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Will CBD oil help you sleep?

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Cannabis-based medicines are now fully legal in the UK, but you need a prescription from a specialist before you can get your hands on most of them.

CBD options are thankfully not among those prescription-only medications. UK CBD products can be easily sourced online and are now all over the place – Tesco’s, Waitrose, Lloyds Pharmacy, and most other high street shops have all scrambled to get their own range of UK CBD oils, CBD edibles, CBD lotions and balms, even CBD for pets up and running.

Key takeaways

  • CBD may help promote relaxation and sleep by increasing the production of melatonin, alleviating anxiety, and reducing pain and inflammation.
  • When choosing a CBD product for sleep, opt for full or broad-spectrum products with added ingredients like melatonin.
  • Sublingual administration is recommended for faster results when taking CBD for sleep.
  • Don’t forget to share your experiences and leave reviews on CBD products you’ve tried!

One of the most widespread uses for CBD is for sleep. With its potential to help with anxiety, stress, pain relief, and inflammation control, it should really come as anything but a surprise that UK CBD for sleep products are just so ridiculously popular.

But one question we get asked all the time here at CBD Ratings is, “Does CBD actually help with falling (and staying) asleep? And if it does, why?”

What is CBD, and how does it work?

Cannabidiol, or CBD, is one of 113 phytocannabinoids that have been isolated from the cannabis sativa L. family of plants thus far. CBD and THC are the two major cannabis-produced cannabinoids, but only CBD is legal for ‘over the counter’ sale, with THC-containing medical products needing a specialist prescription in the UK.

Why is CBD legal and THC not?

While they are both grouped into the same category of “cannabinoids,” CBD and THC are quite different in terms of their effects on the body and the mind.

THC is a psychoactive compound, meaning it can alter your perception and produce a ‘high’. That’s not to say it doesn’t offer patients therapeutic relief, just that it also comes with the risk of intoxication. Almost all cannabis-based medicines that contain THC are not prescribed with the intention of “getting high”, but rather for their potential therapeutic benefits.

CBD, on the other hand, is non-intoxicating. It doesn’t produce a ‘high’ or any significant change in one’s state of mind, although it can offer a sense of relaxation, calm, and well-being. It is also believed to counteract some of the psychoactive effects of THC when both CBD and THC are taken at the same time.

How does CBD work?

Every single one of us has an endocannabinoid system (ECS). The ECS is one of the most important neurochemical systems in our body (and the largest), responsible for maintaining homeostasis.

What is homeostasis?

Homeostasis is the body’s natural ability to maintain a stable internal environment despite external changes or stressors. The ECS is responsible for regulating vital functions such as sleep, mood, appetite, pain sensation, and immune response.

How does CBD interact with the ECS?

Unlike THC, which has a strong affinity for the body’s ECS receptors, CBD works indirectly by enhancing and supporting the endocannabinoid system. It does this by inhibiting the breakdown of anandamide, one of two natural endocannabinoids, and by also interacting with other receptors and neurotransmitters in the body.

CBD has been shown to increase serotonin production, reduce inflammation through its interactions with the body’s immune cells, and also act as a natural pain reliever. All of these CBD effects can contribute to a better night’s sleep.

Does CBD make you tired?

Yes it does. 

As mentioned above, one of the main reasons people turn to CBD oil, CBD edibles, or any number of other CBD products is to help with getting a restful night’s shut-eye.

Sleep is a complex process.

There is a huge range of reasons why someone may not be falling asleep easily, staying asleep for long periods, or waking up feeling refreshed even if they do get a decent chunk of sleep. It’s important to recognize that CBD is not a miracle cure for all sleep issues, and may not work the same way for everyone.

That said, most people who try CBD oil for sleep (or any other CBD sleep aid, such as CBD gummies or capsules) before they go to bed report feeling relaxed, calm, and ready to sleep after taking it.

Why does CBD help you feel relaxed and sleepy?

The jury is still somewhat out on the exact mechanism behind CBD’s sleep-promoting effects, but there are a few studies that we can look at that may help explain it.

CBD has been shown to increase the production of melatonin.

Melatonin is the “sleep hormone” and is responsible for regulating our sleep cycles and causing that drowsy feeling that hits just before you’re ready to catch some Z’s. Serotonin is the precursor to melatonin, and as we’ve seen above, CBD increases serotonin production. So, it stands to reason that by increasing the production of serotonin (and subsequently melatonin), CBD could help improve sleep.

CBD can help alleviate anxiety

To continue down the serotonin path, anxiety and pain are both stressors that can contribute to the production of cortisol (the “stress hormone”) in the body. Cortisol can interfere with serotonin production and lead to an imbalance in our sleep cycles.

It is safe to say that we have all been kept awake from that underlying feeling of anxiety at some point. CBD has been shown to be an effective natural anxiolytic (anxiety-reducing) agent.

One very interesting clinical study, looking at both anxiety reduction and sleep improvements through CBD application, came to some pretty clear conclusions. The study found that 

“anxiety scores decreased within the first month in 79% of patients and sleep scores improved within the first month in over 65% of patients”

CBD can help reduce pain and inflammation

Pain is a real sleep killer, and inflammation is often the root cause. CBD has been shown to be an effective natural anti-inflammatory and pain reliever, with some research suggesting that it may even be more effective than traditional pain medications like ibuprofen or aspirin.

By reducing pain and inflammation, CBD can help relax tense muscles, ease discomfort, and promote more comfortable and peaceful sleep.

How to use CBD for sleep?

CBD products run the gamut from oils to edibles, sprays to lotions, and (nowadays) even soft drinks. They all contain CBD, but they aren’t all the same.

Some products are made from CBD isolate, while others are full or broad-spectrum and contain other cannabinoids (including THC in trace amounts). Some have added melatonin or other sleep-promoting ingredients, while others are intended for general use.

How to choose the right CBD product for sleep?

We definitely recommend checking out “sleep-specific” products first, but this isn’t 100% necessary. All CBD products should promote relaxation, but the sleep-targeted products will generally include additional ingredients to promote restfulness.

Start with full or broad-spectrum CBD. CBD isolate products may be less effective since they lack the other beneficial cannabinoids and terpenes in full or broad-spectrum products. Anything extra (like melatonin) is just a bonus.

You should also consider the delivery method.

CBD oil can be taken sublingually, which is when you hold the oil under your tongue for a minute or so before swallowing it. This allows the CBD to bypass the digestive system and get into your bloodstream faster.

Alternatively, edibles are digested and may take longer to offer their restful effects, and may not have as strong an effect.

Some people prefer using a topical product (like a CBD lotion), but these are more often used for pain relief and may not be as effective for sleep.

What’s the best time to take CBD for sleep?

That depends on how you take it, but if you go for sublingual CBD oil administration (which we recommend), about 15 to 30 minutes before bed is perfect.

If you are eating CBD gummies or drinking a CBD-infused soda, then it’s best to take it about an hour before you plan on falling asleep.

Final thoughts

CBD has taken the UK and the world by storm, and for a good reason. There are few scientifically backed alternatives to traditional pharmaceutical sleep medications that can prove as effective as CBD.

But remember, just because CBD works well for many people doesn’t mean it will work the same way for you. We aren’t saying don’t try it. Just go into it with an open mind, and if you have any concerns, reach out to us, or speak to your doctor.

And while you’re here, why not leave a review for your favourite (or least favourite) CBD products? Sharing your experience can help others find the sleep aid that works best for them. CBD Ratings is changing the way UK CBD users find the right products, and your feedback is a crucial part of that.

So, keep calm, sleep well, and let CBD do its thing.