7 Brands For Comfort, Relief & Relaxation. Many people use cannabis as a sleep aid, but does it really work? We review the emerging research on cannabis for sleep, including benefits and side effects.
Best CBD Oil For Pain in 2022 – 7 Brands For Comfort, Relief & Relaxation
Having acute or chronic pain can be extremely debilitating. Without the ability to effectively manage pain, many people find themselves unable to work, enjoy hobbies or even take care of their basic needs. But effective pain management doesn’t work the same for everyone. For some people, traditional pain medications simply don’t work well while others can’t take them because of medical conditions like liver disease. And over-the-counter painkillers come with their own serious risks, like gastrointestinal bleeding.
So, what’s a person with pain supposed to do? For many, the answer is CBD oil.
A natural remedy for pain, CBD oil is extracted from the hemp cannabis plant. Unlike marijuana, it doesn’t contain THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), the psychoactive compound that produces the “high” associated with cannabis use. CBD oil for pain relief is available in a variety of forms, including tinctures, capsules, edibles, and topical creams. But to get the most effective wellness relief, it’s important to choose the right product made with the best practices. To ensure your CBD oil meets your needs and is of the highest quality, we’ve created this list of the best CBD oil for pain relief.
7 Best CBD Oil for Pain – Quick Summary
- CBDfx– Editor’s Choice – Best CBD Oil for Pain
- CBDistillery – Runner up
- Green Roads – Honorable Mention
- CBD American Shaman – Staff Pick
- Sunday Scaries – Good Performer
- Secret Nature – Specialized
- Extract Labs – Budget Friendly
CBD Oil for Pain: Top 7 Brands Reviewed
1. CBDfx – Editor’s Choice – Best CBD Oil for Pain
- Potent CBD concentrations
- Multiple discounts available for first-time buyers
- Multi-cannabinoid psilocybin formulas
- Gluten-free product line
- No isolate options
CBDfx is a globally recognized CBD brand with a mission to provide the highest quality CBD products on the market. Their CBD oil is derived from organically grown hemp plants and is free of harmful pesticides and herbicides. With a commitment to quality and safety, all of their products are third-party lab tested for potency and contaminants.
CBDfx offers a wide range of CBD oils in different strengths and flavors. They also sell a variety of CBD-infused topicals, gummies, vape pens, and more.
CBDfx CBD Oil for Pain
The company’s most popular CBD formula is a broad-spectrum wellness tincture that combines the power of CBD with highly sought-after supplements to support a healthy lifestyle. Each 30ml bottle contains CBG, CoQ10, curcumin, and a rich terpene profile in addition to potent CO2-extracted CBD oil. Available in concentrations ranging from 500 to 6000 mg of CBD, this oil can be taken orally or added to food and beverages.
In addition to CBD and non-psychoactive cannabinoid formulas, CBDfx also offers a range of other CBD oils containing active ingredients like melatonin, CBN, THC, and even psilocybin.
Those who prefer a more accurate dosing method can opt for CBDfx’s potent CBD extract in their CBD gummies, capsules, vape liquids, and even topicals.
Why We Like CBDfx
CBDfx made the top of our list because its wide product line is specially designed to help manage pain by offering comprehensive wellness support solutions. So whether your acute or chronic pain condition is sleep-related, emotionally triggered, a result of arthritis pain or just plain old muscle soreness, CBDfx has a product that can help.
2. CBDistillery – Runner Up
- Easy to navigate website
- CBD oil manufactured in a cGMP-certified facility
- Hemp Authority certified
- 37K+ 5-star reviews
- Tincture only available in full-spectrum CBD oil
- Not all products available for international shipping
In business since 2016, CBDistillery is one of the most well-known and respected brands in the CBD industry. They are a vertically integrated company, meaning they oversee every step of the production process from seed to sale. Entirely focused on safety and quality, all of the products manufactured by CBDistillery are cruelty-free, non-GMO, and third-party lab-tested.
CBDistillery CBD Oil for Pain
CBDistillery’s most popular CBD oil for pain management is its full-spectrum CBD oil tincture. Available in concentrations of 500-5000mg of CBD, each 30ml bottle comes with a dropper for convenient dosing directly under the tongue or into food and beverages. Full-spectrum CBD oil from CBDistillery also includes a carrier oil (fractionated coconut oil) to enhance absorption and bioavailability.
