It's a stressful time and getting a good night's sleep is more difficult than ever. According to a study done by the Mental Health Foundation, nearly a third of the UK population is suffering from insomnia and poor sleep, which is affecting their health. Now wouldn't it be great if we had a natural solution? - and we might just have it in cannabidiol, CBD, also known as CBD oil.
So how do we improve our sleep? In order to combat sleep issues, many are now turning to CBD oil drops. Early research is showing that this non-intoxicating remedy may promote more restful sleep.
I used to struggle with sleep and I got fed up with taking sleeping pills that would initially work but then just fade off and become ineffective. So I decided to start taking CBD. My mind would be having conversations with itself as I tried to sleep – annoying! But after a few days of taking CBD, my racing thoughts seemed to come to a screeching halt within an hour of taking my nightly dose of 20mg and I finally enjoyed a good nights sleep. Even better, I woke up feeling refreshed and ready to take on the day.
Anecdotal evidence shows that this isn’t unusual either. As Michael Breus, a board-certified sleep specialist and clinical psychologist, explained in this 2017 HuffPost article there’s a good chunk of research to suggest that CBD can be beneficial for sleep. Research also shows that CBD may reduce insomnia, allowing users to get an improved sleep. CBD has also been shown to improve sleep in people who suffer from chronic pain.
This means that although CBD helps impact your ability to sleep, it also alleviates conditions that complicate sleep issues, enhancing its overall effect. However, even if you do not live with pain or anxiety, CBD can still actively target your body’s sleep-wake cycle, acting as a natural sleep aid.
So lets have a look at what CBD is and how it can improve sleep.
What Is CBD?
Cannabidiol, or CBD, is one of many cannabinoids found in the cannabis plant.
Several of these cannabinoids have been studied for decades for their therapeutic benefits. These compounds have distinctly different effects within the body, and different potential uses for health and disease. Two of the cannabinoids that are most widely recognized for their medicinal value are THC and CBD. THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) is a chemical compound that creates the “high” that occurs from ingesting marijuana.
CBD, on the other hand, has no “high” associated with it. Instead, this compound has calming, anti-anxiety, and anti-psychotic effects. CBD has captured a great deal of scientific attention for its health benefits. Along with THC, CBD is the most researched of the cannabinoids.
What The Studies Say.
While research on CBD is still in its infancy, research so far proves encouraging and suggests that taking CBD can lead to improved sleep.
A number of studies have reported on the relationship between sleep and CBD, including this 2018 study. A total of 509 patients with insomnia were observed in relation to sleep and cannabis use. It was found that on average, cannabis reduced symptom severity by 45%. It’s encouraging to see that CBD also relieved symptoms more than THC. The researchers concluded that cannabis can improve insomnia symptoms and compared to conventional medications, CBD is generally safer.
Harvard Medical school outlined some risks associated with pharmaceutical sleep aids: they can be habit-forming, may cause daytime sleepiness and sleep-walking.
A more recent study investigated whether or not CBD would improve sleep and/or anxiety. The study involved 72 subjects, which were each given 25 milligrams (mg) of CBD. In this case, the addition of CBD as an adjunct to typical treatment decreased anxiety in 79.2% of patients and improved sleep scores in 66.7% of patients.
Pain, which may also cause sleep problems, may also be helped by CBD. A 2018 review, in Frontiers, noted that there’s a fair amount of evidence to support the claim that CBD soothes pain. The authors note that by reducing chronic pain, CBD can improve sleep.
This review also examined the available research up to 2014, indicating that CBD offers therapeutic potential for insomnia. More specifically, CBD may offer promise for REM sleep behaviour and reduce daytime drowsiness.
Grogginess, another symptom of insomnia, may also be helped with CBD. A 2014 study found that CBD could have the potential to promote wakefulness, based on both human and animal research. The authors noted they weren’t sure exactly how or why CBD promoted wakefulness in some instances.
So How Can You Improve Sleep With CBD?
If you’re aiming to improve your ability to sleep and stay asleep, it’s important to take a CBD product at the most optimal time. The dosage of CBD you use, and the time you take it, will depend on a number of factors such as your sleep disorder, sleep schedule and the CBD product itself. It’s generally ideal to take your dosage before bed.
There are a number of ways to take CBD, it comes in a few different forms, including:
- CBD vape liquid
- CBD oils and tinctures
- CBD capsules
- CBD edibles, like gummies
Generally, vaping CBD gets it into your system faster than other forms but the effects don't last as long, However, there’s not much research on vaping CBD, and vaping, in general, may pose respiratory risks.
The majority of people prefer to take a few drops of CBD oil. You could start with a low dosage of around 10mg before bed and gradually increase it until you find something that works for you. You can find a more in-depth guide on CBD dosing here.
Much of the research on CBD, anxiety, and sleep has noted that many patients don’t notice an immediate difference. Be patient, and remember that you’re unlikely to get immediate results.
How Does CBD Work?
Scientists have made a lot of progress in understanding how CBD produces its calming, pain-reducing, anti-inflammatory effects in the body—and there’s still more to learn. When taken before bed, calming your mind, can improve overall sleep quality and in turn, enhance overall recovery, especially related to inflammation and acute injuries.
We know that CBD interacts with many different receptors, proteins, and other chemicals in the brain. Through these interactions, CBD appears to be able to affect many of the body’s functions, from sleep-wake cycles and emotional regulation to inflammation, pain perception, and seizures.
As more research is done on CBD, we’ll learn more about why and how it can help us sleep.
Possible Side Effects Of CBD.
CBD is generally well tolerated by healthy adults. Possible side effects of CBD include dry mouth, lightheadedness, sleepiness, sluggishness in movement and/or thought (psychomotor slowing), and low blood pressure.
People with the following conditions should consult with a physician before using a CBD supplement:
- Pregnancy and breast-feeding. It is recommended that women who are pregnant or breast-feeding not use CBD.
- Parkinson’s disease. High doses of CBD may exacerbate muscle tremors or other muscle movements in people with Parkinson’s.
Remember to use high-quality CBD products. Unfortunately, CBD isn’t regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). As a result, there are some weak and possibly dangerous products out there that are labeled as “CBD.” Avoid companies with a history of mislabelling CBD, and opt for CBD with 3rd party lab reports.
Talk To Your Doctor First.
It’s essential to talk to your doctor before taking supplements or medication of any kind — including CBD. A doctor is best equipped to tell you how to use CBD to improve your sleep based on your specific circumstances.
You may need a physical examination, to change your sleep habits, or to change your medication.
The following medications and other supplements may interact with CBD. Effects may include increasing or decreasing sleepiness and drowsiness, interfering with the effectiveness of the medications or supplements, and interfering with the condition that is being treated by the medication or supplement. These are lists of commonly used medications and supplements that have scientifically identified interactions with CBD.
People who take these or any other medications and supplements should consult with a physician before beginning to use CBD.
Interactions with medications:
• Sedative medications
• Medications that are altered or broken down by the liver. Many commonly used medications are changed or broken down by the liver. Consult with your physician before using CBD if you are taking medication of any kind.
Interactions with other supplements:
CBD can increase sleepiness and drowsiness. When CBD is used in combination with other herbs or supplements that promote sleepiness, you may become excessively sleepy. Some of the herbs and supplements used for sleep include:
• California poppy
• Jamaican dogwood
• L-tryptophan and 5-HTP
• St. John’s wort