Can CBD Help You Sleep?
A significant number of people around the world struggle to get a good night's sleep. According to the National Sleep Foundation, 50 to 70 million individuals in the USA are affected by chronic sleep disorders and intermittent sleep problems. CDC data shows that over 1 in 3 Americans don't sleep enough each night.
Sleep-related issues can significantly diminish our health, function, and overall safety. It should come as no surprise that consumers spend billions each year looking for sleep-related remedies - often finding mixed results.
Some seek natural remedies that may only work for a short period of time or fall short altogether. Others seek over-the-counter drugs and prescription pharmaceuticals that often carry serious side effects and associated risks.
As public perception of cannabis shifts from drug to medicine, compounds like CBD are being increasingly looked to as potential sleep solutions. The wide availability of non-psychoactive (low or no THC) hemp-derived CBD products has fueled the interest and usage, but how effective are these compounds?
Join us as we look at the research, anecdotal evidence, and important considerations helping to answer the question: can CBD help you sleep?
The Problem with Sleeping Pills
The pharmaceutical promise of a one-pill solution to physical and mental issues is intriguing. That said, it's not uncommon for these types of products to fall short on their promise. Sleep medications are a prime example of this.
Consumer Reports cites that the benefits of sleep medications are modest at best increasing total sleep time by 20 or 30 minutes a night. Many classes of these drugs exist including:
- Benzodiazepines (benzos)
- “Z” Drugs
- OTC sleep drugs
Depending on the drug, they can carry undesirable side effects ranging from next-day drowsiness, dizziness, confusion, and fatigue to severe issues like breathing problems, habit-forming dependencies, and even performing activities like driving while not fully awake. These effects contribute to many negative undesirable consequences.
These types of medications are often designed for short-term use on issues like jet lag. Despite this, many reach for these drugs night after night. The downsides have pushed many to seek alternative natural solutions ranging from supplements, changing habits, and technology - and more recently to CBD.
Does CBD Oil Help with Sleep?
Cannabis contains a wide range of unique compounds called cannabinoids. There are major cannabinoids like THC and CBD, and minor compounds like CBN and CBG. Growing research and anecdotal evidence continue to point to the effectiveness of these compounds in treating a wide range of issues.
The wide-ranging effectiveness of cannabinoids like CBD is thanks to the body's endocannabinoid system or ECS. The ECS is a system found in humans and animals that is involved in regulating a wide variety of physiological and cognitive processes. The ECS plays a role in appetite, pain sensation, mood, memory, metabolism, immune function, sleep, and more.
By consuming CBD products, you're supplementing the ECS with external compounds that help the body maintain balance. CBD has been well known for providing relief from soreness and worry, providing a sense of calm and ease through this supplementation. Encouraging research and anecdotal use indicates that these functions may help improve sleep quality.
What Does the Research Say?
At the time of writing, there are two major sleep-related papers. The first, published in 2017, titled Cannabis, Cannabinoids, and Sleep: a Review of the Literature looked at all available research from 2014-2017 and concluded that CBD may hold promise for various sleep-related issues. Additionally, it stated that THC may decrease sleep latency but could impair sleep quality long-term.
The second paper, published in 2019, titled Cannabidiol in Anxiety and Sleep: A Large Case Series looked at CBD in relation to promoting a sense of calm and thus improving sleep quality. Looking at a sample of 72 adults, scores measuring a sense of calm improved within the first month in 57 patients (79.2%) and remained during the study duration. Sleep scores improved within the first month in 48 patients (66.7%) but fluctuated over time.
Both papers, while showing promise, leave off with the suggestion that additional research is needed. The 2019 paper also stated that "In our study, we saw no evidence of a safety issue that would limit future studies. In this evaluation, CBD appears to be better tolerated than routine psychiatric medications."
How About Anecdotal Evidence?
As is normal with any cannabis-related remedies, the anecdotal evidence tends to strongly confirm the research as widespread use is so common. When it comes to CBD and sleep, things are no different. Stories of individuals finding success utilizing CBD oil for sleep aren't hard to find.
Consumer Reports performed a national survey which said of the Americans who reported trying CBD, about 10% aimed to improve their sleep. The majority of those people said it worked.
ProjectCBD published a survey of 1,521 individuals consuming these products for sleep-related problems. Participants reported that CBD helped them get to sleep quicker, reduced the number of times they woke up during the night and helped them feel more rested the next day.
CBD & THC for Sleep
When looking at both marijuana and CBD products for sleep, the question of the two major cannabinoids often arises. Both CBD and THC are cited in studies looking at improvement in sleep quality. Some studies show that the two may work in concert to improve sleep quality.
THC is known to help you fall asleep quicker, but it can reduce REM sleep and impact sleep cycles and thus impact sleep quality in the long term. THC's sedative properties may impact daytime function and leave you feeling groggy the next day. CBD is shown to produce improved sleep quality overall without the associated drowsiness.
There are observed synergistic benefits between the two, but the general conclusion is that higher CBD levels and lower THC levels are generally preferred. Further research into specific quantities is needed. As we grow closer to legalization, ideal ratios of the two cannabinoids will surely become more clear.
