Unlike many prescription sleep aids, CBD for sleep does not cause harmful side effects or dependency. CBD products help you obtain better sleep because of their anti-inflammatory, anti-anxiety, and pain-relieving qualities.
It is simple to understand why people are using CBD for sleep and insomnia. According to a Consumer Reports survey, around 80% of people in the U.S. claim they have trouble sleeping at least once a week. Many of the existing treatments are only modestly effective while others are even risky.
Studies on CBD as a Sleep Aid
Studies show that higher doses of CBD could help improve sleep. One study in particular found a CBD dose of 150-160 mg before bed helped increased sleep duration when compared to a placebo. Another Consumer Reports survey showed around 10% of people in the U.S. who tried CBD oils said they specifically used it to help with sleep. Most of the respondents went on to say that it was effective for them.
Other research found CBD improved REM sleep behavior disorder (RBD) symptoms in people. This is a condition where you act out your dreams and is linked with nightmares and poor sleep.
How CBD Acts as a Sleep Aid
CBD interacts with different proteins and endocannabinoid receptors (ECS) in the brain. These interactions create a change in the activity of hormones, cells and neurotransmitters throughout the brain and body. Through these interactions with receptors in the brain, cannabinoids seem to affect many of the functions of the body and include the sleep-wake cycle.
Some ways CBD helps with sleep:
1. Decreases Anxiety
Stress and anxiety are common causes of insomnia. CBD helps regulate the stress hormone cortisol which has a big effect on non-REM sleep cycles. CBD was found to increase sleep quality as it benefits those with anxiety-related disorders (see CBD for Anxiety).
2. Eliminates Nightmares
Nightmares have an adverse effect on overall quality of sleep for many people. A good night’s sleep is hard to get for people suffering with RBD. In a case series, patients treated with CBD for REM sleep behavior disorder experienced no negative side effects of CBD and had fewer side effects of RBD.
3. Pain Relief
If you cannot sleep because of pain, CBD could be a great alternative to over the counter or prescription pain relievers. It works on the symptoms of pain to decrease pain-induced sleeplessness and does not produce an extreme sedative effect like a lot of sleep aids (see CBD for Pain).
4. Somnolence Relief
CBD provides a dual effect and depends on the person and time of day of administration. It regulates your sleep/wake cycles and helps promote relaxation during the night and wakefulness during the day. Daytime sleepiness, insomnia, or somnolence can affect both your ability to fall asleep during the night and daytime productivity. Taking CBD in the daytime can help promote alertness which in turn can lead to a more peaceful night’s rest. Others take CBD about an hour before bed to achieve the same results. It really is a matter of trialing what works best for you to accommodate your sleep pattern.
Ways to Use CBD as a Sleep Aid
Some of the best CBD products include:
1. Topical lotions, salves, and roll-ons
Pain is a common cause of poor sleep quality. Targeting pain with lotions and salves is a good way to focus on a problematic area without diluting CBD throughout your body. Effectively absorbed through the skin, topical CBD does not enter the bloodstream which allows it to target the application area without dilution. Topicals pack more of a punch when you only have small areas of concern. Lotions also can help with dry skin and have pleasant scents when mixed with different ingredients.
For those who do not desire lotions or salves, roll-ons are a good option as this allows for a quick no-mess application. Roll-ons typically come in small application bottles that easily fit in the glove box, jacket pocket, or your purse.
2. CBD Therapy Capsules
Capsules are good for those who have issues sleeping due to other causes such as stress or anxiety. Typically infused into the fiber, capsules help the CBD pass through the stomach where it is absorbed in the small intestine for increased bioavailability. Capsules may take an hour or so to be digested, however, effectiveness will be longer-lasting and typically more powerful than a tincture.
Other reasons to take capsules include:
- Exact dose every time
- No chance of spilling oil on clothing
- Completely flavorless
- Very portable
Tinctures are great for those who also desire a quicker effect for sleep. Applied sublingually, CBD is quickly absorbed by the capillaries under the tongue and into your bloodstream where it is carried throughout the body. Tinctures are sometimes flavored to make them palatable as it must be held under the tongue for 30 seconds or more to allow for CBD absorption.