Can CBD Help You Sleep? Here’s What Experts Say
Each product we feature has been independently selected and reviewed by our editorial team. If you make a purchase using the links included, we may earn commission.
CBD, aka cannabidiol, has skyrocketed to the forefront of alternative medicine in the past few years and is being used for a slew of ailments. In fact, according to a 2019 Gallup poll, 1 in every 7 Americans, or about 14%, use CBD. Of all its purported uses, CBD is especially popular as a sleep aid, but there’s lots of information out there surrounding this subject.
To understand more about using CBD for sleep and CBD itself, we tapped Jessie Gill, RN, who is a cannabis nurse, aka a registered nurse with a special focus on cannabis therapeutics. She is also a director at large for the American Cannabis Nurses Association and is on the speakers’ bureau for the Cannabis Nurses Network. Additionally, she runs an online patient resource to help demystify cannabis for all.
What Is CBD?
First up, what actually is CBD? According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine, CBD, short for cannabidiol, is a chemical compound from the Cannabis sativa plant, which is also known as marijuana or hemp. Gill adds, “When people discuss marijuana, they’re generally referring to products containing THC, the famous cannabinoid that has many health effects but can also trigger euphoria and can cause people to feel intoxicated . CBD is another beneficial cannabinoid found in cannabis plants. CBD can offer health benefits, but it is not intoxicating so CBD cannot get you high.”
Health Benefits of CBD
“Research and anecdotal evidence shows CBD may impact a wide variety of diseases and symptoms of disease,” explains Gill via email. “This is because CBD directly affects the endocannabinoid system. The endocannabinoid system is widespread; there are cannabinoid receptors all over the body and in every organ system. The three most common reasons people seem to choose CBD are for sleep, pain and anxiety.”
Brent A. Bauer, M.D., writing about the topic for the Mayo Clinic online, says, “A prescription cannabidiol (CBD) oil is considered an effective anti-seizure medication. However, further research is needed to determine CBD’s other benefits and safety. . Currently, the only CBD product approved by the Food and Drug Administration is a prescription oil called Epidiolex. It’s approved to treat two types of epilepsy. Aside from Epidiolex, state laws on the use of CBD vary. While CBD is being studied as a treatment for a wide range of conditions, including Parkinson’s disease, schizophrenia, diabetes, multiple sclerosis and anxiety, research supporting the drug’s benefits is still limited.”
CBD for Sleep
Using CBD to enhance sleep is very common, according to Gill. She says, “Many patients report that CBD helps them fall asleep more quickly, stay asleep longer and feel [more] rested in the morning. However, for some people, CBD can actually be stimulating instead of sedating. This may be related to the specific CBD product they’re using; sometimes it’s dose-dependent; other times, it’s just how the individual reacts to CBD.”
In terms of dosing, the ideal amount really depends on the individual. Gill explains: “Some patients need 10 milligrams while others need 100 mg. The thing is, CBD is most effective at the individual’s ideal dose. Too much or too little does not produce ideal results. Patients should start with a lower dose and increase it slowly if needed. Most patients choose to start with 10 to 25 mg, which is effective for many people. Others need more and occasionally some patients need less.”
How to Pick the Best CBD for Sleep
One of the challenging things about using CBD is that there are many CBD products available. Gill says that patients need to choose the method of consumption that works best for them, which can generally be determined with experimentation. She says, “When patients are using CBD daily, I generally encourage them to reach for products that do not contain extra sugar, colors or other additives. CBD oil, CBD capsules or using dried CBD flower can be great choices.” Just make sure to evaluate the source of your CBD product before purchasing.
According to Harvard Health Publishing, CBD is primarily classified as a supplement rather than a medicine. The site explains, “Currently, the FDA does not regulate the safety and purity of dietary supplements. So you cannot know for sure that the product you buy has active ingredients at the dose listed on the label. In addition, the product may contain other (unknown) elements.”
Gill adds, “Purchasing a high-quality CBD product is absolutely essential . as CBD is not regulated, which means there are many contaminated products on the market and some can be potentially harmful. There are also many products that don’t even contain the CBD levels listed on the label. Many companies only test for potency but I encourage patients to choose companies that are doing full-panel testing which checks for all possible contaminants.”
Not sure where to start? Gill personally loves NurseGrown Organics from Vermont since they are certified clean green, which is more stringent than an organic certification. Gill says, “NurseGrown does full-panel testing on their products. They test for all impurities, heavy metals and potentially harmful chemicals that can be picked up by the plant during its growth cycles.”
Cannabis cbd oil for sleep
In recent years, the use of marijuana and CBD for the treatment of a variety of conditions has risen significantly. Specifically, CBD has been found to have potential health benefits for symptoms like insomnia. Here’s a little background on what CBD is and how it impacts your sleep and body.
What Are Cannabinoids and CBD?
Cannabinoids are chemical compounds that bind or attach to certain receptors in the central nervous system and act as chemical messengers. Depending on the specific cannabinoid, it may have varied effects on the body.
The most well-known and probably most researched cannabinoids include cannabidiol (CBD) and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). We know that THC is the cannabinoid that leads to the “buzz or high” from cannabis use.
