When A Racing Mind Interferes With Rest

Posted on August 21, 2020

Getting enough quality sleep is vital to your overall well being, helping protect your mental and physical health and your quality of life. (1) Developing good sleep habits or “sleep hygiene” involves a combination of factors including sleep consistency, environment (dark, quiet, comfortable temperature), and physical condition (including fitness and activity level during the day). (2)

At times, sleep can be elusive or interrupted by the stress of the day. Anxiety can produce the effect of a “racing mind” where you can’t turn off your thoughts, and no amount of counting sheep will help. In general, if you are feeling anxious, your sleep could be affected, so it stands to reason that reducing or addressing stress and anxiety could potentially help ease you into a more restful sleep—or at least eliminate a potential barrier to rest.

In addition to changes in habits and environment, what you eat, drink, and the medicines or supplements you take could affect your “sleep readiness.” When thinking about addressing anxiety, Cannabidiol (known as CBD) may come to mind. CBD has proven to have anxiolytic or “anti-anxiety” effects on humans. (3, 4) One study demonstrated the calming effect of CBD, with the anxiety-reducing results sustaining through the duration of the study. (5)  

While CBD may relieve anxiety, clearing the way for sleep, in some instances, CBD could potentially promote wakefulness. Dr. Jessica Knox is a practicing physician with expertise in cannabinoids. She notes that a reasonable conclusion from available research (5, 6) is that CBD can be “alerting at lower doses.”

“In this context, ‘lower doses’ seems to mean even up to several hundred milligrams,” says Knox. “This seems paradoxical to current perceptions that CBD may be a good sleep aid.”
Knox adds, “When we consider that what keeps many of us up at night are racing thoughts or anxious minds, it follows that the anxiolytic effects of CBD might help us quiet our minds so we can finally fall asleep.”

There is some relevant research that shows that essential oils can address conditions such as anxiety. Essential oils are derived from plants and contain terpenes, as is true of cannabis. Full-spectrum cannabis extracts contain many of the same terpenes found in essential oils commonly used for aromatherapy. CBD extracts often naturally contain some linalool, a dominant compound found in lavender.

As more adults experiment with the right ratio and dose of cannabinoids, patterns are beginning to emerge. Some people use cannabis products with different CBD:THC ratios at different times of the day; for example, using more CBD in the early hours can promote productivity, while more THC at night can help with occasional l sleeplessness. Read more about choosing the right products in this article. 

If an overactive, anxious brain is keeping you up at night, then promoting relaxation through calming activities and natural supplements could help ease you into a more restful sleep. Cannabis may be just the solution you need.

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  1. Sleep Deprivation and Deficiency (National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI)
  2. Tips for Better Sleep (CDC)
  3. Cannabidiol: from an inactive cannabinoid to a drug with wide spectrum of action (Brazilian Journal of Psychiatry)
  4. Inverted U-Shaped Dose-Response Curve of the Anxiolytic Effect of Cannabidiol during Public Speaking in Real Life (Frontiers in Pharmacology)
  5. Potential Effects of Cannabidiol as a Wake-Promoting Agent (Current Neuropharmacology)
  6. No Acute Effects of Cannabidiol on the Sleep-Wake Cycle of Healthy Subjects: A Randomized, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled, Crossover Study (Frontiers in Pharmacology)
  7. Effects of lavender on anxiety: A systematic review and meta-analysis (National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health)
  8. An olfactory stimulus modifies nighttime sleep in young men and women (Chronobiology International)
  9. Beta-caryophyllene is a dietary cannabinoid (Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America)
  10. Cannabis sativa and Hemp - Myrcene (Science Direct)
  11. Cannabidiol in Anxiety and Sleep: A Large Case Series (The Permanente Journal)

Posted to: Wellness & Lifestyle

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