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Sleep is arguably one of humankind’s most crucial bodily functions. As we progress through the five stages of sleep, our body naturally rejuvenates itself to prepare for the dawning of a new day. Research demonstrates that sleep plays a pivotal role in several vital processes, including regulating immune function, metabolism, and memory consolidation. The absence of frequent quality sleep ultimately helps contribute to a host of unfavorable conditions. Fortunately for those diagnosed with sleep disorders, a natural compound could help achieve longer quality sleep. In this article, we discuss CBD and its potential role as a novel sleep aid.
The Benefits of Quality Sleep
According to NIH (National Institutes of Health) neuroscientist and sleep expert Dr. Merrill Mitler, “Sleep services all aspects of our body in one way or another: molecular energy balance, as well as intellectual function, alertness, and mood.” 
Sleep also helps improve mental clarity, focus, and reflexes. Mitler continues to state, “…when we look at well-rested people, they’re operating at a different level than people trying to get by on one or two hours less nightly sleep.”  Simply put, it is impossible to function at your best when tired.
Dr. Michael Twery, another sleep expert at NIH, explains that “Sleep affects almost every tissue in our bodies. It affects growth and stress hormones, our immune system, appetite, breathing, blood pressure, and cardiovascular health.” 
Sick and Tired of Being Sick and Tired
We now know a few of the many benefits of establishing a stable sleep/wake cycle. Next, we analyze some of the potential adverse effects of unhealthy sleeping practices, as noted by Dr. Mitler.
Mitler explains that “Loss of sleep impairs your higher levels of reasoning, problem-solving, and attention to detail.” Sleep-deprived individuals tend to be less productive compared to their well-rested peers. They are additionally much more likely to experience traffic or workplace accidents. Sleep deprivation is a critical influence on your mood, thereby affecting your interactions with others. Long-term sleep deficits could ultimately exacerbate these effects and lead to the development of a depressive disorder. Worse, research demonstrates that chronic sleep deprivation could increase the risk of heart disease, obesity, and diabetic-like conditions in otherwise healthy people.
Traditional and Supplemental Sleep Aids
While useful, traditionally prescribed sleep aids are highly addictive and pose many possible adverse side-effects that should always be considered, as they are potentially deadly. Commonly reported adverse side-effects associated with frequently prescribed sleep aids include the following symptoms:
- Tingling or burning sensation in the hands, arms, feet, or legs.
- Constipation or diarrhea
- Dizziness or difficulty staying balanced
- Changes in appetite
- Daytime drowsiness
- Dry mouth and throat
Alternatively, many consumers are instead opting for natural supplements to attain quality sleep. Compounds such as CBD, for instance, demonstrate promise as a potential sleep aid (among many other possible applications).
What is CBD?
Cannabidiol is a plant-based chemical compound secreted from the Cannabaceae family. Popularly known and referred to as CBD, cannabidiol is typically extracted from industrial hemp. While CBD is widely studied for its therapeutic potential and possible health applications, much more research is needed before any health-related claim can be substantiated.
How Does CBD Work?
CBD and all other cannabinoids influence and activate (either directly or indirectly) our internal endocannabinoid system (ECS). A highly sophisticated network of endocannabinoids and cannabinoid receptors, the ECS is thought to be responsible for both establishing and maintaining a constant state of homeostasis within the body. Cannabinoids closely mimick our naturally occurring endocannabinoids produced within our ECS to help achieve a host of possible therapeutic effects.
The endocannabinoid system coordinates crucial bodily functions among myriad roles, such as regulating circadian rhythms, appetite, immune response, memory, metabolism, and much more.
CBD and Quality Sleep
What role could CBD play in sleep regulation? A study published in Medicines analyzed 409 patients diagnosed with insomnia. Participants were treated with cannabis flowers administered in a variety of different combustion methods. While patients reported decreased symptom severity, it does not provide sufficient insight into the effects of isolated CBD on regulating sleep patterns.
A separate large case series published by The Permanente Journal assessed 72 adults suffering from anxiety and poor sleep. Participants who predominantly reported having sleep problems were administered 25 mg of cannabidiol in capsule form in the evenings. After the first month of treatment, sleep scores demonstrated improvement in 66% of all participants. It is also worth noting that subjects administered CBD capsules in the morning for anxiety experienced decreased scores in 79% of participants.
Other smaller studies also support the claim of CBD’s potential application to help improve overall sleep quality. In particular, one case study analyzed the effects of CBD on a 10-year-old girl suffering from inadequate sleep quality directly related to post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Researchers administered 25 mg of CBD at bedtime and an additional 6-12 mg during the day to help cope with daily anxieties. The study demonstrated that both sleep quality and sleep quantity improved gradually over the following five months.
Before You Buy!
Before rushing to purchase those CBD gummies, tinctures, or vape oil, there are a few aspects that should be considered for quality assurance purposes.
- Third-party lab test results: Venders of quality CBD products routinely employ independent laboratories to conduct numerous tests on each product to ensure safety, quality, and consistency. These reports should be readily available upon request.
- Quality ingredients: Be sure to read all labeling to ensure quality ingredients were incorporated into any given product. You are, after all, planning to ingest these ingredients. Always better safe than sorry!
- Consumer reviews: Certified consumer reviews often offer invaluable insight into any given product’s qualities and potential efficacy.
Final Thoughts and Considerations
Cannabidiol may demonstrate promise for various conditions and disorders. However, much more in-depth research is required before any CBD-related health claim can be substantiated. Always consult with a healthcare professional before adding any additional supplements to your daily health regimen.