CBD Oil for Sleep –
Is it Effective? Is it Safe? Is it Legal?
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Are you considering using CBD oil for sleep? Do you have questions about safety, effectiveness, and especially, legality?
To start with, we’re assuming it’s legal where you’re from. If you need to double-check, feel free to consult our chart that gives a state-by-state run down or contact your local state or county to find out if it is legal in your area.
There’s been a lot of buzz recently about CBD and cannabis thanks to the passing of the 2018 Farm Bill that legalized hemp-based CBD with less than 0.3% THC at the federal level.
According to a recent Gallup poll, 14% of Americans say they personally use CBD-based products with 11% of them citing usage for sleep (40% for pain and 20% for anxiety).
As a nurse and health coach, I’ve been very intrigued by the growing research on this plant-based substance and recently decided to try it out myself. The results were very noticeable, and I was surprised by how quickly it took effect. Keep reading to get the full scoop on how to use CBD oil for sleep.
We’ve worked hard to give you the best information you can find. But if you still have questions, we have a growing community waiting to lend an ear.
What Do People Use It For?
How Does It Work To Make You Drowsy?
Can It Impact Sleep Quality?
Can It Treat Insomnia?
Will It Stop Snoring?
CBD vs. Other Sleep Aids
Ask Your Doctor
The Bottom Line
What Is It?
Cannabidiol (or CBD for short) is one of 80 known cannabinoids that is derived from the Cannabis Sativa plant. Unlike THC, this cannabinoid doesn’t produce the same psychoactive “high” that is acquainted with marijuana plants. In the United States, CBD as “hemp oil” is legal as long as it is derived from hemp and contains less than 0.3% THC.
Cannabidiol is available as a crystalline isolate, meaning it has been purified to contain only CBD, or as a full-spectrum oil containing a variety of compounds including cannabinoids, terpenes, and essential oils.
It was previously thought that the isolate form was the best choice, but now researchers are investigating something called the “entourage effect” where it is believed that properties found within the whole plant work synergistically to create a compounding effect.
Walking into your local gas station or pet store, you’ll likely notice the wide range of hemp oil products available as pure oils, tinctures, gummies, vapors, and more. Quality and concentration can vary from product to product, so be sure to do your research before buying and check the label for the recommended dosage.
Looking to learn more? Check out our top rated cbd oil guide here.
What Do People Use It For?
CBD has a long history of use dating as far back as 1200 A.D. where an ancient Chinese medical text refers to its benefits for inducing sleep. Many other cultures have been using hemp and cannabis products for years to treat conditions like epilepsy, pain, anxiety, constipation, and more. More recently, a purified form of plant-based CBD called Epidiolex was approved by the FDA for the treatment of epilepsy.
Let’s take a look at some of the other conditions people are using this oil for:
Chronic pain can be debilitating, impacting the quality of life, the ability to work, social interactions, and sleep. Many over-the-counter and prescription pain medications have a long list of potential side effects and run the risk of developing tolerance and dependency.
Certain types of pain including cancer-associated pain, neuropathic pain, and central pain states (associated with multiple sclerosis) are often difficult to treat with traditional opiates, anticonvulsant drugs, and antidepressants. Medical marijuana is available in some states with a prescription and is commonly used for treating chronic pain and several other conditions.
Recent research has supported the use of cannabis for treating pain from a variety of conditions, and one study of 177 cancer patients found that patients who used a combination of CBD/THC had a 30% greater reduction in pain compared to placebo, whereas those who used THC alone saw no effect.
Learn More: How to Cope With Pain and Sleep
Anxiety rates have been rising rapidly, and many people suffering from various forms of anxiety have turned to cannabis for relief. Unfortunately, anxiety may be a risk factor for dependency in some and the use of this psychoactive drug could also make users more likely to develop anxiety. Conversely, cannabidiol has been shown some promise in the treatment of anxiety.
Preclinical evidence has found that cannabidiol may be a safe and effective way to manage anxiety disorders like generalized anxiety disorder, social anxiety disorder, panic disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and more. A study conducted at a psychiatric clinic looking at the use of CBD for anxiety and sleep found a reduction in anxiety scores in 79.2% of patients and an improvement in sleep scores in 66.7% of patients within the first month of treatment.
