All humans go through a 24-hour sleep and wake cycle every single day. We all have an internal biological clock that helps our bodies determine when we should eat, sleep, focus, go to the bathroom, get a lot done, and/or relax. You might have heard of the circadian rhythm. Basically, this is what we call our biological clock.
As you can see, there are times that are more optimal than others for performing certain activities. When it comes to sleep, there are a few factors that play a role: melatonin secretion, serotonin levels, genes, and other external factors like what we consume, how dark/light it is in our environment, and our daily experiences.
In order to better understand how CBD helps support your sleep wake cycle, we should first look at sleep and how it works. Then, we will discuss how CBD interacts with sleep functions in the body to help promote sleep.
Like I said, the circadian rhythm is everything when it comes to creating an internal schedule for the body, but it is the suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN) that actually manages the circadian rhythm. Think of this nucleus as a little bulb/pacemaker that sends signals to the body to help manage its daily schedule. It does so by controlling signals that determine when and which hormones or neurotransmitters are released/stimulated by other body parts.
Melatonin is a beautiful hormone that is released by the pineal gland and helps us drift off into a peaceful slumber. It is only released when light is minimal, and darkness surrounds our environment. If light is present, the secretion of melatonin is reduced or completely stopped. This is why it is vital to sleep in complete darkness and start shutting off lights around 9pm.
When we sleep, we go through different stages of sleep. The most important is rapid eye movement sleep (REM). REM is associated with rapid eye movements, low muscle tone, and vivid dreaming. During REM, our body goes through the most repair and brain information processing. It increases brain activity, creates vivid dreams, and promotes learning. This is why it is crucial to sleep long enough; to go through as many REM cycles as possible and promote health in the body.
In order to produce melatonin, the body needs serotonin because it is a precursor, meaning the body uses it to produce something else, in this case melatonin, the sleepy hormone. Serotonin (5-hydroxytryptamine or 5-HT) is a type of neurotransmitter that is derived from an amino acid (protein) called tryptophan. Within the pineal gland in the brain, serotonin goes through acetylation and methylation in order to end up with melatonin.
Interesting fact: one of the reasons why many people feel so sleepy after thanksgiving dinners not only has to do with the large portions of food, but because turkeys contain the amino acid l-tryptophan, hence the sleepiness!
Serotonin might sound familiar to you because it is widely known! Serotonin is a neurotransmitter responsible for happiness and wellbeing, hence the ‘happy chemical’ name it has. However, excessive and prolonged low levels of serotonin can lead to sleep trouble, depression, and/or anxiety. This is why some people have to take medications specialized for anxiety and depression (known as SSRIs). They work by adding more free-floating serotonin in the brain and prevent the reuptake of it into neurons (brain nerve cells), so that mood levels can balance out. If there is too much reuptake, it can lead to anxious feelings. You want just the right balance. The issue with these medications is that they lead to sleep disruptions. SSRIs decrease sleep quality because they suppress REM sleep, the super important stage of sleep we need, and disrupt sleep continuity!
The cool thing about CBD is that it has little to no side effects. They can mimic SSRIs to a certain extent, but without disrupting sleep patterns. CBD has a large effect on sleep and anxiety levels because of the endocannabinoid system (ECS) which directly interacts with serotonin (5-HT) and melatonin secretion. CBD sleep modulation remains a bit unclear, but there are several studies that indicate that there may be certain theories explaining some of the mechanisms behind CBD’s sleep promoting qualities.
Some studies report that CBD can act as a 5-HT agonist. This basically means that it can act as an activating tool for 5-HT receptors meaning it can act as an antidepressant. It also has a direct effect on the CB1 receptors of the ECS by reducing excessive neuronal activity. It also induces better sleep continuity by reducing sporadic moments of wakefulness. Overall, CBD helps reduce stress levels which ultimately improve sleep patterns and quality. By helping reduce cortisol (stress hormone) levels, the parasympathetic nervous system (the one that helps us relax and go through slow processes like digestion and brain processing) can be activated, which means better and more restful sleep!
Elsevier, a prominent & redundantly reliable scientific academic journal, published an article in 2013, that discusses the mood elevating & anti-anxiety effects of CBD similar to that of diazepam (a very strong anti-anxiety pharmaceutical drug).
We highly recommend our sleep support CBD capsules which are also infused with melatonin. Our strawberry and mango sleep support syrups are also great for bedtime and are infused with melatonin and valerian, making the perfect sleepy time cocktail. Just take 1 capsule about an hour before bedtime or one tablespoon of the syrup and get ready for some deep zzz’s!
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