The research is sparse, experts say, but there are some hints about how it could soothe you to sleep. Roughly 20% of Americans suffer from disrupted sleep on a regular basis. Discover how CBD can help and learn how to find the best CBD oil for sleep. Many people claim CBD improves their sleep and reduces anxiety. Learn what CBD is, how CBD might help you, and what research needs to be done on CBD.
Does CBD Help With Insomnia?
The research is sparse, experts say, but there are some hints about how it could soothe you to sleep.
Credit. Eric Helgas for The New York Times
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- Aug. 30, 2022
Q. Does CBD alleviate insomnia?
If you’re like many adults around the world who have found themselves tossing and turning during the pandemic, you may have been tempted to try a sleep aid, like CBD, to get a better night’s rest. Unlike the cannabis plant’s other famous — and psychoactive — compound THC, CBD does not get users high and is touted for relieving a range of conditions, including pain, anxiety and, yes, sleep problems.
While it’s not entirely clear how CBD works in the body, it’s thought to reduce inflammation, which may help alleviate pain, and it can calm the central nervous system, which may ease anxiety, said Mitch Earleywine, a professor of psychology at the University at Albany in New York, and an advisory board member of the nonprofit National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws.
(CBD’s calming effects have also been shown to treat certain types of seizures; an anti-epileptic medication called Epidiolex is the first and only CBD prescription approved by the Food and Drug Administration.)
What do we know about CBD’s effect on sleep?
When it comes to CBD helping with sleep, though, the research is sparse. “To this day, there’s no study that has used CBD on its own in any trial of insomnia,” said Anastasia Suraev, a doctoral candidate and research fellow at the Lambert Initiative for Cannabinoid Therapeutics at the University of Sydney. There are studies that have found that CBD used in combination with THC holds promise as a treatment for sleep disorders like insomnia, sleep apnea, restless legs syndrome and nightmares related to post-traumatic stress disorder. But there are no large placebo-controlled clinical trials (the gold standard for scientific research) that have investigated how CBD alone might help with sleep problems.
Ms. Suraev, along with the other experts we spoke to, noted that CBD itself does not have sedating effects. While some studies on CBD for seizures found that a side effect of the treatment was drowsiness, that may have been because of “CBD interacting with other medications” like anti-epileptic drugs, Ms. Suraev said.
Still, CBD may indirectly help you sleep by alleviating other conditions, said Ryan Vandrey, professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and principal investigator at the university’s Cannabis Science Laboratory. For example, he said, if pain is keeping you awake at night and CBD helps lessen your discomfort, you may be able to sleep better. Similarly, if you can’t sleep because you’re anxious, he added, “CBD may reduce anxiety,” which in turn may promote sleep.
In one case series, researchers looked back at the medical charts of 72 people with anxiety or sleep problems who were treated in the same clinic with 25 to 175 milligrams of CBD per day for three months. Based on the patients’ self-reports at follow-up appointments, the researchers found that CBD was most helpful for anxiety, not sleep. But “ultimately, even if they weren’t sleeping better, they were less anxious about it and felt maybe more rested,” said Dr. Scott Shannon, a psychiatrist in Fort Collins, Colo., who led the study.
Dr. Vandrey cautioned that the available studies, like this one, are limited and there isn’t enough data to determine what dose to take, what form to choose or what brands to purchase for anxiety or any other condition. Epidiolex is the only CBD product regulated by the F.D.A., so there is a lot of variety (including a range in formulations, purity and labeling practices) in products like oils, gummies, creams, patches and vape pens. “There’s state-level regulation, but it’s different from one state to the next,” Dr. Vandrey said. “And none of those states have the right infrastructure, resources or level of enforcement that the F.D.A. does.”
In a study published in 2017 in JAMA, for example, Dr. Vandrey and his colleagues analyzed the contents of 84 different CBD products purchased from 31 companies online — including oils, tinctures and vape liquids — to see if their labels were accurate. They found that just 26 of the products were accurately labeled in terms of their CBD content — 36 products had more CBD than advertised, and 22 had less. They also found that 18 of the products contained undisclosed THC, in some cases at high enough doses to cause intoxication.
“So you can order CBD oil, but CBD oil is not CBD oil is not CBD oil,” Dr. Vandrey said.
How to take CBD safely
Despite the lack of clarity, the experts we spoke to said that it’s not unreasonable to try CBD if you’re having trouble sleeping. But keep these tips in mind.
Discuss it with your doctor first. “CBD as a chemical entity is a very safe molecule with very low toxicity,” Dr. Vandrey said. But it can interact with some medications, like warfarin (a blood thinner), tamoxifen (a breast cancer medication), some anti-seizure medications and certain antidepressants, so make sure your doctor is aware of the drugs and supplements you’re currently taking.
Make sure the brand is credible. The best way to find a high-quality CBD product is to buy it from a state-regulated cannabis dispensary, Dr. Vandrey said. “If you can’t do that,” he added, “look for national brands that have a good reputation.” Credible brands should have websites that offer a certificate of analysis for each individual product batch. This document — which can be found on the company’s home page under “F.A.Q.,” “Questions,” “Lab Results” or simply “Certificate of Analysis” — shows that their product was tested by an independent laboratory for its levels of CBD, THC and other cannabis compounds, as well as for possible contaminants like pesticides or heavy metals. If you can’t easily find a certificate of analysis on the website, choose another brand. Some companies may also indicate that they use good manufacturing practices (G.M.P.), meaning their products have been manufactured in ways that are in line with F.D.A. standards.
Start with a low dose and increase slowly. Because there is no consensus on how many milligrams of CBD a person should take, or in what form (except for with Epidiolex), the experts we spoke to suggested that you start with a low dose to make sure you tolerate it well. Then, gradually increase the amount you take until you begin to feel an effect. While many of the clinical studies on CBD involve doses of 200 to 800 milligrams daily, Dr. Shannon recommended starting closer to 15 to 20 milligrams each day, and using trial and error to figure out what works for you.
Don’t forget about good sleep hygiene. Dr. Earleywine said that if you’re finding that your sleep is improved with low doses of CBD, that may actually be a result of the placebo effect, not the CBD itself. Though that’s not necessarily a bad thing, you might find it just as effective — and less expensive — to tackle your insomnia with behavioral modifications, like reducing your caffeine intake and avoiding screens too close to bedtime.
