Taking CBD as a sleep aid is a great way to get a restful night’s sleep without the use of synthetic and dependency-forming drugs. Cannabidiol (CBD) is an all-natural, plant-based cannabinoid that works to reduce stress, relax the body, and encourage sleep.
But does CBD really work as a sleep aid? And what are the risks involved?
Thanks to a growing breadth of research, we know that CBD provides many benefits to the human body and comes with almost no side effects. But today, we’re going to focus on its effectiveness as a sleep aid.
Most all-natural sleep aids have a bad reputation and are at times laughably ineffective, so what makes CBD different?
In this article, we’ll explain how CBD works as an effective sleep aid, discuss the risks involved, compare it to other sleep aids on the market, and tell you the right way to take CBD to improve your sleep.
Let’s get started.
Taking CBD as a Sleep Aid: How it Works
CBD works to improve sleep in a number of ways because it binds to so many different receptors and proteins in the brain. We’ll explain how in just a minute, but first, here are the primary ways that CBD helps you sleep better:
Stress, anxiety, and sleep
If you ask most people what keeps them up at night, the answer is stress. Over 40 million Americans suffer from an anxiety disorder, and sleep disorders are a common co-occurrence among them.
And it makes sense. When we are unable to relax and let our stress go, our bodies can’t get the rest they need. Scientists have noticed a number of different effects that stress has on sleep patterns including frequently waking up during the night, lower sleep quality, increased drowsiness throughout the day, hormonal irregularities and more.
The general consensus is that stress and anxiety throw your sleep cycle out of whack.
CBD helps to bring your body back to a healthy sleep cycle by reducing anxiety and quieting those prying thoughts that pop into your head as you try to rest.
Now for the science: CBD does this by interacting with GABA receptors in the brain. GABA is a common neurotransmitter responsible for the inhibition of neuronal activity. When GABA isn’t doing its job, we can feel like our physical and mental processes are overwhelming us (GABA irregularities are associated with stress, anxiety, insomnia, epilepsy, stroke and more).
By interacting with GABA receptors, CBD has an effect very similar to anti-anxiety medication, albeit without the side effects or dependency issues. CBD quiets the stress and anxiety in your mind and brings them down to normal levels, allowing you to relax when it’s time to sleep.
A Slight Sedative Effect
The sedative effect of CBD is sometimes disputed, and it’s understandable as to why: CBD is also a stimulant and activates the same receptors as caffeine. If CBD is like caffeine, how is it going to help you sleep?
CBD is extremely versatile, and the dose you take can make all the difference. High doses of CBD are associated with a sedative feeling that’s even described as a relaxing “buzz.” This feeling of calm and contentment is perfect for those who want to sink into bed at night and doze off with ease.
CBD elicits this calming feeling by interacting with serotonin receptors responsible for mood (especially happiness) and sleep. By stimulating these receptors, CBD evokes a calm and blissful feeling that makes you want to curl up under the covers.
Only low doses of CBD (about 15mg) are associated with increased alertness.
Studies have shown that larger doses of CBD (160mg) helped subjects with insomnia decrease awakenings and increase total sleep time. Others who took 75mg-300mg of CBD daily for weeks at a time saw a reduction in symptoms of sleep disorders and anxiety.
CBD and the Endocannabinoid System
CBD is a cannabinoid (a compound of the cannabis plant). You might be surprised to know that our bodies have an entire system dedicated to processing these compounds. It’s called the endocannabinoid system, and it’s just as essential to our health as our muscular, circulatory, or nervous systems.
CBD binds with receptors in the endocannabinoid system and helps to regulate physiological processes such as mood, pain, appetite, hormone production, and sleep. Basically, CBD interacts with this system to keep your body running as it should, which includes a healthy body clock and sleep-wake cycle.
What Are the Risks of Taking CBD as a Sleep Aid?
While more studies need to be conducted on the effects of CBD, the evidence is quite conclusive that CBD is safe to take as a sleep aid. It is certainly a much better alternative to prescription and OTC sleep aids that can seriously damage your natural sleep-wake cycle, lead to addiction, and cause a plethora of side effects.
According to studies, CBD is safe to take as a sleep aid because:
CBD has helped countless Americans sleep better and ditch expensive medication that does more harm than good. Choosing a plant-based, all-natural treatment such as CBD is widely regarded as a healthier choice because it works with your body instead of trying to alter it using synthetic compounds created in a lab.
Nonetheless, there are some concerns that you should be aware of before taking CBD as a sleep aid:
The best way to understand the benefits and risks of CBD is to talk to your doctor. Whether you have or have not been diagnosed with a sleep disorder, always consult a physician before starting any form of treatment.
How Does CBD Measure Up?: A Comparison
We’re sure you’ve seen 100 different natural sleep aids claiming to be the best new cure for restless nights, and we’re sure you’ve been disappointed by most of them.
