Words by Amy Highland
If you’re struggling to sleep, CBD could offer some relief. CBD, also known as cannabidiol, has found popularity as a treatment for pain, anxiety, insomnia, and more. But how exactly does it help? And does it live up to the hype?
Insomnia is a Serious Problem
A lack of sleep is something many adults just brush off and trudge through. But insomnia is practically an epidemic and can have serious implications for your physical and mental health.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, 1 in 3 adults aren’t getting enough sleep (at least seven hours per day). So you’re far from alone if you’re struggling to sleep. But insomnia can lead to chronic conditions including mental distress, obesity, diabetes, and heart disease, so you can’t just ignore it.
CBD Sleep Research
New research from Kaiser Permanente shows promise for CBD as a treatment for sleep. With a calming effect for the central nervous system, adults in the study who used CBD were able to alleviate anxiety and sleep during the first month of the study.
Why CBD is Helpful
CBD is helpful for sleep because it can alleviate conditions that complicate sleep. Namely, anxiety, stress, and pain. Calming your central nervous system can have a relaxing effect, helping you let go of stress and anxiety, and even calming painful inflammation from conditions such as arthritis or low back pain.
Using CBD may be helpful for improving sleep directly, even if you don’t suffer from anxiety, stress, or chronic pain. CBD is believed to interact with receptors in the body, including receptors that govern your body’s sleep and wake cycle.
CBD as an Alternative to Sleep Medication
Sleep medication can have interactions, may not be effective, and frequently comes with side effects. Additionally, you may be limited in how much you can use sleep medications, as they can be habit forming. But research suggests CBD comes with few side effects, such as fatigue, diarrhea, and changes in appetite. If you’re struggling to sleep and considering sleep medication, CBD could be a low risk alternative to try out first.
Tips for Using CBD as a Sleep Aid
With these tips, you can use CBD more effectively to support healthy sleep.
- Use CBD as a supplement to healthy sleep habits. CBD can be a tool for good sleep, but it shouldn’t be a crutch. Make sure you’re practicing good sleep habits, such as shutting down screen time at least an hour before bed, avoiding caffeine in the evening, and maintaining a regular sleep schedule and bedtime routine. An overall healthy lifestyle with physical activity and good diet can be helpful for sleep as well.
- Don’t overdo it. While a too small dose might not be effective, using CBD could prove to be too much of a commitment if you regularly take a large dose for sleep. Try a dose of about 25 to 30 mg and increase as needed.
- Plan your delivery method. Edibles and oils can offer sustained delivery of CBD that might help you stay asleep later into the night. But vaping could offer faster relief, even if it wears off more quickly. Consider your needs and whether you need help falling asleep, or staying asleep, when choosing which way to consume CBD as a sleep aid.
- Only use CBD when you need it. CBD isn’t a recreational drug and doesn’t offer the psychoactive effects of THC. Though it’s low risk, it’s possible to do too much. Though you might not worry much about overdosing on CBD, you should be concerned about lowering its effectiveness over time. The Kaiser Permanente study suggests that CBD’s effectiveness as a sleep aid could drop off after about a month of regular use. So using it only when needed could ensure that it delivers consistently.
CBD can be a good choice for sleep, particularly if you struggle with anxiety, stress, or pain at night. Use it carefully to improve your sleep and feel more rested each day.
Amy Highland is a sleep expert at SleepHelp.org. She loves taking naps during thunderstorms and cuddling up with a blanket, book, and cats.