You’ve gotten serious about not using your phone in bed and sticking with a set bedtime routine. And yet, night after night, you’re still laying in the dark, counting sheep. Maybe you’ve started wondering: Could CBD for sleep give you better quality rest?
Plenty of people insist that taking CBD can improve the quality of rest; whether it is in the form of an oil, an edible, or a drink, it helps them snooze better. But the science on cannabidiol as a sleep supplement is mixed, and not all experts are convinced that it’s worth taking.
That’s not to say it’s something you shouldn’t consider, though. Here’s what you need to know before giving it a try.
How does CBD work?
CBD, or cannabidiol, is a compound derived from the cannabis plant, which is the same plant that contains the psychoactive THC. Unlike THC, however, it won’t get you high no matter how much you take. However, it still affects the body’s endocannabinoid system, a network of neuromodulators and receptors involved in maintaining vital functions like mood, pain, appetite, and you guessed it, sleep.
When cannabinoids are consumed, their molecules bind to endocannabinoid receptors in the nervous system, which can trigger different neurological effects. CBD, for instance, seems to signal the release of feel-good chemicals like dopamine and serotonin, says medical marijuana expert Herve Damas, MD.
As far as sleep is concerned, the endocannabinoid system plays a role in regulating the body’s circadian rhythm. Hence, it is believed that taking a cannabinoid such as CBD could potentially regulate the sleep/wake cycles of people with insomnia and help them sleep more soundly.
The research on CBD and sleep
There’s no shortage of anecdotal evidence hyping CBD’s effects on sleep – but what does the scientific evidence say?
The research at this point is pretty limited. One study from the 1980s found that people with insomnia who took 160 milligrams of CBD daily slept longer and woke less often. However, those researchers only looked at 15 people.
Bigger, newer studies are more mixed. A 2017 review concluded that CBD might have therapeutic potential for treating sleep problems, but only for people with REM sleep behavior disorder (a specific sleep disorder where people act out their dreams by moving, sleep talking, or sleep walking). And it didn’t address how much CBD a person would need to take to reap the benefits.
Another study, published in 2018, found that consuming whole cannabis flowers (the flowering part of the cannabis plant as opposed to the leaves) was tied to a significant improvement in perceived insomnia symptoms.
So what’s the problem?
The cannabis plant contains tons of different cannabinoids, so there’s no way of knowing whether the benefit came from CBD or something else. There was no control group, either. “Without a placebo arm, it’s impossible to tell whether cannabis or CBD is more effective or different than a placebo,” says cannabis therapeutics specialist Jordan M. Tischler, MD, who was not involved with the study.
Some research even suggests that CBD might make sleep more elusive. A 2014 review found that it seems to promote wakefulness, with the authors suggesting that CBD could have the potential to treat and manage sleepiness.
Can CBD improve sleep quality?
The limited research seems to suggest that the answer is no. Experts like Dr. Tischler firmly believe that people who sleep better with the help of CBD are reaping the benefits of their own positive thinking. “They believe they’re getting treated. It makes for a good placebo,” he says.
But others see more potential especially for people whose sleeplessness stems from feeling anxious. “CBD has shown to have anxiety-relieving effects, and anxiety disorders can be a cause of insomnia,” Dr. Damas says. If CBD can succeed in helping you feel calmer or less stressed, you just might have an easier time drifting off to dreamland.
If anxiety isn’t what’s at the root of your sleep struggles, it’s a bit harder to say if it will help. Research is mixed, and there’s still a lot we don’t know.
How to take CBD for sleep?
If you want to try CBD to improve your sleep, it’s important to get the green light from your doctor first. CBD can react with certain medications and isn’t suitable or safe for everyone.
You might also want to consider seeing a sleep specialist before trying CBD. Taking a supplement to help you snooze may ease your insomnia, but it won’t address the root cause. Your doctor can check for any medical problems that might be messing with your sleep and help you put together a plan to improve your sleep hygiene.
There are also a few other things to keep in mind. Here are 3 important ones:
1. Do your research
When you do find a product you’re interested in buying, research the manufacturer to make sure what you’re buying is genuine and safe. Reputable manufacturers will lab-test their products to ensure that they’re free of contaminants. So they should be willing to share a certificate of analysis (COA) if you request it.
2. Begin with a small dose and track your progress
Dr. Damas has found that a low dose –around 25 milligrams daily – in a sublingual liquid format like CBD oil is a good starting point. But you might not notice much of a difference after just one night. Try increasing the dose if you’re not feeling it, but only by as little as 5 milligrams every few nights, until you’re up to 40 milligrams.
3. Have realistic expectations
Keep in mind that CBD probably isn’t going to fix your insomnia forever. Even if a sleep supplement helps you snooze better at first, it can start to lose its potency after a while.
At Nass Valley Gardens, our dedication to research and development is shown through our promise to source ethically, formulate with efficacy, and test every product honestly. Get your hands on our Hemp products today!
Recommended Read: Surprising Benefits of CBD Oil on Health- Nass Valley