Everything You Need to Know About Using CBD for Restful Sleep
CBD is just one of more than 113 potentially beneficial cannabinoids in cannabis plants (Rudd, 2023). Whether sourced from marijuana or hemp, this non-intoxicating plant element works by interacting with multiple molecular targets, including your endocannabinoid system (ECS) receptors (Marzo & Piscitelli, 2015). Researchers believe ECS signaling regulates nearly every essential function in your body.
Some of the most compelling studies delve into CBD's sleep-promoting potential. In this CBD guide, you'll learn the basics of sleep science, gain insight into how CBD and sleep aids compare, and discover why so many people claim positive results using hemp-derived tinctures, topicals, softgels, and gummies for restful sleep.
The Science of Sleep
An alarming 70% of US adults report having difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep at least one night a week (Dobric, 2021). Although sleep difficulties have many potential causes, most sleep experts believe unresolved stress, mild or temporary anxiety, physical discomfort, and sleep cycle disruptions are most often to blame.
Your ability to transition from wakefulness to sleep is influenced by your circadian rhythms, the 24-hour internal clock that regulates numerous functions throughout your body, including melatonin production. Ideally, you'll spend the night cycling through the following four sleep stages (Suni, 2023).
Stages N1 & N2
During the first sleep stage, N1 sleep, your muscles relax, and your body temperature begins to drop. This first sleep phase lasts about 5 minutes. During N2 sleep, your brain "disconnects" from sensory input and begins organizing memories for long-term storage. Your breathing slows. Nearly half your sleep time is devoted to this second phase of sleep.
Stages N3 & N4
N3 is the first phase of deep sleep. Your blood pressure and heart rate decrease by up to 30%. Your pituitary gland releases a surge of hormones that stimulate muscle repair, tissue growth, and immune system function. Most people cycle through N4 sleep, REM sleep, 3 to 4 times during their sleep cycle. Waking during REM (dream) sleep can leave you feeling groggy (Harvard Health, 2023).
The Many Potential Benefits of CBD for Sleep
Most people pass between the phases of REM and non-REM sleep in a relatively predictable pattern. But once stress, changes in daily routine, or the demands of a hectic lifestyle start keeping you awake, the changes in your sleep patterns can interfere with your natural circadian rhythms. Over time, occasional sleep concerns can escalate to frequent struggles.
That's when most people worried about the potential risks of using over-the-counter sleep aids or prescription medication begin looking for natural alternatives. The hope of finding a plant-sourced solution inspires an impressive number of sleep-deprived adults to investigate some of the many ways CBD could help.
Calming the Impact of Stress and Mild (Temporary) Anxiety
Stress is one of the most common causes of mild or temporary anxiety. The surge of cortisol and adrenaline can leave your mind stuck in an endless loop of concerning thoughts that can make it difficult to relax and unwind. In a small-scale study of 103 participants, researchers credited sleep score improvements to CBD's "calming" effect (Shannon et al., 2019).
Improving Sleep Duration and Quality
Losing even a few hours of sleep during the week can drain your energy and slow your thought processes. At the conclusion of a two-year study, researchers reported "statistically and clinically significant" benefits related to sleep quality using CBD-dominant cannabis (Vigil et al., 2018). A similar report published in The Journal of Cannabis Research notes CBD's positive impact on sleep duration (Moltke & Hindocha, 2021).
Soothing Pain and Inflammation After Physical Activity
A physically demanding job or pushing your body to the limits during exercise can cause enough discomfort to disrupt your sleep. In a 2020 edition of Sports Medicine-Open, researchers highlighted several biochemical effects potentially beneficial for alleviating discomfort and supporting athletic recovery (McCartney et al., 2020).
How to Use CBD for Sleep
Once hemp is harvested, the cannabinoid-rich oil is extracted from flowers. But not all products have the same composition. Full spectrum CBD gives you all of hemp's additional cannabinoids, terpenes, and other phytonutrients in the same ratios as the original plant, including a small, non-intoxicating amount of THC. It's often considered the most potent.
Broad spectrum CBD has a similar cannabinoid and terpene profile, but its THC content is reduced to non-detectable levels. Products made with CBD isolate give you the health and wellness potential of a single cannabinoid. Once you know the type of CBD you want to use, it's much easier to refine your search to include the product types you find most appealing.
CBD Softgels & Gummies
CBD softgels and gummies give you a consistently measured amount of CBD in every serving. Since they're swallowed, it can take up to two hours for the cannabinoids to impact your sleep. Once you've used CBD a few times, it's easy to optimize product timing so you feel ready to settle in for the night.
CBD Oil Tinctures
When adding CBD oil tinctures to foods and drinks, timing your serving so you're ready for sleep is the same as any other consumable. To experience CBD's sleep-promoting potential, hold the oil beneath your tongue for 45-60 seconds, then swallow.
