Recent studies show that the prevalence of sleep disorders has increased in the last decade. That's why more people are recurring to sleep aids that can help them achieve a proper night's sleep.
Melatonin and CBD have quickly become fan favorites of those looking for an effective sleep aid. However, opinion is still divided on which one is the best.
While most people profess the effectiveness of melatonin in helping them sleep easily, others think CBD is better.
So, which is which?
What is CBD?
Cannabidiol (CBD) is a chemical found in hemp and marijuana plants. It is the second most prevalent ingredient in cannabis, but unlike THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), it is not psychoactive.
CBD has become an integral component of medical marijuana due to its numerous health benefits.
The World Health Organization (WHO) published a report stating that CBD does not exhibit dependence or abuse potential in humans. The report added that there had been no evidence of health complications associated with using pure CBD thus far.
Though CBD is readily available in many Western countries, its legality varies widely. For example, in the U.S., all 50 states have legalized CBD products with varying criteria. The 2018 Farm Bill made hemp legal in the U.S., effectively making hemp-derived CBD products legal.
What is Melatonin?
Melatonin is a hormone the body produces when it is dark, mostly at night. Its primary role is to regulate the circadian rhythm or the sleep-wake cycle. The production and release of melatonin are closely connected to the time of day.
Photic messages from the retina are relayed to the pineal gland in the brain via the hypothalamic channel and the sympathetic nervous system. During the day, photoreceptors in the retina get hyperpolarized and prevent the release of norepinephrine.
However, in the absence of light, the photoreceptors release norepinephrine. This activates the system, leading to the production of adrenergic receptors by the pineal glands. The activity of these receptors (arylalkylamine N-acetyltransferase) increases and, consequently, initiates the synthesis and production of melatonin.
As more melatonin is produced, it diffuses into the bloodstream. Its levels usually peak by midnight, between 2 and 4a.m, and gradually decrease as daybreak approaches.
Light affects melatonin synthesis and production in two ways - pulses of light of sufficient duration and intensity suppress its production, while day-night light cycles alter its secretion rhythm.
Exposure to light of specific intensities affects melatonin secretion. For example, melatonin secretion will be maximally inhibited if you’re exposed to 600 lux or higher light intensities for one hour.
In general, the threshold for melatonin inhibition ranges between 200 and 400 luxes.
Why does CBD put me to sleep?
CBD is gaining traction as a popular option for people with sleep problems. How CBD helps improve sleep quality is not an exact science, but researchers suggest the answer might lie in investigating how CBD interacts with the endocannabinoid system (ECS).
The ECS is believed to facilitate numerous body functions. These include regulating the circadian rhythm, sleep, appetite and mood. There are networks of cannabinoid receptors in the brain and the central nervous system in the endocannabinoid system.
The primary receptors are CB1 and CB2. The attachment of CBD to these cells makes them react in various ways.
As to how CBD influences sleep, researchers say this cannabinoid interacts with particular receptors that control the sleep-wake cycle.
Further, CBD’s ability to impact sleep quality is pegged on its effect on pain and anxiety. Numerous research studies have demonstrated that CBD can increase the body’s threshold to withstand pain and stress.
Since pain and anxiety are known disruptors of sleep, any substance that mitigates the impact of these two pain points will potentially improve sleep quality.
Investigations have shown that high doses of CBD support sleep. For instance, one study comparing the effect of a placebo and CBD on sleep found that 160 milligrams of CBD increased sleep duration.
High cortisol levels in the blood are linked to insomnia, especially at night. It could also lead to increased incidences of waking up at night. However, while studying the effects of CBD, researchers found that 300 mg to 600 mg of CBD oil significantly reduced cortisol levels in the blood, thereby acting as a sedative.
A recent analysis of CBD also showed that it could make you sleep better.
In the study, 103 participants with poor sleep patterns were given different doses of CBD and other prescription sleep medications. The quantities of CBD ranged from 25 to 175 mg. The results showed that CBD was very effective in managing sleep disorders but in higher doses.
To derive the full benefits of sleep, you should sleep for seven to nine hours, during which time the non-REM and REM sleep phases should occur repetitively.
Sleep experts assert that REM sleep is a critical component of the overall sleep cycle. Therefore, any disruptions to a complete sleep cycle can potentially impact sleep quality.
Researchers believe CBD betters your sleep quality by improving the REM sleep phase. This hypothesis was arrived at by clinical trials investigating the effects of CBD on REM sleep disorder in patients with Parkinson’s disease.
The researchers established that CBD reduced the symptoms associated with REM sleep disorder. REM sleep disorder is manifested by patients acting out their dreams. It is linked to nightmares and poor sleep.
In some instances, CBD promotes wakefulness in animals and humans alike. While the exact science behind this is still undetermined, CBD potentially contributes to managing extreme daytime sleepiness by promoting wakefulness.
Keep in mind that grogginess is one of the symptoms of insomnia. Therefore, if CBD can reduce grogginess, it can help manage insomnia.
How does melatonin induce sleep?
Melatonin is also referred to as the “sleep hormone” because it regulates the body’s sleep-wake cycle. This hormone is naturally produced in the body but in minute quantities that can’t make you sleep during the day. However, more of it is released into the blood to trigger your sleep mechanism in the evening.
In an average person, melatonin is produced in sufficient amounts to help them sleep without external intervention. Scientists contend that melatonin production is affected by age.
Generally, younger people produce more melatonin than older people. This might explain why sleep disorders are more common in older people. It is also observed that the circadian rhythm deteriorates at advanced ages, further affecting sleep.
Under normal circumstances, the melatonin your body produces— also known as endogenous melatonin— should be enough to make you sleep. However, if you struggle to sleep, you can augment your natural supply with synthetic melatonin supplements.