Those needing wellness support for pain occurring during bedtime hours may want to try CBDistillery’s CBD oils designed for sleep. Containing CBD, CBN and a rich terpene profile, these oils are designed to stimulate the endocannabinoid system for improved pain relief and sleep quality.
Why We Like CBDistillery
Potent full-spectrum CBD oil products that are reasonably priced and backed by a company with an excellent reputation are the reasons CBDistillery made it to such a favorable spot on our list. While they may not have the range of CBD oils of other brands, they do offer several unique CBD oil products like a sleep tincture and CBN oil that are made with high-quality ingredients and backed by third-party lab testing.
3. Green Roads – Honorable Mention
- Multiple CBD oil flavors are available
- Full and broad-spectrum formulas are available
- Choose CBD oil formula based on pain level
- Pharmacist formulated
- More expensive than other brands on this list
About Green Roads
Green Roads is only interested in creating potent CBD products that actually help people. With an in-house team of pharmacists helping to formulate their products, all of the CBD oils from Green Roads are designed to be effective for specific purposes. Additionally, all Green Roads products are third-party lab tested for quality and safety.
Green Roads CBD Oil for Pain
New and experienced CBD users will find the perfect CBD oil for their needs with Green Roads. The site is divided by category and pain level to make choosing the right product as easy as possible.
The most popular CBD oil for pain relief at Green Roads is their full-spectrum CBD oil. Containing 1500mg of CBD (50mg per serving), this product is often chosen by those experiencing moderate to severe pain. Vegan and gluten-free, this potent full-spectrum CBD oil can be taken day or night to provide pain management support for conditions like general muscle soreness and chronic issues like arthritis pain.
Those who prefer a THC-free option as part of their pain management or wellness routines can opt for Green Roads’ many broad-spectrum CBD oil formulas available in Kiwi Apple, Mint, and Citrus flavors.
To target specific spots of soreness, pain, and inflammation without using CBD oil tincture drops, Green Roads has numerous other CBD supplements to relieve pain including CBD creams, lotions, salves, and balms.
Why We Like Green Roads
Green Roads has a prominent spot on our list because of their pain-specific CBD oil choices and excellent informational resources that help users choose the right product for their needs. With science-backed formulas and products that can meet a wide variety of pain management needs, Green Roads is a solid choice for those looking for an effective and trustworthy CBD brand.
4. CBD American Shaman – Staff Pick
- Water-soluble CBD oil formulas
- Made with natural ingredients
- Multiple discounts available
- Only organic, non-GMO hemp used
- Lower CBD potency than others on this list
About CBD American Shaman
CBD American Shaman takes CBD seriously. Making ultra-concentrated, terpene-rich CBD hemp oil extracted from high-quality, all-natural hemp plants, CBD American Shaman is able to bring superior wellness results to those wanting to better manage pain conditions with hemp. Using only organic and non-GMO ingredients, all of CBD American Shaman’s products are designed to be effective and fast-acting. Additionally, their unique water-soluble CBD oil formulas are designed to be more bioavailable and easier for the body to absorb.
CBD American Shaman CBD Oil for Pain
CBD American Shaman offers several ways to take CBD oil as part of a pain management routine. Their most popular CBD oil formula is their line of water-soluble CBD products. Specially formulated to be more bioavailable, water-soluble CBD products from CBD American Shaman are a great choice for those looking for a fast and effective wellness supplement to support pain reduction and relief.
Water-soluble CBD oil formulas from CBD American Shaman are available in regular, extra, and maximum strength with CBD concentrations of 300mg, 450mg, and 900mg, respectively. Furthermore, in addition to a natural hemp flavor, full-spectrum CBD oil from CBD American Shaman comes in cherry, lemon, pina colada, peppermint, hot cocoa, and more.
Those seeking alternatives to CBD oil for pain relieving benefits can also purchase CBD supplements from CBD American Shaman in other forms such as CBD topicals, edibles, capsules, and smokable flower.
