Healthcare Technology Featured Article

January 27, 2021

Research, Surveys Suggest CBD May Have Potential Role as Insomnia Treatment

Cannabidiol (CBD) has been one of the world’s most popular – and most studied – herbal supplements for the past several years. Medical research into the potential benefits of CBD is still ongoing, but that research has already produced important breakthroughs that have resulted in the creation of new prescription medications for rare seizure disorders and for a condition called Fragile X syndrome. It’s possible that CBD has many more benefits still waiting to be discovered, and it’s unlikely that researchers will grow weary of studying the compound any time soon.

One of the most common reasons why people use CBD products is to improve sleep quality and alleviate insomnia. They’re often reporting good results, too; even some medical practitioners are beginning to recommend that their patients try it and see what their results are like.

When it comes to studying CBD and insomnia, the research still has a long way to go. Scientists can’t yet definitively say that CBD alleviates insomnia, and in cases where it does seem to help, we aren’t completely certain why or whether the benefits will continue over time. This article will explore the current research on CBD as a potential insomnia treatment. We’ll discuss what CBD users are saying, and we’ll also see what the latest research says.

Are People Getting Good Results Using CBD for Insomnia?

While researchers continue to probe CBD and learn more about what it can potentially offer, a survey published in Cannabis and Cannabinoid Research in 2018 sheds some light on why people are using CBD and what results they’re getting from it. A total of 2,409 CBD users participated in the survey, and of those, 1,483 people reported that they used CBD to alleviate specific medical conditions. Insomnia was one of the most common conditions mentioned by the survey’s respondents.

The survey also asked the people who were using CBD to alleviate medical conditions about the results they were getting. Here’s what they said.

  • 475 reported that CBD treated their conditions very well on its own.
  • 391 reported that CBD treated their conditions moderately well on its own.
  • 404 reported that CBD treated their conditions well in combination with conventional medicine.
  • 57 reported the CBD didn’t treat their conditions very well.

It’s important to read these results with a little skepticism because happy CBD users might be more likely to participate in a survey about CBD. Nevertheless, it’s clear that a significant number of people use CBD for insomnia and are pleased with the results.

Permanente Journal Examines CBD’s Potential Role as an Insomnia Treatment

In 2019, the Permanente Journal published a study detailing an experiment in which 72 clinical patients in Colorado complaining of either insomnia or anxiety were given daily doses of CBD in addition to their normal psychiatric care. Patients who complained primarily of anxiety were told to take CBD in the morning, and patients who complained primarily of insomnia were told to take it in the evening. The most common dosage given was 25 mg, but a few patients were given larger doses based on their individual needs.

In terms of determining CBD’s effectiveness as an insomnia treatment, the study produced mixed results. Here’s what the patients reported.

  • 66.7 percent of patients reported improved sleep quality at the end of the first month of CBD treatment.
  • 56.1 percent reported improved sleep quality at the end of the second month.
  • 26.8 percent reported improved sleep quality at the end of the third month.

The study’s results suggest the possibility that, if CBD is effective in the treatment of insomnia, its effectiveness may diminish over time. However, not all of the initial population of 72 patients returned for the second and third follow-up visits. By the third month, only 41 of the initial 72 patients remained. It’s impossible to know whether any of the 31 patients who dropped out of the study did so because they were happy with the CBD treatment and saw no need to continue following up.

Major Review Examines Medical Literature to Find Potential Uses for CBD

In 2012, the journal Pharmaceuticals published a major review of then-current medical literature to find potential uses for CBD. The researchers compiling the review found a study in which the anti-insomnia drug nitrazepam was combined with 40, 80 or 160 mg of CBD – or a placebo – to determine what effect CBD had on sleep. The researchers found that CBD increased sleep duration, particularly in the patients who were given the highest 160 mg dose. It's difficult to find a CBD oil with that strength, but Crescent Canna makes an Extra-Strength CBD Oil containing 166 mg of CBD per dose.

Study Examines CBD’s Effect on Cortisol Production

Cortisol – also known as the “stress hormone” – tends to exist in higher levels in those prone to chronic anxiety. That’s important for people who suffer from insomnia because anxiety and sleeplessness often go hand in hand. It’s likely, therefore, that many people who have difficulty falling asleep at night also have elevated cortisol levels. Studies have shown that CBD seems to have an effect on cortisol production. If CBD has a positive effect on anxiety and sleeplessness, its interaction with the production of cortisol may be the reason. In 1993, the Brazilian Journal of Medical and Biological Research published the results of a study in which 11 volunteers were given very high doses of CBD – 300 or 600 mg – or a placebo. Cortisol levels within the CBD group were markedly different from the levels within the placebo group. The scientists conducting the study concluded that CBD seems to interfere with cortisol secretion.

Should You Try CBD if You Have Insomnia?

As you’ve learned from reading this article, research into CBD’s potential usefulness as an insomnia treatment is limited and has so far produced mixed results. Nevertheless, enough people have reported success with CBD that it’s definitely worth considering – with your doctor’s consent – as an adjunct to your existing treatment plan. The research seems to suggest that CBD is effective for some people as an anxiolytic agent, perhaps because it reduces cortisol production. With that in mind, CBD seems particularly likely to work as a remedy for insomnia if the sleeplessness exists in conjunction with chronic anxiety.

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