Top 10 Best CBD Oil Products for Sleep Aid & Insomnia (2022 Update)
Sleep-related problems affect 50 to 70 million Americans every year, according to the National Sleep Foundation. That means roughly one in every five Americans suffers sleeping issues each year.
This is a concerning metric when you consider just how vital sleep is for our health. Insufficient sleep can affect everything from cognitive function to cardiovascular health.
Getting deep and restful sleep is difficult to achieve when we’re stressed, have small children or infants, or are anticipating an important meeting or presentation the following day.
When my first child was born, I was looking for help sleeping anywhere I could look. I ended up relying on OTC meds for a while. I soon realized I didn’t want to be that kind of parent whose daily performance depended on potentially dangerous medications. I just wanted to remain clear-headed throughout the day and get rid of that free-floating anxiety keeping me awake at night.
And then I discovered CBD oil.
Don’t get me wrong, CBD oil isn’t some kind of a magic pill that will turn you on and off on demand. Instead, it’s a very versatile tool that can help you regulate your sleeping patterns and put you in the right frame of mind to help you fall asleep naturally.
In this article, we’ll discuss why CBD is so popular for helping people get a good night’s rest, how to use CBD oil effectively, and provide a list of the best CBD oils for sleep.
Best CBD Oil For Sleep — Top 10 Brands Reviewed in 2022
CBD oil needs some time to take effect. Supplementation with CBD should be considered a long-term investment in your health rather than a miracle short-term cure for all your problems.
I’ve tried a ton of different CBD oils out there in search of something that could help with my anxiety and sleeping issues. Here’s a collection of the CBD oil brands I’ve found to offer the best support when it comes to sleeping issues.
1. Royal CBD (Most Potent for Sleep)
Get 15% off all Royal CBD products. Use code “CFAH” at checkout.
|Total CBD Content||250 – 2500 mg|
|Available Flavors||Natural, Peppermint, Vanilla, Berry|
|Potency||8.3 – 83.3 mg/mL|
What I Like About Royal CBD:
Most of the time, I approach new CBD brands with a lot of skepticism. Not because I don’t believe in them — it’s because I’ve seen way too many CBD companies fail to deliver on their promises.
Royal CBD is one of the few companies that practice what they preach. They claim to use high-grade ingredients and ordering a bottle to test I wasn’t let down. Everything feels quality with this company. The hemp oil tastes fresh and clean, and the MCT oil contains absolutely zero impurities.
The brand even provides up-to-date third-party lab tests publicly on its website. This is a big step in the right direction for Royal CBD because it proves the company believes in what they sell and want to offer as much transparency to its customers as possible.
Royal CBD was launched in 2018, selling only two types of products: full-spectrum CBD oil and Zero-THC CBD Gummies (read our gummies buying guide for more information). Only later in 2019 did the company begin branching out to sell CBD-infused topical creams.
Royal CBD continues to grow and release new products every few months such as CBD capsules that help fight insomnia. I’ve tested all of them and have yet to be disappointed.
CBD oil from Royal is sourced from Colorado-grown organic hemp, which already speaks to the quality of these oils. Colorado is well-known for producing some of the best hemp in North America.
The guys at Royal CBD make their hemp extract using supercritical CO2 extraction, which results in a pure and potent product free from any residual solvents. Conventional extraction uses either butane or hexane — which can leave small amounts of these toxic solvents in the final product. Using CO2 eliminates this possibility by using CO2 instead — which simply evaporates into the air as soon as the pressure is released.
Don’t take my word for it, just go to their website and open the lab analysis of their full-spectrum CBD oils.
Once extracted from the hemp plant, the team at Royal CBD dissolves the extract into premium-grade MCT (medium-chain triglyceride) oil. This helps with absorption in the gut and makes it much easier to measure doses of CBD.
- Sourced from organic hemp
- Extracted with supercritical CO2
- Contained in premium MCT oil
- Full-spectrum (you get the entourage effect)
- Up to 500 mg of CBD per bottle (16.6 mg/mL)
- Higher in CBN than the competition
- Lab-tested for potency and purity
- Good price/quality ratio
- Only two potencies available
- No flavored options
2. Gold Bee – Best Organic Formula
|Total CBD Content||1200 mg|
|Available Flavors||Natural, Kiwi-Honey|
What I Like About Gold Bee:
Try as you might, but you won’t find a better organic formula out there. The only reason why Gold Bee scores second place here is the lack of high-strength CBD oils in their collection. Other than that, this is a creme de la creme of CBD extracts.
This California-based company was established in late 2019 by a group of health-conscious superfood producers. The guys at Gold Bee have taken their experience from the superfoods industry and carried it over to the hemp market in order to raise the quality standards among competitors.
Gold Bee makes full-spectrum CBD, so you’re getting the synergy from all active ingredients in hemp. The cannabinoids, terpenes, and flavonoids allow the body to process CBD more efficiently so that lower doses can remain effective — the primary reason why Gold Bee has yet to release a high-strength version of its oils.
The CBD extract is suspended in hemp seed oil for higher bioavailability. Unlike competitor brands, Gold Bee doesn’t use artificial flavorings and sweeteners in its flavored CBD oils. Instead, the company uses its organic honey as a sweetener, which is another advantage in its favor. If you use 40 mg CBD or less (daily), Gold Bee’s products are very affordable in the long run, especially when you consider the quality of their ingredients.
I use half a dropper before bed to boost my sleep length and quality (the oil does a great job here), and a quarter after I wake up to improve my energy, sharpen my focus, and reduce anxiety throughout the day.
The Gold Bee CBD oil, as well as its capsules and CBD-infused honey sticks, are rigorously tested in a third-party laboratory for its CBD content and purity. If you don’t feel satisfied with the company’s product, you can use its 30-day money-back guarantee to get a full refund for returning the product.