Why We Like CBD American Shaman
CBD American Shaman is a staff favorite due to its range of CBD oil flavors that help mask the earthy taste of CBD oils. Additionally, with water-soluble formulas that work to make CBD oil more bioavailable, CBD American Shaman’s CBD products are a great choice for those seeking an effective way to experience the potential benefits of CBD faster and with longer-lasting effects.
5. Sunday Scaries – Good Performer
- Vitamin-enriched CBD oil formula
- Kosher certified
- Made in ISO-certified labs
- Limited product line
- No full-spectrum products available
About Sunday Scaries
With mental stress being a significant cause of a lot of the physical pain we feel, it can often be necessary to target both the mind and body when seeking relief. CBD oils from Sunday Scaries are designed to do just that by providing a broad-spectrum CBD oil formula enhanced with vitamins B12 and D3. With an understanding of this fact, Sunday Scaries has created a CBD product line to help manage mental health and, by extension, alleviate physical pain.
Sunday Scaries CBD Oil for Pain
Sunday Scaries CBD oil is designed to help users achieve a more relaxed state of mind while relieving various forms of physical pain. Formulated with full-spectrum CBD oil and enhanced with vitamins B12 and D3, Sunday Scaries CBD oil is a great choice for those seeking a natural way to support mental and physical wellbeing.
CBD oil from Sunday Scaries contains 500mg of fruit punch flavored broad-spectrum CBD oil. To ensure that the quality of their products meets the highest standards, Sunday Scaries CBD oil is made in ISO-certified labs and is third-party lab tested.
Those looking to boost the potential benefits of Sunday Scaries CBD oil can also purchase the company’s high-quality CBD oil gummies. Made with the same potent broad-spectrum formula, these CBD gummies are available on their own or as part of a discounted CBD wellness bundle.
Why We Like Sunday Scaries
Sunday Scaries made our list thanks to its unique vitamin-enriched CBD oil blend designed to target emotional stress to relieve physical pain. Additionally, with its kosher, vegan, and GMO-free CBD oil products, Sunday Scaries is a great choice for those with specific dietary restrictions or preferences.
6. Secret Nature – Specialized
- UV-proof bottles for longer freshness
- 100% organic
- 2mg of CBD per drop
- Limited tincture availability due to high demand
About Secret Nature
Artisanal wellness support for pain and related conditions is the focus of Secret Nature, a CBD company that only sources its CBD from the finest organic hemp farms in America. In addition to being free of herbicides, pesticides, and other harmful chemicals, all of the hemp used in Secret Nature’s CBD products is also non-GMO.
Secret Nature CBD Oil for Pain
Rather than spread its CBD offerings thin, Secret Nature has focused on creating a small selection of high-quality CBD products, including a potent CBD oil tincture.
Formulated with 1500mg of CBD in each bottle, Secret Nature’s CBD oil contains a whopping 2mg of CBD per drop. In addition to the potent hemp CBD extract in their oils, Secret Nature adds organic coconut oil, black seed oil, and Shilajit oil as a natural source of MCTs to further enhance the bioavailability of their CBD oil.
Furthermore, all of Secret Nature’s CBD oils are stored in UV-proof bottles to ensure their CBD products maintain peak freshness.
Why We Like Secret Nature
We really like the positive reviews customers have left about their experience with Secret Nature. From better overall wellness to reduced pain and inflammation, it is clear that those who have tried Secret Nature’s CBD oil are big fans. Additionally, with such a potent CBD oil tincture available, Secret Nature is a great choice for those seeking maximum relief from their CBD products.
7. Extract Labs – Budget Friendly
- Multiple types of CBD products (broad-spectrum, full-spectrum, CBD isolate)
- Veteran owned
- Certified organic
- Leaping Bunny Certified for cruelty-free manufacturing practices
- Returned orders may be subject to a 25% restocking fee
About Extract Labs
Founded by a combat veteran interested in the potential benefits of hemp cannabis plant extracts for a variety of wellness results, Extract Labs is a CBD company that takes an innovative and sustainable approach to CBD production. By partnering with Colorado State University, Extract Labs is able to utilize cutting-edge technology and equipment to create some of the most potent CBD products on the market.
