You wouldn’t like me when I’m tired. Between chronic pain, anxiety, and depression, a good night’s sleep is crucial to saving me from myself. Without at least six hours of shuteye, I’m likely to wake up looking and feeling a bit like a grumpy Nosferatu. No one needs that. But between the side effects of anti-depressants (insomnia, night sweats) and anxiety’s nightly feature presentation consisting of reels of shame and should-haves playing in my brain, getting to sleep is not always easy. And I know I’m not alone. About 35% of adults in the U.S. don’t get the recommended 7-plus hours per night.
Sure, over-the-counter and prescription medications can offer some relief. But they can also cause some pretty nasty side effects. This includes next-day drowsiness, which kind of defeats the purpose of taking a sleep aid and more severe consequences such as dependency. The good news is CBD might be an effective, safe, and natural alternative.
Why Don’t We Sleep Well?
Myriad factors affect sleep quality. Despite our best efforts, it’s not unusual to drink a little too much coffee some days or go to bed too late after an extra-long day. But if you have trouble sleeping regularly or feel drowsy even after a solid seven hours of shuteye, you might be one of the millions of people living with a sleep disorder.
The Sleep Foundation defines insomnia as the brain’s inability to stop being awake. This can be a result of physical or psychological issues. In either case, treatment requires bringing the brain’s sleep-wake cycle back into line.
Depression and anxiety are the primary psychological causes of insomnia. Not only can these mental illnesses disrupt sleep, but certain prescription treatments can impact rest too. Worse yet, lack of sleep can exacerbate these issues. It’s a vicious cycle.
As far as physical ailments go, allergies, respiratory difficulties (such as asthma), gastrointestinal problems, endocrine issues (such as hyperthyroidism), arthritis, neurological conditions, and chronic pain commonly cause problems.
What Happens When We Don’t Sleep?
Sleep is not a passive activity, as Johns Hopkins Medicine explains. In fact, the body and brain are pretty busy while we’re at rest.
The first part of the sleep cycle is non-REM sleep, which consists of four stages. In the first two, we fall asleep, our body temperature drops, and our breathing slows. In the third and fourth stages, we’re out like a light. During this period, the mind and body are recuperating.
During REM sleep, our eyes move rapidly, and our brains are active, similar to when we’re awake. As we dream, the body is temporarily paralyzed. The cycle repeats, usually four or five times per night.
Sleep is crucial for our mental and physical wellbeing. Going about your day without having slept the night before is like trying to drive a car on empty. Your brain and body just won’t work as well, and chances are you’ll feel awful too.
Without sufficient sleep, our brain is not as capable of processing input, as Johns Hopkins explains. Not only does it make it difficult to absorb and process information in the present, but it also makes it harder to remember that information in the future. Some researchers even think our brain expels waste from its cells while we sleep. Basically, if we don’t sleep, not only do we feel (and maybe look) like trash, but our brain might be full of it too.
Our bodies also suffer from a lack of sleep. In addition to a higher risk of depression and anxiety, we’re more susceptible to issues like inflammation, migraines, high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, stroke, diabetes, and seizures, as well as illness and infection. According to Johns Hopkins, sleep affects metabolism too; missing a night of sleep can throw an otherwise healthy person into a temporary prediabetic state. Lack of sleep can also contribute to neurodegeneration, which, over time, can increase the risk of dementia.
How CBD Can Help
CBD binds with cannabinoid receptors in the endocannabinoid system (ECS), a vast network of receptors, endocannabinoids, and enzymes located throughout the brain and body. The ECS is responsible for various physical and psychological processes, including immune system response, mood, and sleep. CBD helps the ECS work more effectively, helping it better address issues like pain, inflammation, anxiety, and stress that can stand between us and sweet slumber.
In addition to overwhelming anecdotal evidence, there’s a growing body of scientific research confirming CBD as a dependable natural sleep aid. A study published in The Permanente Journal is one example. In this study, researchers examined 72 adults with anxiety and insomnia and found 79% slept better after 25 mg of CBD daily.
What Products Are Best for Sleep?
These days, there are countless ways to take your daily or nightly CBD supplement. These include honey sticks, which you can dip into your tea, CBD caramels and mints, capsules, tinctures, and dark chocolate. Another popular option is gummies.
The package your CBD comes in isn’t as important as what’s inside. For best results, you’ll want to look for a full-spectrum product, meaning a CBD that contains all of the naturally-available cannabinoids found in the cannabis plant, including up to 0.3% THC, as well as flavonoids and terpenes. These compounds have distinct health benefits and have a synergistic relationship, so full-spectrum is almost always the way to go. However, if you live in a state where THC is outright illegal, broad-spectrum, which contains all of the above except for THC, is a good alternative. Many CBD products for sleep also contain a CBN isolate. CBN is a cousin of THC and CBD that’s best known as a natural sedative.
Other ingredients that could complement CBD’s relaxing effects include melatonin, l-theanine, magnesium, and essential oils, such as lavender.
Here are a few examples of products that might be worth a try:
- FAB CBD
Fab CBD’s blends, like all of the products on this list, are lab-tested and pesticide-free. Oils come in 300 mg, 600 mg, 1200, or 2400 mg of CBD per bottle. They also provide gummies, vape pens, and topical creams, all of which can promote relaxation.
CBDistillery has a range of product options, including full-spectrum tinctures, oils, and vape liquids. Their CBD Nighttime Gummies, infused with 30 mg of CBD and 1.5 mg of Melatonin, is your best bet for a good night’s sleep.
- Charlotte’s Web CBD Gummies for Sleep
Charlotte’s Web is one of the CBD industry leaders and has an array of products, including three kinds of CBD gummies, one of which is specifically formulated for sleep. The gummies contain a full-spectrum extract as well as 3 mg of melatonin.
- Cosmic View 3:1 Tincture
Cosmic View’s 3:1 CBD: THC tincture contains the ideal ratio for relaxation. Some users suggest taking smaller doses earlier in the day for an overall sense of calm, then taking a larger amount before bed to wind down.
- Bespoke Extract’s Comfort
Bespoke Extracts releases a new product this fall, featuring a signature full-spectrum CBD blend, vegan, cruelty-free, made with U.S.A-grown, and third-party tested for quality and content. The mix features CBD as well as a CBN isolate, ideal for a restful night.