There’s nothing as important to the human body as getting a good night’s sleep. However, in this plugged-in and fast-paced society, switching off the brain and body to get decent sleep can prove to be a mighty task. Not getting a sufficient amount of sleep can be emotionally, physically, and mentally draining. Other than feeling tired the following day, you may find that you have difficulty focusing, have trouble keeping pace with daily tasks, and generally feel irritable.
In addition to these symptoms, chronic insomnia and other sleep disturbances can result in you having restless nights. That can take a heavy toll on your overall health and your quality of life in general. The good news is that CBD may help you attain a healthy sleep cycle that leaves you feeling well-rested and ready to face the day with energy. One thing to understand is how does CBD affect REM sleep.
Rapid Eye Movement (REM) Sleep
REM is the third phase of your natural sleep cycle. Muscle paralysis, increased heart rate, rapid eye movements, and small, variable-speed brain waves characterize it. The first time you enter this stage during the night, you’ll remain in REM sleep for around 90 to 110 minutes. As the night progresses, the amount of time you spend in this phase will become longer.
What Occurs During REM Sleep?
When a person is in REM sleep, the brain becomes very active. That is the moment when information is processed and stored, an integral mechanism when it comes to memory and learning. It also refreshes your mind, boosts your daytime mood, and helps you be more creative. The REM phase aids you in thinking clearer and feel positive upon waking up the following day.
During REM sleep, the brain processes all the info you acquired during the day. It creates neural connections that will improve your memory. It will also replenish your mood-boosting chemicals, namely dopamine, and serotonin. One thing about REM sleep is that you’ll generally get story-like types of dreams. In order for your body not to act out in response to these dreams, the body will release chemicals that temporarily paralyze you. This bodily function goes by the name of REM atonia.
If you happen to wake up during this stage, you’ll find that you can remember the dream(s) and even recall vivid imagery. If you want to remember the dreams you get frequently, some people keep a dream journal. They swear that, by recording the few details of what you remember, you will improve your ability to recall the dreams you have.
REM And Your Sleep Cycle
To maintain a healthy sleep cycle, all the sleep phases involved in the process are essential. Before the REM stage, the other phases go by the name of Non-REM (NREM) sleep and take up around 75% of your napping time. The remaining 25% is the actual REM sleep. You will go through this cycle around four times every night and need around 90 to 110 minutes to finish the entire process every time.
Cannabidiol (CBD) And the Endocannabinoid System (ECS)
Cannabidiol is a non-intoxicating cannabinoid compound found in the cannabis plant and plays a role in regulating the sleep-wake cycle. Numerous research studies conducted have proven that CBD induces a more relaxing and deeper sleep. Unlike other sleep aids, CBD isn’t a natural sedative. Contrary to that, CBD can help promote wakefulness during daytime hours. This intricate effect CBD specifically has is a result of interacting with the endocannabinoid system or ECS.
The ECS mediates several processes inside your body. It consists of receptors in the skin, brain, and other tissues throughout the body that connect. The receptors from the ECS respond to and interact with cannabinoids, generating beneficial effects. Those cannabinoids include those produced by our own body (endocannabinoids) and cannabinoids from plants (phytocannabinoids)
Studies have shown that CBD may help with somnolence, a condition characterized by daytime exhaustion due to continuous poor sleep. CBD encourages a better sleep cycle by keeping you awake during daylight and promoting proper sleep during the night.
CBD And the Natural Sleep Cycle
To understand how does CBD affects REM sleep, you’ll need to understand its role within your natural sleep cycle.
According to studies, CBD has much potential to be a natural and effective substitute for prescription and over-the-counter sleep medications. Being all-natural, CBD does not have unpleasant daytime side effects like many pharmaceutical medications do have.
For example, an animal research study conducted showed that rats who took CBD had longer sleep times. Equally, it also increased sleep latency – how long it took for the rats to sleep – during daylight hours. A second study in rats also concluded that CBD helps increase alertness and daytime wakefulness for the animal subject.
These discoveries show that CBD has much potential to increase daytime alertness and promote longer, better sleep. In animals, at least.