Moreover, all of Extract Labs CBD is produced from 100% certified organic Colorado-grown hemp and is lab tested for purity and potency by a third party.
Extract Labs CBD Oil for Pain
Extract Labs knows that not all supplemental wellness solutions for pain management can or should be the same. That’s why they offer CBD oil in multiple cannabinoid profiles to ensure first-time and experienced CBD users get exactly what they need to meet daily or acute pain management needs.
Their most popular product is a raspberry flavored full-spectrum CBD oil. Available in 1000 and 2000mg concentrations, this CBD oil is a great choice for those who prefer natural fruit flavoring and the potential benefits of taking CBD oil with other hemp-derived cannabinoids and terpenes.
For those interested in a non-THC solution to help supplement their pain management wellness routines, Extract Labs CBD isolate formula contains nothing but 1000mg of pure CBD.
To combine pain management with other wellness support, Extract labs offers concentrated oil tinctures containing CBC, CBN, CBG, and CBDa to support a healthy immune system in addition to support for relief of pain symptoms.
Why We Like Extract Labs
As a veteran-owned CBD company, we’re big fans of Extract Labs and their commitment to using only the highest quality ingredients in all of their CBD products. We also like that they provide multiple options for those seeking pain relief with CBD, including full-spectrum and THC-free options.
How Did We Choose Our Top 7 CBD Oils for Pain?
Choosing our selections for the seven best CBD oils for pain started with careful research into the following categories to ensure that each product met our high standards for quality and effectiveness.
- Customer reviews: If customers don’t like it, we won’t recommend it. All of the products on our list have been vetted for customer satisfaction with positive reviews from those who have tried them.
- Hemp source: Organically grown, non-GMO, and pesticide-free hemp is always preferable. We also looked for companies that source their hemp from the United States to support domestic farmers.
- Extraction method: Safe extraction methods free from harsh chemicals or solvents are essential to getting high-quality CBD oil. Therefore, we only considered companies that use CO2, olive oil, or other extraction processes that don’t use harsh solvents.
- Ingredients: Often CBD oil isn’t the only ingredient in hemp extract supplements. For this reason, we only considered CBD brands that use natural ingredients like coconut or hemp seed oil to boost their products’ absorption, efficacy, and quality.
- Lab testing: The CBD industry is largely unregulated. As a result, it’s important to choose brands committed to transparency by voluntarily sending their products for independent lab testing. All of the brands on our list make it easy to find their lab results so you can be confident that you’re getting what you pay for.
What To Consider When Buying CBD Oil for Pain
Purchasing CBD oil to help with pain is something that should be approached with caution and due diligence. Here are a few factors that you should consider when looking for the best CBD oil for your needs.
CBD Content & Potency
The amount of CBD in a product is important, but it’s also important to consider the concentration or potency of each dose. To figure out the amount of each drop, divide the total amount of CBD by the bottle size. That will give you an amount per 1mL dropper. Then divide the drops in a dropper (20 drops) into the amount of CBD per 1mL.
For example, a 1000mg bottle of CBD oil with a 30ml serving size will give you 33.3mg of CBD per dropper, while a 500mg bottle with the same serving size will only give you 16.6mg per dropper. Divided by 20, a 1000mg CBD bottle contains 1.67mg per drop, and a 500mg bottle contains .83mg per drop.
So, when considering the best CBD oil for pain relief, look at the concentration to make sure the dosage has what you need to manage your symptoms.
The type of CBD in a product also matters. There are three main types of CBD on the market: full-spectrum, broad-spectrum, and isolate.
Both full and broad-spectrum CBD oil formulas offer an array of cannabinoids that can interact with cannabinoid receptors in the body to provide a range of potential benefits. The difference between the two is that broad-spectrum CBD oil goes through an additional filtration to remove all detectable traces of THC. So if you are looking for a THC-free product that still contains beneficial phytocannabinoids, flavonoids, and terpenes, consider broad-spectrum over full-spectrum.
NOTE: In the USA, full-spectrum CBD products can contain no more than 0.3% THC. This means that even if you use full-spectrum CBD oil, the THC concentration is so low that you won’t experience any psychoactive high associated with medical and recreational marijuana use.
