CBD and insomnia: does CBD oil improve your sleep?

We know a lot about the benefits of CBD (also called cannabidiol), but CBD and insomnia – does it really work? Research and hands-on experience prove the undoubted benefits of CBD oil for sleep and the nervous system, but we should discuss everything from the beginning.

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    Note: This and other articles on Hempo's blog are for informational purposes only. According to the directive of the European Commission, cannabidiol is classified as a 'novel food', therefore CBD products should not be used as a food supplement in Lithuania.

    What is Insomnia?

    Insomnia is a sleep disorder that can cause problems with falling asleep, maintaining sleep, or waking up too early and being unable to go back to sleep. Even after waking up, there is often a feeling of tiredness. Insomnia can negatively affect energy levels, mood, health, work performance, and overall quality of life.

    Sleep needs are individual, but most adults typically require seven to eight hours of sleep per night. Many adults experience temporary (acute) insomnia, which can last for several days or even weeks, usually due to stress or a traumatic event. However, for others, insomnia becomes long-term (chronic) and can last for a month or longer. Insomnia can manifest as an independent problem or be caused by other health disorders and medications.

    Sleepless nights are not inevitable. Often, insomnia symptoms can be reduced by changing daily habits, such as regulating sleep schedules, avoiding caffeine in the evenings, or practicing relaxing activities before bedtime. Such simple lifestyle adjustments can significantly improve sleep quality and overall well-being.

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    Types of Insomnia

    Insomnia manifests in various ways, and each case can be different. It is important to recognize these different forms of insomnia so that healthcare professionals and individuals suffering from insomnia can properly address them.

    The two main types of insomnia are acute insomnia and chronic insomnia.

    Acute (Situational) Insomnia

    Acute insomnia, also known as situational insomnia, occurs due to stressful life events and is usually temporary, lasting no more than a month. This type of insomnia can affect anyone facing significant psychological challenges. Often, anxiety and problem-solving thoughts swirl in the mind before sleep, sometimes leading to thoughts about how problems could have been avoided. This type of insomnia typically resolves on its own without medical intervention. However, if situational insomnia leads to depression and affects work performance, medication might be recommended. For milder cases of insomnia, natural remedies such as valerian drops, CBD oil (cannabis extract), lemon balm or hop teas, and melatonin are used. For more severe insomnia, a doctor may prescribe stronger chemical or sedative medications. It is important to remember that sedative medications should not be overused and their usage should be limited to 30-50 days. If insomnia recurs, the course of sedative medication can be extended, but the medication should be taken only a few times a week.

    Chronic Insomnia

    Chronic insomnia is characterized by persistent sleep disturbances. It is defined as a condition where an individual has difficulty falling asleep or maintaining sleep at least three nights a week, lasting for three months or longer. Individuals with chronic insomnia may experience sleep problems for an extended period. Lack of sleep can become a constant issue or recur in prolonged episodes over several months.

    The causes of chronic insomnia are varied. It can arise from stress, similar to acute insomnia, but also from irregular sleep schedules, poor sleep hygiene, frequent nightmares, mental health disorders, physical or neurological problems, certain medications, the influence of a sleep partner, or other sleep disorders.

    Like short-term insomnia, chronic insomnia affects people of all ages but is more common in women.

    Treatment for Chronic Insomnia

    Changing sleep habits and addressing any issues related to insomnia, such as stress, health conditions, or medications, can help many people restore peaceful sleep. If these measures do not help, a doctor may recommend cognitive-behavioral therapy, medication, or both to improve relaxation and sleep.

    Insomnia in Older Adults

    As people age, the quality of sleep often becomes more unstable. Older adults tend to sleep shorter periods and wake up more frequently during the night. Additionally, the time it takes to fall asleep increases. Scientific studies show that starting from middle age (35-40 years), a person's sleep duration may decrease by about 30 minutes per decade.

    The decrease in sleep duration and quality with age is associated with the body's internal time regulation systems, which do not process circadian signals as effectively. As a result, older individuals may feel the need to go to bed earlier and wake up earlier.

    Additionally, the structure of sleep changes. The standard sleep cycle consists of four stages: two stages of light NREM sleep, one stage of deep or slow-wave NREM sleep, and REM (rapid eye movement) sleep, after which a new cycle begins. Polysomnographic studies have shown that older people spend less time in slow-wave NREM and REM sleep phases compared to younger individuals. This leads to greater sensitivity to nighttime awakenings and affects morning alertness and wakefulness.

