Why Does CBD Oil Make Me Sleepy?
Thanks to recent progress in both legality and public awareness, CBD oil is now being used more than ever to help treat a whole myriad of different medical conditions.
From eczema to neurological disorders, CBD oil has been found to have a number of practical medical benefits, as well as just generally being used a mood lifter. However, as any drug gains popularity, there are going to be rising fears about any potential side effects. One such side effect that has people concerned is whether or not CBD oil induces sleepiness. Though it might not sound like a problem for most people, there are many instances wherein you do not want to be unnecessarily tired.
Let’s take a look at the science behind CBD oil to figure out whether or not CBD oil does, in fact, make you sleepy.
First Off, What is CBD Oil?
To understand the substance’s side effects, it is essential to understand what CBD oil actually is. Though it is now more popular than ever, there is still a considerable amount of people who don’t completely understand how it works in the body. CBD is the extracted cannabinoid known as cannabidiol, called CBD for short, that is taken from cannabis plants. Usually, this is done from hemp so as to avoid THC, resulting in a non-psychoactive product. When imbibed, CBD interacts with the endocannabinoid system (ECS) and encourages a myriad of different bodily functions to change, all depending on which of the receptors it triggers.
These two receptors, CB1 and CB2, are what are responsible for the changes in your body after you take CBD oil. For example, by triggering the CB2 receptor, your body’s rate of cellular regeneration is increased, helping deal with issues arising from dead cells, such as with eczema. Additionally, that same receptor is able to help diminish the body’s inflammation response.
Though many people used to fear CBD oil due to its close association with THC and marijuana in general, we now know that CBD is literally incapable of causing any kind of psychoactive high due to the manner in which it interacts with the ECS. Instead of clinging on to the receptors and over-stimulating them, like what THC does, CBD instead triggers the receptors gradually by turning off the body’s ability to shut down the receptors. This means that the practical effects ECS can cause in the body can be controlled by the amount of CBD you take, thus allowing for a vast range of different medical conditions to be treated.
This doesn’t mean that there are no side effects whatsoever, of course. With any drug that you put into your system, there are always going to be adverse effects that may be undesirable. For those that operate heavy machinery or frequently drive long distances, the most significant side effect is the risk of sleepiness.
So why would CBD actually cause any kind of sleepiness?
What Actually Causes Sleepiness?
When a drug has a side effect, it is frequently due to an unintended interaction with the body that was unplanned. For example, aspirin is famously used to treat pain and fever, but it has a side effect of reducing blood clotting and overall reducing blood pressure; this is great if you suffer from hypertension, but not so great if you have no problems with blood pressure.
The reason CBD can cause sleepiness is primarily due to its interaction with the CB1 receptor, located primarily within the brain. The CB1 receptor is responsible, among other things, for the release of a variety of neurochemicals, such as serotonin – the brain chemical responsible for feelings of well being and contentedness. However, one other hormone whose release is frequently controlled by the CB1 receptor is melatonin.
You might recognize melatonin from pill or liquid bottles sold online or in health food shops as the ‘Ultimate Sleep Aid.’ They are frequently accompanied by claims that one dose of melatonin will have you feeling sleepy in minutes. Well, these advertisements are partly true if nothing else. Melatonin is the hormone that is responsible for your body entering into the state of sleepiness and is essentially the body’s method for controlling when you should become sleepy.
A systematic study into melatonin conducted by Tordjman et al. for the Journal of Current Neuropharmacology found that the body releases melatonin based on when it expects to feel sleepy. What this means is that, if you are regularly going to bed at 10 pm, you can expect to start getting sleepy shortly before that. Think of melatonin as the brain’s night-time ritual, the thing that it releases to let the rest of the body know that it is time for sleep.
However, this can be manipulated by the inclusion of other drugs, such as CBD.
So, How Can CBD Effect Sleepiness?
When consumed, CBD encourages the release of melatonin and thus increases the body’s feeling of general sleepiness. However, while this is generally true, it is a bit more complicated than you might think.