CBD isolate is the final type of CBD, containing nothing but pure cannabidiol. It’s been stripped of all other cannabinoids, flavonoids, and terpenes, leaving only the CBD molecule. This makes it ideal for those who want to avoid any trace of THC or are looking for the most potent CBD product possible.
CBD products come in a variety of delivery methods, including tinctures, gummies, topicals, vapes, and more. The best delivery method for you will depend on your preferences and how you want to use CBD. For example, those with lung conditions may prefer to use a CBD oil for pain relief to avoid exacerbating breathing issues with a CBD vape.
Those with pain in a specific area may find they prefer their CBD oil in topical solutions that directly target their pain. Gummies and tinctures are popular among those who want a convenient way to take their CBD oil with them on the go.
Reputation & Credibility of CBD Brand
The reputation and credibility of a CBD brand are essential considerations when buying CBD oil for pain relief. Makers of the best CBD oils are transparent about their policies, procedures, and ingredients.
Look for brands that have sent their products for independent lab testing to verify CBD content and rule out the possibility of contaminants. And be sure to check out customer reviews to get an idea of how satisfied other users are with a brand’s products before you make your purchase.
It is also a good idea to check for certifications and awards from leading industry bodies like the US Hemp Authority, cGMP, and ISO. These signify that a brand is adhering to high standards regarding product quality and safety.
What are the Health Benefits of CBD?
Given the concerns surrounding the efficacy of traditional pain medications, in particular the risks associated with opioids, taking natural CBD oil to alleviate pain has been a topic of great interest to individuals and scientists alike. Currently, thousands of studies are examining the effectiveness of CBD and other hemp-derived cannabinoids in treating a variety of medical conditions, such as:
- Chronic pain
- Neurodegenerative disorders
Early research from many studies suggests that CBD and other cannabinoids interact with and stimulate the endocannabinoid system within our bodies. This system is thought to be a series of CB1, CB2, and other receptors that regulate various biological processes like mood, memory, appetite, and pain perception.
So, by using CBD oil to manage painful conditions related to genetic disorders, aging, or intense physical activity, you may also experience other benefits such as:
- Reduced inflammation
- Improved sleep quality
- Reduced anxiety and stress
- Improved mental clarity
Note that not everyone may experience the same benefits of using CBD; age, height, weight, and gender can all play a role in how our bodies process and respond to CBD. What works for one person may not work for another, so it’s important to experiment until you find the right dosage and product for your needs.
How to Use CBD Oil
Using CBD oils for any reason is pretty simple. Most bottles come with a convenient 1mL dropper that makes sublingual dosing or mixing into food and beverages easy. By filling the dropper to the desired amount and then squeezing the liquid under your tongue, you can hold it there for 30-60 seconds before swallowing.
For those who prefer not to put drops of oil under their tongue, CBD oils can also be mixed into food or drinks. Just remember that it may take a little longer to feel the effects because the CBD will have to travel through your digestive system first.
Ultimately the right amount of CBD for your pain management needs will depend on your circumstances. Most find that low doses under 10mg are enough to relieve mild chronic pain, while moderate doses between 10-30mg are better for intense chronic pain. However, some may need up to 100mg or more per day for severe chronic pain.
If you find that you only take CBD when you have pain related to intense physical activity (like work or exercise), you should consider faster-acting CBD forms such as CBD oils or topical creams. These products typically have a faster absorption rate, offering relief more quickly.
How Much CBD Oil Should I Take for Acute or Chronic Pain
If you suffer with chronic pain and regularly use CBD products, you probably understand how hemp-derived cannabinoids affect your body and may want to consider using a higher dose (30-100mg) for times when you experience more severe pain.
It is important to remember that you should match your pain intensity with your dosage size. In other words, don’t take a high dose of CBD just because you think it will work better. Instead, start small and increase as needed until you find the desired effects.
Are There Any Side Effects to CBD?
Even with positive confirmation of general safety from regulatory agencies like WHO, and multiple studies confirming the therapeutic potential of CBD, there are always going to be a small number of people for whom CBD just doesn’t work. CBD is generally considered safe and well-tolerated by most people. But like any other wellness supplement on the market, some side effects may be associated with its use.
