Often confused with nightmares, night terrors occur during non-REM sleep and are classified as a parasomnia – an undesirable occurrence during sleep. Lasting anywhere from a few seconds to minutes, night terrors tend to be more prevalent in children between the ages of three and 12, but can affect adults too, particularly those suffering from PTSD. Owing to the nature of these sleep disturbances – screaming and thrashing around – they can pose a safety risk and in some cases even lead to sleepwalking.
Night terrors can be a result of poor sleep patterns, underlying medical conditions, and in some instances stress and anxiety. With its ability to positively impact sleep, promote relaxation and boost immune function, CBD offers a myriad benefits for those suffering from this condition. Perhaps the biggest benefit is that CBD doesn’t come with the negative side-effects of many allopathic medications.
One of the leading reasons people turn to CBD is for stress and anxiety. Working in much the same way as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), CBD helps to boost the natural production of serotonin – the body’s feel-good chemical – to stabilise one’s mood and in turn reduce stress and anxiety. Equally important it prevents the overstimulation of the CB1 receptors which also has a positive impact on anxiety levels. One study conducted in 2019 examined the effects of CBD on 47 outpatients at a mental health clinic in Colorado, USA. The majority of patients received 25mg of CBD every day and after one month 79.2% reported an improvement in anxiety scores. For those whose night terrors are triggered by stress and anxiety, getting it under control can help to reduce the occurrence of these episodes.
But stress and anxiety are not the only triggers – insomnia, sleep apnea and other sleep disorders can also set off night terrors. By working with the endocannabinoid system, which regulates everything from mood to memory, CBD is believed to be able to reset sleep patterns by influencing the balance of hormones in the body and regulating the circadian rhythm. By regulating this sleep-wake cycle, CBD can promote better quality sleep and more of it, potentially reducing the prevalence of night terrors.
As with any other medication, finding the right dosage will determine how effective CBD is. A general rule of thumb is to start on a lower dose and increase it gradually until you find what works for you. There are also a number of different ways to administer CBD – vapes, oils and tinctures are some of the most popular.