Does CBD Oil Increase REM Sleep?

May 13, 2022

A good night’s sleep is essential for good health. The body replenishes and reenergizes during sleep, readying itself for the next day. While getting enough sleep is a non-issue for some people, millions struggle to sleep. 

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about 70 million Americans have at least one of 80 different types of sleep disorders. Fortunately, there are natural products on the market that can be used to alleviate some of these sleep disorders. 

Read on to understand how CBD oil can increase REM sleep and improve sleep quality.

 

What is REM Sleep?

 

An average person typically goes through four stages of sleep in two cycles – non-rapid eye movement (non-REM) sleep and rapid eye movement (REM) sleep. 

The first three stages of sleep happen in the non-REM sleep phase, followed by a short period in the REM phase. The first REM sleep phase is brief but becomes longer, during which your sleep intensity is light. Then the cycle begins afresh. Researchers believe a complete sleep cycle takes approximately 90-110 minutes.

In the REM sleep phase, the brain is active. In this state, you have a ‘light’ sleep because your brain’s activity levels are similar to when you’re awake.

However, you’re in a state of temporary paralysis, which means the muscles you usually can control when you are awake, like the leg and arm muscles, are immobile. The temporary paralysis prevents you from acting out your often very vivid dreams.

In most instances, you get into the REM sleep phase roughly 90-100 minutes after going to sleep. The first REM sleep period is usually the shortest, lasting about 10 minutes. The subsequent REM sleep periods last longer and longer as the sleep cycle continues. 

As you become older, the quantity of REM sleep you get changes. Typically, children and infants have higher percentages of REM sleep. This declines as they approach and enter puberty and young adulthood. The portion of REM sleep gets even smaller at advanced ages, essentially summarizing why adults tend to have sleep problems.

A study reported that 25% of adult sleep happens in the REM stage, while the remaining 75% occurs in the various stages of non-REM sleep. Instructively, 50% of sleep occurs in the second stage of non-REM sleep.

 

Why is REM sleep important?

 

REM sleep is important for many reasons. Let’s start by examining the physiological changes that occur in the body during REM sleep.

Immediately after entering the REM sleep phase, you breathe much faster, and your blood pressure and heart rates increase. Your eyes also move much quicker hence the eponymous name. In men, this period can be accompanied by erections.

Much of what we know about REM sleep suggests that a host of critical bodily functions occur during this phase. 

These include:

Dreaming 

 

We know that dreams usually occur in the REM sleep phase. However, researchers contend that people also dream in the non-REM sleep phase. Nonetheless, REM sleep dreams are usually more vivid than non-REM sleep dreams. 

Ever wondered why sometimes you can clearly remember what you dreamt, but at other times you can’t? Now you know!

 

Brain Development

 

Since a larger percentage of newborns’ sleep time occurs in the REM sleep phase, researchers hypothesize that REM sleep may be linked to brain development. 

Further evidence of this hypothesis is observed in animals like horses and birds that have better-developed brains during birth. As a result, these animals don’t spend more time in the REM sleep phase during infancy than puppies and humans.

 

Emotional Processing

 

During REM sleep, the body processes emotions. Scientists believe that the vivid dreams in REM sleep may be due to emotional processing. Further, the part of the brain that processes emotions (amygdala) is markedly active during REM sleep.

 

Memory

 

New research has found that if you sleep immediately after learning something new, you’re likely to remember it when you wake up. According to sleep experts, a significant amount of memory consolidation occurs in the REM sleep phase.

The brain processes new motor skills and knowledge during this period and commits some to long-term memory. 

 

Wakefulness

 

REM sleep plays a critical role in the sleep-wake cycle. Researchers contend that, through its connection to the central nervous system, the REM sleep phase is responsible for preparing the body to wake from sleep.

This could explain why the REM sleep cycles get longer and longer as the night progresses. This may be the body’s way of preparing itself to wake from a long night’s sleep.

 

What is REM sleep latency?

 

REM sleep latency is the difference in time between sleep onset and the first REM sleep cycle. Typically, REM sleep occurs every 90-120 minutes, so REM sleep latency depends on your sleep latency, which refers to the time it takes you to fall asleep once you’ve turned off the lights. 

A healthy person takes 10-20 minutes to fall asleep, but this value can vary. For instance, going to bed earlier than usual might result in longer sleep latency; the converse is also probable. 