Want to know more? Read our full guide for sleeping through anxiety.
Mental illness impacts people of every age, race, gender, and socioeconomic class. Treatment may involve the use of medications or non-pharmacological options. Some of these treatments may produce unwanted side effects, impact sleep, cause weight gain, or interact with other medications, and scientists are always looking for safer treatment alternatives.
A systematic review looking at a total of 1,629 patients with conditions including Alzheimer’s disorder/dementia, schizophrenia, anorexia nervosa, ADHD, Tourette’s disorder, substance use disorder, and others found that treatment with cannabis was associated with improvements in several symptoms of mental disorders, but not complete remission.
Some animal studies have found that CBD may interact with serotonin receptors in the brain with similar effects to antidepressants. More research is needed in humans, but preliminary evidence is promising. Sleep disorders are much more common in individuals suffering from mental health conditions, so it is possible that effectively treating one could improve the other.
Can CBD Help You Sleep?
A sleep psychologist says you should reconsider stocking up on CBD products for catching some zzz’s.
Cannabidiol (CBD) oil seems to be all over the place, used as treatment for anxiety, chronic pain, acne and even infused in some foods and drinks. It’s readily available in various doses and forms over-the-counter. It’s natural to wonder what this mystical compound of marijuana is and what it does in the body.
You might be thinking, “Wait, marijuana? Doesn’t that make you high?” But let’s set the record straight: unlike CBD’s counterpart delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), CBD is a non-psychoactive compound, meaning it doesn’t alter your cognitive state.
Similar to THC though, CBD can help you relax and people are wondering if it will help them finally get some good shut eye.
“It’s a tricky question to answer,” says Deirdre Conroy, Ph.D. , clinical director of the Behavioral Sleep Medicine Clinic at Michigan Medicine. “There have been few studies on CBD and its effect on sleep, and those published have few participants with differing doses and forms of CBD administered.”
However, many of these studies suggest there could be some benefit to using CBD as a sleep aid, and it’s worth researching. “For example, there’s evidence that CBD can be helpful in managing anxiety . If someone’s anxiety is creating their sleeping problem, a CBD product may benefit them,” Conroy says.
But reaping the rewards of CBD is a slippery slope since much of its long term safety or efficacy is still unknown. One study showed taking less than 160 mg of CBD oil may actually promote wakefulness . While higher doses can promote sleep, the FDA has approved only one CBD product, a prescription drug to treat two rare, severe forms of epilepsy. Because other CBD products aren’t regulated, you might not know what you’re really getting.
“This compound is used in various forms and their doses may differ, so you might not know how much CBD you’re actually using,” Conroy says. Regular usage of high dose CBD could harm you before you become aware of it, according to the FDA. It can cause liver injury and affect how other drugs are metabolized, causing serious side effects. Similarly, when used with alcohol or other central nervous system depressants, the increased risk of sedation and drowsiness can lead to injuries.
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“Non-pharmacological interventions have long-term, long-standing data that proves their safety and efficacy,” Conroy says. “I know CBD oil for the treatment of sleep disorders is intriguing, but we’re looking for answers we just don’t have yet. The products are outpacing the science.”
Setting yourself up for sleep
Melatonin for sleep , like CBD, needs more research to unmask its benefits and harms. “We secrete melatonin naturally as our bodies prepare for bed,” Conroy says. “I believe in harnessing what you already have.”
Until we have more answers about CBD, there’s a plethora of behavioral strategies that promote better sleep, including:
Allowing yourself time to wind down before bed in a dark setting without bright screens. If you need to look at a screen, make sure you use a brightness filter.
Having outlets for managing stress and anxiety, like journaling or seeking professional help with a therapist if it’s more serious.
Training your body to follow a regular sleep and wake cycle if you don’t already have a routine.
If you’re having trouble sleeping on a regular basis, you may have an underlying sleep disorder that a sleep specialist could help diagnose and manage.
If sleep problems persist, Conroy recommends seeking help from a sleep medicine specialist. “We might recommend undergoing a sleep study or offer other therapies to improve your quality of life,” Conroy says. “This also opens dialogue between you and a medical professional about what kind of treatment option you’re looking for, what your sleep goals are and what your expectations from a sleep aid are.”