CBD is cannabidiol, just one of the scores of compounds found in both hemp and marijuana. The difference between hemp and marijuana, although they are both plants in the same species, is that by law hemp plants cannot contain more than 0.3 percent THC. Marijuana often contains about 12 percent THC, and some plants contain far more. THC is tetrahydrocannabinol, the intoxicating compound found in marijuana. Hemp doesn’t contain near enough THC to cause someone to feel high. Hemp is grown primarily for its oil, seeds, fibers and its high CBD content.
Both CBD and THC work in the body’s endocannabinoid system or ECS. The main function of the ECS is to regulate and normalize important body functions:
- Appetite and digestion
- Temperature and heart rate
- Memory, sleep, pain and mood
- Immune system support
- Hormone levels and fertility
The ECS has different cell receptors within it, which are called CB1 and CB2. Cannabinoids bind to these sites selectively. CBD binds only to the CB2 receptor, which is not associated with intoxication. This is why CBD cannot make someone feel high. THC binds strongly to the CB1 receptor and can indeed cause feelings of intoxication.
CBD comes in many forms, such as oils, tinctures and gummies. These products are available in an assortment of flavors and strengths that allow for easy dosing of the product. There are also topical preparations that can be applied to the skin for a local effect. The skin is rich in ECS receptors.
The Sleep-Wake Rhythm and CBD
The ECS is involved with the body’s circadian rhythm. This is the body’s internal clock that tells it when it’s time to sleep and when it’s time to be awake and active. Melatonin is a sleep hormone released by the brain’s pineal gland in the hours before a person’s normal bedtime. As the hormone ramps up, the person begins to feel sleepy. During sleep, the hormone continues to be released. As morning approaches, melatonin levels decline and the waking part of the circadian rhythm begins.
This is how it’s supposed to work. However, a hormone called cortisol may interfere with this normal process. Cortisol is a stress-related hormone that is normally highest in the later morning hours. In people with insomnia, this may be reversed. These insomniacs may have high cortisol levels at night, leading to repeated waking episodes. CBD may modulate the release of cortisol, effectively acting as a sedative and inducing sleep. CBD may also promote sleep by reducing anxiety levels. Research has shown that CBD has a calming effect on the nervous system. It may also help sleep by reducing pain.
Many people become desperate when they cannot sleep and resort to sleeping pills. However, the sleep produced by these medications isn’t natural and will likely be lacking in REM sleep periods. These REM periods are critical for memory formation and the production of certain proteins. Sleeping medications can also cause dependency, and many are addictive.
CBD for Sleep
CBD is well-tolerated and to date, there is no evidence that it’s addictive. Even long-term use produces no withdrawal syndrome. It works on the same receptors that the body’s natural endocannabinoids do and appears to promote natural, restful, safe sleep with minimal risks.