There is no “one size fits all” when it comes to supporting individual change in the sleep challenged community. While, having a core CBN sleep product is critical, there are many other physiological, behavioral and lifestyle aspects that can and must be addressed to be meet the needs of people attempting to overcome clinical sleep disorders and/or improve the ease and quality of their sleep.
Having a sleep disorder means disruption of normal sleep patterns and an excessive amount of daytime exhaustion. There are over 80 known sleep disorders and while difficulty falling or staying asleep (insomnia) is the most common, other examples of sleep disorders include snoring, sleep apnea, sleep behaviors called parasomnias, restless legs syndrome, circadian disorders and narcolepsy.
Statistically, nearly 40 million adults in the US suffer from some type of significant sleep disorder and it is assumed that an additional 20 million people annually have experienced sporadic sleep problems. (1)
Commonly Reported Sleep Disorders (2)
Insomnia – Difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep.
Sleep Apnea – Obstructive or impaired breathing while sleeping.
Restless Leg Syndrome- Tingling, and sometimes pain in the legs that increases at night and is relieved by disruptive movements.
Circadian Rhythm Disorders- When one’s internal clock does not function one’s sleep patterns are disturbed.
Parasomnias - Abnormal movements while sleeping, including sleep walking and nightmares.
Excessive Daytime Sleepiness– Persistent drowsiness during daylight hours from narcolepsy or other medical conditions.
- 48% report snoring.
- 37% unintentionally falling asleep during the day at least once in the last month.
- 25 million US adults have obstructive sleep apnea.
- 5% of obesity cases in adults can be attributed to short sleep cycles.
- 50 out of 100,000 people have narcolepsy.
- 37% of ages 20-39 report short sleep duration.
- 40% of ages 40-59 report short sleep duration.
- 35% of adults report less than 7 hours sleep every 24-hour period.
- 100,000 deaths occur each year in US hospitals due to medical errors where sleep deprivation was a significant contribution.
- Drowsy driving is responsible for 1,550 fatalities and 40,000 non-fatal injuries annually in the US.
Connecting Chronic Illness and Sleep
Sleep is necessary for our emotional, mental and physical health although how and why it benefits us is not fully understood. Sleep disturbances and disorders are also symptomatic of many chronic illnesses which further complicates our understanding and how to treat or prevent sleep disturbances and disorders.
While we may not fully understand the benefits of sleep and they body systems exact roles to giving us that restorative effect each day, we do understand much about chronic illness. As we have learned, chronic illness in most cases involves an underlying imbalance or dysregulation of the endocannabinoid system.
Studies have shown that chronic illness can be the cause or a symptom of a sleep disorder. For instance, it has been shown that people who sleep less than 7 hours in a 24-hour period increase their risk for several chronic health conditions, including heart disease, obesity, stroke, depression, diabetes and arthritis.
Certain comorbid disorders like neurodegenerative diseases can increase the risk of insomnia by 75-95%. (3)
Previously mentioned, the ECS is intertwined with circadian rhythms and their functionality:
- The amount of active endocannabinoids, their degradative and synthetic enzymes and their receptors all show tissue-specific daytime changes, indicating that ECS is ‘downstream’ of circadian regulators. (4)
- Cannabinoids and endocannabinoids affect many important physiological processes that exhibit a circadian rhythm: sleep–wakefulness, body temperature, HPA endocrine secretions, food intake, learning, memory and locomotor activity. These findings indicate that ECS is ‘upstream’ of circadian processes. (4)
The National Institute of Health (NIH) is the largest biomedical research agency in the world. In 2015 they developed three reporting categories to describe the research efforts underway to examine the chemical, physiological, and therapeutic properties of cannabinoids and the somatic systems they affect.
Oversees the total NIH investment in all ongoing cannabinoid research: basic research; animal and human preclinical studies; clinical research; Studies examining cannabis use disorders; societal and health impact due to changing cannabis laws and policies; Studies examining all classes of cannabinoids , molecules that modify their concentration or activity, as well as the physiological systems they target (e.g. endocannabinoid system).
Arm of the cannabinoid research category that reports all NIH projects examining basic, preclinical and therapeutic properties of CBD.
Therapeutic Cannabinoid Research
This cannabinoid research group reports all NIH projects examining the therapeutic properties of all classes of cannabinoids (purified, synthetic, endogenous and phytocannabinoids).