- Premium Colorado-grown hemp
- CO2 extraction
- Contains full-spectrum CBD
- Delicious kiwi flavor
- Sweetened with organic honey
- Lab-tested for potency and purity
- Only one flavored option available
- No high-strength oils (yet)
|Total CBD Content||100 – 600 mg|
|Potency||1.6 – 10 mg/mL|
What I Like About CBDPure Oil:
CBDPure is one of the more reputable companies I’ve come across. They describe each stage of production for their CBD oil and provide extensive third-party testing on each batch to remain transparent about the quality and potency of the oil.
CBDPure CBD oil is sourced from domestically grown hemp and extracted with supercritical carbon dioxide for the highest purity possible without any chances of contaminating the final product with butane or other harmful chemical solvents.
These are full-spectrum extracts, so you need less CBD to get the desired results than you would with CBD isolate. This feature makes up for the low potency of CBDPure products. However, if you need something a little stronger, we recommend you go with Royal CBD oil instead.
Nevertheless, if you’re still unsatisfied with the effects, CBDPure offers a 100% Satisfaction Guarantee program, which gives you a full refund if you return the order within 90 days after purchase.
- Sourced from Colorado-grown organic hemp
- Extracted with supercritical CO2
- Tested for potency and purity in 3rd-party laboratories
- You have 90 days to return the product for a full refund if you’re not satisfied with it
- Only oil drops and soft gel capsules available
- Low potency
- They don’t ship to Indiana, Louisiana, Arkansas, and Kansas
4. Hemp Bombs
|Total CBD Content||300 – 4000 mg|
|Available Flavors||Unflavored, Acai Berry, Orange Creamsicle, Peppermint, Watermelon|
|Potency||10 – 133.3 mg/mL|
What I Like About HempBombs:
HempBombs is my absolute number one when it comes to CBD isolates. This American company specializes in making 99% pure CBD extracts. You can buy their products as regular tinctures, vape oils, capsules, and gummies.
HempBombs CBD oil is sold in five different potency options, from 300 mg to 4000 mg of CBD per bottle.
The hemp used to make this CBD oil has been sourced from certified organic farms in Europe and extracted with CO2 for maximum purity. This oil also contains zero THC, which makes it a great alternative for people who want to avoid even trace amounts of psychoactive THC.
The isolate will give you the highest dose per serving, which is better for sleep support as higher doses of CBD tend to offer the best sleep support.
With that said, experts generally agree full-spectrum extracts offer a stronger effect profile due to the complex synergy between the many cannabinoids and terpenes produced in the hemp plant. If you’re okay taking trace amounts of THC and other cannabinoids with your oil (non-psychoactive), I recommend you go for a full-spectrum option instead. My favorite full-spectrum option is the Royal CBD oil discussed in point number one.
- Sourced from 100% certified organic hemp from European farmers
- Extracted with CO2
- Contains zero THC
- Lab-tested for purity and potency
- 5 potency options available
- Carries up to 4000 mg of CBD per bottle
- Less expensive than full-spectrum CBD oil
- No entourage effect from other cannabinoids and terpenes
- Hemp Bombs uses synthetic flavoring for its CBD oils
|Total CBD Content||250 – 5000 mg|
|Potency||8.3 – 166 mg/mL|
What I Like About CBDistillery:
CBDistillery is one of the veterans in the industry — having been around for a few years before the CBD industry began to explode in popularity.
Despite being one of the trailblazers in the industry, CBDistillery hasn’t settled. The company continues to innovate the industry with new products, marketing techniques, and customer service improvements. They offer some of the most reliable CBD products on the market.
CBDistillery sells both “full-spectrum” and “THC-free.” oils. This gives customers the option to choose either a full-spectrum product or broad-spectrum extract that can guarantee 0% THC.
There are five different potencies to choose from, starting at 250 mg and increasing in intervals all the way up to 5000 mg of CBD per bottle. The highest potency options deliver the best value for your money and provide enough CBD to last a few months.
CBDistillery is a good brand to consider for mothers who don’t want to spend a fortune on high-quality CBD. Their 250 mg CBD oil costs just $20 — making it super easy for anybody to try CBD without breaking the bank.
- Sourced from non-GMO, pesticide-free hemp plants
- Available as THC-free or full-spectrum hemp oil
- Third-party lab tested
- 5 different potency options to choose from
- Contains up to 66.6 mg of CBD per ml of oil (in the 1000 mg bottle)
- Not certified organic
- No additional flavor options
6. NuLeaf Naturals
|Total CBD Content||240 – 4850 mg|
What I Like About NuLeaf Naturals:
NuLeaf Naturals has been providing consumers with CBD oil for over 5 years now. The company only sells two products — which are actually the exact same oil. There’s a version for humans, and one for pets.
At first, it seems this company offers a whole range of different potencies for this product, but the reality is that these oils are all the same potency of 48 mg/mL — they just come in different bottle sizes.
While the selection of CBD oil sizes and product types is slim, the company is best known for producing a reliable, high-quality products. Every time you order, you can rest assured the product you receive will be at the highest level of quality possible. Nuleaf has a large following of users who swear by this brand.
All Nuleaf Naturals products are sourced from domestically-grown hemp and extracted with a combination of subcritical and supercritical CO2. NuLeaf Naturals CBD oil has been carefully filtered to remove any plant matter — hence its beautiful amber-gold color.
There are five different volumes to choose from:
- 5 mL — 240 mg of CBD per bottle
- 15 mL — 725 mg of CBD per bottle
- 30 mL — 1450 mg of CBD per bottle
- 50 mL — 2425 mg of CBD per bottle
- 100 mL — 4850 mg of CBD per bottle
Every bottle of Nuleaf Naturals CBD oil delivers 48 mg/mL of CBD — which works out to around 1.6 milligrams of CBD per drop. This is a relatively high potency compared to a lot of the other CBD oils on the market. For most people, a higher dose of CBD is necessary to achieve optimal benefits in regard to falling asleep.
- Sourced from 100% organic hemp grown in Colorado
- Extracted with a mix of subcritical and supercritical CO2
- Tested in laboratories for potency and over 200 common chemicals
- More expensive than the competition
- Small product range
7. Charlotte’s Web
|Total CBD Content||200 – 1800 mg|
|Available Flavors||Mint Chocolate, Lemon Twist, Orange Blossom, Olive Oil|
|Potency||7 – 60 mg/mL|
About Charlotte’s Web:
Charlotte’s Web is one of the most well-known names in the CBD space. Established by the Stanley Brothers, the company has coined the reputation of a trustworthy manufacturer when they helped now late Charlotte Figi with her intractable epilepsy, naming their signature hemp strain after the girl. Although Charlotte’s Web has recently received a warning letter from the FDA due to its health claims and inconsistencies in CBD levels between different products, the brand still holds the title of one of the best companies on the market.