The Whole-Plant Advantage: Terpenes & Sleep
The cannabinoids in a CBD product aren't the only compounds at work providing sleep benefits. Additional research shows that terpenes, the aromatic compounds found in full and broad-spectrum products, may work synergistically to help promote a good night's rest.
The cannabis plant contains up to 200 terpenes, many of which are documented to help with sleep. They work by providing similar effects to cannabinoids. Some terpenes, like pinene, have been shown to increase non-REM sleep, reduce the time it takes to fall asleep, and provide a sense of calm.
Unlike the marijuana industry where you can shop various strains with a specific terpene content, the CBD industry is more of a yes/no situation. What you'll find are products that are either terpene-rich, like in the case of full or broad-spectrum products or those that have been stripped of terpenes like in the case of an isolate.
As we universally recommend, we suggest looking for broad or full-spectrum whole-plant solutions to take advantage of the
How to Use CBD Oil for Sleep
As with all things CBD, definitive research and regulations make it tough to provide concrete recommendations on how to utilize CBD specifically. Luckily the safety profile of the compound has been well demonstrated which has enabled millions of people to self-test and find an effective regimen.
Follow these three easy steps to begin utilizing CBD as a nighttime sleep solution:
1. Choose the Right Product
If you'd like to investigate CBD oil for sleep, it all starts with finding a high-quality, effective product. This means choosing the right type of product with the right spectrum of cannabinoid content.
First, you want to choose the right type of product. Ingesting CBD by vaping or smoking the effect comes on quickly but fades quickly as well. For that reason, we recommend you either reach for a tincture or capsules containing CBD. These products won't come on as quickly, but they will last through the night.
Next, you want to consider the product spectrum. The research falls in line with our universal recommendation we've always preached: a whole-plant approach to CBD will provide improved benefits over the isolated CBD compound. For this reason, we highly recommend you look to either full or broad-spectrum products. The wide cannabinoid and terpene profiles of these spectrums will maximize the potential sleep-impacting benefits.
The difference between full and broad-spectrum products are also important to consider. Assuming you're OK with consuming a small amount of THC, a full-spectrum product will contain 0.3% or less THC. This small amount might help you fall asleep quicker, but it could leave you feeling drowsy the next morning - and it may not be an ideal daytime solution.
A broad-spectrum solution will not contain THC so it may not help you fall asleep quite as quickly (though it should still help!) but it will likely leave you feeling more refreshed the next day - and it can double as a daytime remedy as well. Here at Big Sky Botanicals, we produce a complete line of broad-spectrum CBD products!
2. Find Your Ideal Dosage
Determining the right dosage for your needs is best done through trial and error. Our general recommendation is 'go low, start slow'. Most people fall in a general range of 10-25mg per dose of CBD, but dialing in what works for you is very important. We've put together a complete guide on CBD dosing which you should refer to if you're new.
Also, remember that your daytime and nighttime dosages may differ. CBD has been cited as having a more calming effect at higher dosages, so you may want to up your dose before bed and keep it lower in the mornings.
3. Time Your Doses for Maximum Potential
The final step is to find your ideal time to consume the product. Because CBD oil is so low in THC, many people dose in the morning and at night enjoying daytime and nighttime benefits from the same product.
When it comes to sleep, the key to dialing in the timing is to find a balance between not taking it too early or too late. Generally taking the product 1-2 hours before bedtime gives you enough time for it to absorb into your system to begin working while also ensuring it will remain in effect through the night.
As always, be sure to check with your doctor before adding a new compound like CBD to your regimen.
Support CBD with Better Sleep Habits
While the supporting evidence for CBD helping with a good night's sleep is strong, just as with pharmaceutical options, CBD oil is not a one-stop-shop. Practicing positive sleep habits and routines will ensure you get the best possible night's rest. Here are a few lifestyle tips that will help support your sleep quality:
- Set a consistent sleep schedule. Aim to go to be and get up at the same time. As much as an alarm clock in the morning helps you get out of bed, a bedtime reminder can help get you TO bed at night. Creating a routine around your schedule helps too. This can be drinking a cup of tea before you fall asleep, stretching, or having a bath.
- Create a sleep-supporting bedroom environment. Keep the bedroom from becoming a stimulating environment. Don't watch TV, use electronics, or eat in bed and keep it a stress-free sanctuary for rest. Reduce noise and light.
- Exercise daily. Some form of daily exercise will help improve your sleep quality. Just be sure you're not exercising in the two-hour window before bed.
- Avoid alcohol. Prevent drinking any alcohol in the 4-6 hour window before bed. This sedative slows brain activity and interferes with sleep at night.
- If you nap, keep it short. Daytime naps can help give you a mid-day boost, but too long and you'll hurt your nighttime rest. Keep naps 30 minutes or less.
- Limit caffeine and avoid nicotine. These stimulants interfere with your sleep. Limit your caffeine intake to two servings per day, and don't consume any afternoon. Cutting nicotine should help improve sleep latency and quality.
- Eat healthily. Consuming high-quality foods and avoiding sugars will help promote a good night's rest.
Do you turn to CBD to help with sleep? Let us know down in the comments if you do and how it works for you.