However, extremely short sleep latency (less than 8 minutes) may indicate increased sleepiness either due to sleep deprivation or an underlying sleep problem.

Other factors that may also affect sleep latency include alcohol, certain medications, chronic pain, and a phenomenon known as the ‘first night effect.’ Taking naps during the day can also affect sleep latency.

A shorter REM latency time is usually considered a biological marker for sleep-related disorders. This is because REM sleep is affected by things like medication, circadian rhythm disorders, and sleep deprivation. 

Research studies have correlated the withdrawal from medications such as monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs) or tricyclic anti-depressants (TCAs) with shorter REM latency times. Also, withdrawal from alcohol, amphetamines, and barbiturates has been shown to reduce REM latency times.

People who have previously suffered from sleep apnea, depression, or narcolepsy have also registered shorter REM latency. 

Periodic limb movements and sleep apnea are also associated with longer REM sleep latency.

 

REM is what stage of sleep?

 

REM is the last stage in a sleep cycle. Every night, people go through four stages of sleep which are usually broken down into REM sleep and non-REM sleep. 

Non-REM sleep comprises the first three stages and accounts for the largest share of sleep time (75%). The fourth and last stage in a sleep cycle is REM sleep.

So, in one night, a person will likely spend the first half of the night mainly in the non-REM phase (deep sleep) because the REM sleep phases are shorter. Then, as the night progresses into the second half, the REM stages become longer.

 

CBD and REM Sleep

Woman laying in bed sleeping.

 

An adult is supposed to sleep for 7-9 hours. However, statistics indicate that most people do not get enough sleep. In America, for example, roughly one-third of workers get less than 6 hours of sleep every night. 

Consequently, many people are interested in solutions for better sleep. You can use many options to achieve this goal, starting with good sleep hygiene, prescription medicines, and natural sleep aids.

An increasingly popular approach to better sleep is taking cannabidiol (CBD). CBD is a derivative of cannabis commonly used to reduce anxiety and improve sleep. Even though anxiety is not a sleep disorder, it contributes to poor sleep quality. 

A study showed that 80% of participants who used CBD to treat anxiety reported lower anxiety levels within 30 days. Further, 65% of the participants reported initial improved sleep before results fluctuated over time.

Although research on the impact of CBD on sleep is still preliminary, there is a growing body of research that suggests CBD may help cure certain sleep disorders like REM sleep abnormality and insomnia. 

A study investigating the effect of CBD on sleep disruption in rats established that the compound reduced physiological non-REM sleep and REM sleep in mice. The researchers attributed this to CBD’s anxiolytic effect. 

Further, after injecting CBD into the mice’s amygdala, the scientists noted a decrease in non-REM sleep in the first hour and suppression of REM sleep 4-10 hours after a series of tests designed to increase anxiety in the rats and disrupt REM sleep.

The results showed that CBD effectively suppressed anxiety-induced REM sleep but was not as effective in altering non-REM sleep. In other words, CBD may help block mechanisms that alter REM sleep thanks to its anxiolytic properties.

Another study looking into the effect of CBD on REM sleep behavior disorder (RBD) had similar findings. RBD is common in people with Parkinson’s disease and is characterized by the physical acting of vivid, often unpleasant dreams with sudden leg and arm movements accompanied by vocalizations. 

The study noted a significant improvement in average sleep satisfaction from weeks four to eight, with 49% and 38% efficacy rates. Another study observed a “prompt and substantial reduction” in RBD-related incidences in people with Parkinson’s disease.

These studies conclusively establish that cannabidiol can improve complex sleep-related behaviors associated with a REM sleep disorder.

 

Does CBD interfere with REM sleep?

 

There is mounting evidence that CBD does improve the symptoms associated with REM sleep behavior disorder (RBD). 

While it is still unclear how CBD regulates REM sleep, sufficient evidence shows that it alleviates some symptoms associated with RBD. 

Further research shows that the compound can help improve sleep quality by reducing anxiety, a known sleep disruptor. In fact, 66.7% of participants in a study investigating the effects of CBD on sleep reported better sleep after taking CBD.

It is well-known that getting enough REM sleep is the key to having a good night’s sleep. This is because reaching the REM sleep stage typically signifies the completion of one sleep cycle and the beginning of another.

So, if you sleep but fail to reach the REM sleep stage, your sleep cycle remains incomplete. 