Charlotte’s Web CBD oil comes in 4 strengths: 200 mg, 500 mg, 1500 mg, and 1800 mg of CBD per bottle. The highest potency offers 60 mg of full-spectrum CBD in every milliliter, leveraging the whole-plant synergy. You can buy these oils in either 30 mL or 100 mL bottles; they are available in four flavor versions, including Mint Chocolate, Lemon Twist, Orange Blossom, and Olive Oil.
Much as I appreciate the company’s contribution to the cannabis community, I believe that the guys at Charlotte’s Web could use a better extraction method. They currently utilize ethanol instead of CO2, which isn’t the best method for the broad-scale production of CBD extracts. Not to mention the suspension in olive oil, which makes these oils taste a bit bitter — even in the flavored versions.
- One of the most reputable brands on the market
- Full-spectrum CBD
- Deliciously flavored versions
- Up to 1800 mg of CBD per bottle
- Available in two sizes: 30 mL and 100 mL
- Third-party tested for potency and purity
- Non-organic hemp
- Ethanol extraction
- Suspension in olive oil (bitter taste)
- The company received a warning letter from the FDA in the past due to inappropriate health claims
|Total CBD Content||300 – 7500 mg|
|Available Flavors||Natural, Berry, Orange, Mint|
|Potency||10 – 250 mg/mL|
CbdMD is another reputable manufacturer that offers a range of CBD products, including tinctures, gummies, capsules, sleep aids, topicals, bath bombs, and pet products.
The company’s CBD oils are available in a broad range of concentrations, from 300 mg to a whopping 7500 mg of CBD per bottle. The strongest version delivers 200 mg of CBD in every milliliter, making this product a very affordable option if you want to stock up for months to come.
The CBD extract has been infused into MCT oil for better absorption. You can choose from three flavored options: Orange, Mint, and Berry.
However, these products are based on broad-spectrum CBD, which means there are no traces of THC in them. As a result, you’re not getting the full entourage effect. The therapeutic effects of CBD aren’t linear on the dose-response curve, so the more isn’t necessarily the merrier in this case.
Transparency-wise, CbdMD has high standards, providing batch-specific certificates of analysis for all its products, including the results for pesticides, heavy metals, solvents, and microbial contaminants.
- US-grown, non-GMO hemp
- CO2 extraction
- Up to 7500 mg of CBD per bottle
- Batch-specific certificates of analysis
- Limited entourage effect due to the lack of THC
- Most people don’t need such high doses of CBD in their routine
|Total CBD Content||500 – 3000 mg|
|Available Flavors||Natural, Citrus, Mint Chocolate|
|Potency||16 – 100 mg/mL|
Medterra was founded in California as a small artisan company. It didn’t take long for the founders to grow the brand to a decent size and achieve a reputation of a solid manufacturer. Medterra specializes in premium CBD oils, which they sell in all cannabinoid spectra — including full-spectrum CBD, broad-spectrum CBD, and CBD isolates. These products contain between 500 and 3000 mg of CBD per bottle, which is a standard range for CBD companies. On top of the unflavored CBD oil, you can choose from two flavored variants: Citrus and Chocolate.
Medterra claims to offer real full-spectrum CBD oils, with 2 mg of THC in each bottle. However, if you want to order these products, you need to live in one of the 17 states that have legalized cannabis for recreational use. If you want a federally legal product, your options are limited to broad-spectrum CBD and isolate.
All Medterra’s products are third-party tested for their CBD content and safety.
Medterra is a small artisan brand rooted in California. The company specializes in premium CBD oils in various cannabinoid spectra, including full-spectrum CBD, broad-spectrum CBD, and CBD isolate. These products contain from 500 mg to 3000 mg of CBD per bottle, which is a regular range for CBD companies. Aside from the unflavored version, you can choose from two flavored options: Citrus and Chocolate.
- Premium-grade CBD oils
- Up to 3000 mg of CBD per bottle
- Available as full-spectrum CBD, broad-spectrum CBD, and isolates
- Lab-tested for potency and purity
- The “real” full-spectrum CBD oil isn’t available in all states
- Some of the lab reports indicate higher CBD levels than stated on the bottle
- No discounts for returning customers
10. Joy Organics
|Total CBD Content||450 – 900 mg|
|Available Flavors||Tranquil Mint, Fresh Lime, Summer Lemon|
|Potency||15 – 30 mg/mL|
About Joy Organics:
Joy Organics was founded by a woman named Joy Smith, who has been taking CBD oil for her problems with pain and sleep. After experiencing the benefits of CBD first-hand, she has decided to share her passion for hemp extracts with people seeking natural and safe alternatives to conventional treatments.
Joy Organics offers a range of broad-spectrum CBD oils from certified organic hemp. The company has a lot of positive reviews on the third-party websites; they also haven’t received any warning letter from the FDA, unlike some of the other brands in our ranking. These are low-strength products, containing 450 mg or 900 mg of CBD per bottle. The stronger option provides 30 mg of CBD per milliliter, which is the standard dosage for many daily users who take CBD to support their endocannabinoid system.
These are one of the best-tasting CBD oils I’ve ever tried. They are available in three refreshing flavors: Tranquil Mint, Summer Lemon, and Fresh Lime.
In 2018, the Joy Organics citrus tincture was found to be contaminated with a fungicide commonly sprayed on citrus fruits. After these results from an independent lab analysis came out, the company immediately removed the tincture from its lineup and changed their third-party testing system to make sure such errors won’t happen again.
- Non-GMO, US-grown hemp
- Supercritical CO2 extraction
- Broad-spectrum CBD
- Delicious flavors
- A bit expensive
- No high-strength oils
Why Do I Have Trouble Sleeping?
