With passage of the Congressional bill H.R. 5485, otherwise known as the Hemp Farming Act of 2018, industrial hemp was removed from schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act. Since then, CBD, the most prevalent molecule in hemp (and second most in marijuana) became legal, provided that it contains no more than 0.3% THC, the active ingredient in marijuana that makes users high.
In the last two years, a green gold rush has ensued, with hundreds of products with CBD or stand-alone CBD extracts, flooding the market. Research on CBD is mostly in the preliminary stages, but there is initial evidence that it may help improve sleep quality.
How Does CBD Help Improve CBD?
CBD may help users get a better night’s sleep by acting on what’s called the endocannabinoid system, or ECS. The ECS is a system of neurotransmitter receptors located throughout the body. Recently discovered in 1992, the ECS plays a critical role in sleep, energy metabolism, blood sugar levels, stress hormones and other physiological actions of the body.
When activated in the right amount, the ECS maintains homeostasis (balance) in the body. CBD indirectly activates this vast signalling network. There’s much more to be discovered about how the ECS works. But researchers believe that by improving neurotransmitter signaling, CBD may improve sleep quality.
Does Research Back CBD For Sleep?
Again, as of yet, there’s no conclusive evidence. However, small studies look promising. For instance, a study that analyzed previous research found that out of 72 adults who took CBD on a regular basis in a psychiatric clinic, 48 (66.7%) of them had improved sleep scores and 57 (79.2%) had reduced anxiety scores. Both groups experienced positive outcomes after just one month. However, if the participants stopped supplementing with CBD, the improved sleep scores eventually diminished.
A larger study that tracked 409 patients reached similar conclusions. The participants who used CBD experienced a 4.5-point reduction on a 0 to 10 scale of their sleep symptoms. (The lower the number, the better the sleep quality.)
What’s The Best CBD For Sleep?
The passage of the 2018 Farm Bill legalized industrial hemp as an agricultural commodity. But that doesn’t mean hemp-derived CBD (CBD can also come from marijuana) is regulated by the Food & Drug Administration. Like dietary and herbal supplements, CBD is not regulated. And that means that there are a plethora of poor CBD products.
In general, here’s what to look for when choosing a reputable CBD product:
- Full-spectrum CBD oil seems to work best.
- It should be easy to find on a brand’s website, third-party lab results, verifying that the CBD contains no more than 0.3% THC and is free of heavy metals and pesticides.
- Don’t purchase creams or lotions with CBD for sleep. These products may be, at best, useful for pain or inflammation but not for sleep; choose CBD oil instead.
- For optimal results, use twice or more daily.
- To be safe, don’t use CBD within two hours of taking medications.
- Be patient with results. CBD doesn’t act like a sleeping pill so it might take days, if not weeks to notice results.
- To minimize your exposure to glyphosate and other toxic pesticides, choose a brand that gets its hemp from organic farms.
- If you can’t easily contact the company or their responses aren’t fully transparent, don’t buy their product.
- Make sure a CBD company you’re considering purchasing from is in good standing with the Better Business Bureau.
- Look for a brand that has testimonials and customer success stories that seem legitimate on their website. It’s not a must, but it helps with due diligence.
CBD For Sleep: Final Word
CBD is not a cure for insomnia. Although there is plenty of anecdotal evidence that it helps, don’t rely on it as your sole weapon for combating sleepless nights.
Instead, use CBD as part of an overall holistic strategy that also includes:
- Practicing slow, deep breathing for 5-10 minutes before bed. (You can actually do it lying down if you want, in bed.)
- Power off all electronic devices at least 30 minutes before shutting your eyes. Put your phone in airplane mode.
- Avoid caffeine after 2 p.m.
- Limit alcohol consumption to one drink.
- Make your bedroom as dark as possible. And as cool as comfortably possible.
- Covering yourself with three or more blankets may improve sleep quality, provided your bedroom is cool enough.
- Keep your intake of added sugars to a minimum. Sugar can cause an overgrowth of candida yeast, which can increase thirst in the middle of the night.