Dealing with a sleepless night can be a frustrating experience. From affecting your energy levels and mood the next day to preventing you from reaching your full potential, going without sleep — even if it’s only for one night — can take a real toll on your health and wellbeing.
According to John Hopkins Medicine, lack of sleep due to insomnia is linked to an increased risk of depression, anxiety and forgetfulness. Failing to get sufficient sleep even has the potential to increase your risk of developing neurodegenerative diseases such as dementia.
Luckily, there are a range of options available for preventing insomnia and improving your sleep quality.
Over the last few years, CBD oil has emerged as an increasingly popular natural treatment for insomnia. Although studies are still in their early stages, there are promising signs that CBD is an effective treatment for improving and enhancing your sleep.
Below, we’ve looked at the science behind CBD’s potential benefits as a sleep aid and natural insomnia treatment. We’ve also explained how you can use CBD to improve your sleep if you currently find it difficult to fall asleep, stay asleep or sleep deeply enough for optimal health.
Why Does Insomnia Happen?
A further 19% only sleep for six to seven hours — less than the seven to nine hours every night recommended by the National Sleep Foundation.
Although most people associate the term “insomnia” with an entire night spent awake, struggling to fall asleep, the reality is that insomnia can range from mild to severe. Signs of insomnia could include:
- Struggling to fall asleep for several hours after you get into bed
- Waking up in the middle of the night, then finding it hard to get back to sleep
- Frequently waking up during the night for short periods of time
- Relying on supplements or medication to fall and stay asleep
- Waking up early (for example, before sunrise) and struggling to sleep again
- Difficulty focusing and working productively due to poor quality sleep
Stress and Psychiatric Disorders
Insomnia can occur for a variety of reasons. The most common is stress. If you’re feeling overly stressed due to your work, your personal life or anything else that’s currently affecting you, there is a real risk that it could affect your ability to sleep properly.
Other potential causes of insomnia include anxiety and depression. Often, insomnia that stems from these conditions can compound their effects, creating a cycle in which your depression or anxiety symptoms become more severe, further affecting your sleep quality.
Physical Health Conditions
Certain aspects of your physical health can also affect your ability to fall asleep. If you have a medical condition such as chronic pain, difficulty breathing, heartburn or anything that affects your level of comfort in bed, it could also affect your ability to sleep properly.
Certain cardiovascular conditions can also affect your ability to sleep, or cause you to wake up frequently during the night.
Habits, Diet and Lifestyle Factors
It’s common for your habits to affect your ability to fall asleep. For example, if you drink a lot of caffeinated beverages such as coffee or energy drinks during the afternoon and evening, these could prevent you from falling asleep later in the night.
Other habits that can affect your sleep quality include drinking too much alcohol, napping during the day, eating large quantities of food shortly before you go to sleep, neglecting to exercise and exposing yourself to sources of bright light in the evening and night.
If you currently use prescription medications, there’s a risk that they could negatively affect your sleep quality. For example, many commonly prescribed thyroid medications, ADHD medications, thyroid medications and pain relievers can affect your body’s natural sleep cycle.
Certain supplements, such as herbal weight loss capsules and pre-workout stimulants, can also affect your sleep cycle and make falling asleep more difficult than normal.
How CBD May Help to Improve Sleep
Most of the time, doctors prescribe medications like benzodiazepines and benzodiazepine-like “Z-drugs” to treat insomnia. You might have heard of these drugs under brand names such as Valium (diazepam), Ambien (zolpidem) and zopiclone.
These drugs are extremely widely used in the UK. According to a 2012 article in The Guardian, more than 15 million prescriptions were written for sleeping pills in 2011. The author noted that sleeping pills were, to a certain extent, Britain’s “hidden addiction.”
Not only are many widely-used sleeping pills potentially addictive — they also have the potential to be harmful. Drugs like Valium are linked to side effects such as dependence, with people who use them often experiencing dangerous withdrawal symptoms when they attempt to stop.
They’re also relatively poor as treatments for insomnia, with treatments like Valium often helping people to fall asleep, yet preventing them from experiencing the REM sleep that’s important for optimal recovery and cognitive function.
Because of this, a growing number of people with sleep disorders are instead turning to natural treatments for their insomnia. Enter CBD.
Like many other potential benefits of CBD, research into CBD’s effects on sleep conditions such as insomnia is still in its early stages. However, the existing data suggests that CBD could be an extremely helpful, safe treatment for preventing insomnia and improving sleep quality.
For example, a 2014 study into cannabidiol (CBD) found that it reduces the frequency of events related to RBD, or REM sleep behaviour disorder, in patients with Parkinson’s disease. The four people given CBD during the study all showed measurable, substantial improvements.
The researchers further described CBD’s effects and concluded that CBD is “able to control the symptoms of RBD.”
A review from 2017 had similar findings. The researchers noted that preliminary research into CBD “may have therapeutic potential for the treatment of insomnia” and that it may treat REM sleep behavior disorder and excessive daytime sleepiness.
Like many other scientific reviews of CBD, the researchers stated that the current data on the effects of cannabidiol and sleep is “in its infancy” and that additional research is required.
In short, while the research into CBD and sleep isn’t yet conclusive, it does show positive signs that CBD could be helpful for preventing insomnia and improving sleep quality in people prone to sleep disorders.
How to Use CBD for Sleep
CBD is available in a variety of forms, making it easy to use before bed to help you fall and stay asleep. However, there are a few things to be aware of if you want to use CBD for better sleep, but have never used it before.
First, not everyone has the same tolerance to CBD. This means that a mild dose of CBD for one person could be a significant dose for another. When you’re just starting with CBD, you’ll get the best results by choosing a relatively mild dose.
Second, CBD comes in a variety of forms. Depending on the product you buy, your CBD could be isolate, broad spectrum or full spectrum. We’ve covered the key differences between these forms of CBD here.
Using CBD for sleep is a simple process. We’ve explained the basics below for the most widely used forms of CBD, from sublingual CBD tinctures to vape oils (e-liquids), edibles, capsules and more.
CBD tinctures are designed for sublingual (under the tongue) use. CBD in this form takes about 20 minutes to start working, meaning you should use it about half an hour before you go to bed in order to improve your sleep.
We stock a diverse range of CBD tinctures. If you’re using CBD for the first time, it’s best to start by using the lowest dose recommended on your product’s packaging.
CBD Vape Oil (CBD E-Liquid)
CBD vape oil, or e-liquid, is designed for use with a vaporiser. Inhaling CBD as vapour allows it to enter your bloodstream and take effect relatively quickly. If you prefer to vape your CBD, you can do so about five to 10 minutes before you go to bed for optimal effects.
You can find a range of CBD e-liquids in our shop. Just like with CBD tinctures, make sure you follow the instructions provided on the product’s packaging.
CBD capsules allow you to consume CBD like you would a capsule-based supplement, making the process more convenient.
This form of CBD needs to pass through your digestive system and liver before it makes its way into your bloodstream. For optimal results, it’s best to use CBD capsules about one hour before you plan to go to sleep.
We stock CBD capsules in our shop. As always, make sure you follow the instructions provided with the capsules for the best results.
CBD can also be applied topically using CBD moisturisers, body salves and serums. This form of CBD is absorbed dermally (through the skin). Since this method of ingesting CBD isn’t very efficient, it’s best to apply any topical CBD products at least one hour before you sleep.
You can view our range of topical CBD products here. As with any other form of CBD, follow the instructions provided on the product’s packaging for optimal results.