The most common form of sleep disorder is insomnia. There are a lot of reasons why someone may experience difficulty sleeping. It helps to rule things out by defining where the actual problem is. There are three main types of insomnia to be aware of — each with their own set of potential causes:
- Onset Insomnia — This is the type of insomnia where you have a hard time falling asleep at night. This may be associated with racing thoughts or worry before bed.
- Sleep Maintenance Insomnia — This form of insomnia involves waking up at some point in the early hours of the morning. You may wake up several times throughout the night, or just once but find it nearly impossible to fall back asleep.
- Non-Restorative sleep — People often overlook this form of insomnia. It involves sleeping throughout the night, but waking unrefreshed — as if you haven’t slept at all. You may not experience apparent insomnia like the others mentioned above, but for some reason, you’re not entering a deep restorative sleep during the night. This form of insomnia is the hardest to diagnose and usually requires sleep analysis at a medical center to understand the cause.
No matter what the cause, sleep issues can impact many different parts of the body. The most obvious is the brain, where sleep deprivation can result in “brain fog”, irritability, poor decision making, difficulty concentrating, and lapses in memory. Sleep deprivation can also affect other areas of the body — such as the heart, muscles, immune system, and digestive organs.
Let’s cover some of the most common causes for each type of insomnia using the table below:
- Playing video games or watching tv too close to bedtime
- Jet lag
- High levels of stress
- Too much caffeine or other stimulants
- Side effects from medications
- Irregular sleep-wake cycle
- Physical pain
- Irregular sleep-wake cycle
- Irregular blood sugar levels
- Physical pain
- Underlying medical conditions
- Exposure to blue light while sleeping
- Jet lag
- Side effects from medications
According to a 2010 review, insufficient sleep duration at night increases the risk of early death (1).
Noticeable signs of sleep deprivation include:
- Daytime fatigue
- Excessive sleepiness
- Poor concentration
- Mood swings
- Bags under the eyes
- Muscle weakness
- A low threshold to stress
But there’s more to sleep disturbances than the symptoms listed above. Long-term sleeplessness is more dangerous than most people think.
The Negative Side Effects of Sleep Deprivation
We need to sleep — there’s no getting around it. Our physiology is intimately reliant on getting at least a few hours of sleep each night. The specific number of hours needed can vary from one person to another — but the general rule of thumb is that we all need roughly 7–9 hours of sleep each night.
Missing out on the recommended 7 to 9 hours of shut-eye nightly can take a severe toll on your health over time. Chronic sleep deprivation drains your cognitive capacity and puts your physical health at risk. Science has linked poor sleep with a myriad of health problems, from weight gain to a lowered immune function (2).
Here are some of the most common long-term side effects of insufficient sleep duration:
- Memory impairment
- Poor memory and concentration
- Mood swings
- Lowered immune function
- Weight gain
- Increased chance of developing type II diabetes
- Low sex drive
- Increased risk of heart disease
Plants Over Pills: Why Sleeping Pills Can do More Harm Than Good
Most sleeping pills sold in pharmacies belong to the group of sedative-hypnotics — a specific class of drugs used to induce sleep by inhibiting the activity of the central nervous system. The most common class of drugs in this category are benzodiazepines like Xanax, Valium, Halcion, or Ambien. Similar medications like Tramadol or Sonata are also used and have the same mechanism of action.
These drugs work by activating the GABA receptors in the brain — which essentially acts as a shut-off for neurological activity. Electrical signals are slowed down or blocked, causing us to feel relaxed and drowsy.
While there’s no dispute that these medications work exceptionally well for putting us to sleep — there’s a dark side to them that many people aren’t aware of until it’s too late.
The problem arises from the addictive nature of these medications. After just a few doses, the body begins to make changes to resist the effects of these medications. Over time, we need to take a higher dose of the pills to get the same effect. If we stop taking the medication or they begin to wear off, it can cause us to go through withdrawal symptoms — which have the same symptoms as the initial problem. Withdrawal from hypnotics can appear in as little as two weeks of use, cause users to feel anxious, and paranoid, and can make it impossible to fall asleep without another dose of the medicine.
There are also a lot of undesired effects that can come from using sleep medications:
- Dry mouth or throat
- Daytime drowsiness
- Appetite fluctuation
- Problems with attention and memory
- Stomach tenderness
- Recurring nightmares
- Muscle weakness
- General malaise
- Palm sweats, tingling or burning in the arms, feet, or legs
A lot of people are turning to natural supplements like CBD to support a good night’s sleep instead because of the significantly better safety profile, and a similar level of benefit. Of course, CBD is nowhere near as strong as pharmaceutical medications — but doesn’t have nearly the same level of side effects. CBD is reported to offer substantial benefits towards sleep without offering a crutch the body needs to rely on to fall asleep.
CBD is best used as a sleep aid, along with other changes to diet and lifestyle — such as avoiding caffeine, spending time to meditate or wind down before bed, exercising during the day, and taking measures to manage stress levels. Together with these changes, CBD should provide the level of support you need to get a good night’s rest.
Now let’s explore how CBD works.
What is CBD Oil?
CBD is an abbreviation for cannabidiol, the second-most abundant cannabinoid found in the cannabis plant.
Unlike its psychoactive cousin THC, CBD doesn’t directly activate the endocannabinoid receptors in the brain. THC does, which results in the characteristic high associated with marijuana.
Yes, you’ve read that right — CBD cannot make you high.
CBD primarily works through a series of receptors known as the endocannabinoid receptors. This system is located inside cells all around the body. It’s used to support the homeostasis in the body — which is a fancy word that means balance. The endocannabinoid system improves cellular communication so the body can keep track of important metrics like blood pH, body temperature, inflammatory processes, and sleep cycles.
Cannabidiol supports this regulatory system by slowing the breakdown of naturally produced endocannabinoids like anandamide and 2-AG. It also binds to the endocannabinoid receptors and makes it easier for other endocannabinoids to find and activate these receptors.
This has a trickle-down effect on the rest of the body. By improving the system that regulates homeostasis, we can better maintain optimal function for various organs around the body. This is why CBD has such a long list of uses and benefits — including sleep.