    Insomnia Related to Anxiety or Depression

    Symptoms of depression include persistent feelings of sadness, hopelessness, and despair, accompanied by other emotional, psychological, and physiological changes that cause difficulties in daily activities. If these intense emotions persist for more than two weeks, occur almost every day, and occupy most of the day, they may signal mood disorders known as depressive disorders.

    Depression is often associated with sleep problems. Individuals with depression may experience insomnia, have difficulty maintaining continuous sleep throughout the night, or feel extreme sleepiness during the day. Insomnia can exacerbate depression symptoms, creating a negative sleep-depression cycle that is difficult to break. For some individuals, insomnia can lead to depression. Understanding this complex relationship between sleep and depression is an important step toward improving sleep quality and more effectively managing depression.

    Insomnia Related to Body Weight

    Various factors, including overweight or obesity, can affect sleep quality. Studies show that being overweight can increase the risk of certain sleep-disrupting conditions.

    Snoring

    Overweight individuals are more likely to snore. Snoring might seem like a problem only for those around you, but it can negatively affect sleep quality. If you feel tired during the day, it might be a consequence of snoring, even if you are not aware of it. For many people who snore, losing weight can help reduce snoring.

    Sleep Apnea

    Overweight is one of the main risk factors for sleep apnea or obstructive sleep apnea syndrome (OSAS). With sleep apnea, breathing can stop during the night for 10 seconds or longer, at least five times per hour. Typically, breathing stops, a snoring episode occurs, and then breathing resumes. Sometimes this can cause a choking sensation.

    Individuals with sleep apnea often wake up during the night but may not be aware of it. This sleep disorder causes fatigue, headaches, mood swings, and decreased concentration during the day.

    Sleep apnea is most common in middle-aged overweight men. This condition is dangerous because, if untreated, it can increase the risk of high blood pressure, heart problems, and stroke. Some individuals with sleep apnea may also have an increased risk of type 2 diabetes.

    Various treatments are available for sleep apnea, but weight loss is one of the recommendations for those diagnosed with sleep apnea.

    Different Sleep Phases

    NREM 1 - this is the initial stage of sleep, during which there is a transition from wakefulness to sleep. During this phase, brain activity begins to slow down, and muscle activity decreases. NREM 1 phase usually lasts only a few minutes and is a light sleep, from which it is easy to wake up. It is in this stage that sudden muscle twitches, known as hypnic jerks, often occur.
    NREM 2 - this phase occupies approximately half of the total sleep time. In this stage, the body relaxes further, brain wave activity becomes slower, eye movements stop, and heart rate and body temperature decrease. There is increased brain wave activity known as "sleep spindles." It is still relatively easy to wake up from this phase.
    NREM 3 - this is the so-called slow-wave or deep sleep. During this phase, slow delta waves dominate the brain, muscles relax, breathing, blood pressure, and body temperature reach their lowest levels. Deep sleep is essential for physical body recovery: hormone production occurs, the immune system is regulated, and muscle tissues are restored. Waking up from this phase can be difficult, and a person may feel groggy.
    REM Sleep - this is the final phase of the sleep cycle, characterized by rapid eye movements, more intense brain activity, increased heart rate, elevated body temperature, irregular breathing, and vivid dreams. While brain activity is high, body muscles remain paralyzed, preventing the realization of actions seen in dreams. REM sleep is important for cognitive functions, emotional regulation, memory consolidation, and learning.

    Symptoms of Insomnia

    - Difficulty falling asleep
    - Frequent awakenings during the night
    - Waking up very early in the morning
    - Feeling tired upon waking and throughout the day
    - Difficulty concentrating at work
    - Difficulty interacting socially with others
    - Mood swings, increased sensitivity
    - Increased daytime sleepiness (feeling tired)
    - Impaired concentration or short-term memory
    - Behavioral problems (in children): hyperactivity, aggression, impulsivity
    - Anxiety
    - Lack of motivation
    - Physical fatigue

