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Ask Dr. Nandi: Some turn to CBD as a sleep aid but does it work?

Posted at 3:28 PM, Mar 15, 2023
and last updated 2023-03-15 17:43:04-04

(WXYZ) — In today’s Health Alert, CBD has become a popular sleep aid for people who struggle to get enough shut-eye at night. But how effective is it?

A lot of my patients have been trying CBD and I can understand why. If you don’t get enough shut-eye, then you can really struggle with daytime fatigue, low energy levels, and irritability. You can also have trouble concentrating and reduced productivity, which can have a detrimental impact on your work performance.

So it’s no surprise that people looking for relief have turned to CBD. CBD is short for cannabidiol, which is a compound found in marijuana. However, it does not have psychoactive properties, meaning it doesn’t give you that high marijuana is known for. But can it help you get a good night’s sleep? The answer is….maybe.

And here’s why. If you have anxiety or pain, then CBD may work well for you. That’s because research shows that cannabidiol can have a calming effect on the nervous system. It also affects the serotonin system and can alter your mood. One particular study found that nearly 80% of participants with anxiety reported lower anxiety levels within a month. And sleep improved in 64% of that group. That’s great.

Having said that, we know that outcomes vary. What we need are randomized controlled trials to find out if CBD is the reason why people sleep better or if it’s because the anxiety or pain is being treated. So bottom line is that someone with insomnia might not benefit from using CBD.

According to the CDC, using CBD products is not risk-free. Possible side effects and risks include liver damage, diarrhea, and changes in appetite and mood.

As for what you can do if you’re struggling to sleep, here are some tips:

  • Avoid alcohol, caffeine, big meals, and cigarettes in the evening. All of these can disrupt your sleep
  • Wind down at night, at least an hour before bed. Do some reading but not on any electronic devices, as the blue light can mess with your sleep
  • Make sure your sleeping environment is comfortable. Keep the room dark and cool, but not cold
  • Lastly, it’s important to exercise. It gives you energy during the day and relieves stress which can help you sleep better

If you really want to try CBD, please talk to your doctor first. CBD can interfere with medications and you should also be checked first for sleep issues like sleep apnea or restless leg syndrome.