Not being able to fall asleep can quickly turn your whole life into a nightmare. After a few nights of difficult or irregular sleep, you’ll start to feel weak, demoralized, possibly anxious and irritable.
Unfortunately, sleep disorders are still very poorly understood by modern medicine. While sleeping pills and other forms of therapy work for some, many people have yet to find a viable long-term solution.
Boasting the ability to decrease anxiety and relax your whole body, CBD has also been found to help patients with insomnia. So, what is CBD? How does it work? And is taking CBD for sleeping a good option? Let’s have a look at what the latest science says.
What is CBD?
CBD, or cannabidiol, is a phytocannabinoid compound found in the cannabis plant. Unlike the other, more famous cannabinoid THC, CBD doesn’t have any psychoactive properties. In other words, it doesn’t create a high and isn’t used as a recreational drug. However, it is commonly used as a medicine. By acting on our body’s endocannabinoid system, CBD can help with a number of health conditions. In recent years, it has been found to provide effective relief from epilepsy, arthritic pain and digestive conditions.
Non-prescription CBD products are not currently approved by the FDA. However, research suggests that this molecule is effective in treating a number of conditions. We recommend consulting with a medical professional to see if prescription CBD could help your condition.
Most recently, research has focused on the impact of CBD on mental health. Scientists have found that taking CBD is often associated with lower levels of anxiety, pain and even depression. And because sleeping disorders also have a lot to do with brain chemistry, it’s no wonder that CBD seems to work on insomnia. Here’s what we know about it so far.
What causes insomnia and poor sleep?
To understand how taking CBD for sleeping works, it’s important to understand what causes sleep disorders in the first place.
In the majority of people, difficulty sleeping arises at a time of mental or physical stress. For example, many people find that they lose sleep during exam periods, in the middle of a divorce or following a traumatic event. Poor sleep is so tightly connected with mental health that one of a therapist’s first questions to new clients is usually, “How well do you sleep?”
However, not all sleeping disorders are caused by trauma, stress or a chemical imbalance in the brain. Sleeping issues can also arise as a result of:
- Taking certain medications (ADHD medications, for example)
- Chronic pain
The good news is that CBD addresses at least a few causes of insomnia.
CBD acts on our endocannabinoid system (or ECS). This system is responsible, in part, for regulating mood (including stress and anxiety), appetite and pain. In theory, that means CBD can treat the most common causes of sleeplessness. But what does the research say?
Can CBD make me sleep?
Research on CBD for mental health-related conditions is still limited. Traditionally, research on cannabis has tended to focus on full-spectrum cannabis (that is, the kind that contains THC). This has made it difficult to measure the effects of CBD on mental health, as both cannabinoids play a role in affecting the brain.
In a 2019 study, CBD was tested alone as a possible sleep and anxiety treatment. The results were very promising, showing that over 79% of patients obtained relief from anxiety, and over 66% experienced better sleep.
The effects of CBD on anxiety have been studied before, and also offer promising perspectives. Many sleep medicines work by reducing anxiety; they help to relax the body and mind to the point that sleep can take over. With a good track record for relieving anxiety, CBD could be a treatment option for those with stress-related insomnia.
Another common cause of sleeplessness is pain. Whether someone suffers from chronic pain or occasional migraines, the discomfort can make sleep impossible. CBD has been extensively studied for its pain-relieving abilities and seems to offer a low-toxicity, natural alternative to traditional painkillers. For those with pain-related insomnia, this makes CBD a potential solution.
Does CBD improve sleep quality?
Mental issues and other factors can cause not just loss of sleep, but poor-quality sleep. If you manage to fall asleep but sleep restlessly and wake up feeling tired and groggy, this is still considered a sleep disorder. Proper sleep should be deep and restorative, allowing the body and mind to recover from the events of the past day. Failing this, fatigue accumulates, stress builds up and going about one’s daily tasks becomes progressively harder.
Fortunately, CBD may be able to help you get deeper sleep. In a 2014 study, scientists measured the effects of CBD on sleep cycles. They found that patients who took CBD oil for sleeping had lower REM-related issues (such as nightmares, restlessness, and sleepwalking). Instead, they slept more deeply and woke up feeling more rested.
Is it safe to take CBD for sleeping?
CBD is generally considered to be a very safe substance. It has been associated with very few side effects, none of which are particularly dangerous. CBD may cause:
- Changes in appetite
Though these potential side effects are not dangerous, they can be unpleasant. That’s why it’s generally recommended to start out with a low dose to see if CBD agrees with you before moving on to a stronger one.
A more relevant danger is the genuineness and purity of the CBD on the market. As CBD has rapidly developed as a popular product, there have been an increase in cases of fake CBD oil. In these cases, regular, non-activated hemp oil is passed as CBD, despite having none of its medicinal properties. What’s even more common is manufacturers making false claims about the potency of their CBD.
The best way to check a CBD product for genuineness and potency is to consult the certificate of analysis that any manufacturer should provide. This is a third-party testing document attesting to the quality of the CBD. Make sure to stay away from any company that doesn’t have that certificate or refuses to show it.
How to use CBD for sleeping
CBD comes in a lot of different forms, from droppers to vaping oils, edibles and drinks. So which is the best type to take for a better night’s rest?
The form in which you consume CBD doesn’t really matter in the case of sleep. For some conditions, such as acute pain, people are advised to take CBD in a form that is released into the bloodstream more quickly, like vaping or sublingual drops. Sleeping disorders are more of a chronic problem, so it’s recommended to choose a product that you won’t get tired of.
One of the most popular options is CBD drops, which you can take at a regular time each day. CBD capsules have a similar appeal. CBD gummies or edibles like cookies, on the other hand, can make it more enjoyable to take CBD and may be particularly attractive to children with sleeping issues.
In terms of dosage, it’s a matter of finding what works for you. For the first few days, it’s a good idea to try out a dose of around 5 to 10 mg. This dose is not high enough to have real effects on your sleep, but it will let you know whether you tolerate CBD well. If you’re not experiencing any nausea or other side effects, it should be safe to move up to a dose between 25 to 50 mg per day. These are doses that seem to have an actual effect on the condition, based on the most recent studies. However, it is advisable to consult with a health professional to find the right dosage for your condition.
Contrary to popular belief, you don’t need to take CBD right before bed, even if you’re using CBD for sleeping. What matters most is regularity. People who take CBD for sleep and anxiety-related issues generally find that the benefits of CBD improve the longer they take it. In fact, you may not feel the effects of CBD right when you first begin taking it. So when you’re first trying CBD, make sure to take it regularly, and give it a month before you decide whether it’s working for you.
CBD addresses many of the root causes of insomnia and poor sleep: it alleviates anxiety, relaxes the body, relieves pain and regulates REM cycles. As a result, it is one of the most promising new remedies for sleep disorders. Although there have been few clinical studies, we can expect to see many more in the future. CBD offers a safe and natural alternative to traditional sleeping pills and may offer benefits that go way past a good night’s sleep.
CBD for sleeping
2019 study on CBD for anxiety and sleep
2014 study on the effects of CBD on REM cycles
CBD for anxiety
2018 review of the effects of CBD on physical and mental health conditions
CBD for pain
2018 review of research on cannabinoids and pain
2008 study on the effects of CBD for pain management
Safety of CBD
2017 study on the safety and side effects of CBD