Can CBD Really Help You Sleep Better?
Things we often take for granted, such as ample amounts of sleep and rest, eating right, healthy, and on time, good hygiene and grooming, are often the main safeguards we have against potential sources of stress we face everyday. Not getting enough sleep will definitely leave you tired, listless, and not able to perform at peak performance. Not eating right will make you either constant hungry or sick, both of which are huge contributors to stress. Not engaging in any sort of hygienic practice and good grooming will leave you looking more of a wreck than you already are, and therefore even more stressed.
Nothing makes me more jealous than hearing people talk about sleep. I’ve struggled with sleep for as long as I can remember, and I’ve tried just about everything to get more of it: Regular exercise, meditation, solid sleep hygiene, melatonin and magnesium, to name a few.
Some of it has certainly helped, but only for certain periods of time when I didn’t have much on my mind. As soon as I found something to worry about, all hope was lost. That no-tech-before-bedtime rule plus a melatonin tablet didn’t get me anywhere fast.
Perplexed doctors eventually gave me a prescription for Klonopin, a medication many clinicians assign to patients for anxiety. While it helped me fall asleep, I spent the entire next day feeling like a slightly nauseous zombie. I felt equally as terrible as I did after a night of poor sleep, so I decided it wasn’t worth it.
That’s precisely why I was intrigued when I started hearing about CBD, or cannabidiol, a nonpsychoactive compound found in the cannabis or hemp plant that apparently helps with sleep and anxiety. I didn’t exactly get my hopes up ― after all, tons of natural remedies that worked for other people hadn’t worked for me ― but I figured it was worth a shot.
Putting CBD To The Test
CBD can be taken in a few ways. Oil is probably the most popular, but it can also be taken in capsule form, or even as a chocolate or gummy. After a week of taking CBD in oil form every night, it was clear I’d stumbled across something kind of remarkable. I often slept well the first few nights of trying something new before it stopped working its magic, which I partially attribute to the placebo effect. With CBD, however, the good nights of sleep kept on coming.
My racing thoughts seemed to come to a screeching halt within an hour of taking it, and when I got into bed I fell asleep as soon as my head hit the pillow. Even better, I woke up feeling refreshed and ready to take on the day. And this isn’t unusual: As Michael Breus, a clinical psychologist and board-certified sleep specialist, explained in a 2017 HuffPost article, there’s a good chunk of research to suggest that CBD can be beneficial for rest. Research shows CBD may increase overall sleep amounts and reduce insomnia. CBD has also been shown to improve sleep in people who suffer from chronic pain.
Gretchen Lidicker, author of CBD Oil: Everyday Secrets: A Lifestyle Guide To Hemp-Derived Health and Wellness, said that while studying CBD is extremely difficult because of the legal issues still surrounding cannabis and marijuana, there has been research that indicates CBD can be a helpful antidote to anxiety and insomnia.
“These studies mainly point to CBD’s ability to interact with … serotonin receptors and GABA receptors in the brain,” she explained. “Serotonin plays an important role in mood and anxiety, and GABA is known as the main ‘inhibitory’ neurotransmitter, meaning it calms excess activity in the brain and promotes relaxation. GABA receptors are the target of benzodiazepines, which are a class of anti-anxiety drugs.”
Lidicker noted that one study on humans, published in the journal Neuropsychopharmacology, showed that CBD was able to help with public speaking-induced anxiety. She also pointed to a clinical trial that started in August at a hospital in Massachusetts, in which researchers are administering 10 mg of CBD three times a day for a month to test its effects on patients with anxiety.
“Hopefully we’ll know more and more as clinical trials like this are conducted,” Lidicker said.
And how does CBD compare to other sleep supplements like melatonin? Lidicker explained that while she thinks melatonin is great, it has a different impact on the brain and body.
“CBD appears to help with sleep because of its anti-anxiety properties and ability to promote relaxation,” she said, noting that melatonin directly signals to the body that it’s evening and time to go to sleep by raising the naturally occurring levels of melatonin already in the body.
