Do you ever have trouble focusing?
It’s a trick question. Unless you have some sort of special powers, then the odds are you have trouble concentrating or focusing on the task at hand at least once in a while. The causes of that distraction, whether it happens often, sometimes, or once in a great while, can range from stress and anxiety to lack of sleep, or even a full-blown disorder like ADD or ADHD.
Whether it is a diagnosed disorder, or you are just surrounded by loud distractions, the inability to focus can be a vicious circle. You’re trying to finish some work that you have to get done, but you find your mind wandering. You start to get frustrated that you aren’t making any progress, the frustration begins to morph into stress as the fear creeps into your head that you have to get this thing done. That stress then breeds a further lack of focus.
And around the circle we go.
Can CBD Help You Focus?
There have not been many studies done to determine if CBD helps people concentrate. However, because CBD is thought to have a positive effect on many conditions or feelings that lead to the inability to focus, it is not unreasonable to take the leap and say it’s possible that CBD could have a positive effect on concentration.
Let’s run through what we believe.
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Anxiety – Concentration problems are very common for people who live with anxiety. Severe anxiety makes it almost impossible to pay attention to the task at hand, instead focusing on your anxiety itself, whatever is making you anxious, suffering from rapid thoughts.
As we mentioned in a previous article of ours, anxiety is often linked to a deficiency in serotonin. This is where CBD comes in. It is thought to interact with 5-HT1a receptors that control serotonin levels in the brain and body, increasing the levels when they are too low. That increase of serotonin in the brain results in decreased anxiety and inhibition of panic attacks.
The decrease in anxiety, in turn, leads to an increase in your ability to focus.
Stress – Stress, anxiety, and a lack of concentration all go hand in hand. Specifically, stress makes it difficult to focus because of a substance called cortisol, a chemical that helps regulate the body and is produced when the body needs to react to stressful situations. Cortisol decreases your cognitive performance and makes it difficult to pay attention.
The solution to cortisol? Don’t get stressed out OR find a way to manage your cortisol levels.
Studies have shown that, due to its anxiolytic properties, the way CBD interacts with your endocannabinoid system leads to lower levels of stress. This would mean CBD leads to lower levels of cortisol and increased focus.
Lack of Sleep – Like any college student who has pulled an all-nighter or a nurse who works the night shift knows, a lack of sleep can really start to drain you of your ability to concentrate on the task at hand. Similar to stress, insufficient sleep leads to higher levels of cortisol and decreased cognitive function.
The solution, yet again, is to minimize the amount of cortisol being released and give your brain the rest it needs to work properly.
The inability to sleep well can be attributed to many causes. But if you find that you wake up several times in the night for no reason, it may be that your sleep cycle is off. Animal studies have shown that CBD can help improve your sleep cycle and increase total sleep time. And because we are really not that different from other mammals, it is thought that CBD could lead to better and longer sleep in humans, thus leading to better rest and increased focus.
CBD and Concentration
The important thing to note here is that anxiety, stress, and sleep are intimately intertwined with one another. Stress and anxiety can lead to a lack of sleep, and a lack of sleep can lead to stress and anxiety. In turn, all three lead to concentration problems.
Although the complete answer to why CBD may help with all three of these problems is not entirely clear, studies and anecdotal evidence point to the fact that it does have a positive effect and that this is due, at least in part, to its interaction and regulation of serotonin and other brain chemicals.
If you find yourself unable to focus and think it may be a result of anxiety, stress, or lack of sleep, it might be worth it to give CBD a try and see if it works for you.