Insomnia is a sleep disorder that causes difficulty in falling asleep. This condition can be caused by factors such as stress, anxiety, emotional worries, jet lag, and night shift work schedules to name a few. Insomnia can be acute or chronic and is generally defined as chronic insomnia when it occurs at least three times per week for over three months. More people than you may imagine suffer from insomnia. Although it mainly affects older people, it can also impact kids and teenagers. In fact, 45% of New Zealanders who had their sleep patterns examined reported insomnia symptoms at least once a week. 

       The good news? CBD may be useful to the fight against anxiety and stress. CBD has anti-stress properties which may help calm a racing mind and a rapid heart rate. Researchers have found that the calming effects of CBD are felt almost immediately, compared to antidepressants which often take weeks to take effect. Cortisol, a hormone associated with stress, is also frequently linked to insomnia as it can reduce the quantity of sleep and also increase feelings of wakefulness. Researchers have discovered that daily moderate use of CBD oil may reduce cortisol levels, thereby improving anxiety and sleep.

       Excessive anxiety and worry make it difficult to get to sleep and stay asleep at night. A lack of sleep can also exacerbate anxiety, creating a vicious cycle that is challenging to break. CBD may lessen anxiety symptoms, such as a racing heart, while elevating serotonin levels. The “happy hormone” serotonin may be boosted by CBD when it interacts with the body’s central nervous system receptors.

       Stress and anxiety often go hand in hand. A recent study examined the effectiveness of CBD in treating post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). 91% of patients who took CBD orally reported fewer PTSD symptoms after eight weeks of therapy. Additionally, some patients with PTSD-related recurring nightmares benefited from CBD.

       The endocannabinoid system is involved in a lot of body processes, including mental health. This relationship is so strong that many researchers have surmised that individuals suffering from anxiety, stress and other mental health disorders may have damaged or altered endocannabinoid systems.
       Physical illness and pain can be inconvenient, uncomfortable and reduce quality of life significantly. Both of these symptoms can also make it hard to fall (and stay) asleep. An interesting fact is that cannabis has always been used for medicinal purposes – one of the earliest recorded uses of cannabis was for arthritis. In New Zealand, about 1 in 6 people live with at least one type of arthritis, making it a relatively common condition.

       There is some evidence to suggest that people with anxiety who use CBD reported associated pain relief and, because of this, improved sleep. The reason for this lies in CBD’s unique anti-inflammatory properties, which affect how the body’s receptors respond to inflammation and pain.

       Most of the research using CBD for pain has been related to nerve damage. Researchers have investigated other forms of CBD oil application (in addition to oral) and found that topical application is also useful. After determining how effective CBD is for pain when applied to the skin, neuropathic or nerve damage pain was decreased.
       Some people with uncontrolled seizures have reported positive results and decreased seizure activity when taking medical cannabis, especially strains high in CBD. This is valid for adults and children who suffer from epilepsy and need help with sleep. However, not everyone with epilepsy should consider medical cannabis or cannabidiol (CBD) as a treatment option so please consult your doctor.

       Early evidence also suggests that cannabis may be more effective than licenced drugs at treating various ASD-related symptoms (Autism Spectrum Disorder) such as behavioural issues, hyperactivity, and sleep disturbances while having fewer metabolic and neurological side effects.

How Does Cannabis Improve Sleep?


       Medicinal cannabis may help with sleep disorders and other conditions by interacting with the body’s own endocannabinoid system. This system comprises a complex group of endocannabinoids, enzymes and receptors that affect mood, concentration, hunger, stress and pain. 
       The research on cannabis and sleep (insomnia) is still relatively new, and most researchers agree that more research on medical cannabis for sleep is needed before we can fully understand its impacts.
       However, we do know that the two primary cannabinoids that may help are THC (Tetrahydrocannabinol), and CBD (Cannabidiol). Learn more below.



        A cannabinoid present in cannabis that encourages relaxation is CBD (cannabidiol). There is some research supporting several of CBD’s health benefits, including its ability to improve sleep symptoms. There is no “high” connected to CBD. Instead, CBD functions to counterbalance or balance the high caused by another cannabinoid, THC. CBD can interact with endocannabinoid system receptors to reduce feelings of anxiety, stress, or pain.

       CBD has attracted much interest for its capacity to potentially lessen anxiety, ease pain, and foster clarity and focus. Additionally, CBD may increase alertness and lessen daytime sleepiness. According to studies, CBD may lessen anxiety without interfering with sleep-wake cycles.



       THC seems to be the cannabinoid that actively affects sleep architecture and the amount of time spent in various stages of sleep. THC and THC-rich strains of cannabis have been the subject of several studies over the years. This cannabinoid is most closely associated with increases in deep, slow-wave sleep, lighter stages of non-REM sleep and decreases in REM sleep.
       THC has sedative properties, and higher THC cannabis strains typically have a greater sedative effect. But be aware that THC containing medication can cause impairment – always leave an 8 hour window before driving or operating heavy machinery.

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