In 2019, Cannabinoid Research nearly met or exceeded NIH Funding alongside major diseases and disorders (to mention a few):
The Endocannabinoid System and Sleep
If we are to discuss sleep related topics, and products to support healthy sleep activity, we should begin with the regulatory systems involved. Sleep is regulated by two corresponding mechanisms, homeostatic regulation and circadian regulation, these are controlled by the hypothalamus and the suprachiasmatic nucleus areas of the brain, respectively. However, recent work has demonstrated that the endocannabinoid system (ECS) is involved in the regulation of the circadian sleep-wake cycle, which includes the maintenance and promotion of sleep.
Research continues to provide considerable support that the ECS serves as a link between the circadian regulation systems and the behavioral and physiological processes that are affected, which of course includes sleep.
The ECS is involved in stimulating and suppressing many different brain and body responses. It is a “Master Regulator,” with a critical role in the human body for our survival, maintaining homeostasis (balance).
Whether we discuss commonplace or exotic functions, including but not limited to sleep, appetite, mood, cognitions and memory, movement and physical exercise, reward motivated behaviors or pain sensation…yes, the ECS is involved in virtually everything.
The ECS is complex and employs multiple processes. Most relevant in the equation are the billions and billions of specialized receptors throughout the brain and the body, called "cannabinoid receptors." These receptors are part of the ECS and are stimulated by endocannabinoids (which our body makes naturally) or cannabinoids (that are from hemp/cannabis).
When there is insufficient activity within cannabinoid receptors our bodies begin to deregulate themselves and fall further and further out of homeostasis or balance. The less receptor site activity over longer time periods, the more the delicate internal balance can fail. The result can be both mental or physical challenges and illnesses.
In 2016, according to the industry research firm Markets and Markets, Americans spent $3.38 billion on prescription sedatives, hypnotics which are over the counter (OTC) sleep aids and herbal sleep aids.
Overall, the U.S. “sleep market” which includes anti-insomnia drugs (over-the-counter & prescription), sleep labs/sleep centers, mattresses and pillows, CPAPS for sleep apnea, and retail sleep aids: earplugs, sleep lamps, sound conditioning machines, eye masks, books on sleep, etc. was worth an estimated $28.6 billion in 2017. A continued average annual growth of 3.3-4.7% expected into 2023.
In review of data from controlled hypnotic trials (over the counter sleep aids) 12 cancers were found in the hypnotic participants compared to zero cancers in the placebo group. What is unclear is if the hypnotics caused or were promoting progression of a previously undetected cancer. Animal testing and in vitro studies showed pro cancer potential of hypnotics. (5) Most over- the -counter sleep aids contain acetaminophen, a well-known pain reliever. Long term use or improper dosage of acetaminophen can cause elevated liver enzymes. Mixing acetaminophen with alcohol or other medications has the potential to cause liver toxicity and/or fatal respiratory suppression.
CBD and THC had been of primary interest to sleep researchers, traditionally, but growing demand for studies about the interrelationships between cannabinoids and sleep has expanded well beyond CBD and THC.
We have identified that as THC ages, it transforms into CBN. In this process, it loses the intoxicating properties of the former, yet its sedative properties strengthen. Research has noted CBN as the lead cannabinoid for achieving both sleep quality and the sleep duration to best support our overall health.
Cannabinol, or CBN has caused its ripple in research because of its sedative properties. It delivers a more powerful sedative effect than any of the other cannabinoids, without causing any “high.” (9) CBN is expensive and that had previously caused challenges for researchers. Since other cannabinoids are easily produced when their antecedent acid forms are heated, CBN is different as it is created when THC ages and transforms or morphs into CBN. This means that time is a large component to availability. There is good news here, the tremendous growth in the hemp industry in both technology and genetics has lessened the challenge of the availability of this cannabinoid.
CBN binds primarily to CB2 receptors, where it incites pain-relief. Chronic pain is one of the most prevalent contributors to sleep disorders. Studies suggest that using CBD or THC or CBN independently or taking advantage of the entire trifecta and combining the strengths of CBD, THC and CBN, these compounds can address not only the reason behind sleep issues but also the symptoms that come from a lack of adequate sleep. (10)
Cannabidiol, or CBD can cause enhanced focus and awareness and be gently stimulating in moderate doses or it can have a sedative effect in higher doses, making it biphasic. Biphasic reactions can also be specific to an individual. Two people can ingest the same amount of CBD but experience completely different effects. When a compound has a biphasic impact, symptoms that are relieved with a small dose can be amplified at a high dose. With all the variances, it is easy to understand why study results are conflicting and why dosing is challenging. The accepted dosing protocol has been to start with low CBD doses and slowly increase, in order to safely and efficiently find and optimal dose for the ECS to support homeostasis in individuals.