CBD And Human’s Natural Sleep Cycle
As we’ve just discussed, animal research answers the question of ‘does CBD affect REM sleep?’ with a resounding ‘yes.’ Yet, how true might this be for humans? Much anecdotal evidence points to it also having a similar effect on the sleep-wake cycle of the human body. Still, as of today, research continues.
That means that consuming CBD might enhance your performance during the day. Consequently, it might induce better nighttime REM sleep. Thus, CBD can help you break your restlessness due to a lack of sleep and help you achieve a healthier sleep cycle.
CBD And REM Sleep Behavior Disorder
Now, does CBD affect rem sleep behavior disorder? A ‘paradoxical’ wakefulness of the brain and paralysis of the body characterizes REM. During REM sleep, one is susceptible to waking up unexpectedly and having vivid dreams. REM sleep behavior disorder basically causes a person to ‘act out’ their dreams while in the rapid eye movement phase of sleep. This acting out includes sudden, violent movement of arms and legs and vocal noises.
Many people have the typical body paralysis experience during their REM sleep, which effectively prevents them from acting out. However, some others have REM sleep behavior disorder and will physically move around, reacting to the dream they’re having.
That results in disturbed sleep, which has, as we’ve mentioned before, severe ramifications on your health. REM sleep behavior disorder can also cause sleepwalking or other involuntary movements. That can lead to a person with this condition to sustain injuries or even injure someone sleeping next to them.
It turns out, CBD appears to also have the potential to assuage REM sleep behavior disorder and the involuntary movements it triggers. Another rat study showed that CBD played a hand in decreasing REM sleep. The results suggested that CBD holds promise for addressing REM sleep behavior disorder and unnecessary daytime sleepiness.
CBD And Melatonin
Melatonin is a hormone that forms in your pineal gland, making it an endogenous hormone. Yet, your own body is not the only source of melatonin. What makes CBD such an astounding compound regarding its sleep capabilities is its synergetic functionalities.
CBD may act as an intermediary compound, boosting the effectiveness of certain medications. Thus, it appears that using CBD in tandem with melatonin may increase the sleep effect the latter has for your body.
It may support a healthier sleep structure, minimize the period for sleep latency, and allow you to sleep through the night soundly without having any sleep disturbances.
On its own, CBD can be useful. However, it appears to be more efficient when used in combination with melatonin to improve your REM sleep. When taking both, they may help you night’s sleep become faster, longer, and, overall, better.
CBD for Sleep Disorder and Other Health Conditions
Other studies also concluded that CBD is effective in addressing sleep disturbances and anxiety-related insomnia. Those conditions can, at times, manifest as a severe symptom of PTSD and other anxiety disorders.
These sleep disorders commonly result in nightmares and running thoughts that may make it hard to fall and stay asleep. The results of this research point to CBD as an effective supplement to address anxiety-related sleeping disorders. That’s because it indirectly influences the brain, potentially alleviating anxiety, and encouraging relaxation.
The speculation does not stop at only anxiety and sleep, though. There are other health conditions like seizure disorders, acute or chronic pain, and multiple sclerosis. Researchers also point to CBD’s potential for individuals suffering from these diseases, to improve their overall sleep quality.
Does CBD Effect REM Sleep – The Takeaway
CBD sleep supplements are the latest boom. The people are, as always, on the lookout for better options. They want something that may work like prescription medications, but without the unwanted side effects. And many people believe CBD is that option, because of its potential effects on REM sleep.
Though all sleep stages are essential, REM sleep is the crux of healthy sleep. If you’re experiencing difficulty sleeping at night, consider finding a sleep aid as soon as possible.
If you notice that pharmaceutical and over-the-counter sleep aids aren’t giving you the results you want, CBD may be an option.
Being all-natural, CBD has minimal side-effects compared to prescription medications. Better yet, it is not psychoactive at all, so you don’t have to worry about the substance impairing you in any way as it gets you ‘high.’
Only remember, before you start using CBD to help your REM sleep, consult with your healthcare provider first. They will tell you if the supplement is right for you. That is especially true if you are already on some medications to treat any condition. Don’t simply start on your own. Get a professional opinion before incorporating CBD into your routine.