We speak to Dr Sarah Brewer about the benefits and potential risks factors associated with using cannabidiol for insomnia treatment.
By Anna Bonet
Cannabidoil, more commonly known as CBD, has been associated with a number of health benefits, including easing symptoms of anxiety, pain and stress. But is CBD oil an effective treatment for insomnia or will it keep you awake?
We speak to Healthspan Medical Director Dr Sarah Brewer about using CBD oil as a natural sleep remedy:
What causes insomnia?
Worry-related sleep problems have been on the rise during lockdown, with more than half of Britons saying they have experienced more disturbed sleep than usual.
Can CBD oil help to improve sleep?
While further scientific research is needed on this topic, preliminary studies have suggested CBD oil may be an effective natural remedy for insomnia sufferers, thanks to the way it interacts with the body’s endocannabinoid system.
‘Cannabidiol (CBD) is a popular treatment for insomnia, and promotes refreshing REM sleep to reduced excessive daytime sleepiness,’ says Dr Brewer. ‘CBD is proven to be particularly helpful for sleep disorders in people with neurological conditions, such as Parkinson’s disease.’
‘A review of preliminary research found that cannabidiol (CBD) may have therapeutic potential for the treatment of insomnia and may hold promise for REM sleep behaviour disorder,’ Dr Brewer adds.
How does CBD oil for sleep work?
While you might associate cannabis with feeling relaxed and sleepy, using CBD oil to treat sleep disorders is slightly more complex than simply making you feel drowsy. Ironically, CBD oil can make you feel more alert. So how does it work as a treatment for sleep disorders?
‘It is particularly helpful for people whose sleep problems are due to anxiety,’ explains Dr Brewer. ‘A recent review of 72 adults with anxiety or poor sleep found that anxiety scores decreased within the first month in 79.2 per cent and remained decreased during the study duration. Sleep scores also improved within the first month in 66.7 per cent and it was well tolerated.’
Similarly, one of the other major factors associated with insomnia is stress, but research has shown that CBD oil can improve your stress response, which can in turn help you to relax.
‘Anecdotally, ever since I started taking CBD at night I have enjoyed really deep sleep and also feel more relaxed,’ says Dr Brewer.
How to use CBD oil for sleep
Remember, it’s always best to consult your doctor before trialling any new medication or remedy.
CBD oil is available in a number of forms. It is most readily available as a tincture, which can be taken by applying a few drops under your tongue.
When it comes to CBD dosage, always start small – around 10 to 20mg – its effects should be immediate, so you will be able to tell if the lower dosage is working for you.
Does CBD oil have any health risks?
A World Health Organisation report issued in 2017 concluded that cannabidiol does not appear to have abuse potential or cause harm, but always proceed with caution.
‘CBD interacts with liver enzymes involved in breaking down many prescribed medicines,’ explains Dr Brewer. ‘This can slow the way some drugs are metabolised, so their blood levels rise, which may lead to side-effects. If you are taking any prescribed medicines, it’s important to check with a doctor or pharmacist before taking CBD.’
While the majority of CBD oil users don’t experience any negative effects, there are possible side effects. These can include dry mouth or drowsiness.