Sleep is one of the most critical functions of the human body. Getting enough good quality sleep has been shown to have multiple long-term health benefits. As you sleep, your body cleanses itself, repairs damaged tissue, and restores energy to every cell, getting itself ready to tackle a new day.
However, if you are spending the night tossing and turning while willing your eyes to shut, trying to find yet another comfortable position, and counting sheep until you are dizzy, you know what frustration feels like.
Even if you do finally manage to fall asleep, you may wake up feeling groggy and exhausted, wondering how you will ever get through the day. Sleep deprivation or poor-quality sleep can come along with a host of pretty serious health concerns. It can age you prematurely, compromise your decision making, decrease your athletic performance, and increase the risk of high blood pressure, diabetes, and heart disease. According to the American Sleep Association, there are between 50 and 70 million adults suffering from a sleep disorder. If you are anything like the millions of people with a sleep problem and want to know what you can do to turn things around, hemp oil (also sometimes called industrial hemp) may just be the answer you were looking for.
The Stages of Sleep
According to sleep research, there are five stages in a healthy sleep cycle. These include four stages of non-rapid eye movement (NREM) and one rapid eye movement (REM) stage. Going through each sleep cycle takes about 90 minutes. It is essential to go through 4-6 undisturbed cycles in a 24-hour period to give your body enough time to repair and replenish itself. These deep sleep cycles are not the same when sleep is induced by alcohol or drugs, which come along with addictive properties and adverse side effects. And while taking an extra large cuppa joe might be your go-to solution, caffeine addiction can also come along with its own slew of health risks, as well as prevent you from having a good night’s sleep the next night. It almost seems like a catch 22 - and what is an insomniac to do?
Hemp Oil for Sleep - how does it work?
Although relatively new on the scene, hemp oil, a cannabinoid derived from the hemp plant, is gaining popularity with the insomniac population as a natural sleep aid that can win you back your health by helping you get that much-needed shut-eye. A simple oil with far-reaching health benefits, hemp oil can make staying awake a thing of the past. How does hemp oil accomplish this? There are a few properties of hemp oil that account for its sleep-aiding benefits.
1. Interacts with the Endocannabinoid System
You are probably aware that hemp oil contains cannabinoids. But did you know that your body produces its own cannabinoids too? Studies show that the recently discovered endocannabinoid system is responsible for maintaining homeostasis across the bodily systems, as well as monitoring sleep patterns. The endocannabinoid system consists of cannabinoids and cannabinoid receptors. As a plant-based cannabinoid, hemp oil stimulates the body’s cannabinoid receptors and increases this system’s ability to regulate sleep patterns and enhance sleep quality. This is especially true when the hemp oil is labeled “full spectrum,” since this means that the oil is made from all parts of the hemp plant and therefore contains more beneficial components that contribute to the health benefits of hemp oil.
2. Calming Relaxant, Controls Anxiety
Many times, what we label as insomnia may actually be attributed to an underlying problem that prevents a person from being able to fall into a healthy and restorative sleep. One of the most common issues that can cause a person to develop bad sleep habits is anxiety. Anxiety makes the brain go into a high-alert mode, stimulating the flight-or-fight response and inducing racing thoughts.
To effectively fall asleep and stay asleep, a person must be calm and relaxed to allow the melatonin hormone to kick in and start the sleep cycle. A 2018 review of the research indicates that hemp oil can calm the mind by stimulating serotonin, the “feel-good” hormone. Whether you are suffering from a diagnosed anxiety disorder or just general nervousness and stress, hemp oil can help you manage these symptoms for a restful and rejuvenating night’s sleep.
3. Pain Relief
What if you are calm and relaxed but are still struggling with a lack of sleep? If you live with chronic pain or inflammation, you may be able to push through the pain during the day, but it may still keep you up at night. When you are lying in bed with no distractions, you will probably feel the pain more acutely than when you are preoccupied with the many tasks and responsibilities you are trying to accomplish.
In a 2007 animal study, researchers found that hemp oil reduces chronic pain because of its anti-inflammatory properties and because of the way it interacts with neurotransmitters that decrease inflammation. Because of these pain-relieving properties, hemp oil can help someone who is suffering from chronic pain find relief, leading to a more restful night.
4. Muscle Relaxant - restless leg syndrome, sleep apnea
According to the National Sleep Foundation, up to 10% of individuals in the United States will suffer at one point in time from Restless Leg Syndrome (RLS), a condition which causes cramps, itching, or pain in the limbs. This muscular-based issue can be very uncomfortable and prevent one from falling asleep. Sleep apnea, a condition which causes a person to repeatedly get awakened by his own breathing because of a narrow air passageway, is also a muscular condition. Because hemp oil acts as a muscle relaxant, it can loosen up stiff muscles and prevent sleep issues that stem from muscular abnormalities.
Sleep vs. Wakefulness
A close examination of the studies surrounding hemp oil and its effects on the sleep-wake cycle reveals that while some sleep studies show that hemp oil is beneficial for those struggling to fall asleep, there are also a few studies showing that hemp oil promotes wakefulness and alertness. A 2014 study by Mexican scientists indicated that hemp oil has significant potential as a wake-promoting agent.
What is the reason for these opposing sides of the research? There are two explanations for this seeming discrepancy. The first explanation lies in the dosage amount. In higher doses close to bedtime, hemp oil can act as a sedative and help with promoting sleep, while smaller doses early in the day have been shown to help keep tiredness at bay. It may even help people who are struggling with a caffeine addiction get through the day without the need for coffee.
The second reason that hemp oil has been shown to be effective in promoting both deep sleep and daytime alertness is related to a healthy sleep-wake cycle. The circadian rhythms of our body control our feelings of sleepiness and wakefulness. When you have a lack of quality sleep at night, you usually feel groggy and exhausted during the day. Feeling this way at a time when you are supposed to be feeling attentive and productive can throw off your circadian rhythms and mess up your sleep cycle.
In a piece of research published in 2010 in the British Journal of Pharmacology, American scientists conducted a comprehensive study which indicated the interplay between the endocannabinoid system and the body’s circadian rhythms. Since hemp oil has a significant impact on this integral system of balance, it may help the endocannabinoid system regulate the feelings of wakefulness and sleepiness. By giving you an extra boost during the day, hemp oil can help restart your circadian rhythms and get you back into healthy sleep habits.
Hemp oil is a wonderful and relatively new discovery in the realm of sleep aids. Many users have reported falling asleep faster and staying asleep longer after taking the first few servings. For those who have tried all else and are ready to pull their hair out as they toss and turn for yet another sleepless night, hemp oil can provide the relief that previously eluded them. To promote healthy sleep, hemp oil should be taken around an hour or two before bedtime. As an added benefit, hemp oil can be taken in smaller doses in the morning to help you stay alert, awake, and productive throughout the entire day.
- Statistics - Research & Treatments | American Sleep Assoc.
- Endocannabinoid Signaling Regulates Sleep Stability.
- Review of the neurological benefits of phytocannabinoids.
- The non-psychoactive cannabis constituent cannabidiol is an orally effective therapeutic agent in rat chronic inflammatory and neuropathic pain.
- Everything you need to know about restless legs syndrome.
- Potential Effects of Cannabidiol as a Wake-Promoting Agent.
- Physiology of Sleep.
- Endocannabinoid signaling: has it got rhythm?
- Prevalence of Restless Legs Syndrome (RLS)