That explained why melatonin made me sleepy and helped with jet lag, but didn’t to help with the underlying anxiety that was causing my insomnia in the first place.
Can You Use Too Much CBD?
Everyone’s body is different, and Lidicker said that for some people, CBD might actually energize them.
“In that case, it could keep them up at night,” she said. “This interpersonal variation is a common theme with cannabis-derived therapies, because the way you react to cannabis is highly inpidualized.”
Lidicker added that people’s responses have a lot to do with how they personally process the product, and how cannabinoid receptors are distributed throughout the body. This is why it’s also difficult to standardize dosing recommendations for CBD. I was administering 0.5 ml of CBD oil under the tongue about half an hour before bed every night (that was the amount recommended on the bottle), but it’s worth noting that the concentration of cannabidiol may vary by product and that some people require more or less to feel the effects.
And what happens if you use it regularly? Lidicker said that while there’s still not enough published research available on CBD, there’s very little reason to believe people develop a resistance to CBD over time, which was my main fear.
That being said, it isn’t perfect: Some people do experience negative side effects like irritability, nausea, vomiting or diarrhea. Experts say that caution is key when it comes to using CBD until more definitive studies are able to be conducted.
So, is CBD the miracle sleep supplement it appears to be? There may not be enough scientific data yet to say for sure, and it obviously depends on the person. But I certainly hope so ― because I’m not willing to give up these blissful eight-hour nights and energy-filled days I’m experiencing anytime soon.
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I Tried 4 CBD Products for Sleep and Here’s What Happened
Once I'm asleep, I sleep like I'm dead-I can't be roused by vacuuming, hurricanes, or all three of my morning workout alarms. It's getting to sleep that's the problem. Talk to me all you want about too much blue light and screen time, but even on the nights when I read from a real book, I'm still tossing and turning for at least an hour before I eventually fade out.
My trouble falling asleep has never been a major problem. But when I recently learned that nearly 60 percent of people taking cannabidiol-better known as CBD, one of the over 80 compounds found in the marijuana plant-are doing it to help with sleep, I was intrigued. (That stat's according to a survey conducted by Brightfield Group and HelloMD, an online community that brings doctors and cannabis patients together.)
Though it's derived from marijuana, CBD doesn't contain any psychoactive elements like pot. "What CBD does is help balance our endocannabinoid system, the main job of which is to keep our body in homeostasis," says Aimée Gould Shunney, a licensed naturopathic doctor at Santa Cruz Integrative Medicine. In addition to affecting the receptors in our brain that impact our stress response, mood, inflammation, and pain, Shunney says, "it also prevents our major endocannabinoid, which is called anandamide, from being broken down-and when we have plenty of our own endocannabinoids circulating, not only are we not going to respond as much to a stress, but we're going to return to baseline faster, so it's like a recovery system." (Related: The Best Health and Wellness CBD Products)
That's why it's being increasingly used as a sleep aid, she says. "The major reason why most people don't sleep is because they're stressed out, they're anxious, they can't shut their brain off," she explains. "What CBD does is calm down your body's stress response and bring those cortisol and adrenaline levels back to baseline." Science is scant, but what studies we do have back that up: CBD may increase the amount of time you sleep, according to an animal study published in the Journal of Psychopharmacology, and improve insomnia, research in the journal Current Psychiatry Reports found.
It's also safe to take up to 1,500 milligrams of CBD, according to a study published in Neurotherapeutics, which means there's not much risk-and maybe a fair amount to gain-in dosing yourself before bed. So over the course of two weeks, I experimented with four different kinds of CBD to see how it would affect my sleep. I took each one at the same time each night and each type for three nights. Here's what went down:
1. Plus CBD Oil Drops
The first product I tried was Plus CBD Oil Drops ($42; pluscbdoil.com). One serving-about half a dropper-contains 5mg. "Taking drops has the benefit of sublingual absorption, which means you're going to feel it a little faster than a pill, maybe in 15 or 30 minutes," says Shunney. I did feel sleepy about 45 minutes after taking it (the last time I checked my phone) but I'm pretty sure I was still awake a while longer. I did sleep soundly, with some groggy effects when I woke up. The next two nights, I doubled my dosage (to 10mg) but I didn't fall asleep any faster.