Also, there is an alternative to CBD oil if you don’t like the hempy taste. It’s CBD gummies; read our post on the Top 10 CBD Gummies Brands for Sleep to learn more about this consumption method
CBD For Sleep: How it Works
There are a few different ways CBD can be used to support a good night’s sleep. Let’s cover the main ones in more detail:
1. CBD May Alleviate Anxiety
We did another article on the effects of CBD for anxiety that describes how this works in more detail. In a nutshell, CBD works through the GABA receptors in the brain. GABA is used to slow down neurological activity to help us prepare for sleep. One of the most common concomitant symptoms associated with insomnia is anxiety. You may have experienced this familiar scenario — you’re lying in bed, tired and ready to go to sleep, when suddenly you can’t help but feel a wave of anxiety wash over you. You may feel worried, anxious, or uneasy — making it almost impossible to fall asleep.
As estimated by the Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA), anxiety disorders are a primary cause of a wide range of sleep abnormalities and disorders, including the most severe one — insomnia.
A three-month study published in the January Issue of the Permanente Journal examined the health records of 72 patients who were administered CBD for anxiety and poor sleep (3). The trial showed that anxiety levels in both groups significantly declined after their CBD treatment. For those with sleep problems, the researchers reported improvements in their sleeping habits in the first month of the trial.
2. CBD Supports Deep Sleep
This effect is most important for people who can’t stay asleep (maintenance insomnia) or wake feeling unrefreshed.
Deep sleep is a critical component of a good night of sleep. If we only remain in light sleep for the entire night, it’s easy to wake up at the drop of a pin. Sometimes when we wake up from this state, it can be very difficult to fall back asleep again.
Research suggests that CBD oil increases the duration of the “deep sleep” phase — that stage when we regenerate — while reducing REM sleep (the stage responsible for dreaming) (4).
People who dreamlessly achieve better-quality sleep; their memory improves, and symptoms of depression may start to back away. Consequently, using CBD oil for sleep may lead to a natural improvement in the overall quality of your sleeping habits.
3. CBD May Alleviate Pain
Another common cause of sleeping issues comes from another symptom altogether — pain.
Chronic pain is common, affecting millions of Americans every year.
Depending on the source and severity of pain, it may be enough to keep us up at night. If only there was something reported to alleviate various forms of pain and inflammation.
Fortunately, pain reduction is one of the most common applications of CBD. Read our article on the best CBD oil for pain to learn more about how this works and which CBD oils are best suited for the job.
How Much CBD Should I Take To Help With Sleep?
Dosing CBD oil for sleep is a tricky job because low and high doses of this supplement can produce different effects.
For example, low doses of CBD oil tend to promote alertness, while larger doses tend to be more sedative.
However, this dose will vary a lot from one person to another. The best way to find the best dose for your body is to do some simple trial and error — and remain patient until you find a dose that works.
The process is simple:
- Start with a much lower dose than you think you need (most people start with 1 or 2 mg equivalents of CBD)
- Every day increase the dose by 2 mg until you begin feeling the effects
- Keep playing around with the dose in small increments until you find one that works reliably for you
The more you use CBD, the better you’ll begin to understand how it affects you directly. If you experience any side effects, simply lower the dose to the last time where there were no side effects or take CBD along with some food for future doses.
The table below illustrates the suggested daily doses for different effects based on the user’s weight:
|Weight (lbs)||Low Dosage||Medium Dosage||High Dosage|
|Up to 130 lbs||10 – 15 mg||30 – 45 mg||60 – 90 mg|
|130–230 lbs||15 – 22 mg||45 – 67 mg||90+ mg|
|More than 230 lbs||22 – 25 mg||67 – 75 mg||90+ mg|
A Quick Check List for Buying CBD Oil for Sleep
I recommend you do some research before you decide on a CBD oil to purchase. There are a lot of great products available, but a lot of really poor quality products as well. Sometimes it can be difficult to tell the difference until you give it a try.
So, how do you find a reputable CBD supplier?
Start by asking yourself the following questions:
1. Is the Hemp Source Organic?
The quality of CBD oil depends heavily on the quality of hemp. If there are any impurities in the soil, they’ll begin to accumulate in the leaves and stems of the hemp plant as it grows and matures. This is because industrial hemp is considered to be a bioaccumulator — it has the unique ability to absorb all the elements from the air and soil around it and hyper-accumulate it in the plant tissue. If the soil is contaminated with lead, arsenic, mercury, or cadmium — the hemp plant itself will likely be high in these toxic compounds — which ultimately make their way into the hemp oil itself.
Additionally, some farmers will spray their crops with toxic herbicides or pesticides to improve their yields. These pesticides often don’t breakdown fully by the time the plants are harvested _, bringing these harmful endocrine-disruptive compounds into your bottle of CBD oil.
Organic farming doesn’t allow for any of these issues. The soil needs to be regularly tested for heavy metal contamination, and pesticide use is severely limited or outright banned.
For these reasons, it’s highly recommended you go with a product or company that uses organic-certified hemp plants to manufacture their oil.
2. What Extraction Method Does the Manufacturer Employ?
Once the hemp plants are harvested, they need to go through some processing to remove the cannabinoids and other phytochemicals. There are a few ways to do this, but by far, the best is CO2 extraction.
Conventional extraction methods used cold water (very inefficient), or solvents like methanol, butane, propane, or hexane — all of which are toxic to humans. After the extraction, this solvent is removed, but it’s nearly impossible to remove 100% of the solvents from the final product. This means there could be some of these solvents in your bottle of CBD if the company didn’t opt for using the more advanced CO2 extraction process.
Supercritical CO2 uses pressurized CO2 kept at a specific temperature to force it into a supercritical state. Once in this state, CO2 behaves exactly like a solvent — effectively stripping away the phytochemicals from the hemp plant (including CBD). Once the extract is done, the pressure is released, and all the CO2 evaporates into the air.
Even if some CO2 remained in the final product (it doesn’t), it’s completely non-toxic. Most of our atmosphere is already made of CO2.
3. Is the Product Tested by Third-Party Labs?
Anybody could produce a CBD oil and claim to test a sample for cannabinoid profile, terpene profiles, or contamination. These tests are super easy to fake, so the industry standard these days is to use a certified laboratory that has no affiliation with the company. This is called a third-party lab.
