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CBD and Sleep: Does CBD Help with Sleep?

By: SleepScore Labs  |  November 16th, 2020

What’s hot these days? Politics? Diet fads? Sure, but there’s something else that seems to be everywhere you look from online retailers to farmers’ markets to coffee shops.  It’s CBD! This newly proclaimed ‘miracle oil’, not to be confused with essential oils, dwells in the grey area between legal and illegal and is said to be used for everything from curing aches and pains to helping you feel drowsy before bed. We have answers you’ve been looking for, weeding out the facts from the fiction.

What is CBD? 

CBD is short for cannabidiol and is one of the hundreds of cannabinoid compounds naturally found in the cannabis plant. Another very well-known compound of cannabis is THC. While THC is psychoactive and can cause changes in behavior, perception, and mood, CBD does not produce these types of mind-altering effects but may provide various other benefits.

When did CBD come into the public conversation? 

In 1996, California passed Proposition 215 which legalized the use of medical marijuana. In the following years, seven more states legalized the use, which allowed researchers to begin examining CBD in the treatment of various ailments. However, stigma linked to the marijuana plant led to controversies and limited research. The early 2000s saw an uptick in people sharing their experiences with CBD, with many describing how it helped with relief from anxiety, depression, insomnia, arthritis, fibromyalgia, and other conditions. Today, interest in the potential benefits that CBD can provide continues to grow.

Does CBD Help with Sleep?

Some suggest that CBD can increase feelings of calm, help with muscle relaxation, decrease acute pain, and have anti-inflammatory effects – all of which may help with a better night’s sleep. In fact, a recent study found that CBD reduced symptoms of insomnia more effectively than THC. Dr. Roy Raymann, SleepScore Labs’ Chief Scientific Officer, explains, “Although the mechanism for sleep is not fully understood, CBD is claimed to help sleep by reducing anxiety and pain, two symptoms that can prevent you from getting a good night’s sleep. In general, techniques that help with calming and relaxation have been shown to be effective in improving sleep.”   

Is CBD used for anything else?

From skincare to chewable gummies and even dog treats, CBD is found in a wide range of products. Primary claims center on anxiety and pain relief, though the science to support such claims is limited. The most common uses include stress and anxiety reduction, menstrual cramp relief, general pain relief, and sometimes cancer symptom relief. 

Is CBD legal? If so, where? 

CBD derived from hemp has been federally legal since 2018 when hemp was removed from the Controlled Substances Act. However, CBD regulation varies by state in the US and depends largely on the amount of THC that might be combined with the CBD. Some states place restrictions on what types of products CBD can be used in (e.g., food, beverages) while others regulate the labeling on products containing CBD. In some states, CBD is illegal in all forms. As of the 2020 general election, marijuana is legal either medically, recreationally, or both in all but six US states, which may bring changes to CBD regulation as well. The best resource for knowing the legal status is a local authority.

Are there general guidelines or recommendations for safe CBD use for sleep? 

If you choose to use an oral CBD product to help with sleep, keep in mind that the dosage is not one-size-fits-all. Some evidence states that CBD works best when combined with THC, but the appropriate dosage to experience the full benefits varies from person to person. It is recommended to start with the lowest suggested dosage in order to get used to the product and its effects. CBD may be safe, but it is important to understand that little is known about how it interacts with different health conditions. The FDA does not regulate CBD and it is possible that a product is more or less potent than advertised and may also contain trace amounts of THC. When purchasing CBD products, it is a good idea to look for quality assurance stamps or certificates of analysis from third parties. Additionally, check the retailer’s website if none are found on the product. Avoid companies that make claims that the product can help cure diseases. Currently, the only FDA-approved medication is Epidiolex which was approved in 2018 and is used in the treatment of certain types of epilepsy.

You should always consult a physician or healthcare provider before trying any new medications or methods, including CBD, to deal with your sleep concerns. It’s worth noting that finding the right dosage amount of CBD is easier when using oils, lotions or drops bought from a store compared to eating or smoking parts of the cannabis plant.   

What’s next for CBD as a sleep aid?

More research is needed in order to fully understand the potential benefits and side effects of CBD.

“We don’t yet understand what the best doses are for CBD. Even though it may sound counterintuitive, it is possible that one dosage could be used to increase alertness and reduce daytime sleepiness, while another could have the more calming and relaxing qualities described earlier,” said Dr. Raymann. “And a specific ratio of CBD and THC might even prove to be more effective in the long run, we just do not know yet. More research is needed.”

There’s also still discussion around the different applications of CBD, and what is most effective. More research needs to be done around how CBD oil, lotions, drops, vapes, and even edibles impact the effects. Plus, the long-term effects of using CBD, or starting and stopping usage, still need to be investigated. 

Should I take CBD?  

This, of course, is entirely at your discretion. If you think that finding a new way to relax and calm down at the end of the day would help you find peace before bed at night, you might consider some exploration into the world of CBD or even a sleep aid device!


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