A recent study shows new parents face up to six years of sleep deprivation. Mothers are hardest hit by lack of sleep three months after birth. Even as kids get older, the stress of parenting and lack of time for self-care causes your sleep to be less than quality. Add in being a working mom, and you have a recipe for “zombie mommy.”
So, what are your options for getting a good night’s sleep? Lifestyle changes like getting a better bed aren’t always in the budget, and not everyone can find an extra hour for sleep a day. Prescription medications to treat insomnia, like Ambien, come with a laundry list of undesirable side effects, including dizziness, daytime drowsiness, hallucinations, and even memory loss. Prescription and over the counter (OTC) sleeping pills and stimulants can also become addictive if you take them every day, making it hard to quit even when they stop working.
Most natural methods for insomnia, while inexpensive, are likely to be ineffective. The one exception to this is CBD. CBD, which is short for cannabidiol, is a chemical found in the hemp plant that supports our endocannabinoid system, or ECS. Our ECS regulates all our other neurotransmitter systems, from dopamine to serotonin to glutamate. This means balancing our ECS helps make sure the brain pathways that regulate eating, sleeping, moving, and thinking all work their best.
Prescription and OTC sleeping pills work by getting you to sleep faster or more deeply, ignoring why you have a sleep problem in the first place. CBD actually works at healing the chemical imbalances or injuries that are disrupting sleep. rather than simply serving as a bandaid for the issue. CBD can reduce symptoms that can cause you to stay awake at night, including pain, anxiety, nausea, and even nightmares. Let’s review the science behind CBD works for each of the root problems of insomnia.
Chronic sleep deprivation causes a stress response, downregulating your ECS and causing your body to go haywire. This means you may have less cannabinoid receptors that can bind to your body’s natural marijuana-like compounds, called endocannabinoids. CBD increases the length of time the most common endocannabinoid, anandamide, binds to the these cannabinoid receptors, restoring this endocannabinoid deficiency caused by chronic sleep deprivation.
CBD can be helpful in reducing pain and inflammation that can keep you up at night. It can work similar to a Tylenol PM or other nighttime pain reliever, without nasty side effects like stomach upset. CBD increases the amount of anandamide that binds to cannabinoid receptors, turning off cells that release inflammatory compounds which cause pain. CBD is also a powerful antioxidant, and can protect brain cells and other types of cells from inflammation and damage.
Both anecdotal evidence and clinical research studies have shown CBD can be effective for reducing symptoms of anxiety and depression in patients with diagnosed mental health disorders. The latest study looked at psychiatric patients taking 25 mg of CBD in capsule form in the morning if their primary complaint was anxiety and at night if their primary complaint was insomnia, in addition to any medications they were already taking. The study found after 30 days of taking CBD, 80% of the patients with anxiety showed reduced anxiety and 70% of the patients with insomnia showed sleep improvement.
But how does CBD work in the brain to reduce anxiety as well as promote sleep? CBD can actually bind to the same serotonin receptors, 5HT-1A, that antidepressants do. Serotonin receptors also regulate our sleep/wake cycle, and CBD can activate these receptors and help us get to sleep at higher doses. Finally, by increasing the activity of anandamide at cannabinoid receptors, CBD may inhibit brain pathways that promote fear or worrying, and let your brain rest.
Several medical conditions can disrupt REM sleep and cause nightmares or acting out of dreams. These include Parkinson’s disease, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), sleep apnea, and anxiety disorders. Daily CBD use reduced frequency and intensity of nightmares in Parkinson’s patients with REM sleep behavior disorder. Activation of our ECS can also help us forget traumatic memories that might trigger nightmares. CBD increases anandamide binding to cannabinoid receptors in the hippocampus, which can help suppress emotionally charged memories.
About Dr. Michele Ross
Dr. Michele Ross is a neuroscientist with fibromyalgia committed to helping patients release emotional and physical pain with cannabis, kratom, and mushrooms.
Dr. Michele Ross has been active in cannabis research and product development for over a decade. She holds a PhD in Neuroscience and an MBA, and has sat on the advisory board of companies in the tech, cannabis, mushrooms, and wellness industries. Currently she sits on the Advisory Board and serves as Wellness Director for mommy complex, the industry’s first CBD for moms, by moms.
Prior to entering the cannabis industry, she worked developing celebrity nutraceutical brands. Dr. Ross is the author of four books including Vitamin Weed: A 4-Step Plan to Prevent and Reverse Endocannabinoid Deficiency.
Dr. Ross is active in drug policy reform and has worked to legalized both cannabis and psilocybin mushrooms around the world. She is also the founder of Infused Health, an online platform matching clients with health coaches providing plant-assisted therapy (PAT). Dr. Ross is the creator of several courses on cannabis, including the first certification on Cannabis and Motherhood.
Fun fact: Dr. Ross was the first scientist to star on reality television, starring on CBS’s Big Brother.
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