There is nothing worse than laying bed and staring into the darkness. Every few minutes, you check the time and calculate how much sleep you will get before the alarm goes off…if you fall asleep RIGHT NOW. Lack of sleep can absolutely ruin your day; tired, cranky, hungry and unable to focus. It effects your relationships, your work performance and your safety. You lay in bed and ask yourself, “Why can’t I sleep?”
What is Insomnia?
If you can’t sleep, you may be wondering if you have insomnia. Insomnia is a complicated condition. If you struggle with falling asleep (more than once), you may have insomnia. According to guidelines from a physician group, insomnia is difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep, even when a person has the chance to do so. People with insomnia can feel dissatisfied with their sleep and usually experience one or more of the following symptoms: fatigue, low energy, difficulty concentrating, mood disturbances, and poor performance in work or at school.
What are the symptoms of insomnia?
Insomnia symptoms may include:
- Being tired during the day
- Not able to pay attention
- Difficulty falling asleep at night
- Waking up during the night
- Waking up too early
- Not feeling well-rested after a night’s sleep
- Irritability, depression or anxiety
- Unable to focus on tasks
- Increased errors or accidents
- Ongoing worries about sleep
What are the causes of insomnia?
The causes of your insomnia will depend on the type of sleeplessness you experience. Short-term insomnia may be caused by stress, an upsetting or traumatic event, or changes to your sleep habits. It generally doesn’t last very long. For example, you are worried about a presentation at work and can’t sleep until it is over. Then sleep habits will generally return to normal.
Chronic insomnia lasts for at least three months and is usually secondary to another problem or a combination of problems, including:
- medical conditions which make it harder to sleep, such as arthritis or diabetes
- psychological issues, such as anxiety or depression
- substance abuse- alcohol or drugs, even nicotine
Personally, I suffer from chronic insomnia, which means it is a pretty regular thing in my bed. My lack of sleep was always due to restless leg syndrome and pain in my feet. My diabetes has given me neuropathy in my ankles and toes, causing pain.
What are the risk factors for insomnia?
Insomnia can occur at any age, although mine didn’t arrive until I hit 40. It is more likely to affect women than men. According to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI)Trusted Source, people with certain risk factors are more likely to have insomnia. These risk factors include:
- high levels of stress-personal or professional
- emotional disorders, such as depression, anxiety or distress related to a life event
- lower income
- traveling to different time zones, such as jet lag
- sedentary lifestyle- many office workers suffer with it
- changes in work hours, or working night shifts/rotating shifts
- Certain medical conditions, such as obesity and cardiovascular disease, can also lead to insomnia. Menopause can lead to insomnia as well
What are the treatments for insomnia?
The treatment for insomnia depends on its underlying cause. For chronic insomnia, your medical provider may recommend any combination of the following treatments:
In many cases, by practicing good sleep habits and changing your routines, you can improve your sleep. Sleep hygiene is a set of bedtime habits and rituals you can do every night to improve how you sleep. For example, stay off all electronics for an hour before bed. Or no exercise after 6pm.
Behavioral Therapy for Insomnia
Behavioral therapy for insomnia addresses the thoughts and behaviors that keep you from sleeping well. It also helps you learn new strategies to sleep better. It can include techniques for stress reduction, relaxation and sleep schedule management. An example of behavioral therapy could be journaling daily to reduce stress. Or making your bedtime more regular.
Your doctor or nurse practitioner may prescribe a medication to treat your insomnia. Sleeping pills that are approved to treat insomnia are called “hypnotics.” You may build a tolerance to these medications over time. Some medications that treat other problems also may help you sleep. Your provider can decide which medication is best for you. You should only take a medication when supervised by a medical provider. Disclaimer: I am trying to eliminate my medications, so I choose to not go this route. However, if this is what may work for you, consult your doctor. Be careful of any medication that may cause dependence.
Yoga and Meditation
Yoga isn’t just beneficial for improving core strength, flexibility, and stress levels; it can also help you sleep better. After all, a better body creates a better mind. If insomnia is at the root of your sleepless nights, it may be worth trying meditation. The deep relaxation technique can help to relax you and clear your mind of any stress before you even hit the pillow. Personally, meditation has become my go-to stress reliever. There are numerous channels out there to help you. A quick online search will help you get started.
Food and drinks to help sleep
Eating —and drinking—for better sleep means more than just avoiding caffeine and heavy, heartburn-inducing foods at night.
- Complex Carbs
Skip the white bread, refined pasta, and sugary, baked goods, which may reduce serotonin levels and impair sleep. Having dessert to late in the evening will not help you. Instead, choose heavier whole grains for your bedtime snack: Popcorn, oatmeal, or whole-wheat crackers with nut butter are all good choices.
- A Handful of Nuts
Nuts are a good source of heart-healthy fats. Almonds and walnuts, specifically, contain melatonin, a hormone that helps to regulate your sleep/wake cycle. Eating them can increase your blood levels of the hormone, helping you sleep more soundly.
- A Cup of Bedtime Tea
A nightly cup of tea (decaf, of course) can be a perfect relaxing ritual. Chamomile, ginger, and peppermint are calming choices for bedtime. I like a hot green tea before bed-decaf.
- Warm Milk
Scientifically, there is a link between the tryptophan and melatonin content of milk and improved sleep. But perhaps more powerful is the psychological link between warm milk and bedtime as a child. Just like hot tea, a warm drink of milk can provide the perfect soothing backdrop for a relaxing bedtime routine.
