generate a non-physiological sleep and, therefore, little restful. Given its limited effectiveness and numerous side effects, it’s no wonder that scientists and insomniacs alike are looking for newer, more natural alternatives to help them sleep. CBD drops are one of the most promising options.
CBD for insomnia: what is it and how does it help us fall asleep?
CBD or cannabidiol is one of over a hundred organic compounds found in the cannabis sativa plant. Unlike THC, the other compound famous for its psychoactive effects, CBD does not cause changes in behavior or the mind, which is why its medicinal use is spreading throughout the world to treat a wide range of problems, from chronic pain to anxiety and, of course, lack of sleep.
Although there is still not much research on the use of CBD sleep drops, an analysis carried out at the Center for Sleep and Chronobiology at the University of Sydney concluded that this compound has potential as a treatment for different sleep disorders, from insomnia to sleep apnea or even nightmares related to post-traumatic stress disorder.
Its mechanism of action has not yet been fully elucidated, but it is likely that it acts on the endocannabinoid system in the brain. This system is involved in essential functions such as our mood, memory, response to pain and, of course, sleep regulation.
It has two cannabinoid receptors: CB1 and CB2. The endocannabinoids that we produce naturally interact with these receptors, generating a chemical response that allows our body to maintain balance. CB1 is the receptor most involved in the regulation of the sleep-wake cycle, so that an increase in endocannabinoid signaling, even through external pathways through the consumption of CBD, could activate CB1 receptors and induce sleep.
One of the most comprehensive meta-analyses conducted to date on the use of CBD for insomnia seems to confirm this hypothesis. After analyzing 39 studies, these researchers concluded that CBD use can produce a decrease in slow-wave sleep times, a phase that typically decreases with age, as well as a corresponding increase in the time spent in stage 2 of sleeping, in which sleep begins to deepen and our muscles relax.
That means CBD could reduce sleep onset latency; that is, it helps us to fall asleep earlier, instead of staying tossing and turning in bed. It could also decrease the frequency of awakenings during the night and thus increase total sleep time.
However, researchers from the University of Colorado have gone in another direction and think that CBD in itself does not have a great sedative effect, but it could help to fall asleep and sleep better because it alleviates other problems at the base of insomnia, from the pain that keeps us awake at night to the anxiety that prevents us from sleeping. According to them, that would be its “secret” to help us sleep better.
How to safely take CBD drops for sleeping?
One of the main concerns of those who want to try CBD for sleeping is the dosage and its safety. It is important to note that in a Canadian study of 38 patients suffering from insomnia, 71% reported an improvement in their sleep. Of those, 39% managed to reduce or completely stop prescription drugs.
In fact, many people who turn to CBD sleep drops have used sleeping pills before, but have experienced unwanted side effects and are looking for a more natural solution. CBD is not addictive and has very few side effects. That same study revealed that only 21% of patients reported any problems, generally gastrointestinal complaints that were resolved by reducing the dose of CBD for sleeping or changing the brand of the product.
However, although the consumption of CBD seems safe, it is important that before using it:
1. See your doctor. CBD is a fairly safe molecule with a very low level of toxicity, but despite this it can interact with other medications, including some anticonvulsants and antidepressants, so it is important to consult your doctor or psychiatrist first if you take any medication.
2. Start with a low dose. Since there is still no scientific consensus on the most suitable dose of CBD for sleeping, it is best to start with products that have low concentrations. The same dose in two people with identical characteristics works in different ways. Therefore, it is recommended to carry out tests increasing the dose in a controlled manner. This way you can see its effects, assess your tolerance level and increase your concentration a little if you need a higher dose to achieve restful sleep.
3. Choose a trusted brand. A study conducted in the United States to evaluate the labeling of different CBD products found that 42% had more than what was stated and 21% contained less. This is why it is essential to choose trusted brands with a good reputation that offer certificates of analysis or laboratory results that indicate the exact proportion of the different cannabis compounds used.
Last but not least, it is vital to take care of sleep hygiene. Although CBD drops help us fall asleep, it is convenient that we give them a hand by maintaining a regular sleep schedule, avoiding screens before bed, reducing the consumption of stimulating substances such as coffee and making sure that the room has the optimal conditions to facilitate a restful sleep. Sleep products should be a one-time aid, not a lifelong solution.
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