You’re Not Alone in Your Sleep Struggles
Do you lie awake at night, trying to will yourself to fall asleep but feeling wider awake with each passing hour? Or maybe you fall asleep easily but then you wake up after a few hours – and can’t fall back to sleep. In either case, worrying about how you’re not getting enough sleep makes it even harder for you to get the sleep you need. You keep glancing over at the clock on your bedside table, dreading the day ahead of you because you know you’ll be too tired to function well.
You’re not alone. Between ten and 60 percent of adults live with chronic insomnia, according to some estimates. Although sleeplessness affects all demographic groups, women are at special risk, with one in four suffering from insomnia. We’ll get to the reasons for that shortly.
Insomnia is not a new problem (although worry over current events may be increasing our sleepless nights). Prescription and over-the-counter sleep aids have been in widespread use for decades. Unfortunately, many come with unwanted side effects. We’ll review the various options available, including CBD oil, a natural, non-addictive sleep remedy. More and more people are finding that CBD brings them relief from sleep difficulties, without the danger of chemical dependence or unpleasant side effects. First, though, let’s take a look at why sleep is so important.
Why We Need Quality Sleep to Be Healthy
Sleep is vitally important to your physical and mental health and well-being. Among other things, sleep:
Supports your brain function
Heals and repairs wear and tear in your heart and blood vessels
Affects how your body reacts to insulin, the hormone that controls your blood glucose (sugar) level
Enhances your ability to learn, solve problems, make decisions and remember things
Helps you control your emotions and behavior
What determines the quality of your sleep? The National Sleep Foundation (NSF) has identified the key indicators of good sleep quality, as established by a panel of experts. They are:
Sleeping at least 85 percent of the time that you’re in bed
Falling asleep in 30 minutes or less
Waking up no more than one time per night; and
Being awake for 20 minutes or less after initially falling asleep.
What Happens When You Don’t Get Enough Sleep?
You know how you feel when you are sleep deprived. You’re less energetic, not at your best mentally or physically. You find it difficult to concentrate or think clearly. Perhaps you feel irritable, uncoordinated, forgetful.
These short-term effects of sleep deprivation are bad enough, but if insufficient sleep becomes a long-term pattern, it can lead to health problems that are much more serious than lethargy and an inability to focus.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), failing to get enough sleep on an ongoing basis can increase your risk of heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, Type 2 diabetes and obesity. Poor sleep is a risk factor for Alzheimer’s disease. It causes mental health problems, may contribute to an early death, can lead to poor mental health, and has been linked to depression, suicide and risky behavior. Lastly, it makes it more likely that you’ll be involved in a motor vehicle crash.
Insufficient sleep can also compromise the immune system. That reduces your ability to fight off diseases and infections and makes you slower to recover if you do get them.
What’s the Connection Between Sleep and Weight Gain?
Have you been frustrated in your attempts to lose weight? You may be focusing on the wrong things. Counting calories and following trendy diets won’t help change the number on your bathroom scale if you’re not getting enough sleep each night.
That’s because sleep deprivation can trap you in a “vicious cycle” of:
not exercising (because you don’t have the energy to work out) and
making poor food choices (because you want to eat something that’s comforting or full of caffeine or sugar, for a temporary energy boost)
This one-two punch slows your metabolism and hinders its ability to convert what you eat and drink into energy. If you want to keep your metabolism humming along at a healthy speed, make sure you’re supporting it with a sufficient amount of sleep. One way to do that is with CBD oil tinctures. CBD – as we’ll learn shortly – is a gentle and effective way to manage your sleep without the harmful side effects of pharmaceutical drugs.
How Much Sleep Are You Getting?
The American Academy of Sleep Medicine and the Sleep Research Society say adults should get at least seven hours of sleep each night, in order to promote optimal health. Alarmingly, participants in an annual survey reported averaging only five and a half hours a night in 2019 – down from six hours and 17 minutes per night in 2018. Overall, about one in four Americans are sleeping poorly.
For women – especially those aged 30 to 70 – the problem is especially serious. The National Sleep Foundation, in its Sleep in America poll, found that women are much more likely than men to have difficulty falling and staying asleep.
This is partly because some sleep disturbances are linked to hormonal changes that occur in women during certain phases of their lives, including:
The menstrual cycle (especially for women who have premenstrual dysphoric disorder [PMDD])
Pregnancy (when discomfort, leg cramps and a more frequent need to use the bathroom can wake women up)
Perimenopause and menopause (hot flashes and night sweats make it difficult to sleep soundly)
Additionally, more women suffer from depression, anxiety and fibromyalgia (a condition involving widespread muscle pain and tenderness). These can all affect sleep.
And, as both men and women age, our sleep tends to not be as deep and not last as long – although we still need as much sleep as we did when you were younger.
Sleep-Driving and Other Undesirable Effects of Pharmaceutical Drugs
Since 2007, the FDA has issued two separate warnings regarding prescription drugs intended to improve sleep. One notes that patients may experience allergic reactions and bizarre behaviors. Another warns that taking sleep meds at night can impair a person’s ability to drive and perform other activities the next day.
Benzodiazepines, a category of sleeping pills that includes emazepam (Restoril), triazolam (Halcion) and others, has some serious downsides. They can cause addiction and unpleasant withdrawal symptoms in some patients when they stop taking them. The potential side effects of Dixopene, another sleep aid, include dizziness, dry mouth, blurred vision, constipation and trouble urinating.
