The importance of sleep is frequently understated. Getting a decent night’s rest is becoming more and more difficult in this day and age with as many as 16 million people in the UK often tormented by sleepless nights.
The majority of insomnia cases are stress and anxiety-related, and with more of us working longer hours than ever, it’s inevitable we notice more churn on sleep quality.
Consequently, interest in sleep aids is skyrocketing, and sleep seekers are increasingly searching for natural solutions — all in an attempt to catch some shut-eye without the morning grogginess that comes with the territory of prescribed sleeping tablets.
If you’ve ever lain awake in the dead of night, desperately trying to fall asleep while your brain goes 100mph and you feel as awake and alert as ever, you’ll be aware that people are often willing to do anything for a good night’s rest.
The result is a parade of sleep-based wellness trends, from melatonin and meditation to a quiet reading time before bed and of course, the biggest by far at the moment – CBD oil.
CBD oil for sleep is becoming more and more popular, but does it actually work?
And if so, how should you take it for the best results?
We’ve got the answers right here:
While there isn’t heaps of research that specifically look at the connection between CBD oil and sleep, the mechanics of how CBD could potentially impact resting are relatively clear.
Cannabinoids such as CBD and THC act upon receptors within the endocannabinoid system, which regulates sleep patterns amongst other physiological functions. The ECS works like an internal body clock, chiming in according to our pre-set patterns, helping us maintain a day and night rhythm.
A growing volume of anecdotal evidence highlights the potential for improved sleep patterns with CBD use.
Although, challenges do still persist around finding the right dose, consumption route and timing. We’ve recently written an in-depth guide on how to take CBD oil that explains this in more detail.
Additionally, anecdotal evidence is subject to potential placebo effects and a lack of quality control, which we know is a huge problem with supplements and especially CBD.
Even ignoring the role the endocannabinoid system plays in regulating sleeping patterns, research has discovered beneficial results from using CBD oil for anxiety and stress, both of which can be major roadblocks when it comes to getting a natural night’s sleep.
So what exactly have research studies and clinical trials on the matter found?
Let’s take a look:
Early indications from studies outline that CBD can potentially help improve sleep patterns, especially when a lack of sleep is related to anxiety or stress as suggested above.
For example, one study into whether or not CBD can help to improve sleep and/or anxiety in a clinical population of 72 adults found decreased anxiety in 57 of the patients, and improved sleep in 48, providing a strong suggestion that the impact CBD can have on sleep can be attributed to reduced anxiety.
While the study noted that further investigation was necessary, especially into the most effective doses, the results pointed towards a benefit for both anxiety related issues and insomnia, while also concluding that CBD was better tolerated than routine prescription medications for anxiety.
A 2012 study on rodents further supports this suggestion, indicating that “CBD may block anxiety-induced REM sleep alteration via its anxiolytic effect, rather than via sleep regulation per se”, which in plain english means that CBD improved deep sleep by its anti-anxiety effect than by regulating sleep directly.
Another study on rodents in 2013 concluded that CBD increased the time rats spent asleep, both during the day and night time.
Other research is indicative of a more direct impact on sleep. Primarily through interactions with the CB1 receptors found in the endocannabinoid system, suggesting CBD has “therapeutic potential for the treatment of insomnia.”
These studies are nowhere near as comprehensive or as numerous as they should be, in part due to the fact science is lagging behind when it comes to cannabinoids, with decades of prohibition across the world making legitimate research extremely difficult.
However, with interest and demand in CBD growing rapidly, and many nations and US states looking into legalisation of cannabis, you can expect these studies to increase significantly in the near future.
If you’re new to the idea of CBD, you might be wondering whether CBD will leave you feeling groggy in the morning, or make you drowsy to the point you can’t go about your daily business.
We have the answer to that right here too:
Likely due to the stereotypes around cannabis smokers, many people wonder whether taking CBD to help with sleep will make them drowsy, or if using it is dangerous when driving or operating heavy machinery.
After all, is there any point taking a supplement to help you fall asleep if you’re going to wake up groggy and lethargic the next day regardless?
Unlike prescribed sleeping tablets such as Promethazine, however, this is usually nothing to worry about.
Since CBD works via interacting with the endocannabinoid system to promote a feeling of relaxation as opposed to being a strong sedative or opiate, studies suggest it is unlikely to make you feel drowsy in the day (or the following morning) as long as you take the right dose of CBD.
Given different forms of consumption, absorption and onset rates differ significantly. For example, edibles like CBD gel caps take at-least 45 and potentially up to 90 minutes to absorb.
Due to this fact, some methods have quicker access to the bloodstream than others, with vaping being the most ‘efficient’ and fastest way to use CBD.
If you are not a fan of vaping, it may be best to buy CBD oil in the UK instead. Although, it’s important to note that research suggests CBD is more effective when it is a broad or full spectrum plant profile; meaning it contains other beneficial ingredients beyond CBD which are also found in hemp.