The most common side effects reported with CBD are gastrointestinal issues like diarrhea, as well as dizziness, drowsiness, and changes in appetite. However, these side effects are usually mild and temporary, going away on their own after a few days.
Additionally, first-time CBD users may notice dry mouth and changes in their sense of taste. This is thought to be caused by the interaction between CBD and the endocannabinoid system, which helps regulate saliva production.
The good news is that because CBD is considered non-psychoactive, meaning it won’t get you high and there is no risk of side effects common to THC-rich products, such as intense euphoria, paranoia, or cognitive impairment.
CBD Oil for Pain – FAQ
1. Can I use CBD oil to treat inflammation in my hands?
Many people prefer CBD oils to other CBD products because it is one of the fastest-acting forms of CBD. CBD oil is absorbed quickly into the bloodstream, where it can then bind to receptors throughout the body, including in the hands. It is widely believed that this interaction between CBD and the endocannabinoid system can help to reduce inflammation and pain throughout the entire body – including the hands.
If you find that CBD oil isn’t hitting the exact spot you need it to, you can also try using a CBD topical cream that can be applied directly to the hands. The advantage of using a topical product is that you can target the specific area that is causing pain or inflammation, and the CBD will be absorbed directly into the skin for faster relief.
2. How often should I take CBD oil for pain?
The frequency with which you take CBD oil for pain relief will largely depend on the severity of your pain. Most people say that 1-2 doses per day offer the desired relief for mild to moderate pain. However, you may need to increase your dosage or frequency up to 3-4 times per day for more severe pain.
When breaking up your doses, it is best to space them out evenly throughout the day. This will help maintain a consistent level of CBD in your system, offering more long-lasting pain relief.
3. Does CBD oil build up in your system over time?
CBD tolerance is something that can happen in cases when a large amount of CBD is consumed on a daily basis. CBD tolerance can be reset in many ways, including changing the type of CBD product you are taking, stopping consumption for a period of time, or taking a break from CBD every few days. Even with a slightly higher tolerance, the effects of CBD will still be present – it may just take a little longer to notice them.
4. What is the best time of day to take CBD oil for pain?
There is no definite answer about the best time of day to take CBD oil for pain relief. If you need lasting all-day relief from chronic pain, it may be a good idea to take CBD oil in the morning and then again at night. However, taking it right before or after physical activity may be a better option if you only need relief for a few hours. Experimenting with different times of day will help you find what works best for you and your specific needs.
5. Do I need a special type of CBD oil for pain?
No, you do not need a special type of CBD oil for pain relief. However, it is important to ensure that you are using a high-quality product free from contaminants. Many believe that a full spectrum CBD oil containing all of the cannabinoids, terpenes, and other beneficial compounds in hemp plants will offer the most relief. But again, what works for some may not work for others, so you may need to try a few different types before finding the one that works best for you.
Better Health & Wellness with CBD Oil for Pain
With the number of people using CBD oil for pain on the rise, there is a growing body of evidence to support its efficacy. But to get the most out of your CBD regimen, it’s important to know the best places to buy CBD products. By purchasing from reputable vendors using high-quality ingredients, you can be sure that you are getting the best CBD oils that will offer the relief you need.
Remember that even the best CBD oils are not a cure-all, but CBD can be an effective tool in your overall health and wellness arsenal. CBD oils can offer significant relief from pain and inflammation when used properly, with few to no side effects. So if you’re looking for an all-natural way to manage pain, CBD oil may be worth considering.
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Using Cannabis As A Sleep Aid
We regularly assess how the content in this article aligns with current scientific literature and expert recommendations in order to provide the most up-to-date research.
Medical Disclaimer: The content on this page should not be taken as medical advice or used as a recommendation for any specific medication. Always consult your doctor before taking any new medication or changing your current dosage.
Cannabis, also called marijuana, is widely used as a sleep aid, both recreationally and among medical users. Around 70% of young adults that casually use cannabis report that they do so to help them sleep. Among long-term cannabis users (those who have been using it for 10 years or more), about half use cannabis to improve their sleep. Among people who use cannabis for medical reasons, such as pain relief, as many as 85% say it improves their sleep.