    Tips for Fighting Insomnia

    - Physical Activity: Avoid intense exercise about three hours before bedtime, as it may interfere with falling asleep.
    - Napping: Avoid napping during the day or evening, especially if you have trouble falling asleep, as it can worsen the situation.
    - Drinks Before Bed: Avoid consuming large amounts of fluids before bedtime to prevent waking up at night to use the bathroom.
    - Medication Use: Do not use sleeping pills continuously; occasional use is more effective and causes fewer side effects.
    - Optimal Bedroom Environment: A comfortable sleeping environment is vital for better sleep. It directly affects both the process of falling asleep and the quality of sleep. A calm and relaxing bedroom atmosphere is necessary to calm the mind and prepare the body for rest. This means choosing a comfortable mattress and pillows that suit your sleeping position, ensuring the room is dark enough during sleep, and maintaining a cool, comfortable room temperature. Reducing noise levels is also important, as any external sounds can disrupt sleep cycles. Relaxing elements, such as soft, soothing colors or subtle ambient sounds (rain or ocean waves), can help create an even calmer environment. Remember that the coziness of the bedroom is not just an aesthetic matter but also an important aspect of sleep hygiene, which can significantly improve sleep quality and overall well-being.
    - Sleeping Position: It is recommended to avoid sleeping on your back, as this position can make breathing more difficult, reduce oxygen intake, and promote snoring.
    - Snoring: If you snore, avoid consuming alcohol and muscle relaxants in the evenings, as they can worsen breathing.
    - Watching TV Before Bed: Avoid watching TV while trying to fall asleep, as screen light and images can interfere with the falling asleep process.
    - Using Mobile Phones: It is recommended to avoid using smartphones before bed, as their screens emit light that can disrupt the natural falling asleep cycle.
    - Avoiding Bright Light: Try to avoid intense light before bed. It activates brain activity and signals that it is time to stay awake. Gradually reduce lighting before bed to facilitate falling asleep.
    - Avoid Oversleeping: Avoid sleeping too long, as it can
     disrupt the normal sleep rhythm and reduce sleep quality the next day.
    - Alcohol Consumption: Avoid drinking alcohol in the evenings. Alcohol may hasten falling asleep but disrupts sleep quality and can cause insomnia or disturb the REM sleep phase.
    - Caffeine Consumption: Avoid drinking coffee and other caffeinated beverages at least four hours before bed, as caffeine is a stimulant that can interfere with falling asleep.
    - Nicotine Consumption: Do not smoke at least two hours before bed, as nicotine is a stimulant that can disrupt sleep quality and promote insomnia.

    Narcolepsy

    Narcolepsy symptoms include excessive daytime sleepiness, sleep paralysis, hallucinations, and, in some cases, cataplexy, which is a sudden loss of muscle tone, usually triggered by intense emotions such as laughter. This condition affects both men and women and is diagnosed in about 0.3% of the population. Symptoms are often observed for a long time before confirming this diagnosis.

    People with narcolepsy experience strong daytime sleepiness and may fall asleep suddenly during any activity. With this condition, the clear boundary between wakefulness and sleep is disrupted. During the day, while awake, sleep-like symptoms may occur. Sleep paralysis and hallucinations often accompany falling asleep or waking up, and the patient may be immobile even after waking up. Nighttime sleep is often disrupted, accompanied by vivid dreams.

    Narcolepsy can arise spontaneously or due to various neurological disorders. It is associated with a deficiency of hypocretin, a specific brain substance important for sleep regulation in the hypothalamus.
    Diagnosis is based on the patient's medical history, test results, and sleep studies. The most effective treatment involves medication combined with behavioral adjustments.

    Changes in sleep and its importance to our health

    Scientists and doctors say that sleep today is far from what it used to be. Research suggests that in the early 20th century the average person slept about 9 hours a day. Today, the average sleep duration varies between 6.8 and 7.5 hours, but many people admit that they sleep even less.

    Lack of sleep is much more serious than fatigue and sleepiness: a constant lack of rest causes long-term damage to emotional and physical health. Doctors find that people who sleep less than 8 hours a night are more likely to report stress symptoms such as fatigue, irritability and anger. But there is more. Constant sleep deficiency increases the risk of such dangerous diseases such as diabetes, depression and cardiovascular disorders.

    CBD and insomnia

    What factors determine sleep and its quality?

    The human body functions 24 hours a day according to a natural or innate circadian rhythm. We can be compared to a 24/7 clock responsible for physical activity, sleepiness, mental and social behaviour. Circadian rhythm is directly related to relaxation and sleep quality. Here are the factors that negatively affect it:

