By interacting with endocannabinoid system, cannabinoids like cannabidiol (CBD) help ensure that many of our vital processes maintain homeostasis. Functions like mood, temperature control, memory, immune response, pain regulation, energy balance, and appetite are all regulated by the endocannabinoid system. Another process the endocannabinoid system is responsible for managing is sleep.
The endocannabinoid system features receptor sites that are referred to as cannabinoid receptors. These receptors – the most well known ones being CB1 and CB2 – are located on cells throughout the body. Cannabinoids like CBD interact with these receptors, which are responsible for stimulating chemical responses that help our systems remain in balance.
Some researchers believe that sleep disorders like insomnia are related to a dysfunction with the endocannabinoid system. Insomnia, the most common type of sleep disorder, is when a person has difficulty falling or staying asleep. An estimated 50-70 million American adults have sleep or wakefulness disorder, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention. Not only is a lack of sleep uncomfortable, but also it can adversely affect one’s health and safety. Not getting enough sleep decreases physical performance and alertness, and impairs memory and cognitive abilities.
Researchers believe that the CB1 receptor is predominantly involved in the regulation of sleep. Studies have found that an increase in endocannabinoid signaling and activation of CB1 receptors within the central nervous system promotes sleep-inducing effects. Activating CB1 receptors triggers the release of the sleep-inducing molecule adenosine. When the CB1 receptor is blocked, it stimulates the release of chemicals that maintain wakefulness.
When the endocannabinoid system is working properly, it increases or decreases signaling of CB1 receptors to regulate our circadian rhythm and control our sleep-wake cycles. When the system is dysfunctional because of a lack of adequate endocannabinoids, supplementing with cannabinoids like CBD could be beneficial.
Research suggests that CBD can be beneficial for alleviating insomnia. CBD does not have an affinity for CB1 receptors and has actually shown to have wake-inducing properties. However, CBD indirectly influences the CB1 receptor and helps the endocannabinoid system work properly so that it can effectively modulate our sleep cycles. A 2006 study found CBD to have a positive impact on the sleep mechanism of rats. In 2013, researchers found that CBD increased total sleep time. These findings sugest that taking CBD during the day may help promote better sleep at night.
Through interactions with the cannabinoid receptors, CBD may encourage the endocannabinoid system to function properly so that it’s better able to regulate processes like sleep.