Can CBD Really Help You Sleep Better?
Nothing makes me more jealous than hearing people talk about sleep. I’ve struggled with sleep for as long as I can remember, and I’ve tried just about everything to get more of it: Regular exercise, meditation, solid sleep hygiene, melatonin and magnesium, to name a few.
Some of it has certainly helped, but only for certain periods of time when I didn’t have much on my mind. As soon as I found something to worry about, all hope was lost. That no-tech-before-bedtime rule plus a melatonin tablet didn’t get me anywhere fast.
Perplexed doctors eventually gave me a prescription for Klonopin, a medication many clinicians assign to patients for anxiety. While it helped me fall asleep, I spent the entire next day feeling like a slightly nauseous zombie. I felt equally as terrible as I did after a night of poor sleep, so I decided it wasn’t worth it.
That’s precisely why I was intrigued when I started hearing about CBD, or cannabidiol, a nonpsychoactive compound found in the cannabis or hemp plant that apparently helps with sleep and anxiety. I didn’t exactly get my hopes up ― after all, tons of natural remedies that worked for other people hadn’t worked for me ― but I figured it was worth a shot.
Putting CBD To The Test
CBD can be taken in a few ways. Oil is probably the most popular, but it can also be taken in capsule form, or even as a chocolate or gummy. After a week of taking CBD in oil form every night, it was clear I’d stumbled across something kind of remarkable. I often slept well the first few nights of trying something new before it stopped working its magic, which I partially attribute to the placebo effect. With CBD, however, the good nights of sleep kept on coming.
My racing thoughts seemed to come to a screeching halt within an hour of taking it, and when I got into bed I fell asleep as soon as my head hit the pillow. Even better, I woke up feeling refreshed and ready to take on the day. And this isn’t unusual: As Michael Breus, a clinical psychologist and board-certified sleep specialist, explained in a 2017 HuffPost article, there’s a good chunk of research to suggest that CBD can be beneficial for rest. Research shows CBD may increase overall sleep amounts and reduce insomnia. CBD has also been shown to improve sleep in people who suffer from chronic pain.
Gretchen Lidicker, author of CBD Oil: Everyday Secrets: A Lifestyle Guide To Hemp-Derived Health and Wellness, said that while studying CBD is extremely difficult because of the legal issues still surrounding cannabis and marijuana, there has been research that indicates CBD can be a helpful antidote to anxiety and insomnia.
“These studies mainly point to CBD’s ability to interact with . serotonin receptors and GABA receptors in the brain,” she explained. “Serotonin plays an important role in mood and anxiety, and GABA is known as the main ‘inhibitory’ neurotransmitter, meaning it calms excess activity in the brain and promotes relaxation. GABA receptors are the target of benzodiazepines, which are a class of anti-anxiety drugs.”
Lidicker noted that one study on humans, published in the journal Neuropsychopharmacology, showed that CBD was able to help with public speaking-induced anxiety. She also pointed to a clinical trial that started in August at a hospital in Massachusetts, in which researchers are administering 10 mg of CBD three times a day for a month to test its effects on patients with anxiety.
“Hopefully we’ll know more and more as clinical trials like this are conducted,” Lidicker said.
And how does CBD compare to other sleep supplements like melatonin? Lidicker explained that while she thinks melatonin is great, it has a different impact on the brain and body.
“CBD appears to help with sleep because of its anti-anxiety properties and ability to promote relaxation,” she said, noting that melatonin directly signals to the body that it’s evening and time to go to sleep by raising the naturally occurring levels of melatonin already in the body.
That explained why melatonin made me sleepy and helped with jet lag, but didn’t to help with the underlying anxiety that was causing my insomnia in the first place.
Can You Use Too Much CBD?
Everyone’s body is different, and Lidicker said that for some people, CBD might actually energize them.
“In that case, it could keep them up at night,” she said. “This interpersonal variation is a common theme with cannabis-derived therapies, because the way you react to cannabis is highly individualized.”
Lidicker added that people’s responses have a lot to do with how they personally process the product, and how cannabinoid receptors are distributed throughout the body. This is why it’s also difficult to standardize dosing recommendations for CBD. I was administering 0.5 ml of CBD oil under the tongue about half an hour before bed every night (that was the amount recommended on the bottle), but it’s worth noting that the concentration of cannabidiol may vary by product and that some people require more or less to feel the effects.