Sometimes, your inability to sleep comes down to your bedtime habits. Like clockwork, melatonin production increases in the evenings, preparing your body to sleep. Usually, this increase in production puts you in “quiet wakefulness.” Sleep experts advise that you should create optimal conditions to help you sleep easily in this state.
For instance, you should keep off bright lights for one to two hours before retiring to bed to promote melatonin’s sleep-inducing effects. This means putting away your tablets, laptops, and phones and avoiding blue light.
Research shows that higher light intensities (600 lux and above) inhibit the normal production of melatonin. Lower light intensities (200 to 400 lux) can potentially alter your circadian rhythm and affect your sleep.
It also helps if you create a quiet environment.
Noise can seriously impact your sleep. At night, loud noise wakes you up and leads to fragmented sleep. Remember how it is vital that you complete your sleep cycles? Well, loud noise prevents this from happening.
Research-based evidence has shown that noise affects stage 1 sleep and shortens stage 3 sleep (deep sleep) and REM sleep. So, for better sleep quality, make sure your sleeping quarters are quieter and have dimmer lighting.
Why can’t I sleep even after taking melatonin?
People with sleep problems regularly turn to melatonin supplements to get a shut-eye. But sometimes, these supplements fail to work. Why does this happen?
The body naturally produces its own melatonin to help it sleep effortlessly. But sometimes, when this does not happen, it is reasonable to turn to melatonin supplements.
Some people only take these supplements when they have a problem sleeping. Others have to take them daily to sleep.
Researchers propose that when you’ve been taking high doses (more than 1 milligram) of melatonin supplements regularly, there is a probability that your body will cut its own production to prevent too much melatonin from circulating in your system. This may lead to lower melatonin levels in your body.
So, if you find that these supplements no longer get you to sleep, it might be time to cut back on their use and let your natural system take over.
Here is another interesting perspective: researchers studying the effects of melatonin in mice found a strong correlation between higher melatonin levels and increased activity.
In rats, it seems the role of melatonin is to signal typical nighttime behavior. For diurnal creatures like humans, this signal tells you it’s time to sleep because that’s your typical “nighttime behavior.” In mice, that signal tells them to start foraging for food.
Scientists now think that if your nighttime behavior is worrying about whether you’ll sleep, that’s the signal melatonin will send to your brain.
Melatonin may also not be quite effective for younger people. It’s been shown that melatonin production reduces with age, hence why older people taking melatonin to improve their sleep tend to find more success.
Younger people generally produce enough melatonin to induce sleep without needing supplements. So, poor sleep in younger people may be due to serious underlying issues that melatonin supplements are not designed to resolve. Therefore, regardless of how many supplements you take, your sleep problem might persist.
Melatonin’s effectiveness is also reduced by bad sleep hygiene. Generally, your bedtime habits determine the quality of your sleep. Sleep experts advise that rhythm is vital to developing good sleep hygiene. This means going to bed and waking up at specific times and avoiding noisy and bright environments when preparing to sleep.
Remember that melatonin does not make you sleep; it only sets the mood for you to sleep. Therefore, for optimal results, ensure you also do your part in creating a conducive atmosphere for sleep.
When melatonin does not work for you, it may be just the wrong supplement. There are many reasons why one supplement may work for one person but not for another. It can sometimes come down to genetic makeup, metabolism, and body size.
For instance, a large person has a sizeable vascular system which means substances travel longer in the blood. As this happens, the substances are diluted, meaning less than the required amount will be available. This can affect the substance’s efficacy.
CBD vs. Melatonin for Sleep
Debate is ongoing regarding which is a better sleep supplement between CBD and melatonin. So let’s evaluate some popular CBD products with melatonin and see how they compare.
CBD Gummies vs. Melatonin
CBD can help you sleep easily. However, its efficacy is affected by your weight and height, the severity of the sleep problem, and your experience with CBD.
For newbies, it is advisable to start with small doses of 10-15 mg and increase them gradually until you achieve optimal results.
For better results with CBD gummies, take them one hour before bed. CBD gummies usually take 20-30 minutes before their effects kick in.
Comparably, melatonin is taken in smaller doses to induce sleep. Doctors recommend starting with doses of 1 mg and increasing by an equivalent dosage weekly until you have sufficiently reduced the time it takes you to sleep.
CBD Oil vs. Melatonin
Like any prescription sleep aid, it’s prudent to know the correct dosage for CBD oil products. However, there are limited guidelines on the correct dosage due to insufficient clinical trials on the effective dose.
Medical practitioners recommend starting with lower doses and working your way up until you get the dose that works for you.
Supplements for sleep without melatonin
At FOCL, we have a wide range of sleep products that do not contain melatonin.
Our FOCL Night Capsules are carefully designed to make you fall asleep quicker and achieve deeper sleep while at it. By combining our premium CBD with five soothing botanicals, we created the ultimate plant-powered sleep aid supplement tailored to regulate your sleep cycles and reduce mental and physical stress.
Our FOCL Sleep Drops are another excellent option for people looking for sleep aids without melatonin. This product combines organic hemp-derived CBD with the relaxing cannabinoid CBN and lavender to deliver the ultimate sleep supplement. It is designed to calm your mind and make you fall asleep faster.
If you’re looking for something that’ll provide the same mind and body soothing effects with a twist, then our new CBD + CBN Sleep Gummies are just the thing for you. Made with organic ingredients, this 100% plant-based sleep aid is doctor-formulated and third-party tested to ensure you get a high-quality supplement that’ll have you waking up refreshed and ready for the day. Take one 30 minutes before bedtime for the best results.
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