Most CBD e-liquids only contain CBD isolate, which is pure CBD with none of the other potentially beneficial ingredients often found in CBD oil and concentrates, such as terpenes, and other cannabinoids.
As a result, standard CBD vape liquids that only contain CBD isolate are often considered useful for enjoyment or to help quit smoking tobacco or cannabis, but not as effective for to feel the fuller wellbeing effects of CBD.
If you are vaping CBD oil for sleep or in the hope of achieving some positive benefits for your wellbeing, research suggests a broader cannabinoid profile is more useful.
It’s also critical to remember that different methods of use have varying levels of bioavailability.
This means that one approach doesn’t directly translate to another in respect to absorption, and switching from one method of taking CBD oil to another doesn’t necessarily mean that your ideal dose remains the same too.
The second best method of taking CBD oil in terms of bioavailability and absorption rate is to take CBD drops under the tongue. For many people with no history of smoking or vaping, this is the preferable method.
Of course, taking pure CBD oil via a dropper opens up other potential routes too such as cooking with CBD oil or adding it to drinks and smoothies, making it perhaps the most versatile method.
This does rely on you having a high quality broad spectrum CBD oil though, otherwise you’ll potentially be missing out on some potential benefits in a similar manner to vaping CBD isolate.
To learn more about how to take CBD oil, including more methods and tips on how to calculate your ideal dose, take a look at our guide on how to take CBD Oil.
CBD in general is said to be mildly stimulating in small amounts, and medium to high doses are considered to be sedating.
It also appears the time it is used can have an adjustment on the overall effect. Consequently, CBD is regarded as a stimulant by some and a relaxant by others, adding to the confusion.
Studies specifically tackling dosing are few and far between.
Nonetheless, we have come across a couple, and they all suggest a higher dose than average can help improve both quality and length of sleep.
For example, a 2004 study suggested medium doses of CBD and THC in combination correlated with improved sleep patterns. If the enhanced rest is attributed to CBD, THC or both in combination is another question for discussion.
On the flip side, in another instance, individuals with insomnia were given very high doses of 160 mg CBD, resulting in reduced sleep disturbances and an increase in the hours slept.
One thing to be aware of is that the best CBD oil dosage for sleep likely varies dramatically from person to person.
This is because there are simply too many variables involved for one recommended dose to be suitable for everyone. These variables potentially include:
With this many potential variables, it’s simply impossible for us to recommend an ideal dose for you that will suit everybody.
However, based on the research results above, you can assume that it’s a good idea to go with a dose slightly higher than recommended at first, then slowly increase it until you find the best results.
Another research study from 2012 seems to support this, finding that the ideal CBD dosage for insomnia ranges between 40 and 160mg depending on the person.
Based on what we’ve learned, the best CBD oil to use for insomnia or to increase sleep is:
This is crucial because any brand that doesn’t publish lab results raises questions around product quality, or at the very least is prioritising other things over building trust with its customers.
In the same way, using a CBD oil that isn’t organic means you’re ingesting hemp that has potentially been grown with herbicides and pesticides.
We would highly recommend you maintain an appropriate bedtime routine, including spending some time winding down before bed.
For at least one hour before bed, you should avoid any stressful tasks or physical exertion. In an ideal world, avoiding caffeine and bright screens such as a smartphone is useful; instead just read a book!
Maintaining a consistent sleeping pattern will make things easier as your body will be aware of when it should begin to start winding down.
Maintaining a healthy diet is also useful, as is regular exercise and ensuring you have a comfortable bed.
At the end of the day, all of the existing evidence so far seems to suggest that the answer to the question of “Can CBD oil help you sleep?” is up to you to decide.
Nonetheless this doesn’t suggest it’s a miracle worker, and going directly from running around managing your busy life to attempting to sleep immediately will always be difficult.
Outside of maintaining a proper sleep routine, we would also recommend you avoid using CBD when it isn’t necessary.
This is because often, when we see people get beneficial results from CBD oil for sleeping, they begin taking it every night. The downside to this is if you’re taking CBD oil every night without fail, you may find that you either begin to struggle to sleep without it.
Taking CBD oil only when you need an extra little push to get you to sleep, and leaving it in your bedside table when you feel tired enough to sleep naturally or simply don’t need to get up early, will prevent these things from happening and could make it much more beneficial for you in the long run.
Issues with quality control are likely to dilute anecdotal evidence, and without robust QA checks, we cannot be confident consumers are using the amount of CBD they think they are.
Also, the interactions with anxiety and poor sleep muddy the water, making it difficult to assert if CBD helps with the former, naturally improving the latter or both independently.
Nonetheless, the pool of reports related to sleep and sleep is only getting bigger, and most people do find it a useful tool in ensuring a good nights rest.
Disclaimer: Views expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of Nature & Bloom and its staff. This article is not intended to provide medical advice, diagnosis, treatment, cure or prevention for any disease. Nature & Bloom products have not been evaluated by the MHRA.