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REM Sleep Disorder: Can Taking CBD Oil Help?

Getting a sufficient amount of uninterrupted sleep every day is essential for your health. According to the National Sleep Foundation, adults need 7-9 hours of sleep per night. However, if you suffer from any sleep disorders, chances are you’re having a hard time getting your natural sleep cycle right. 

Luckily, you can improve the quality of your sleep through various medications. According to research, cannabidiol, commonly known as CBD oil, may interact with your sleep patterns and ultimately lead to a healthier sleep routine. 

But to what extent can taking cannabinoids help with REM sleep disorder? That’s what we’ll discuss.

REM sleep behavior disorder: Symptoms, causes, and treatment

What Is REM Sleep Disorder (also known as REM Sleep Behavior Disorder)?

Before we get into the REM Sleep Disorder, let’s understand what REM sleep is and where it falls among the sleep stages.

Rapid Eye Movement (REM) is a sleep state during which your breath evens out, blood pressure spikes, and eye movements occur. REM sleep is also associated with a form of paralysis, where you lose muscle tone.

It’s different from NREM (Non-Rapid Eye Movement) sleep, and it makes up about 20%-25% of your sleep period depending on several factors, like your age and lifestyle habits.

The REM Sleep Behavior Disorder (SBD), in contrast, is a condition where paralysis doesn’t take place during your REM sleep period. 

But how does that affect your natural sleep cycle? An incomplete loss of muscle tone means you’re more likely to act out your dreams or nightmares, especially if they’re vivid or violent. During the dream, you may experience the following behaviors:

  • Yelling
  • Kicking
  • Sitting
  • Punching
  • Jumping 
  • Talking
  • Laughing
  • Arm flailing
  • Sleepwalking

Such experiences will likely break your sleep-wake cycle and cause you to wake up, causing sleep loss and insomnia. Rapid Eye Movement (REM Sleep Disorder SBD) also makes it harder for you to get a sufficient amount of uninterrupted sleep, causing adverse health effects and, naturally, decreasing your overall quality of life and increasing daytime sleepiness.

REM SBD is more common among men patients, specifically those aged 40 or older. The cause of this condition isn’t known, but it has been linked to other medical conditions that include:

  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Multisystem atrophy
  • Diffuse Lewy body dementia

Additionally, REM SBD is a common side effect of alcohol withdrawal. Several studies have also linked the disorder with the following withdrawals:

  • Tricyclic antidepressants
  • Serotonin reuptake inhibitors
  • Mirtazapine

What Is CBD?

CBD, or cannabidiol, is one of the active ingredients of the marijuana plant derived from the hemp plant or the marijuana plant.

CBD directly affects your body’s endocannabinoid system. It has numerous medical uses that include relieving pain and anxiety and treating childhood epilepsy syndromes like the Lennox-Gastaut and Dravet syndromes. Mostly, these conditions are hard to treat with conventional anti-seizure medications.

Cannabinoids are also used in the treatment of arthritis pain, depression, and fibromyalgia.

REM Sleep Behavior Disorder

Does CBD Affect REM Sleep?

CBD and sleep (or wakefulness issues) have been intertwined. There’s significant evidence that CBD oil can positively affect your sleep cycle and help you eliminate sleep disturbances like sleep aids do. 

Animal studies and animal research were conducted to study the correlation effect between CBD and sleep. In an animal study, a group of rats was given variable CBD doses, and recordings of their sleep were made during light and dark hours. 

It was found that sleep duration increased during daytime for rats who took 10mg and 40mg doses of CBD. Conversely, sleep latency increased in the rats who took 40mg doses and decreased in those who consumed 10mg doses. 

In other words, studies found that the total sleep time has increased with the consumption of CBD as if it were a sleep medication or sleep aid. 

CBD use also reduces daytime sleepiness, sleep latency, grogginess, and sleep apnea. We’re not exactly sure how CBD helps with sleep disorders. Still, it’s believed that it eases the effects of insomnia, increases relaxation, reduces anxiety, boosts daytime wakefulness, and treats seizure disorders and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

Since CBD is used to treat anxiety, it helps minimize REM sleep suppression caused by anxiety, thanks to its anxiolytic effect.

REM sleep behavior disorder: Symptoms, causes, and treatment

What Drugs Decrease REM Sleep?