For a fee, these labs can test a sample of CBD product from a company, and provide a completely non-biased, transparent analysis of the product to prove the CBD oil is everything the company claims it is.
Always look for third-party lab tests for the products you’re interested in purchasing. If anything is missing or seems out of order, move on to another company instead.
Third-party lab tests should include the following information:
- Cannabinoid profile
- Terpene profile
- Residual solvent testing
- Heavy metal testing
- Microbial contamination testing
4. Is the Product Formulated With Other Herbs & Ingredients?
Most CBD oils come with pure CBD, or a full spectrum extract mixed with a carrier oil like MCT oil. However, the best products will have other ingredients added as well to support the effects of CBD. Some common additives that make CBD even better for supporting sleep include:
The most popular combination at the moment for sleep is melatonin and CBD.
Melatonin is a hormone produced in the brain’s pineal gland that helps regulate our sleep-wake cycle. Our body typically increases melatonin release around early afternoon, peaking at night and naturally decreasing once the morning draws near.
In simple terms, melatonin tells the body it’s bedtime by setting the gears in motion for you to be able to fall asleep. This effect compounds the relaxing effects of CBD by targeting other areas of the sleep process.
A Final Note on Using CBD Oil for Sleep
Frequent sleep deprivation is a plague in modern society. Insomnia is often placed among the most common modern diseases. If neglected, sleep deprivation can lead to several severe neurological conditions and other health disorders.
If you’re looking for a natural alternative to help you sleep, research suggests CBD may be a valuable option. That’s because this cannabinoid brings balance to the endocannabinoid system — which is heavily involved in the process of sleep and recovery.
I hope this guide has cleared up any confusion regarding the quality of CBD oil, how it works for sleep, and what to keep in mind when buying your next bottle. If you’re not sure where to start, I highly recommend you give Royal CBD a try. For the highest cost savings and best bang for your buck, I recommend the higher potency bottle.
Have you used CBD oil for sleep? Did you notice any difference? Share your experience in the comment section below!
- Cappuccio, F. P., D’Elia, L., Strazzullo, P., & Miller, M. A. (2010). Sleep duration and all-cause mortality: a systematic review and meta-analysis of prospective studies. Sleep, 33(5), 585–592.
- Medic, G., Wille, M., & Hemels, M. E. (2017). Short- and long-term health consequences of sleep disruption. Nature and science of sleep, 9, 151–161.
- Shannon, S., Lewis, N., Lee, H., & Hughes, S. (). Cannabidiol in Anxiety and Sleep: A Large Case Series. The Permanente Journal, 23, 18–041.
- Chagas, M.H. et al. (2013). Effects of acute systemic administration of cannabidiol on the sleep-wake cycle in rats. Journal of Psychopharmacology (Oxford, England), 27(3), 312-6.
Nina created CFAH.org following the birth of her second child. She was a science and math teacher for 6 years prior to becoming a parent — teaching in schools in White Plains, New York and later in Paterson, New Jersey.
CBD as a Sleep Aid
We regularly assess how the content in this article aligns with current scientific literature and expert recommendations in order to provide the most up-to-date research.
A good night’s sleep is essential to your overall health and wellbeing. Experts recommend adults sleep seven to nine hours each night. Proper sleep ensures you feel well-rested and have energy for the next day. A good night’s rest also contributes to memory formation, helps grow and repair muscle and tissue, and prevents sickness.
Unfortunately, falling asleep or staying asleep can be difficult for certain types of sleepers. As many as 70% of Americans report not sleeping the recommended hours, and nearly one-third of American workers sleep less than six hours per night. Solutions for better sleep and avoiding sleep debt vary. Possible approaches include improved sleep hygiene, prescription sleep aids, and natural sleep aids.
One increasingly popular strategy for sleeping better is taking cannabidiol (CBD), a derivative of cannabis. CBD is commonly used to improve sleep and decrease anxiety. However, the regulation of CBD in the United States is limited, and much more research must be done to determine the exact effects CBD has on sleep and other physical and mental health concerns.
About Cannabis and Cannabinoids
While there are many different slang terms for the green, narrow-leafed plant you may recognize, the plant is scientifically called Cannabis sativa. The word “cannabis” can be used to describe any products made from the plant. Cannabis plants contain multiple chemical compounds, including a group referred to as “cannabinoids.” Out of more than 100 cannabinoids, researchers have primarily studied two that appear to have the greatest impact on humans: tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and CBD.
What Is Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC)?
Most commonly known effects of cannabis, such as “getting high,” are caused by the cannabinoid, THC. The term “marijuana” specifically refers to parts of the Cannabis sativa plant that contain THC.
Cannabis plants and derivatives that contain less than 0.3% THC are classified as “hemp.” As of 2018, hemp is no longer defined as a controlled substance by the U.S. federal government. As a result, there has been an influx of hemp-related products in the American market. These products are generally marketed as CBD products.
What Is Cannabidiol (CBD)?
CBD, the other commonly known cannabinoid, can be legally sold in the U.S. when extracted from hemp and marketed according to relevant regulations. CBD does not have psychoactive properties and does not bring about the same effects as THC. Also, CBD does not have effects that would lead to potential dependency or risk of abuse.
CBD is an increasingly popular substance in the U.S. While many health benefits have been attributed to CBD, in most cases, scientific validity of its effectiveness is still unclear.
Is CBD FDA-Approved?
Only a few cannabis-derived or cannabis-related drug products are FDA-approved in the U.S.:
- Epidiolex. This oral CBD solution was the first drug containing a purified cannabis-derived substance approved by the FDA. The drug is approved for seizure treatment in rare and severe forms of epilepsy, Dravet syndrome, Lennox-Gastaut syndrome, and tuberous sclerosis complex for patients ages two and up. Although Epidiolex has been shown to reduce other types of seizures, it has not yet been FDA-approved for treating those seizures.
- Marinol and Syndros. These two drugs contain dronabinol, a synthetic form of THC. They come in capsules or oral solutions. Dronabinol affects the part of the brain that controls appetite, nausea, and vomiting, so the drugs have several therapeutic uses. These uses include the treatment of nausea and vomiting in chemotherapy patients and treatment of weight loss in patients with HIV.
