Does CBD Help You Sleep Better?
Cannabidiol (CBD) is one of the primary cannabinoids found in cannabis. Unlike the cannabinoid tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), CBD doesn't cause any intoxicating effects.
According to a Gallup poll, 14% of Americans say they use CBD. People cite using it for pain (40%), anxiety (20%), and insomnia (11%).
Research suggests that CBD may be useful for improving sleep quality and reducing symptoms of sleep disorders such as insomnia.
Here’s everything you need to know about CBD and sleep.
How Does CBD Help You Sleep?
The endocannabinoid system is a group of receptors, enzymes, and endocannabinoids that regulate bodily functions such as appetite, pain, mood, and sleep.
The interaction between the endocannabinoid system and sleep has prompted researchers to examine whether cannabinoids such as CBD can help with sleep.
Research on CBD and Sleep
Several animal and human studies are showing promising signs that CBD can improve sleep.
- A 2019 study reported that CBD reduced anxiety scores by 79.2% and improved sleep scores in the first month by 66.7%.
- One 2015 case study reported that CBD oil reduced anxiety in a patient with bipolar disorder and restored regular sleep patterns.
- In one 2018 study looking at oral cannabinoid use in children with autism, CBD was found to be associated with reduced irritability, anxiety, sleep problems, and hyperactivity symptoms.
- One 2014 randomized controlled trial showed that a CBD/THC spray reduced pain and improved sleep quality compared to placebo when administered to 128 patients with neuropathic pain.
- One 2012 study on rats showed that CBD blocked anxiety-induced sleeping issues, rather than regulating sleep itself.
- A 2017 review of the current literature on cannabis and sleep concluded that CBD may have therapeutic potential for treating insomnia — a sleep disorder characterized by the delayed onset of sleep and poor sleep quality.
Based on current research, CBD does seem to indirectly improve sleep.
In other words, CBD may help reduce symptoms such as anxiety and pain which are known to cause sleep impairment.
For example, a person suffering from insomnia due to anxiety may find that CBD helps them relax and therefore fall asleep more quickly.
While it’s entirely possible that CBD also directly affects sleep, more research is needed.
How to Use CBD for Sleep
There are no strict guidelines on how to use CBD for sleep.
Most people use CBD within a few hours before bedtime if it's for sleep.
The specific time you take CBD will depend on factors such as your personal preference and the form of CBD you’re taking.
The most common forms of CBD are:
- Oils, sprays, and tinctures
- Edible gummies
- Creams and lotions
The form of CBD you’re using will help give you a starting point to determine how long before bed you should take CBD.
CBD oil and sprays are absorbed more quickly (in around 20 minutes) as they bypass the digestive system if left under the tongue.
In contrast, capsules and edible gummies may take around 45 minutes to produce noticeable effects.
If you’re vaping CBD, then you’ll likely feel the effects within minutes.
For best results, consistent use is recommended.
How Much CBD to Take for Sleep?
There are no standard guidelines on how much CBD to take for sleep.
In clinical research, daily doses of CBD ranging from 25 to 1,500 mg have safely been administered with minimal side effects.
In one recent literature review, it was found that low doses of CBD are more stimulating, while medium to high doses of CBD promotes states of relaxation and mild sedation.
If your doctor doesn’t provide a recommendation for dosing, it’s best to start slowly and gradually increase your dose to see how it affects your sleep.
This could mean starting with 20 to 40 mg per day and increasing the dose by 5 to 10 mg per day until you find a dosage that’s ideal for you.
Side Effects of CBD
The World Health Organization has stated that “CBD is safe and effective for several medical conditions”.
Unlike conventional medications prescribed for anxiety and sleep such as benzodiazepines, research shows CBD is non-addictive, safe, and doesn't interfere with sleep cycles.
Side effects of CBD may include:
- Changes in appetite and weight
In most cases, these side effects are caused by very high doses of CBD.
CBD may also negatively interact with certain medications causing potential severe side effects.
It’s important to consult with your doctor before taking CBD, especially if you’re taking medication that comes with a “grapefruit warning”.
To prevent any potential side effects, be sure to consult with your doctor and see if a physical examination or modification to medication you’re currently taking is needed.
Lastly, remember to only purchase high-quality, third-party tested CBD products.
The Bottom Line
CBD is safe to use and may help you sleep better.
Current evidence shows that CBD indirectly improves sleep by reducing symptoms often associated with sleep disorders such as anxiety and chronic pain.
Research shows the endocannabinoid system is closely linked to sleep, although researchers haven’t yet confirmed whether CBD directly affects sleep quality.
Before using CBD for sleep, please consult with your doctor, especially if you have been diagnosed with a severe sleeping disorder and are taking medication.
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