    • Artificial light. Some cells in the eye process ambient light and reset our circadian rhythm. Exposure of these cells to artificial illumination, such as from a computer screen, can confuse the internal clock. The modern rhythm of life means that you are constantly exposed to artificial light during the dark hours of the day. It disrupts the natural circadian rhythm and has detrimental effects on sleep and overall health. To fall asleep, you should significantly limit the time in front of the computer, TV or smartphone screen and not use these devices before going to bed.
    • It’s a fairly normal part of life and an aspect of many people’s daily lives, but constant stress and tension hurt the emotional state and nervous system. Stress often makes it difficult to both fall asleep and get a good night’s sleep.
    • Excess caffeine is an obvious culprit for insomnia. It’s a stimulant substance that, with frequent use, distorts the circadian rhythm, affecting the duration and quality of sleep.
    • Sleep disorders and insomnia can be caused by certain health problems, such as mental/emotional health disorders (depression, post-traumatic stress syndrome, etc.). It can also be triggered by diabetes, heart/vascular diseases and other chronic diseases or inflammations.
    • Another cause of insomnia can be the use of certain prescription medications. Their active ingredients sometimes interact with sleep processes, making it difficult to fall asleep.
    • Other reasons. It happens that circadian rhythm disorders develop for other reasons, such as changes in sleeping habits, travel or work. Also, because of the ageing processes of the body.

    CBD and insomnia: the positive benefits of cannabidiol

    Hemp products have been used to improve sleep for thousands of years, but only in recent decades have doctors and scientists come to understand how this plant affects our sleep processes.


    The effects of hemp are related to our endocannabinoid system (ECS). This concept is essential to understanding the impact CBD can have on sleep. It’s a complex neurochemical network that regulates various bodily functions, including emotions, pain and sleep. Although your body naturally produces endocannabinoid molecules, exogenous sources of cannabinoids such as CBD can have a positive effect.

    CBD and insomnia

    A part of your brain called the hypothalamus has a rich network of nerve cells and performs signal transmission and secretion functions. The hypothalamus is responsible for various important processes in your body. It also helps to regulate your emotional well-being, stress, body temperature and sleep processes.

    CBD oil can help people with insomnia. Insomnia is often caused by an overactive stress response. Acting through the endocannabinoid system, CBD reaches the hypothalamus and suppresses stress hormones, harmonizing the sleep rhythm and wakefulness. It helps to get rid of insomnia and provides a better sleep.

    CBD and circadian rhythm regulation

    Circadian rhythm disorders, characterised by an unbalanced sleep-wake cycle, occur when the body’s internal clock does not match the signals coming from the environment. CBD can help balance the natural circadian rhythm and improve sleep. Cannabidiol interacts with the endocannabinoid system and ensures that the body goes through all the sleep phases without unnecessary interruptions.

    A few tips to boost the effects of CBD on sleep

    • Use CBD oil an hour before bed. After using CBD oil, it usually takes about ten minutes before you start to feel its positive effects. For some people it may take even longer, so you should take CBD an hour before bed to help you unwind and relax at the end of the day. Also, turn off the screen a couple of hours before bedtime. Make relaxing the last part of the night-time routine. Instead of looking at the computer screen, take a walk, read a book and choose moderate lighting. Read more about CBD and the best time to use CBD oil in this article.
    • Choose full-spectrum CBD the oil. Cannabidiol is a good sleep aid, but for maximum and safe effects pay attention to the type of oil you choose. In Lithuania, you can choose from several types of CBD products: broad-spectrum, full-spectrum and isolate. If you are trying cannabidiol for the first time, choose full-spectrum CBD oil. It contains terpenes and other beneficial substances that help relieve pain, strengthen the immune system and improve the functioning of the nervous system. In this way, full-spectrum CBD oil will further improve your rest and well-being after waking up.

    There's no doubt that CBD may support sleep. That being said, to have the best result and enjoy the lasting effect, you should choose certified, high-quality CBD products and use them daily.

    Regular use of CBD oil really helps with insomnia: it regulates the sleep rhythm and ensures more effective rest.

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    CBD ir nemiga - ar tai veikia?

    Iki šiol atlikti moksliniai tyrimai rodo, kad CBD aliejus gali turėti teigiamą poveikį miegui, padėdamas susitvarkyti su miego sutrikimais (nemiga) - CBD aliejus trumpina užmigimo laiką, ilgina nepertraukiamo miego laiką ir stabilizuoja miego ciklą.

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    Rekomenduojama rinktis pilno spektro CBD aliejų, vartoti jį reguliariai ir nuosekliai, idealiu atveju - kasdien, likus valandai iki miego. Nepamirškite, jog siekiant pagerinti miego kokybę ir sumažinti nemigą taip pat reikėtų vengti ir dirbtinės šviesos bei išmaniųjų įrenginių naudojimo prieš miegą - tokiu atveju pavyks pasiekti geriausius rezultatus.