Antidepressants like tricyclic antidepressants (TCA), selective serotonin-reuptake inhibitors (SSRI), and monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOI) were found to decrease REM sleep and increase sleep disturbances. The use of benzodiazepines has been linked to insomnia, too.

Does CBD Cause Vivid Dreams?

Many patients have reported that the use of CBD oil has made their dreams more vivid. Some individuals have also noticed a significant increase in positive dreams.

Other Factors to Keep in Mind

CBD is relatively new and has only been recently introduced to the U.S. market, so there isn’t enough data or information about its use yet. Nevertheless, here’s what we know about CBD so far:

Legality

Before using CBD oil (even if it’s for medical purposes), make sure that it’s legal in your state. According to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), CBD is classified as a Schedule I drug. 

Using CBD oil for medical purposes is fine in most states, provided that a certified physician prescribed it. However, keep in mind that some CBD offerings may contain THC in them. 

THC is a slightly different chemical compound that has a similar molecular structure to CBD. It’s classified differently from CBD because it’s associated with “inducing a high”. If your CBD oil has THC content in it, you might risk legal claims if your state hasn’t legalized its use, so make sure that the CBD products you use are THC-free.

Dosing

Several factors determine the CBD dosage you need to get and its timing, including your weight, age, and body chemistry. 

Generally, patients may need from 25mg up to 1,500mg to notice significant improvements in their sleep. It’s usually recommended to start with a low dosage and increase it until you hit the perfect number that works. Just make sure that you don’t consume more CBD than you need.

There are many ways to take cannabinoids, which include:

Vaping may accelerate the effects of CBD, but it may damage your respiratory system, according to studies. 

You can use capsules if you want to play it safe. Using capsules is convenient, especially that they don’t have an aftertaste; you can slip them into your daily vitamin routine. Gummies are also nice if you like chewing gums.

As for CBD oil, it’s usually used in skincare routines. 

Side Effects

CBD can work wonders when it comes to improving the quality of your sleep and minimizing sleep disruption. However, you may experience some side effects and symptoms after prolonged use of CBD oil, which include:

  • Fatigue, sleepiness, and tiredness
  • Changes in appetite 
  • Sudden weight loss
  • Dry mouth
  • Dizziness
  • Diarrhea

Nevertheless, the side effects are usually mild, and in most cases, they’re caused by interactions with other medications. 

It’s also worth mentioning that CBD has been linked to an increase in Blood Thinner Coumadin and other medications in your blood, so make sure that you’re fully aware of information on the interactions of CBD with any other medication you might be taking based on your health conditions. Another words, talk to your doctor first before using CBD in conjunction with any other medications!

Formulations

CBD is extracted from several strains of the Cannabis plant that include the hemp and marijuana plants. The hemp plant has more THC content, so many CBD products extracted from it will have a more significant concentration. 

Related Questions

Is Cannabidiol Safe?

Besides the side effects and possible symptoms we’ve mentioned, CBD cannabis extract is generally considered safe to use within the recommended dosage limits and has a good health safety profile.

Yet, keep in mind that CBD is sold as a supplement, but a medication, which could raise some safety concerns since the FDA’s regulations concerning the safety of dietary supplements are somewhat limited compared to medications. 

This means that not all CBD products can be considered safe since they might contain other unknown ingredients that affect the brain. Nevertheless, if you stick to reputable, well-trusted CBD products, you shouldn’t face any problems. 

Do CBD Products Have THC in Them?

CBD products may have a small concentration of THC. If your CBD oil does have THC, make sure that its concentration is less than 0.3%. THC is treated differently under federal law, and any CBD product that has a THC concentration that’s more than 0.3% is considered a THC product, too.

Final Thoughts

To sum it all up, CBD can definitely improve the quality of your sleep and help you get rid of your REM sleep disorder, insomnia, as well as anxiety symptoms. 

But remember, the results are by no means instant. It might take up to a month before your sleep gets better and relaxation starts kicking in, so be patient.

Editors note: What did you think of this article, “REM Sleep Disorder: Can Taking CBD Oil Help?”? Please let us know.

About the Writer

Shelley W.

Shelly is Saha's Head of the Editorial Team. In addition to personally contributing blog articles, Shelly is responsible for sourcing new writers and editing their work. Shelly is driven by her passion to educate about cannabinoid relief while finding ways to support those most impacted by the industry. Shelly has a degree in Media Communications and is currently working on a Masters in Digital Media and Integrity.

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