Research into cannabis as a sleep aid is still developing. Cannabis may help relieve insomnia when used occasionally, though researchers are unsure whether long-term use is ultimately beneficial or detrimental for sleep quality.
Does Cannabis Help You Sleep?
Cannabis appears to improve sleep in certain cases. For people with certain conditions such as chronic pain, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and multiple sclerosis, cannabis may help them fall asleep faster, wake up less during the night, and enjoy better sleep quality overall. A recent study also found that cannabis effectively relieves symptoms for people with restless legs syndrome (RLS).
Many people use cannabis to self-treat insomnia, anxiety, and pain. Among these users, the effectiveness of cannabis for sleep is more ambivalent, though a study conducted on individuals with insomnia found that many participants reported relief from their symptoms when using cannabis.
Some studies have found a distinction between daily users and less frequent, non-daily users in how cannabis affects their sleep. Those who use cannabis daily are more likely to report more sleep problems than occasional users or people who do not use cannabis at all. Non-daily users report fewer sleep issues than both daily users and non-users.
How Does Cannabis Work as a Sleep Aid?
It is believed that the sleep-promoting effects of cannabinoids are due to their interactions with cannabinoid receptors in the brain. When cannabinoids bind to these receptors, they send messages to increase levels of sleep-promoting adenosine levels and suppress the brain’s arousal system. Together, these effects may help cannabis users feel sedated or sleepy.
Cannabis has several different active compounds, including tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD). While THC typically acts as a sedative, it can have a stimulating effect for some people, especially for those who are new to using cannabis or taking higher doses. In these cases, using cannabis before bed may result in a longer time falling asleep. CBD appears to promote alertness at lower doses, and sleepiness at higher doses. The effects of the two compounds together may depend on the dose and timing.
Both CBD and THC may also have benefits for chronic conditions that interfere with sleep.
For example, synthetic forms of THC have shown potential for treating obstructive sleep apnea, reducing PTSD-related nightmares, and improving sleep for people living with chronic pain. CBD, on the other hand, may reduce symptoms of REM sleep behavior disorder and excessive daytime sleepiness.
When using cannabis as a sleep aid, the effects you feel may depend on the type of cannabis you are using. Cannabis has higher concentrations of THC, the primary psychoactive component. Hemp plants have higher levels of CBD.
Does Cannabis Affect Your Sleep Quality?
In addition to helping you fall asleep faster, cannabis may alter your sleep architecture, a term that describes how long you spend in the different sleep stages. Short-term cannabis use appears to increase the time you spend in deep sleep, the stage that helps you wake up feeling refreshed. However, THC decreases the amount of time you spend in rapid eye movement (REM) sleep, when you spend more time dreaming, processing emotions, and cementing new memories.
Decreasing REM sleep may have some benefits for people with PTSD, since nightmares are a common and disturbing symptom. A study on women with PTSD found that those with more severe PTSD symptoms and poor sleep were more likely to use cannabis to help them cope. One study found that synthetic forms of cannabis significantly decreased nightmares, or stopped them completely, for people with PTSD. Some participants in this study also reported experiencing better overall sleep quality and fewer daytime flashbacks.
How Is Cannabis Different from Other Natural Sleep Aids?
Because cannabis is considered a controlled substance, there is limited research on the safety and efficacy of cannabis sleep aids compared to other sleep aids. Only a few synthetic drugs made to mimic THC, as well as one naturally derived CBD product, have been approved by the FDA. These are prescribed for nausea and other conditions, but not sleep.
As with other natural sleep aids, it is possible that some people may turn to medical cannabis in an effort to avoid more potent drugs, such as opioids. Although they can be very effective in the short term, many prescription and over-the-counter sleep medications are associated with a risk of abuse, tolerance, or dependence. Some natural sleep aids, like oral melatonin, appear to reduce insomnia without strong side effects, while other homeopathic options, like valerian, still need more research.
Which Type of Cannabis is Best For Sleep?
There are different strains of cannabis, which each produce different effects. The most common strains are indica and sativa:
- Indica is thought to be more calming, and may help produce feelings of relaxation and sleepiness. People appear to prefer indica for pain management, relaxation, and sleep.