- Cesamet. Cesamet contains nabilone, a synthetic compound with a chemical structure similar to THC. Like dronabinol, this capsule also affects the part of the brain that controls vomiting and nausea. The drug is prescribed to patients receiving chemotherapy who have not responded to other nausea and vomiting treatments.
The FDA has not approved any other CBD drug products. The agency has not determined the safety and effectiveness of cannabis or CBD in the treatment of any particular conditions or disease.
What Forms Does CBD Come In?
There are several common forms of CBD:
- Oral solutions, such as the FDA-approved drug Epidiolex
- Oral sprays that are applied under the tongue
- Oils and tinctures, sometimes described as drops or droplets
- Vapes and vape juices to use in a vaping pen
- Edible items, such as gummies, chocolates, or cookies, and beverages, such as coffees and teas
- Pills and capsules
- Topical solutions, including lotions, creams, patches, gels, and ointments
What Are Common Doses of CBD?
Outside of Epidiolex, the FDA doesn’t regulate dosing of non-drug CBD products. As a result, the amount of CBD in products varies widely among forms.
Research shows 300-mg oral doses of CBD can be taken safely on a daily basis for up to six months. One scientific review showed that taking up to 1,500 mg daily was well-tolerated by participants. A subsequent review confirmed that use of 1,500 mg daily for four weeks showed no negative effects.
Unfortunately, the indicated CBD content on a product label is not necessarily the amount that the product actually contains, which may lead people to take more or less CBD than intended. One analysis of 84 CBD products sold online showed that 26% of the products contained less CBD than the label said. The same analysis showed nearly 43% of the products were underlabled, meaning they contained substantially more CBD than the label said.
While CBD at higher doses does not appear to have serious negative consequences, these products may also contain higher levels of THC than reported on the label. Other CBD products may contain THC that is not reported on the label at all. The THC in these products can produce intoxicating effects, which may or may not be desired.
What Are the Effects of Taking CBD?
Research shows that CBD has a calming effect on the nervous system. CBD can also alter mood because it affects the serotonin system. Outcomes vary among people and depend on the product type and dose.
Unlike THC, CBD does not induce a feeling of being “high.” Even large doses of CBD do not produce THC-like effects. Additionally, a few studies have demonstrated that CBD reduces the psychoactive effects of THC.
Studies of short-term CBD use show that patients do not experience withdrawal.
What Health Conditions Can CBD Help With?
So far, CBD’s effectiveness in the treatment of epilepsy is well-supported by research. Other early research suggests that CBD may also help treat schizophrenia and substance use disorders.
Currently, there is insufficient research to determine the effectiveness of CBD in treating other health conditions. However, preliminary research suggests CBD can help with a number of sleep disorders, including insomnia REM sleep behavior disorder, and excessive daytime sleepiness disorder. Additional preliminary research suggests CBD can also help patients improve sleep and reduce anxiety.
What Are the Risks of CBD?
Most negative effects of CBD medications and products are mild. For example, patients who use Epidiolex may experience diarrhea or other gastrointestinal issues. Some people may experience drowsiness when they take CBD. Other negative effects experienced with CBD may be due to an interaction between the CBD and other medications the patient is taking.
How Can CBD Help With Sleep Disorders?
Research on the effects CBD has on sleep disorders is still preliminary. Some people who use CBD for chronic pain report sleeping better. Currently, it is unclear whether these patients sleep better because of the pain relief or because CBD directly affects their sleep.
Other initial studies of CBD and sleep disorders suggest positive outcomes. However, not everyone experiences the same sleep benefits with CBD use, and different doses might lead to different effects. Research suggests that low doses of CBD are stimulating, while high doses of CBD are sedating. Discrepancies in experience can also be attributed to the method of CBD administration and dose. Additional research is needed to deepen our understanding of CBD as an intervention for sleep disorders.
Anxiety and CBD
While not a sleep disorder itself, anxiety can contribute to poor quality sleep, insufficient sleep, and sleep disorders. Because CBD calms the nervous system, early research indicates that CBD can be used to treat anxiety-related disorders. One study showed that nearly 80% of participants who used CBD to treat their anxiety reported lower anxiety levels within a month. Sleep initially improved in more than 65% percent of participants, followed by fluctuating results.
Insomnia and CBD
People who suffer from insomnia experience difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep at night. This disorder affects daytime wakefulness, ability to concentrate, and mood. Because of their history of poor sleep, people with insomnia may suffer from anxiety about getting inadequate sleep, which can then increase sleeplessness at night.
Given the potential positive outcomes of CBD treating anxiety, it is speculated that CBD may also help reduce the anxiety associated with insomnia. Additionally, a new pilot study of CBD and THC use in humans with physician-diagnosed insomnia is underway. The results of the study will offer more insight into the effects CBD has on insomnia.
REM Sleep Behavior Disorder and CBD
In REM sleep behavior disorder, patients verbalize and make aggressive movements during their rapid eye movement (REM) stage of sleep. The disorder is most common in older patients with neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease.
In a limited study of four patients with Parkinson’s disease, CBD helped manage the REM sleep behavior disorder symptoms. Before taking CBD, the patients experienced disorder symptoms 2–7 times per week. After taking CBD, the symptoms occurred 0–1 times in a week. Further studies are necessary, but these initial results suggest CBD as a possible treatment for REM sleep behavior disorder.
Excessive Daytime Sleepiness Disorder and CBD
Those who have excessive daytime sleepiness disorder struggle to stay awake during typical daytime hours. One solution for waking up on time and staying wake may be CBD. Initial research on animals shows that CBD functions as a wake-inducing drug. However, other studies suggest CBD functions as a sedating drug. Further research is needed to determine what doses and methods of CBD use affect wakefulness and sleepiness.
Does CBD Interact With Other Prescriptions?
CBD can interact with other prescriptions a person takes. In particular, CBD can slow the liver’s ability to break down certain medications. Additionally, using CBD as well as herbs or supplements can make the patient too sleepy.
Before using any CBD product, consult your doctor. Let your doctor know of any medications, herbs, or supplements you are taking, so they can assess if CBD might cause a negative interaction. Your doctor will be able to inform you if CBD is a viable option to meet your health goals.