During a study into the effects of CBD by Murillo-Rodriguez et al. for the Federation of European Biochemical Societies, researchers looked at the impact of CBD on a group of rats’ sleep patterns. By studying the rats’ wakefulness and rapid eye movement sleep, the researchers found that, when taken at night-time, the rats became more tired when given CBD. However, they also found that, if given CBD during the regular lights-on time, then the rats actually experienced an increase in wakefulness.
Though the exact mechanisms aren’t entirely understood, it would appear that CBD is able to make you more tired and also make you more awake, all depending on when you take it. The reason for this is partly due to the way in which melatonin is induced by CBD. Instead of actively triggering its release like some sort of release valve, CBD instead turns off the part of the nervous system that tells the brain not to release melatonin. However, this only has an effect when the brain is approaching the state of releasing the hormone anyway.
If taken during daylight hours, then CBD actually increases wakefulness due to the increased awareness of your surroundings, as well as the increase of focus it gives as a result of its interaction with the ECS. An important thing to note is that, if taken during the night-time, the increased sleepiness caused by CBD is not at the same level as if you were to take a soporific. Though you will feel an increased desire to lie down, you won’t actually pass out like you have taken a sleeping pill. This is important for those that worry about its effects if taken at night-time and then begin driving. Though it is a good idea in general to avoid any kind of serious task that requires concentration if you have taken CBD at night, it isn’t anywhere near as severe as if you had taken a sleeping pill.
Finally, there is one more possible reason that CBD oil might be causing sleepiness that doesn’t have anything to do with the actual CBD within it.
The Role of Terpenes
Unless you buy CBD isolate, which is nothing more than inert oil and CBD, then you likely have more than just regular CBD within your CBD oil. Alongside additional cannabinoids, one of the most common additions to CBD oil is the inclusion of terpenes. Terpenes are essentially the parts of plants that produce smells and essential oils. If you ever walked through a pine forest or smelled lavender, then you have smelled terpenes. However, these terpenes aren’t just responsible for the distinctive smell of some plants, but they actually induce unique effects based on their chemical composition. For example, the terpene most responsible for the smell of lavender is linalool. This terpene doesn’t just smell nice; it actually causes physiological changes when imbibed.
Most commonly, linalool causes a state of relaxation and tiredness within the user due to its unique chemical composition. The plant initially developed this over millions of years for the purpose of fighting off pests like fleas and fruit flies, but it just so happens that, in humans, it induces a feeling of relaxation. Interestingly enough, linalool is also present in cannabis plants, albeit in a lower quantity.
Many strains of cannabis plants have different terpenes within them, all a result of their unique genetics, so it is entirely possible that the CBD oil that you are taking is causing sleepiness, not due to the CBD content, but because it contains terpenes which induce tiredness or relaxation.
Final Thoughts on CBD Oil and Sleepiness
Examining the side effects of cannabinoids is a rather complicated process. They don’t have any intrinsic side effects that are inherently negative, like opioids or other drugs commonly taken, but they do still cause a variety of different reactions that are not originally intended. For example, CBD causes vascular relaxation as a result of its interaction with the CB2 receptor. This creates a small reduction in blood pressure; is this a side effect, or is it just a small consequence of little importance?
Additionally, it is made further complicated by the fact that the individual terpenes within any particular strain of marijuana might be responsible for whatever undesired effect you are feeling – terpenes can cause sleepiness, energy and even lust, all depending on their individual chemical composition. The safe answer as to why CBD is causing sleepiness is that you are probably taking it during the night-time when your body is preparing to send you to sleep anyway. If you aren’t, it is possible that your particular brand of CBD oil contains terpenes like linalool or other similar compounds that induce relaxation and sleepiness.
If you want to avoid this, try and find some CBD isolate, so you can be confident that you are only imbibing CBD and nothing else. Ultimately, it doesn’t matter hugely; the sleepiness caused by CBD oil is quite negligible and is only really important if you already struggle with staying awake, to begin with.
Keep using your CBD, but just make sure you know exactly what is in your CBD oil bottle before you take it – it might contain terpenes that cause all kinds of effects.