Usually, when this happens, the body compensates by having a higher percentage of REM sleep stages in the next sleep period. This suggests that REM sleep is vital to maintaining a good sleep architecture. 

The fact that CBD helps improve sleep quality suggests that it may affect REM sleep, given the importance of REM sleep to overall sleep quality. However, how it affects REM sleep is still unclear. But there is no doubt that CBD affects sleep.

 

CBD and Sleep Architecture

 

Sleep is a state of reversible disconnection from the environment accompanied by reduced consciousness, metabolic changes, and atonia. As mentioned before, sleep happens in four stages, three of which occur in the non-REM phase and the fourth in the REM phase.

This is what is referred to as sleep architecture. 

A typical sleep architecture consists of 4-5 alternating REM and non-REM sleep periods.

REM sleep is characterized by fast-wave EEG patterns similar to those witnessed in wakefulness and rapid eye movement. The non-REM sleep is divided into three stages, each of which is defined by distinct EEG wave patterns. 

Typically, a healthy person will predictably progress through these stages, starting with wakefulness, the three stages in non-REM sleep before entering the REM stage.

Maintaining a proper sleep architecture is associated with good mental and physiological health. Specific environmental stressors can affect sleep quality, so the body has mechanisms to restore sleep homeostasis when normal sleep patterns are disrupted.

The REM rebound is one such mechanism. 

Numerous research studies have demonstrated the effect of CBD on improving sleep quality. The exact action of CBD on sleep is not known. However, researchers believe CBD helps boost sleep quality by soothing pain and reducing anxiety. 

Further, a recent research study showed that CBD affects the sleep cycle by improving REM sleep disorder (RBD) symptoms. As a result, CBD is now increasingly used in treating RBD. 

Despite the progress made in studying the benefits of CBD, researchers agree that more research is required to understand how CBD affects overall sleep architecture.

 

Does CBD oil increase REM sleep?

 

There is no conclusive evidence on the effect of CBD on REM sleep. However, it is known that CBD has proven effective in improving rapid eye movement sleep behavior disorder symptoms. Therefore, CBD could potentially increase REM sleep. 

 

How does CBD oil help with sleep?

 

Researchers believe CBD helps improve sleep by reducing pain and anxiety. Other anecdotal evidence suggests that CBD oil could also help with muscle relaxation, creating a calming effect that aids in sleeping well. 

A recent study was more conclusive regarding CBD’s impact on sleep. The study showed that CBD was more effective in reducing insomnia symptoms than THC. 

Generally, techniques with a calming and relaxing effect on the body have been shown to help improve sleep.

 

CBD tincture for sleep and anxiety

 

There are hundreds of CBD products that can help reduce anxiety and improve sleep. 

Our mint-flavored Premium CBD Drops will leave you feeling calm and soothed. Take 10-20 mg before bedtime and feel your tensions dessapear as you fall into deep sleep. They’re made using organic ingredients and are third-party tested to ensure you get the best quality.

 

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If you’re want something on the sweeter side, try our new Sleep Gummies that combine 25 mg of broad spectrum CBD with 15 mg of the sleep-inducing cannabinoid CBN. Take one 30 minutes before bedtime for the best results and adjust if needed.

 

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But if you’re looking for them most robust all-natural product to help you sleep, try FOCL Night. These capsules combine our premium hemp CBD with 5 soothing botanicals to help you fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer. Take 2 of these with a full glass of water 30-60 minutes prior to your bedtime.

 

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What you should know before buying CBD oil

 

CBD products are regulated differently across various jurisdictions. So before buying any such product, check to ensure that their possession is allowed in your state. 

While CBD products are generally well tolerated, it’s advisable to check with your doctors before using them. There have been reports of mild side effects, including stomach upsets and fatigue.

Similarly, be informed that CBD may interact with other medications causing increased side effects. Check with your doctor if this is your case.

When buying a CBD product, ensure it has a certificate of analysis (COA). This helps you determine whether the product contains the CBD quantities stated by the manufacturer.

Since the potency of CBD products varies, it is ideal to start with low doses and gradually increase them until you feel it hit the spot. Getting the correct dosage will depend on your tolerance levels, metabolism, and intake method. 

All FOCL products are made with 100% organic ingredients produced in FDA approved GMP-certified food grade facilities, and third-party lab tested to ensure the best quality.

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