Sleep aids made with wheat grass, a bouquet of flowers, or a mix of vitamins might be safe and healthy, but they’ve never been able to stand up to the effectiveness of sleeping pills.
Alternatively, sleeping pills knock you out cold, but they come with a number of concerning risks.
CBD has become increasingly popular as a sleep aid because it’s as safe as a natural sleep aid and about as effective as a prescription sleeping pill. We found this difficult to believe at first, but plenty of research shows that it really is true. To show you just how effective and safe CBD is, we put our research on CBD as a sleep aid as well as other popular sleep supplements and medication into the table below.
Let’s take a look at how CBD measured up.
Type of Sleep Aid
Does it help you fall asleep?
Is it addictive?
What are the Side effects?
Yes (regular use will reduce natural melatonin production by the body)
Yes (but may take weeks to work)
Benzodiazepines (standard sleeping pills)
CBD isn’t perfect, but it’s far preferable to synthetic sleeping pills (it’s much safer and has a similar effect), and it’s much more effective than most other natural sleep aids (popular natural sleep aids just don’t have the same science to back up the claims of their effectiveness).
The only problem is that CBD, if taken in higher doses, can be a bit pricey. It certainly isn’t nearly as expensive as most prescription sleep aids, but it’s definitely more costly than a box of melatonin tablets.
Dropping a hundred dollars or more on CBD each month may be costly for some, but when compared to the costs of developing a sleeping pill addiction or dealing with a serious infection, it really is worth the price. Fortunately, the cost of CBD is expected to drop in the near future due to the legalization of industrial hemp.
How to Take CBD as a Sleep Aid
Once you’ve consulted your doctor and chosen a reputable CBD producer (like all of the brands we’ve researched and tested on our reviews page), you’re ready to try CBD.
But how much should you take? And when? And in what form?
To understand how you should take CBD to promote healthy sleep, consider the following questions:
Is My Insomnia Caused By a Sleep Disorder or Something Else?
If your insomnia is a residual effect of another disorder like pain or anxiety, you will not want to take CBD in the same way or at the same dosage as those suffering directly from a sleep disorder.
For example, if you’re losing sleep due to anxiety, taking a high dose of CBD might make you feel more anxious, especially if the CBD in question contains traces of THC (common in full-spectrum CBD blends).If something besides an identifiable sleep disorder is causing you to stay awake, seek treatment for that condition first. Remember that pain, depression, anxiety, gastrointestinal issues and more can all be treated with CBD as well.
What Kind of Sleep Disorder Do I Have?
If you have a sleep disorder, you need to understand the dosage for your particular condition.
If you can’t sleep at night, you’ll want to take CBD about 90 minutes before bed. If you can’t stay awake during the day, you’re best off taking CBD in the morning.
For better sleep at night, a larger dose is needed. We recommend taking CBD oil or CBD edibles with food about 90 minutes before bed. When ingesting CBD, it can take about 90 minutes to take effect, but it will affect your system for the whole night so you can get to sleep faster and stay asleep.
If you take CBD for daytime fatigue, take a smaller dose in the morning (capsule form is best), and use CBD oil throughout the day as needed to keep your natural energy levels up. By the evening, you’ll be ready for sleep and won’t find yourself sitting in front of the TV all night.
How Fast Do I Want Relief?
As we mentioned above, if you suffer from insomnia, it’s best to take your dose 90 minutes before bed. But, if you’re taking CBD for pain relief or to quell the jitters at night, you might want to take it in a way that has a more noticeable effect.
For instant relief, take an inhalable CBD product like CBD dabs or CBD flower, or try vaping CBD. Inhaling CBD is the fastest way to feel relaxed, calm, and ready for sleep.
The reason that inhaling CBD is not the preferred way to treat sleep disorders is that the effect doesn’t last long. Inhaled CBD will only stay in your system for about 30 minutes, so while you may fall asleep fast, it’s possible that those with genuine sleep disorders will wake up shortly thereafter.
Am I Having Trouble Sleeping Every Day?
If you have a sleep disorder, you probably have chronic sleep problems. If this is the case for you, you should make sure to take CBD every day to maximize the benefits.
The effect of CBD is cumulative, and this is especially true when taking CBD for improved sleep. Luckily, it’s easy to take CBD every day. We recommend taking a capsule each morning and in the evening 90 minutes before bed. After a few weeks of continued use, you should notice a big improvement.
Start Taking CBD as a Sleep Aid
If you’ve talked to your doctor, there’s really no reason not to try CBD as a sleep aid. It’s all-natural, safe, and reputable studies have shown it to be effective.
If you’re ready to join the thousands who are enjoying more restful and uninterrupted sleep every night (as well as less stress and fatigue during the day), we highly recommend CBD as a safe and effective option.