And what happens if you use it regularly? Lidicker said that while there’s still not enough published research available on CBD, there’s very little reason to believe people develop a resistance to CBD over time, which was my main fear.
That being said, it isn’t perfect: Some people do experience negative side effects like irritability, nausea, vomiting or diarrhea. Experts say that caution is key when it comes to using CBD until more definitive studies are able to be conducted.
So, is CBD the miracle sleep supplement it appears to be? There may not be enough scientific data yet to say for sure, and it obviously depends on the person. But I certainly hope so ― because I’m not willing to give up these blissful eight-hour nights and energy-filled days I’m experiencing anytime soon.
Clarification: This story has been updated to clarify the amount of CBD oil the author was taking per dose.
Breaking down what the product does for insomnia.
7 of the Best CBD Oils for Blissful Sleep
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Had a few restless nights? Turns out about one-third of American adults have insomnia and according to a 2020 poll, 84 percent feel daytime sleepiness due to lack of sleep or low quality sleep.
CBD (aka cannabidiol) might help. Though cannabis research is still in its early days, recent studies have found that CBD has promise for treating insomnia and one of its common causes, anxiety.
Even though it won’t get you high, CBD tends to have an overall calming and soothing effect for many people that’s good for winding down at the end of the day. Plus, its potential pain-reducing and anti-inflammatory effects might just be what you need to help get to sleep and stay asleep.
- hemp. A cannabis variety that’s naturally low in THC (.3 percent or less) and from which most CBD extracts are made.
- tincture. A liquid CBD product that comes in an alcohol or oil-based solution and is taken orally with a dropper.
- full-spectrum CBD. A CBD extract that includes other cannabis plant compounds like potentially beneficial terpenes, flavonoids, and a small amount of THC.
- broad-spectrum CBD. A CBD extract that includes other cannabis plant compounds, minus the THC.
- CBD isolate. A “single-molecule” product that’s free of all other cannabis compounds and contains zero THC.
Because the FDA doesn’t lay out testing and labeling requirements for CBD products, quality can be all over the map. With so much variability in potency, ingredients, and price point, it can be hard to wade through the options. So we did the work for you and selected products that are:
- sourced from U.S.-grown hemp
- tested by a 3rd party lab to ensure that the CBD content is as advertised, the THC level is at or below .3 percent, and the product is free of undesirable stuff like molds and pesticides
- made with clean ingredients (organic, in many cases) and without fillers
- loved by customers
Prices are per 25 milligrams (mg)
$ = under $1
$$ = $1–$2
$$$ = over $2
1. Charlotte’s Web CBD Gummies – Sleep
|CBD per container||600 mg|
|CBD strength||10 mg/gummy|
Charlotte’s Web is one of the most respected CBD brands around and is known for developing a CBD cannabis strain nicknamed “Hippie’s Disappointment” for its rich CBD profile and low THC content.
These nice-tasting raspberry gummies deliver 10 milligrams of CBD each along with 1.5 milligrams of the natural sleep aid melatonin. They’re made with Colorado-grown hemp, and are free of gluten, dyes, and fillers.
However, as with most gummies, there’s a bit of added sugar for taste. Also worth noting: full-spectrum CBD products contain trace amounts of THC, so it’s possible (though unlikely) that they could trigger what’s known as a “false positive” on sensitive drug tests.
2. Brown Girl Jane REST 1500 mg CBD Sleep Daily Drops
|CBD per container||1500 mg|
|CBD strength||50 mg/dropper|
This vegan, peppermint-flavored tincture features simple, clean ingredients with a broad-spectrum (THC-free) formulation that retains some of the plant’s naturally-occurring terpenes.
Online, you’ll find tons of happy customer reviews for Brown Girl Jane’s sleep tincture. Plus, the company’s social activism (including an upcoming $20,000 small business grant open to entrepreneurs from marginalized communities) is worth supporting.