CBD topicals offer long-lasting, fast-acting, targeted relief. To ease discomfort after physical activity, apply your topical liberally to clean, dry skin before calling it a night. CBD topicals can be used on their own or to complement the sleep-promoting potential of your favorite softgels, gummies, or tinctures.
How CBD Compares to Common Sleep Aids
Cannabis researchers believe CBD helps support ECS function in a way that promotes essential balance (homeostasis) (Sallaberry & Astern, 2018). Unlike many over-the-counter and prescription sleep aids, CBD is non-addictive and far less likely to cause morning grogginess. It's also generally well-tolerated, safe for most people, and has an impressively low risk of side effects that can include nausea, fatigue, dry mouth, diarrhea, or changes in appetite (Bergamaschi et al., 2011).
Although the World Health Organization reports "no evidence of public health-related problems" associated with CBD use (WHO, 2020), hemp-derived products are not the best sleep solution for everyone. If you have a medical condition, consult your healthcare provider before use. Cannabinoids can interact with or impair the absorption of several over-the-counter and prescription medications.
Finding Your Ideal Serving Size
When you're using an OTC sleep aid, you'll find dosage instructions on the label. Although most CBD products also have serving-size suggestions, an amount that works for one person can be quite different than the ideal amount for someone else. Most reputable sources recommend going "low and slow" by starting with a partial serving. Then, gradually increase the amount you're using in small increments until you're pleased with the results. Most of the respondents in our 2019 customer survey report achieving their best results within 7-14 days of consistent use.
Additional Tips for Getting a Good Night's Sleep
You can further optimize the sleep-promoting potential of CBD by practicing good sleep hygiene. Sleep experts generally recommend going to bed and rising at the same time each day, even on weekends, to help support your natural circadian rhythms. Many also suggest sticking with a relaxing pre-sleep ritual to help make the transition easier. For some, that means a hot bath and a soothing cup of herbal tea. Others might prefer having a snack, listening to music, reading, or meditation (Rubin, (2023). Keeping your sleep environment comfortably cool and minimizing PM screen time are also highly recommended (Sheth & Thomas, 2019).
Choosing the Best CBD Products for Sleep
The best hemp-derived CBD products for sleep are sourced from non-GMO, naturally farmed hemp plants. The cannabinoid-rich oil is obtained through food-safe extraction methods, and products are third-party batched tested to ensure potency, purity, and consistent quality. The amount of CBD in every product should be specified in milligrams (mg).
At CBDistillery®, you'll find an exceptional assortment of products sourced from naturally cultivated crops. Our CBD oil tinctures, topicals, softgels, drink mixes, and gummies are made with 100% clean ingredients, quality assured, rigorously tested, and backed by a 60-day satisfaction guarantee.
You can verify our commitment to consumer satisfaction and product quality by viewing the certificate of analysis on our product pages or scanning the QR code on every label. If you'd like to try CBDistillery® hemp-derived CBD for sleep but aren't quite sure which product might suit you best, consider taking our 3-minute CBD Quiz or scheduling a personal consultation.
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Dobric, M. (2021) 48 Surprising Sleep Statistics & Facts to Know In 2022. MedAlertHelp.org.
Harvard Health. (2023) The Science of Sleep. HealthGuide.org PDF download.
Marzo, V, Piscitelli F. (2015) The Endocannabinoid System and Its Modulation by Phytocannabinoids. 12, Neurotherapeutics 692-98. https://doi.org/10.1007/s13311-015-0374-6
McCartney D, Benson M, et al. (2020) Cannabidiol and Sports Performance: A Narrative Review of Relevant Evidence and Recommendations for Future Research. 6(1) Sports Med Open 27. https://doi.org/10.1186/s40798-020-00251-0
Moltke J, Hindocha C. (2021) Reasons for Cannabidiol Use: A Cross Section of CBD Users, Focusing on Self-Perceived Stress, Anxiety, and Sleep Problems. 3(1) 5. https://doi.org/10.1186/s42238-021-00061-5
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Shannon S, Lewis N, et al. (2019) Cannabidiol in Anxiety and Sleep: A Large Case Study. 23 Perm J 18-41. https://doi.org/10.7812/TPP/18-041
Sheth M, Thomas H. (2019) Managing Sleep Deprivation in Older Adults: A Role for Occupational Therapy. AOTA PDF Download.
Suni, E. (2023) Stages of Sleep. Sleep Foundation.
Vigil J, Stith S, et al. (2018) Effectiveness of Raw, Natural Medicinal Cannabis Flower for Treating Insomnia Under Naturalistic Conditions. 5(3) Medicines 75. https://doi.org/10.3390/medicines5030075
World Health Organization. (2020) Cannabidiol (CBD) Critical Review Report. PDF https://www.who.int/docs/default-source/controlled-substances/whocbdreportmay2018-2.pdf?sfvrsn=f78db177_2