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CBD & Insomnia

Well hello, fellow insomniacs!

It's so nice to meet you. My name is Dege and I'm the founder of TribeTokes. I am a night owl and have had issues with sleeping since college. My breed of insomnia is difficulty falling asleep - whereas my husband falls asleep in 5 minutes but struggles with staying asleep throughout the night. As you can imagine, we've had plenty of opportunity to experiment with CBD for sleep - and this article shares anecdotal tips, and a bit of science we've learned along the way.

Does CBD help you fall asleep, stay asleep or both? How can insomniacs incorporate CBD into their "recovery"? Should you only take CBD at night if you have insomnia?

If you're curious about any of these questions, read on sister.

When Counting Sheep Doesn't Cut It

If you have insomnia, you know that it's the worst. Staring at the ceiling, your phone or a TV, with no end in sight as to when you'll be tired. OR, you may fall asleep easily and wake up what feels like 18 times throughout the night, or wake up and not be able to go back to sleep. Sometimes, this might be at 5AM and you decide, at this point I might as well just get up.

And then you feel like a sluggish sausage for the rest of the day. Your brain is fuzzy, you have low energy, every empty surface you see you think "could I nap on that?" It can effect your work performance, your desire to exercise and socialize - your entire personality. If this is you, you know that you'd try pretty much anything to fix it.

What Are The Causes Of Insomnia?

There are a wide range of issues that may be causing your insomnia:

  • Anxiety, stress, and depression
  • Disruptions in circadian rhythm, such as jet lag or job shift changes
  • Environmental noise
  • Female hormones - particularly in the days leading up to your period, or from menopause
  • Sleep apnea
  • Muscle tension or pain

Does CBD Help With Insomnia?

This varies from person to person - one of my best friends swears that when she takes CBD, she passes out shortly after. A journalist we gifted our tincture to claimed it was "better than xannies" (lol - amazing). My husband claims that when he takes it, he only wakes up once during the night vs 3-4x otherwise. Some people claim it does nothing (everyone's endocannabinoid systems are different!).

For me, of the hardcore 3AM insomniac breed, it helps me relax into my night time routine - I hit my indica vape 3x, then do 50mg of CBD tincture under my tongue for 1 minute, then let 2 1 mg melatonin sublinguals dissolve under my tongue while I'm reading (typically books about neuroscience or biology on my kindle until I pass out). This routine has replaced ambien, which is amazing tbh but potentially addictive (whereas CBD is non-habit forming). Plus, it's unclear whether ambien has long term effects - some clinicians fear a correlation between long term ambien use and dementia - which is not proven but the thought was scary enough to make me turn to more natural remedies.

What's The Science Behind This?

THE biggest factor in helping sleep quality and insomnia is that CBD reduces stress and anxiety by helping to regulate cortisol, a stress hormone that can have a SIGNIFICANT effect on your REM cycle. In addition, it relaxes your muscles, and can also reduce pain which can for sure keep you up at night (check out our other article on CBD for pain). So these are both psychological AND physical issues that CBD tackles that can interfere with your beauty rest.

CBD affects these physiological processes by interacting with receptors throughout the body known as the endocannabinoid system, which has an effect on hormone levels, our immune system and pain receptors. This is why the effects of CBD may vary based on each person’s individual biology and tolerance.

Should You Only Take CBD At Night Then?

Here's something beautiful about CBD that is weird but true - it has a DUAL effect depending on the time of day it is administered. This is because it regulates the body’s sleep/wake cycles, helping to promote wakefulness during daytime and relaxation at night. So taking CBD during daylight hours can help promote alertness (check out our CBD coffee!) and taking it in the evening can help you ease into sleep or help have a more restful sleep. Our bodies are strange miracles.

How long you should take CBD before bedtime depends which method you take it:

  • Vapes hit you within 2-3 minutes
  • Tinctures enter your bloodstream within 15 minutes through your mouth / when held sublingually
  • Ingestables such as gummies, or if you just swallow a tincture or put it in your drink, can take up to an hour

Personally, I like to vape for immediate relief and do a tincture that will then come around ~20 mins later. You can read more on CBD dosing based on which product you want to consume in our dosing article How Much CBD Should I Take?.

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