Can CBD really help me sleep?

By: Carly Schulman

One in three Americans do not get enough sleep, but chances are you—with your heavy eyelids and cold brew in hand—didn’t need us to tell you that. We can’t fall asleep, we can’t stay asleep, and we certainly aren’t getting enough hours. We’d love to join Arianna Huffington in her “Sleep Revolution”, but we’re fielding emails from our bosses at 11:30 PM and our morning workout class that’s already paid for isn’t going to take itself. As women we are twice as likely to have insomnia and require an average of twenty more minutes of sleep than men because we exert more mental energy throughout the day—and that’s just because we sometimes might overanalyze texts from our crush. Dating in the digital age aside, there are numerous factors that impact our sleep, including but not limited to: screentime, stress, hormones, diet, and exercise. We strive to optimize our personal routines, but more often than not it proves difficult to turn off our brains like we do a bedside lamp. We’ve heard about people turning to CBD to help, but does it really work?  Let’s dive in.


Q: How can CBD help me sleep?

The endocannabinoid system (ECS) is responsible for homeostasis in our bodies, which includes promoting and maintaining sleep and is critical to regulating our circadian rhythm sleep-wake cycles. Given that CBD appears to act as an anxiolytic—a drug to reduce anxiety, it can potentially decrease the amount of time it takes to fall asleep and assists in facilitating, not only a better quality of rest but also in the body’s natural process.


Q: How do I choose the best CBD product for sleep?

It should be known that not all CBD products are designed to promote sleep. When choosing a product specifically for sleep, take a look at the ingredients and look for the minor cannabinoids and terpenes. CBN (minor cannabinoid) displays sedative properties along with terpinolene, linalool, and myrcene (terpenes) which work in conjunction with CBD to promote sleep.


Q: How much CBD should I take for sleep?

If you’re looking to bring out the more relaxing, potential therapeutic effects of CBD you should consider a higher dose. CBD is biphasic meaning low and high doses can have opposite effects; at low doses, CBD may cause alertness and wakefulness whereas high doses may be typically more sedative. The exact dose will be uniquely yours and something to discover because cannabis is both a process and immensely personal.


Q: What does the research say?

While additional studies are needed, recent preclinical work has focused on the impact of CBD on both sleep quality and the sleep-wake cycle. According to Cannabis, Cannabinoids, and Sleep: a Review of the Literature, “preliminary research into cannabis and insomnia suggests that cannabidiol (BCD) may have therapeutic potential for the treatment of insomnia. […] CBD may hold promise for REM sleep behavior disorder and excessive daytime sleepiness.”


Q: Are there long term impacts to using CBD for sleep?

According to initial studies, CBD shows promise. However, studies also indicate that heavy and long term use of THC and CBD could impair long-term sleep quality. This is not to say that CBD isn’t safe, but it’s important not to rely exclusively on these substances daily. CBD can help but it’s not necessarily a cure-all in that, like any other substances, it does offer potential side effects such as: dry mouth, tiredness, blood shot or dry eyes, increased appetite, headache, dizziness as well as several others that occurred in less than 1% of participants.



Header photo: by Clarke Sanders on Unsplash

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