Can CBD Treat Insomnia?

Sleeping problems grip as many as 50-70 million Americans yearly. 30-35% experience brief symptoms of insomnia while 15-20% have acute insomnia. Sleep is an essential part of life in order to maintain health and a mental well-being. Although there are many reasons for having insomnia, mental health is considered first. Insomnia is statistically the most common sleeping disorder but is also commonly undiagnosed and untreated.

There are over 70 recognized sleeping disorders, and 70% of Americans claim to have severe sleeping problems at least once a month with 11% reporting problems every night. It’s truly a growing concern in the medical field as sleeping problems are related to serious mental and physical problems. Insomnia can cause a chain reaction of problems in life, whether that be in the long-term or not.

Types of Insomnia

Insomnia can be described in multiple conditions, and there are several types of insomnia to review.

Acute insomnia is a brief term of problems which are usually caused by a stressful event. Around 73% of college students in American claim to suffer from this condition several times throughout the year. A job change, grief, or any buildup of stress can cause these problems.

Chronic insomnia is, of course, a long-term issue with falling and staying asleep. Insomnia is viewed as chronic when difficulties arise at least three times a week. To those with chronic insomnia, difficulty falling asleep is nothing new to them. However, this does not ever make it easy and serious problems can derive from a lack of sleep.

Maintenance insomnia is the inability to stay asleep. This includes waking up in the middle of the night and simply not able to fall back asleep, which naturally hurts our circadian rhythms. This puts our entire day and night cycle disorganized.

There are several other types of insomnia that fit certain problems of sleeping, but all of which have adverse effects on the waking hours. These can include persistent fatigue, loss of focus, poor memory, mood change, loss of motivation/energy, and much more. Physiological risks include higher blood pressure, heart disease, depression, and links to diabetes. Stress is a direct cause of insomnia as anxiety affects sleep as well. The reason insomnia is so difficult to shake is due to the cycle of this stress only causing less sleep, which in turn causes more stress and anxiety. Depression and insomnia often go hand in hand and makes recovery seem impossible at times. Even PTSD and insomnia are related due to frequent night terrors and anxiety disturbing sleep.

What CBD Can Do

First, it’s important to describe what CBD is primarily known for as of the making of this article. CBD is recognized as a reliable anxiolytic, anti-inflammatory, and also has been shown to aid in REM sleep cycles. This is critical in staying asleep throughout the night. If any of the stages of sleep are disturbed, this can also happen, but REM sleep is where the deepest sleep occurs. Studies show that consistently disturbing this stage of sleep can cause severe mental issues along with depression and mood changes.

Delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is the cousin of CBD, and although medical marijuana has been shown to treat many of these sleeping issues, some research suggests that prolonged use of marijuana may impair the quality of sleep. However, fixing these sleeping issues are very important, but why choose CBD over THC?

The answer to this question is obviously circumstantial. In the states where medical marijuana is not legal, THC is not a legal option, while CBD is legal in all fifty states if under the FDA’s approved THC count. However, perhaps the biggest reason are the medical benefits CBD has while having no psychoactive effects. CBD will never give you the “high” that its cousin does bring. Being non-psychoactive means it will not show up on any drug test, and still serves the very health benefits marijuana has.

CBD works on the endocannabinoid system which is a jumble of receptors and neuromodulatory lipids throughout the brain and central/peripheral nervous system. There are specific receptors for CBD which show promising benefits in using it. There are CB1 and CB2 receptors in the brain which metabolize CBD in different ways. For the sake of simplicity, CBD works with the CB2 receptors in the brain.

The endocannabinoid system affects the role of sleep in one major way, and that is the effect on the Circadian Sleep-Wake Cycle. It maintains and repairs the processes of sleep through this link. CBD has been researched in specific doses on what helps sleep the most. Of course, some dosages worked better than others, while too little has been shown to increase wakefulness. For insomnia, research shows that 160 mg/day has helped increase total sleep, but this is not reflective of physiological traits like metabolism, weight, etc. There was a study on CBD administration in lab rats that found CBD increased the total percentage of sleep from mid to high range dosages. REM sleep was recorded to increase as well as one day after administration.

But other forms of insomnia involve night terrors, daytime sleepiness, REM disorders, and pain. Luckily, the research behind CBD is growing daily to find out exactly how the endocannabinoid system contributes to sleep. CBD is designed to work with this system, and more research is being conducted on the relationship.

Night terrors are common with those who suffer from PTSD. It’s, unfortunately, a common issue and disrupts sleep patterns. Both THC and CBD have promising data that shows how they keep us asleep in stages longer and more efficiently.

Pain is a secondary link to insomnia, and some 80% of people with arthritis have problems sleeping. CBD also is an anti-inflammatory which helps with the swelling and pain from many conditions.

REM disorders can be much more debilitating and difficult to manage as it can include several of these factors.


There are many things that cause insomnia and none of which are easy to beat or even get rid of. However, in the growing research behind CBD it is important to review what it is capable of before turning to medications that may make some uncomfortable. CBD is a natural component in hemp and marijuana while holding promising research in the medical field. Insomnia can be devastating in important times of life, and it’s extremely stressful waiting to fall asleep and only thinking about how it can be fixed. Fortunately, CBD has promising evidence to show that it can treat insomnia and other sleeping problems.

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