CBD differs from THC and does not cause psychoactive effects or a “high.” Because it does not cause the psychoactive effects and it might help certain conditions, such as pain, anxiety, and insomnia, CBD is gaining traction as a possible treatment for several diseases.
Fab CBD Oil
Fab CBD Chews
Fab CBD Topical Cream
How Do CBD and Cannabinoids Work?
Not everything is completely understood about how cannabinoids (including CBD) work. What we do know from research is that CBD and cannabinoids interact with proteins and cells in the brain. A relatively newly discovered system may also hold some answers.
The Endocannabinoid System and Sleep
Researchers discovered that the endocannabinoid system plays a role in maintaining certain body functions, such as mood, appetite, sleep, and regulating circadian rhythms. Within the endocannabinoid system is a network of cannabinoid receptors in the brain and central nervous system.The two primary receptors identified are CB1 and CB2.
Cannabinoids attach to these cells and have various effects. As far as how they may affect sleep, some research indicates that the cannabinoid CBD may interact with specific receptors, potentially affecting the sleep/wake cycle.
Additionally, CBD may also decrease anxiety and pain, which can both interfere with restful sleep. By reducing certain symptoms, it’s also possible that sleep may improve.
What Does the Research Say About CBD?
Although more studies need to be performed, some research supports the theory that CBD and cannabinoids may improve sleep. This study published in the journal, Medicines, involved 409 people with insomnia. Data was collected from June 2016 to May 2018. Participants rated their symptoms of insomnia on a scale of 1 to 10 with 10 being the most severe. Starting symptoms were rated 6.6 on average.
The participants were treated using the cannabis flower with varied combustion methods including vape, pipe, and joint. THC potency on average was 20 percent and limited to 30 percent. CBD potency was on average 5.7 percent and limited to 30 percent. After using cannabis, participants rated symptoms on average to be 2.2, which was a decrease of 4.5.
The results indicated the cannabinoids in cannabis decreased symptoms of insomnia. But the study involved using the cannabis flower, which contains several cannabinoids. It’s difficult to determine if relief from insomnia was due to CBD or another cannabinoid.
In another study published in the Permanente Journal, 72 adults with anxiety and poor sleep were involved. The participants completed anxiety and sleep assessments at the start of the study and at the first-month follow up. Study participants were given 25 mg of CBD in capsule form. Those that predominantly had sleep complaints took the dose in the evening. Participants that had anxiety as their predominant complaint took CBD in the morning.
After the first month, anxiety scores decreased in 79 percent of the people. Sleep scores improved in 66 percent of the participants, which indicated less trouble sleeping. The results suggest that CBD decreased sleep difficulties in many of the participants. But while the decrease in anxiety symptoms remained steady for the duration of the study, the sleep scores fluctuated over time.
Several smaller studies have also supported the use of CBD oil to improve sleep. For example, a case study involving a 10-year-old girl with post-traumatic stress disorder and poor sleep was treated with CBD. A trial of 25 mg of a CBD supplement was administered at bedtime. An additional 6 to 12 mg of CBD was given via a sublingual spray during the day for anxiety. Sleep quantity and quality gradually improved over five months.
Though there is plenty of supporting evidence that shows CBD and cannabinoids can improve sleep, the results are not conclusive and more research needs to be done.
Forms of CBD
CBD is extracted from the cannabis plant and known as CBD oil. But it can be a little complicated. CBD may be extracted from either the marijuana or hemp plant, which are both strains of the Cannabis sativa plant. But they are harvested differently. Hemp comes from the seeds and stalks of the plant, which contains less THC than marijuana.
Because the THC content in CBD oil may vary, depending on the state it’s sold, there may be restrictions. For example, in some states, CBD oil is sold legally if all of the THC is removed. If CBD oil still contains THC or other cannabinoids, it may only be sold in states that have legalized marijuana use.
Depending on the laws in your state, you may need a doctor’s prescription for CBD oil. But laws continue to change quickly, so in the near future, it may be different.
CBD oil can be placed under the tongue. It may also be infused in different products including the following;
- Edibles: Various types of edibles infused with CBD oil are available including gummy bears, cakes, and cookies. Edibles usually list the concentration of CBD in milligrams.
- Vaporing: CBD extract can be used in a vaporizer or vape pen. As the extract heats up, it creates a vapor that is inhaled.
- Tinctures: CBD also comes in tinctures. A few drops of the liquid can be added to drinks.
CBD oil is available in different concentrations. Since research is ongoing, the exact dose to treat sleep issues may not be fully known. It might take some trial and error to determine what works best.
Because there are so many different ways to ingest CBD, there are tons of CBD products to choose from. If you aren’t sure where to start, here are the CBD products we recommend to try if you want to improve your sleep.
Overall, there is scientific research that supports the theory that there are CBD health benefits. While more research needs to be done, the use of CBD can potentially decrease your symptoms of insomnia and help you get more quality sleep. If you struggle with sleep issues, the best first step is to consult your doctor and learn more about causes and treatments.