3. Joy Organics Lavender CBD Bath Bombs
|CBD form||bath bomb|
|CBD per container||100 mg|
|CBD strength||25 mg/bath bomb|
Move over Epsom salts. If baths are part of your routine — or an occasional pre-bedtime treat — you may want to pick up a package of lavender-scented CBD bath bombs from Joy Organics.
The founder of this family-run, Colorado company experienced her first good night’s sleep in years with the help of CBD, and plenty of happy customers report that these bath bombs leave them with the kind of whole-body relaxation that’s a perfect segue to sleep.
Plus, the coconut oil and cocoa seed butter leave skin feeling nourished and moisturized.
4. Calm by Wellness Hemp CBD Sleep Oil Tincture
|CBD per container||500 mg|
|CBD strength||17 mg/dropper|
This sleep tincture by Wellness is made from organic, U.S.-grown hemp and plant extracts such as chamomile, lemongrass, and hops — which are all known for their soothing and relaxing effects.
Per serving, this CBD sleep oil is on the pricey side, but customers rave online about the synergistic effects of CBD alongside the botanical ingredients. The formula also doesn’t contain melatonin, which — for some people — is associated with morning grogginess and bad dreams.
5. LiftMode Hemp Extract Calm
|CBD per container||1500 mg|
|CBD strength||50 mg/dropper|
|Flavor||hempy with hints of mint, lavender, cardamom, and chamomile|
LiftMode makes the most economical CBD sleep oil on our list with a massive quantity (1500 milligrams) of the good stuff per bottle.
This formulation comes with a low dose of melatonin, which may help promote healthy sleep patterns, in addition to the cannabis terpenes (kind of like essential oils) myrcene, pinene, caryophyllene, and linalool.
Research on how terpenes influence the cannabis experience is still scant, but a theory called the entourage effect supposes that cannabinoids like CBD may work better alongside other cannabis plant compounds.
In addition to the accessible price, LiftMode’s formula is all-natural and contains no fillers or sugar.
6. Zatural CBD Softgels with Melatonin
|CBD per container||750 mg|
|CBD strength||25 mg/softgel|
If you’re not in love with the taste of tinctures (or you’ve already brushed your teeth), a CBD softgel for sleep could be the way to go.
These 25mg CBD softgels made by Zatural are sourced from organic, Colorado-grown hemp and feature an array of naturally-occurring cannabis terpenes — and no THC.
Price-wise, they’re in the middle of the field, though it’s worth noting that they aren’t vegan and contain a few added ingredients like glycerin and emulsifiers.
7. MedTerra Sleep Tight CBD Gummies
|CBD per container||750 mg|
|CBD strength||25 mg/gummy|
These vegan, strawberry-flavored gummies are made from CBD isolate, so they’re the safest bet if you need to avoid all THC. That means that the entourage effect isn’t in play for this particular formula, but MedTerra combines Kentucky-grown hemp with sleep aids like L-theanine, 5-HTP, lemon balm, and chamomile for an all-in-one deal.
Take a CBD sleep tincture 30 minutes to 1 hour before bedtime. Instead of just tossing it back, try holding the liquid under your tongue for a minute or 2 so that it starts absorbing through the soft tissues of your mouth.
You can jump in the tub with a CBD bath bomb during any part of your pre-bedtime ritual — and if you’re going the route of CBD gummies or softgels, 1 hour before bed should do the trick.
For best results, pair your CBD dose with good sleep hygiene like turning off electronics and keeping your bedroom a drama-free zone.
Everyone responds to CBD a little differently, so it may take some experimentation to find your ideal dose for sleep. Generally speaking, 10 milligrams of CBD is a good starting place for many adults — from there, you can slowly up your dose, if needed, until you get the desired results.
If you’re feeling groggy the day after taking a CBD product for sleep, you probably want to dial your dose back a bit.
It’s possible for CBD to interfere with the absorption of certain pharmaceuticals, like blood thinners, heart meds, and seizure drugs, among others. Check with your doctor before adding CBD to your routine.
Had a few restless nights? Turns out about one-third of American adults have insomnia and, according to a 2020 poll, 84 percent feel daytime sleepiness due to lack of sleep or low quality sleep. We recommend one of these seven CBD oils to get some quality sleep.