Does hemp seed oil help with sleep? Experts explain

Does hemp seed oil help with sleep? Experts explain


Sam North is an experienced cannabis consultant and writer who provides education and guidance for businesses, commercial projects, and private clients. With over 5 years of industry experience, Sam is passionate about the potential of cannabis to help restore balance and well-being into people's lives.

Many of us know how it feels to endure a sleepless night. Heat and humidity, noisy neighbours, or the worries and stresses of daily life can all prevent us from finding the restful state needed for good quality sleep. Most of the time, this transient insomnia comes and goes as external conditions become more favourable. Over time, however, a prolonged lack of sleep may lead to chronic insomnia.

This long-term insomnia may lead to a host of physical and mental health problems, from depression, psychosis, and paranoia to hypertension and increased cancer and heart health risk. 

When sleep eludes you, any treatment that will bring rest and relief is worth considering. Unfortunately, pharmaceutical sleep aids can (and often do) have some unpleasant side effects, and may not bring about the quality sleep necessary for good health. Could complementary therapies like hemp seed oil or other medical cannabis derivatives help to aid restful sleep? Let’s have a look.

Hemp seed oil vs CBD oil: What’s the difference?

First of all, it is important to distinguish between hemp seed oil, hemp oil, and CBD oil as these terms are regularly used interchangeably, and incorrectly.

Hemp seed oil is an edible oil that’s cold-pressed from the seeds of the cannabis sativa L. plant. It has a pleasantly mild and nutty taste and can be taken as a health supplement, used to stir-fry or bake, or even to make salad dressings. Being packed with antioxidants, it has naturally inflammatory benefits and is rich in omega-3 fatty acids.

Cannabidiol (CBD) oil, on the other hand, is made from the stems, leaves, and buds of the cannabis plant. CBD is one of the primary cannabinoids found in the cannabis plant. While studies also attribute antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties to CBD, it can also help to restore hormonal balance (including the sleep hormone melatonin), mitigate the effects of anxiety and promote relaxation.

Because CBD oil can be described and marketed as hemp oil, this may lead to some confusion as to what chemical compounds a product contains and how it may help with sleep.

What causes insomnia?

In order to address insomnia, one must first address the causes of insomnia. These are many and varied, ranging from sleeping conditions such as ambient temperature or uncomfortable bedding to personal anxieties and mental health issues.

Some of the most common causes of insomnia include:

  • Stress and anxiety
  • Caffeine and/or alcohol use
  • Depression
  • Chronic pain
  • Some medications, including certain antidepressants, blood thinners, and medicines for epilepsy

Where insomnia is caused by physical and mental health conditions, it’s best to target the causes of these conditions in order to manage the insomnia itself. Fortunately, the potential anti-inflammatory, anxiolytic, and antioxidant qualities of many chemical compounds found in the cannabis plant can aid restful sleep while also helping to address the causes of insomnia.

Does hemp seed oil help with sleep?

Depending on the cause of the individual’s sleep disorder, hemp seed oil may or may not help with sleep.

Because hemp seed oil has anti-inflammatory properties, it may prevent sleep loss caused by pain and discomfort from inflammatory autoimmune conditions. For instance, a 2014 study indicates that orally-administered hemp seed oil may help to relieve joint pain caused by rheumatoid arthritis. The same anti-inflammatory properties may also prevent sleep loss caused by painful or itchy inflammatory skin conditions. Because hemp seed oil is high in fibre, it may help to alleviate insomnia caused by bloating or constipation. It is also rich in linoleic acid, so it can also help to lower blood pressure and mitigate the risk of hypertension in those who experience insomnia.

CBD oil, on the other hand, affects the body in a slightly different way to help induce sleep and alleviate insomnia. CBD is one of the primary cannabinoids found in the cannabis plant, and it interacts with receptors throughout the body and brain in very specific ways.

What cannabinoids are found in hemp oil, and how do they work?

Commercially purchased hemp seed oil typically contains very little if any cannabinoids like CBD or tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). However, CBD oil (which is sometimes also marketed as hemp oil) contains not only CBD, but sometimes trace amounts of other cannabinoids including THC. Because THC is the psychoactive compound in the cannabis plant, THC levels in commercial CBD oil and products are strictly regulated. CBD or hemp oils must not exceed 0.2% or 1 mg per container.

However, these trace levels of THC may aid the beneficial effects of CBD without causing intoxication or a ‘high’ that is stereotypically associated with cannabis use. Studies show that a combination of CBD and small amounts of THC may aid restful sleep without unnecessary psychoactive effects or any of the side effects that can be associated with high percentage THC consumption, such as anxiety and paranoia.

Cannabinoids like CBD and THC work by interacting with the body’s endocannabinoid system. This is the largest network of signals and receptors found in the bodies of humans and other mammals.

This system is responsible for managing a range of bodily functions including mood, immune function, metabolism, and sleep. In its interactions with the endocannabinoid system, studies show that CBD and trace amounts of THC can aid sleep by regulating melatonin levels and helping to induce sleepy states as well as improving the quality and restfulness of sleep.

Terpenes and the entourage effect

Cannabinoids are not the only chemical compound within the cannabis plant to have properties that may aid restful sleep. The plant also contains many terpenes that may be included in both cold-pressed hemp seed oil and full-spectrum CBD oil.

As well as having their own sedative and anti-inflammatory properties, these terpenes may cause an ‘entourage effect’ in their interactions with cannabinoids, enhancing their properties while mitigating the risk of side effects.

Terpenes commonly found in hemp seed oils include:

  • Myrcene – Has some analgesic, anxiolytic, and anti-inflammatory properties
  • Limonene – An anti-inflammatory and antianxiety terpene found in citrus
  • Terpinolene – Another terpene known for its anxiolytic effects
  • Beta-Caryophyllene – An anti-inflammatory terpene widely known for its ability to prevent gastric discomfort
  • Beta Pinene – This terpene has antiseptic and anti-inflammatory properties and can be an effective bronchodilator, easing breathing while one is asleep

What are the health benefits of hemp?

Even beyond helping with sleep, the hemp plant can have some excellent health benefits. It is highly versatile and can be integrated into one’s diet in many ways, either as a milk substitute, an oil used in cooking or baking, or added to smoothies or protein shakes in the form of flakes.

Hemp is high in fibre and protein and has anti-inflammatory benefits, no matter how it is consumed.

What’s more, hemp is not only good for the body but good for the planet, too. Hardy, and easy to grow with very little water, it is one of the most sustainable plants in the world to farm.

Taking medicinal cannabis for insomnia: How we can help

Insomnia can have a devastating impact on one’s quality of life, and increase the risk of numerous very serious health conditions. As such, both the cause of insomnia and its symptoms need to be addressed as soon as possible to prevent serious harm.

At Releaf, we take a highly personalised approach in our medical cannabis subscription service, ensuring that every individual’s needs and symptoms are matched to a carefully curated medicinal cannabis strain. Levels of CBD, THC and, terpene profiles are scrupulously considered and monitored throughout the subscription so that each patient gets the optimal balance for their condition.

We believe that access to medical cannabis is important. That's why we offer tailored monthly packages based on your cannabis prescription, specialist consultations for medical cannabis, and a unique medical cannabis card for protection.

It is important to seek medical advice before starting any new treatments. The patient advisors at Releaf are available to provide expert advice and support. Alternatively, click here to book a consultation with one of our specialist doctors.

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