A natural way to better sleep
Having trouble getting to sleep or waking up often? Haven’t been able to get a good night’s sleep or enough of it for a long time?
Nearly 15% of Aussies suffer chronic insomnia as defined by international standards according to the The Australian Sleep Foundations 2019 report. Shockingly close to 60% of our population experience at least one symptom of sleep disturbance with a high frequency (more than three times per week).
Reported sleep problems, also known as insomnia, include:
- Having trouble falling asleep, also called sleep onset latency.
- Sleep maintenance disruptions, where people frequently wake in the night or have difficulty falling back asleep after waking.
- Waking too early in the morning, without need or desire.
Men are more likely than women to experience insomnia, and despite how common sleep troubles are, less than 30% of people report having discussed insomnia or sleep changes with their doctor.
These sleep trends have changed over the past two years as we have lived with Covid so no surprises that focussing on sleep for better health should be a priority for all of us and a problem many of us need to address.
Heard about CBD oil?
Heard about CBD oil and wondering what all the fuss is? CBD is increasingly becoming the go-to as a natural option for a variety of health concerns – and better sleep is one of them!
There are various prescription or over-the-counter sleep aids available, but increasingly people are seeking out plant-based alternatives like CBD oil to support their sleep.
So what is CBD?
CBD oil can be extracted from the leaves, stalk, and flowers of the cannabis plant and manufactured with a carrier oil such as hemp, olive or MCT oil. CBD oil can be ingested sublingually, topically, in capsules or mixed with food or drinks.
The reason behind the effectiveness of CBD oil is that it can interact with our endocannabinoid system (ECS) and trigger therapeutic benefits. The ECS is a biological system in the human body that regulates specific functions including sleep, mood, appetite, and memory.
How CBD oil helps sleep
Cannabis has a long history of use as a sedative and sleep aid. While research into its medicinal actions for sleep has primarily surrounded THC, a growing body of research supports CBD for insomnia.
Unlike some pharmaceutical medications, CBD oil doesn’t force your body to sleep, instead it elicits sensations of calm and relaxation whilst supporting your body’s natural mechanisms that promote restful sleep via the ECS.
We have yet to discover the full extent of CBD’s effect on the ECS and sleep but preliminary research suggests that CBD can regulate key processes that are out of balance for people with insomnia.
CBD also influences key neurotransmitters and chemical signals involved in sleep and rest. Adensosine is a molecule that tracks how long you’ve been awake for; it continuously builds throughout the day and exerts “sleep pressure” – a biological push towards sleeping.
Via the ECS, CBD can affect the adenosine pathways to promote sleep. CBD may also have influence over other neurotransmitters such as GABA and serotonin reducing anxiety or an overactive stress response that impedes restful sleep.
Studies support CBD for insomnia
From research and the clinical practice of medical cannabis doctors, it is estimated that 60% or more find benefits from CBD for insomnia. However, some people might not find any improvements in sleep or alternatively feel a sense of alertness.
A three-month study of people who had sleep problems or anxiety showed improvements in self-reported sleep measures with low-doses of CBD oil.
One earlier investigation into CBD for insomnia showed that CBD improved sleep duration or reduced the time it took to fall asleep when compared to a placebo.
When assessing sleep disturbances secondary to other conditions such as chronic pain, PTSD, Autism or anxiety – CBD oil consistently offers improvements in sleep.
Accessing legal CBD in Australia
How you access CBD in Australia will depend on your needs. Some health concerns only require low dose CBD oil, while more chronic conditions require a higher CBD product. Both have different rules and requirements.
In late 2020, the Australian Therapeutics Goods Administration (TGA) gave the go-ahead for low-dose CBD to be rescheduled to schedule 3 pharmacist-only medication – which came into effect from 1st February 2021.
While it is technically legal to access Low Dose CBD in Australia through Australian pharmacies without a prescription, there are currently no such products available as it takes time to access and approve these products.
In the meantime, there are access pathways online via companies that specialise in plant-based medicines. They offer a fast and simple online registration system to check your eligibility and provide access to low-dose CBD for people with insomnia or sleep disturbances who haven’t had success improving their sleep through other avenues.
However, if your insomnia is related to a more complicated chronic condition you may need medicinal cannabis that includes THC or
doses of CBD higher than 150mg per day, which requires you to take a different access route with specialists doctors.
Combining CBD and terpenes for sleep
Terpenes are plant compounds that are found alongside cannabinoids. Terpenes and cannabinoids are believed to both complement and enhance the therapeutic actions of medical cannabis through a phenomenon known as the Entourage Effect.
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Written by Lisa McLean
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