Eszopiclone (Lunesta), lemborexant (Dayvigo) and suvorexant (Belsomra) can impair the ability of users to function fully the next day. The makers of both Lunesta and Ambien are required by the FDA to include warnings with their products about their potential negative side effects, which include sleep-walking and sleep-driving.
There are also prescription drugs that help you fall asleep, but may not help you stay asleep, like zolpidem (Ambien, Edluar, Intermezzo).
Most OTC Sleep Meds Have This Drawback
Walk into any pharmacy and you’ll find an aisle with shelves full of over-the-counter (OTC) products aimed at helping you sleep. These include Benadryl, Aleve PM, Unisom SleepTabs as well as natural supplements like melatonin and valerian. Choosing from among these medications means that you’ll have to educate yourself about:
What they’re for (General insomnia? Or a specific sleep disorder?)
What kinds of side effects are possible
Who should not take them? (Do you currently take a medication that could interact with a drug and produce harmful effects?)
According to the Mayo Clinic, many OTC sleep aids stop working over time. That is because they contain antihistamines. The human body tends to build up a tolerance to the sedative effects of antihistamines quickly. Consequently, the longer you take them, the less they’ll help you sleep.
Additionally, some OTC sleep medications come with a “hangover effect” that leaves you groggy and lethargic the day after you take them. This is counter to the outcome we all hope for from sleep: an alert, energetic feeling that restores our well-being and makes us feel productive.
Supplements like melatonin, a hormone, and valerian, an herb, have few potential side effects, but the jury is still out on whether they help people with serious sleep difficulties.
How CBD Oil Tinctures Increase Quality Sleep
CBD is a cannabinoid found in the cannabis plant. Cannabinoids are chemical compounds that bind or attach themselves to receptors in your body’s endocannabinoid system (ECS). The ECS is a complex network helps regulate processes that keep your body running smoothly, like sleep, digestion, appetite, memory and mood. It also plays a role in things like inflammation, chronic pain, muscle formation and stress.
Although research into exactly how CBD interacts with the ECS is ongoing, a number of studies indicate that CBD can help alleviate insomnia, pain, anxiety and nausea. It has been approved by the FDA as a treatment for certain forms of epilepsy.
In a study published in 2019 by the National Library of Medicine of the National Institutes of Health to determine whether CBD helps improve sleep and/or reduce anxiety, some 66.7 percent of the patients reported better sleep and 79.2 percent reported lower anxiety levels in the first month of use.
Why mention anxiety in an article about sleep? Anxiety is one of the underlying causes of insomnia. By helping ease anxiety, CBD also helps with the sleeplessness that is related to anxiety. (Research is also being done on CBD as a reliever of pain, which can also prevent people from sleeping.)
CBD Oil Tinctures Are a Safe, Natural Alternative
The World Health Organization (WHO) says CBD is generally well tolerated with a “good safety profile.” That means that there is no potential for addiction or abuse. (In fact, studies are being done to explore the possibility of CBD being used to help people overcome addictions.) There have been no reports of fatal overdoses. Potential side effects are few and mild and include a dry mouth and sleepiness.
“But I Don’t Want to Get High”
That’s a concern expressed by many people who are considering using CBD oil tinctures to help manage their sleep. It’s important to know the difference between CBD and THC, the compound in marijuana that gives users a feeling of euphoria.
The easiest way to explain it is that CBD and THC are cousins. They are both cannabinoids. Both are found in the cannabis plant. However, CBD is made from hemp, which is derived is from the sativa strain of cannabis. Marijuana, its psychoactive cousin, comes from the indica strain. They are related, but quite different from each other.
Hemp – by law – has much lower concentrations of THC (0.3% or less) and a higher percentage of cannabinoids, which are known for their therapeutic properties. Cannabis indica has the opposite composition: a lot of THC and very little CBD.
In short, marijuana is intoxicating, while CBD is relaxing.
CBD Oil benefits for Women
While CBD products are beneficial for people in general, they can be especially useful for women. Studies on CBD have found that it can help:
Regulate hormones to counter hormonal imbalances
Stabilize mood changes that occur during perimenopause and menopause
Potentially decrease menopause-related bone loss
Reduce anxiety related to sleep interruptions
Alleviate PMS symptoms like mood shifts, bloating and cramps
CBD skin care products address visible signs of aging, like wrinkles and dark spots. Its anti-inflammatory properties are effective at suppressing acne breakouts, according to 2014 study.
And, CBD is being hailed as a way to enhance sexual pleasure by helping women to relax and experience less performance anxiety.
Why Take CBD Oil Tinctures?
CBD oil tinctures are generally made from strains of hemp that contain high concentrations of CBD, a beneficial cannabinoid. They offer some advantages over other forms of CBD. They can be taken sublingually (under the tongue), which makes your body absorb them faster. With CBD oil tinctures, it’s easy to take the dosage you want by simply increasing or decreasing the number of drops you ingest.
Setting the Stage for Quality Sleep
While CBD will improve your sleep experience, it’s also important that you use it in combination with other healthy sleep habits. These include:
Not using electronic devices for at least an hour before you go to bed
Removing electronic devices from your bedroom, and making sure the room is dark and quiet
Going to bed at night and get up in the morning at the same times, even on weekends
Getting regular exercise
Not eating large meals before bedtime
By making a few lifestyle changes and adding CBD oil tinctures to your routine, you’ll find yourself sleeping longer and feeling better!