Certain fruits that contain melatonin may help you fall asleep faster and wake up less often during the night. For instance, tart cherry juice and whole tart cherries contain a lot of melatonin, and bananas, pineapple, and oranges are also sources. If you have insomnia, eating two kiwis before bed can increase your sleep duration by an hour over the course of a month. Other fruits and vegetables that are rich in antioxidants (like berries, prunes, raisins, and plums) may have a similar effect by helping to counteract the oxidative stress caused by a sleep disorder.
CBD Oil and Sleep
CBD oil plays a very interesting role in sleep… and, surprisingly, it’s not what you might think. There are a lot of people out there right now saying that CBD and hemp extract are great for helping you sleep well. However, that is not the total truth. It can help you sleep, but not by making you tired.
CBD can be responsible for better sleep mostly because CBD stops inflammation. As a potent antioxidant, it keeps free radical stress in check. This can improve the quality and restfulness of your sleep.
However, CBD itself has actually been found in the medical research to induce wakefulness… quite the opposite of sleep. How does it work? Let’s look into it.
After all, the process may help you make the right decision about what time of day to take your CBD supplement.
Across the board, it would appear as though CBD is a natural wakefulness promoting compound. Because of this, it seems smart to recommend taking your CBD supplement or full spectrum hemp extract supplement in the morning, so as to keep you alert all day and not interfere with falling asleep.
Interestingly enough, when subjects do this, it appears that not only do they stay alert and awake throughout the day, but they also fall asleep at night more quickly (without any additional sleep aids) and stay asleep longer. Isn’t that what everyone wants?
What Is CBD?
CBD is a cannabinoid, known as cannabidiol, that is found in both hemp and marijuana.
It has many amazing therapeutic benefits for human health, many of which I’ve written about in detail on this blog. If you’re interested in learning the healing secrets locked inside the hemp plant, check out my main article on the CBD Page.
How to take CBD to help you sleep
There are a number of ways to take CBD. It comes in a few different forms, including:
- pills and capsules
- vape concentrates
- edibles, like gummies
- oils and tinctures- this is my favorite
Generally, vaping CBD gets it into your system faster than other forms. However, there’s not much research on vaping CBD, and vaping in general may pose respiratory risks. We all watch the news and there is a lot of controversy around vaping right now.
Personally, I use CBD oil. I have mentioned that in just about every article I write, because I truly believe it to be the best way for me. I get it in a tincture and drop it under my tongue. It is quite effective and I find it works rather quickly.
The dosage of CBD you use, and the time you take it, will depend on a number of factors. Your weight, personal body chemistry, and the nature of your sleeping troubles will affect how the CBD works. What works for some people might not work for others.
Most clinical trials on CBD and sleep have involved giving the subjects anywhere between 25 mg to 1,500 mg of CBD per day. It’s best to start with a low dosage and gradually increase it until you find something that works for you.
I started with a 300mg strength- just three little drops under my tongue. I noticed some relief, but still felt pain in my ankles. I did a lot more research; read articles, watched videos, and consulted with some experts in the field. I decided to up the strength to 600mg and the drops. That is what works for me, but each person is going to be different. Why you are taking it and what other issues you have, will make a huge difference.
Research about CBD and sleep
Let’s take a look at what the science has to say about how CBD may help improve your sleep. There are quite a few scientific articles that can be referenced about CBD and sleep, but I have not referred to them here. These are the summarizations of those studies. The following appears to be true:
- CBD may help reduce anxiety, which is a major cause of insomnia
- CBD induces alertness, but also appears to help increase overall sleep time at night
- CBD helps with sleep onset in pain patients
- CBD correlates with less dream recall
- CBD may help reduce insomnia
- CBD’s alertness promoting property is powerful enough to counteract the sedative properties of the same dose of THC
- CBD may help improve REM Sleep Disorder
Possible Side Effects
To be fair, I have to be able to look at both sides of the fence. While I am a huge supporter of CBD for health, there can be possible side effects that one should be aware of when trying it for the first time. CBD is generally regarded as safe, a 2019 study done on mice did raise concerns about CBD’s potential for liver damage. Other possible side effects can be: diarrhea, stomach cramps or nausea. CBD may also interact with other medications you’re taking, so speak to your doctor before using it.
Remember to use high-quality CBD products. Don’t buy something because it less expensive. Don’t do it based off of another person’s opinion. Do your research! Unfortunately, CBD isn’t regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). As a result, there are some weak and possibly dangerous products out there that are labeled as “CBD.”
Before you buy CBD from a company, research their history. Avoid companies with a history of mislabeling CBD and opt for CBD that has been tested by a third party. Make sure to check multiple reviews, too. If you are concerned about chemicals seeping into your CBD, choose organic grown hemp- that is what I did. I also chose a company that provided a money back guarantee. It was important to me that they firmly believed in their product.
Almost 80 percent of Americans say they have trouble sleeping at least once a week, according to a recent Consumer Reports survey of 1,267 U.S. adults. And many existing treatments, particularly prescription and over-the-counter drugs, are often not very effective. They can be rather risky, too. In summary, CBD oil won’t cure insomnia, but it can help to narrow down the causes of insomnia. If you suffer from lack of sleep due to stress, pain or anxiety, give CBD a try. If you can eliminate those issues, that would help reduce your insomnia.
Remember, it isn’t a treatment for insomnia, but instead, CBD is an alternative natural method to help calm anxious thoughts that often delay or interrupt natural sleep.
It works for me…and many others. Just another reason that our wellness can come from the earth, not the drugstore.
For information on shopping quality CBD products, please click here. Yes, this what I use. And yes, I make a commission. And yes, this is the best product I have found- organically grown hemp from Colorado, third party testing and it’s guaranteed. Check it out.