- Sativa is considered more stimulating, and it may produce feelings of euphoria for some. People tend to use sativa to gain an energy boost.
Due to its relaxing effects, indica may be considered the best cannabis strain for sleep. However, individuals who use cannabis to avoid nightmares may prefer sativa. Hybrid strains with a mix of indica and sativa may produce different effects based on the specific makeup of cannabinoids and other ingredients.
Most of the differences attributed to sativa versus indica strains are based on the subjective experiences of cannabis users. Some researchers argue that the distinction between indica and sativa strains is less relevant than the variety in THC content and other ingredients in any particular product.
Risks and Side Effects of Using Cannabis for Sleep
Used on a short-term basis, cannabis may help you fall asleep faster. Health experts generally do not recommend using sleep aids, including cannabis, on a long-term basis, because of their potential to negatively impact your sleep quality and cause other side effects.
Studies suggest that people who use cannabis as a long-term sleep aid tend to develop a tolerance to its sedative effects, and may need to take more to obtain the same results. Heavy cannabis use, especially on a long-term basis, may have consequences for sleep, including:
- Less sleep overall
- Less time spent in deep sleep
- Longer time to fall asleep
- Frequent awakenings
One study found high doses of THC at night can lead to unwanted side effects the following day, such as impaired memory and sleepiness. Cannabis withdrawal can also produce sleep-related side effects, such as strange dreams, difficulty falling asleep, and less time spent in deep sleep.
Long-term cannabis use may also have health-related side effects. Studies have found the substance may reduce the volume of gray matter in your brain and, when smoked, increase your risk of chronic bronchitis. Health experts also recommend people avoid using cannabis while pregnant or breastfeeding.
Tips When Using Cannabis for Sleep
If you plan on trying cannabis as a sleep aid, your care provider can provide the best guidance based on your needs and medical history. However, it helps to have an understanding of the different options available.
What Form of Cannabis to Use for Sleep
Cannabis can be smoked, vaporized, eaten, or placed under the tongue as a sublingual tincture. Each format has different benefits and drawbacks. Those who are concerned about the effects of smoke on the lungs may prefer to avoid smoking it.
Different forms of cannabis offer different bioavailability, or how much of the active THC you can expect to make it into your bloodstream. Inhaled cannabis tends to have high bioavailability, as the THC enters your system directly. By contrast, edibles lose a significant amount of THC through the digestive process. Smoked cannabis can have bioavailability rates as high as 56%, compared with 4% to 20% for orally ingested cannabis.
When to Take Cannabis for Sleep
When choosing a type of cannabis, it is worth noting that different forms also take more or less time to produce effects. When you smoke cannabis, you can generally feel the effects almost immediately, whereas edibles can take longer to have an effect as they must work their way through your digestive system first.
The effects of smoked cannabis are highly variable depending on the person, the length of inhalation, the number of times it is inhaled, and other factors. It may be helpful to know that THC levels generally peak after about 10 minutes.
What Effects You May Notice
Because cannabis comes in a variety of strains and affects everyone differently, you may need to experiment before you find the format, dosage, and timing that work for you. THC is a psychoactive drug that tends to have other effects apart from promoting sleep. You may feel sleepy, relaxed, euphoric, or energized.
When using cannabinoids, some users may also experience dizziness, nausea, fatigue, dry mouth, vomiting, confusion, loss of balance, or hallucinations. You may also experience anxiety, panic attacks, or paranoia.
Using cannabis may not be a good idea for children and adolescents, as cannabis use has been linked to changes in the developing brain.
Deciding If Cannabis Is Right for You
Whether or not to use cannabis for sleep is a highly personal decision. Synthetic forms of cannabis appear to relieve nightmares and insomnia, but some researchers warn about the limitations of these studies and the potential risks of using cannabis until dosing is more standardized.
Many people use cannabis to successfully manage their pain and insomnia. However, some people find it makes them feel more paranoid or anxious. If you do not like the feeling of being high, a strain with a higher amount of CBD may be a better option for you.
Another important consideration is whether cannabis is legal where you live. If not, talk to your doctor about other ways to improve your sleep, such as better sleep hygiene or alternative sleep aids.