The body needs circadian allowance for roughly eight hours of restful sleep and full engagement in daily activities without exhaustion. Correct dosing of CBD has the potential to curb excessive daytime fatigue. A low dose of CBD can increase wakeful attention and combat disruptive sleep disorders such as narcolepsy. Considering CBD’s biphasic aptitude, one study on insomnia and sleep disorders showed that administering 160 mgs of CBD decreased nighttime sleep interruptions and increased overall sleep duration. This all suggests that high-dose CBD therapies can improve the quality of sleep while low dose therapies may improve the quality of daily life for people suffering with chronic sleep issues. (6)
CBD may help to reduce REM behavior disorder, specifically with people that have Parkinson’s disease. REM atonia is what keeps us from physically reacting in our dreams. People that have REM behavior disorder do not have this immobilization, and they move freely during the REM cycle, leading to disruptive sleep and possibly injury to themselves and their sleeping partners.
In review of the collective body of research on cannabigerol, or CBG, you will find that this cannabinoid is positively noted in everything from acne to late stage cancer. CBG interacts with both CB1 and CB2 receptors, which means receptors in both the brain and the body can be stimulated by this cannabinoid.
As mentioned previously, it is coined the “mother cannabinoid” and is the precursor to cannabinoids like CBD, THC, CBC. Following where the research, CBG is most studied for its effect on sleep, cognitive function, digestion and gastrointestinal disease and disorders. Additionally, and strongly noted, CBG has been shown to be an effective anti-bacterial agent, especially against MRSA and is a promising alternative in the treatment of certain skin diseases like psoriasis and eczema.
Very recent pre-clinical studies in various bone and stomach cancer cell lines found CBG to induce necrotic effects in tumor cells. These findings are consistent with previous research that has shown different anti-tumor effects on human cancer cells from both fresh biopsies and cell lines.
CBG, along with CBD, have been shown to protect against cognitive decline in animal studies and have proven to be highly beneficial to human patients suffering from a variety of neurodegenerative diseases including Parkinson’s Disease and Alzheimer’s Disease.
One startling mechanism of action appears to be the ability of certain cannabinoids like CBG to stimulate the brain to make higher amounts of a compound called BDNF, which stands for brain-derived neurotrophic factor. BDNF promotes new brain cell growth and protects against brain cell death. As we age, there is a natural slow down or complete cessation of new brain cell growth. By stimulating BDNF production, cannabinoid mixtures invite the exciting possibility of a reversal of the aging process in the brain. Anandamide, an endocannabinoid, is increased when CBG is at receptor sites. This activity increases dopamine and has a direct effect on our mood and our sleep.
Research in the treatment of GI disorders suggest that cannabinoids like CBG are safe treatment options for GI disorders. Studies have concluded that cannabinoids like CBG and CBD, along with some terpenes, can diminish gastrointestinal distress and aid in the treatment of a wide array of GI related diseases and disorders including but not limited to: Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), Crohn’s Disease, Gas, Diarrhea, Diverticulosis, Diverticulitis, Acid Reflux including GERD and GER, Ulcers and Celiac Disease
Sleep On It
Cannabinoids, as well as terpenes and other synergistic natural products, not only positively impact sleep but can also mitigate virtually every problem associated with a lack of sleep.
Sleep deprivation has been linked to elevated blood pressure and higher cholesterol, as well as to an increase in the risks for every other cause of heart disease. The importance of sleep can’t be overstated. Just having inadequate sleep for one night can trigger events that begin to depress the immune system and can contribute to increased insulin resistance. (10)
When a body needs sleep, stress-related chemicals are released that shock the system. This reaction raises the level of inflammation in response, and most of the debilitating diseases and feared illnesses begin with inflammation.
Sleep related research has shown that cannabinoids, like CBD and CBN hold the greatest potential for developing safe and effective natural sleep aids but also for developing analgesic products that can bring the precursors to sleep disturbances into homeostatic balance.
One World Live Sleep Elixir
OWL Sleep Elixir is a full-spectrum CBD oil enhanced with enough terpenes and CBN to support sound and restful sleep. OWL Sleep Elixir is a standardized lab-tested cannabidiol extract offered with a choice of CBD strengths combined with CBN potency options ranging from 75 to 300 milligrams. The OWL Sleep Elixir formulas were designed to deliver a balanced ratio of CBD, CBN and terpene actives to allow the body to refresh itself during relaxed and uninterrupted sleep.