The use of CBD (cannabidiol) for its relaxing and sleep-inducing effects has become a topic of controversy in recent years. While cannabis use is still illegal in the US, CBD products with less than 0.3% THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) are widely available. In this article, we will explore the concept of CBD, its various forms, and its potential benefits for sleep. Our experts have provided insights into how CBD works, its impact on sleep, and recommended products to try.
CBD, or cannabidiol, is a non-intoxicating compound primarily derived from the hemp plant. It can also be found in marijuana plants, but hemp contains the lowest levels of THC, the psychoactive compound responsible for the "high" associated with cannabis use. Unlike THC, CBD does not produce psychoactive effects and is mainly used for its calming properties.
Different Forms of CBD for Sleep:
CBD can be consumed in various forms to aid sleep. These include:
Oils and Tinctures: CBD oils and tinctures are liquid extractions typically taken by placing a small amount under the tongue. This method allows for quicker absorption into the bloodstream due to the capillary-rich area.
Capsules and Pills: CBD capsules are taken orally, similar to regular tablets, and deliver CBD to the body through the digestive system. CBD pills provide an easy and convenient way to regulate dosage since the CBD content in each capsule is premeasured.
Edibles: CBD edibles are food or drink products infused with CBD oil or isolate. They are available in various forms such as gummies, brownies, or cookies. The effects of CBD edibles may take anywhere from 30 minutes to several hours to kick in, and it's important to start with a low dosage and gradually increase it due to factors like metabolism and prior food intake.
Topicals: CBD topicals are products infused with CBD that can be applied directly to the skin. Creams, lotions, and balms are designed to provide localized relief to painful areas or promote relaxation.
Vapes: CBD vapes involve heating CBD oil to produce a vapor that can be inhaled. CBD vape oil is typically a mixture of CBD extract and a carrier oil like vegetable glycerin, sometimes with added flavorings.
CBD extracts can also be combined with other sleep aids such as melatonin to enhance their sleep-enhancing benefits.
How CBD Works:
CBD interacts with receptors in the central nervous system, primarily through the body's endocannabinoid system (ECS). The ECS regulates physiological processes such as pain, inflammation, and immune response. When applied topically, CBD can interact with ECS receptors in the skin, reducing inflammation. When ingested, CBD interacts with ECS receptors in the gut.
Benefits of CBD for Sleep:
The relationship between CBD and sleep is still relatively new and undergoing ongoing research. However, our Sleep Experts have identified five essential benefits of CBD for sleep:
Calming the Mind without Psychoactive Effects: CBD is commonly associated with reducing anxiety. Unlike THC, which can cause lethargy and make sleeping difficult, CBD derived from hemp has low levels of THC. Its calming effects can gently aid sleep by interacting with endocannabinoid receptors in the brain's limbic system, which regulates emotions and stores memories.
Combating Chronic Pain: CBD's anti-inflammatory properties make it effective in reducing inflammation-related pain. While a suitable sleep setup and mattress can alleviate pressure points, CBD can further aid sleep by reducing pain and facilitating relaxation. Applying topical CBD creams or ointments to painful areas has been shown to reduce inflammation and manage conditions like arthritis.
Treating Restless Leg Syndrome (RLS): RLS is a neurological condition characterized by an uncontrollable urge to shake the legs, often disrupting sleep. CBD has shown promise in reducing the abnormal nerve firings that cause involuntary muscle twitching in RLS patients. Applying topical CBD to affected areas can help reduce inflammation and alleviate associated pain and stiffness.
Promoting a Healthier Circadian Rhythm: Circadian rhythm disorders occur when the body's sleep-wake cycle is misaligned with its environment. CBD may aid in restoring a proper sleep-wake cycle by ensuring uninterrupted progression through the stages of sleep. Although more research is needed, doctors suggest that CBD can promote a more natural timing of sleep in harmony with the night and day rhythm.
Improving Sex Life: CBD has the potential to enhance sexual experiences by increasing blood flow to reproductive organs and sexual tissue. By reducing anxiety and promoting relaxation, CBD can help individuals and their partners get in the mood without being distracted by anxious thoughts.
Legal Status of CBD for Sleep:
CBD derived from hemp and containing less than 0.3% THC is legal in the US. However, obtaining a prescription for medical cannabis from a doctor is challenging and usually reserved for severe epilepsy, chemotherapy-induced nausea, or multiple sclerosis symptom relief. High street health stores like Holland & Barrett offer a wide range of legal CBD products, including lotions, sprays, muscle balms, chewing gum, and canned drinks.
Recommended CBD Products for Sleep:
With the variety of CBD products available, it can be challenging to choose the right ones for sleep enhancement. Here are a few examples of popular CBD products with sleep-inducing properties:
Holland & Barrett CBD Muscle Balm Ultra: This topical CBD balm can be applied directly to achy muscles and joints, aiding circulation and loosening muscles to alleviate pain and stiffness that can hinder relaxation at night.
Grass & Co. REST CBD Consumable Oil: Infused with bergamot and lavender oil, this consumable CBD oil is specifically formulated to enhance sleep. Starting with a low dosage, a few drops are placed under the tongue, held for 90 seconds, and then swallowed. The dosage can be adjusted gradually based on personal preferences.
Westlab Mindful Bathing Salts: These bath salts, combined with CBD, create a calming effect when added to an evening bath. Magnesium Sulphate (Epsom or bath salts), known for its relaxation properties, combined with CBD, helps prepare the body for sleep.
Potential Side Effects of CBD for Sleep:
It is essential to note that CBD may interact with other medications, such as blood thinners. Therefore, it is advisable to consult with a doctor before trying CBD. CBD products from reputable brands like Holland & Barrett are legal and safe to use. While some individuals may experience side effects like dry mouth, nausea, or drowsiness, the effects can vary. Unlike cannabis-induced anxiety, which is often attributed to THC's psychoactive effects, CBD does not induce anxiety when consumed from reputable and legal sources.
The use of CBD for sleep and relaxation is on the rise, despite the controversial nature surrounding cannabis. CBD products with low THC content are widely available in the US and can be consumed in various forms such as oils, capsules, edibles, topicals, and vapes. CBD interacts with the body's endocannabinoid system, providing potential benefits for sleep, including anxiety reduction, pain relief, alleviating restless leg syndrome, promoting a healthier circadian rhythm, and enhancing sexual experiences. It is crucial to ensure legal and safe CBD consumption and consult with a doctor, especially when taking other medications. With the vast range of CBD products available, individuals can explore options like CBD muscle balms, consumable oils, and bath salts to aid in achieving better sleep.