2. Alchemist Kitchen Plant Alchemy Gel Caps
When I took the CBD in pill form-I tried Alchemist Kitchen's soon-to-be-released gel caps with 25mg of CBD and 1mg of melatonin-I definitely noticed the difference. "If you're swallowing a pill, I wouldn't expect you to feel all that much for 45 to 60 minutes," says Shunney. And right around 45 minutes, I felt my whole body downshift into a lower stress gear. It was actually so obvious that I stopped reading and thought, "Huh, I must be relaxed now!" I'm not sure if it was the extra milligrams of CBD, the addition of melatonin, or just a superior formula, but I felt like I drifted off to sleep slightly earlier than when I took the drops.
3. CBD Sleep Syrup
A syrup is also absorbed sublingually, and I took Shunney's advice of swishing CBD Living's Sleep Aid ($26; cbdlivingwater.com) around my mouth for a minute before swallowing to promote absorption. One tablespoon contains 15mg of CBD plus 2mg of melatonin, and the cherry flavor tasted like Nyquil, which I kind of liked. Again, I could feel the effects of the CBD working through my system after about 40 minutes or so, but I didn't think I actually fell completely asleep any early than the other nights. (Related: Will Melatonin Really Help You Sleep Better?)
4. CBD Sleepy Z’s Edibles
Greenish Route's CBD Sleepy Z's ($14; greenishroute.com) contained the most CBD at 30mg, plus 2mg of melatonin, and they came in gummy form, which I enjoyed because I'm 12 at heart. But I actually liked this product the least. I know they didn't contain actual marijuana, but it sure tasted like they did, and I hated having that lingering in my mouth (even after brushing my teeth). And it definitely didn't put me to sleep faster; on one night, I was tossing and turning until almost 1 a.m. Not ideal.
The Bottom Line
I was expecting CBD to work like a sleeping pill, in that it would put me to sleep almost instantly. It did not do that. And while it didn't seem to have any wild effects on how long it took me to get to sleep, the quality of my pre-sleep bedtime was way more relaxed than that of the week before, when I would lie awake thinking about deadlines, to-dos, and the way I really wish I had responded to that text. (Did I mention I'm Type A?)
"There's a certain level of individualized dosing with this ingredient, which makes it challenging," says Shunney. "And think about the dynamic balance our bodies have with how we're responding to stress all the time; it's going to vary from person to person." The reality is, it can take one person 15 minutes to feel the effects of CBD and another person 70 minutes. And it'll involve a fair amount of trial and error to figure out what dosage is right for you.
Maybe if I had stuck with one type of CBD for the whole two weeks, my body would have become more adjusted to it and I would have noticed more dramatic effects. While it was certainly relaxing (most nights), it wasn't a miracle sleep aid. If my struggle to fall asleep ever became a more serious problem, I'd probably head to a doctor to talk dosages and other options. But in the meantime, I'll be using it on those stress-y kind of nights that require a literal chill pill before bed.
How to Apply CBD Cream and Why You Should Use It
The CBD industry has shown a lot of growth in the last few years. Gone are the days when consumers could only purchase CBD oils with limited potencies. Nowadays, you can pick from a vast selection of capsules, vapes, and even CBD cream.
CBD topicals have become immensely popular, with some professional athletes and fitness enthusiasts advocating for their use. Many claim CBD has anti-inflammatory properties that are particularly useful for post-exercise recovery.
The skincare industry has also become intrigued by the cannabinoid. It’s now not unusual to find CBD creams marketed as anti-aging and antioxidant products. But just how useful is CBD in topical form?
In today’s article, we will explain what a CBD cream is, the potential benefits, and how to pick a product best suited to your lifestyle.
What Is CBD Cream?
A CBD cream is applied to the skin like any other topical product; the difference is that it contains a hemp extract. Hemp extracts are formulated through an extensive manufacturing process where important phytonutrients like cannabinoids (CBG, CBN) and terpenes are extracted from the hemp plant. However, CBD is the most prominent cannabinoid found in hemp-based products. This is primarily due to modern research, which suggests CBD has potential health benefits. Additionally, it is non-psychoactive.
When consumed orally, such as through a traditional tincture, CBD is absorbed through the blood vessels underneath the tongue. However, CBD topicals are applied directly to the skin, often in isolated areas that need attention.
In both circumstances, it’s thought that CBD can influence physiological functions throughout the whole body. Research indicates it does this by interacting with the endocannabinoid system (ECS), a biological system responsible for maintaining homeostasis.
There is still some debate within the science industry about just how impactful CBD is on general health. Let’s investigate this below.
Are There Benefits to Using CBD Cream?
Some scientific journals suggest that CBD has antioxidant, anti-inflammatory properties, as well as other benefits. Unsurprisingly, these claims have been welcomed by the fitness community, who are often on the lookout for effective post-workout products.
In fact, many brands sell CBD cream exclusively for pain relief. These creams usually contain either cooling or warming ingredients targeted towards athletes and those who regularly experience muscle soreness. Most often, you will see additional ingredients like menthol in cooling creams and capsicum in warming ones. These are designed to reduce swelling, combat discomfort, and in some cases, as a preventative for achy muscles.
One huge advantage of using CBD topical creams is convenience. Creams have a light consistency and can be easily rubbed into the skin. They are often more luxurious and moisturizing than salves, for example. Because of this, they are also a popular product within the beauty and skincare industries.
Typically beauty brands will add a myriad of additional ingredients to a skincare CBD cream, such as hydrating oils, beneficial acids, and vitamins. Consumers usually purchase CBD creams to tackle dry, inflamed, and tired skin. Many brands even claim these rich combinations of ingredients can tackle skin blemishes.
On top of these supposed benefits, most CBD topicals contain plenty of essential oils. These have the advantage of making the products smell nice, but they also provide benefits of their own. Lavender essence, for example, is one of the more popular essential oils in CBD topicals. It provides a pleasant, floral scent, and some believe it reduces the appearance of dry patches.
How to Use CBD Cream: Application and Strength
The first step to using a CBD cream is deciding what strength is appropriate for you. Many entry-level and skincare CBD creams begin at 200mg, while fitness-focused varieties may be much stronger.
Since CBD creams are localized, it’s easier to judge how much to use each time you apply. With creams, a little goes a long way. You can use just a small dollop of product – the same size as one you would use if it didn’t contain CBD. It’s always recommended to begin with less so you can judge what works best for your body.
Additionally, some users can be uncertain about where to use a CBD cream. However, many products focus on specific areas of the body; this can be seen in Premium Jane’s range of CBD creams.
- Rejuvenation Facial Cream (200mg)
- Facial Night Cream (300mg)
- Facial Day Cream (300mg)
The topical range also includes two salve products; a Eucalyptus CBD Topical (750mg) and a Cocoa Butter CBD Topical (1500mg). With more potent CBD topicals, dosage may be more precise. Premium CBD brands will always give detailed instructions and advice on how to best apply their product.
Consumers will also find a variety of different CBD cream application bottles to choose from. Whether you prefer a pump or squeeze bottle will come to personal preference and convenience.
How to Choose the Best CBD Cream
As with any CBD product, choosing the perfect one for you is a matter of personal choice. There are many options in the CBD topical market, so you may have to do some shopping around.
If you’re looking for a high-quality skincare product, always check the full ingredients list. For instance, skin-loving ingredients like collagen, cucumber extract, and caviar oil are integrated into Premium Jane’s CBD Day Cream.
As always, shop around for a reputable brand that shows off third-party lab reports detailing the contents of the product. Good brands will have positive reviews from customers too.