Cbd oil for sleep troubles

Cbd oil for sleep troubles

In recent years, the use of marijuana and CBD for the treatment of a variety of conditions has risen significantly. Specifically, CBD has been found to have potential health benefits for symptoms like insomnia. Here’s a little background on what CBD is and how it impacts your sleep and body.

What Are Cannabinoids and CBD?

Cannabinoids are chemical compounds that bind or attach to certain receptors in the central nervous system and act as chemical messengers. Depending on the specific cannabinoid, it may have varied effects on the body.

The most well-known and probably most researched cannabinoids include cannabidiol (CBD) and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). We know that THC is the cannabinoid that leads to the “buzz or high” from cannabis use.

CBD differs from THC and does not cause psychoactive effects or a “high.” Because it does not cause the psychoactive effects and it might help certain conditions, such as pain, anxiety, and insomnia, CBD is gaining traction as a possible treatment for several diseases.

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How Do CBD and Cannabinoids Work?

Not everything is completely understood about how cannabinoids (including CBD) work. What we do know from research is that CBD and cannabinoids interact with proteins and cells in the brain. A relatively newly discovered system may also hold some answers.

The Endocannabinoid System and Sleep

Researchers discovered that the endocannabinoid system plays a role in maintaining certain body functions, such as mood, appetite, sleep, and regulating circadian rhythms. Within the endocannabinoid system is a network of cannabinoid receptors in the brain and central nervous system.The two primary receptors identified are CB1 and CB2.

Cannabinoids attach to these cells and have various effects. As far as how they may affect sleep, some research indicates that the cannabinoid CBD may interact with specific receptors, potentially affecting the sleep/wake cycle.

Additionally, CBD may also decrease anxiety and pain, which can both interfere with restful sleep. By reducing certain symptoms, it’s also possible that sleep may improve.

What Does the Research Say About CBD?

Although more studies need to be performed, some research supports the theory that CBD and cannabinoids may improve sleep. This study published in the journal, Medicines, involved 409 people with insomnia. Data was collected from June 2016 to May 2018. Participants rated their symptoms of insomnia on a scale of 1 to 10 with 10 being the most severe. Starting symptoms were rated 6.6 on average.

The participants were treated using the cannabis flower with varied combustion methods including vape, pipe, and joint. THC potency on average was 20 percent and limited to 30 percent. CBD potency was on average 5.7 percent and limited to 30 percent. After using cannabis, participants rated symptoms on average to be 2.2, which was a decrease of 4.5.

The results indicated the cannabinoids in cannabis decreased symptoms of insomnia. But the study involved using the cannabis flower, which contains several cannabinoids. It’s difficult to determine if relief from insomnia was due to CBD or another cannabinoid.

In another study published in the Permanente Journal, 72 adults with anxiety and poor sleep were involved. The participants completed anxiety and sleep assessments at the start of the study and at the first-month follow up. Study participants were given 25 mg of CBD in capsule form. Those that predominantly had sleep complaints took the dose in the evening. Participants that had anxiety as their predominant complaint took CBD in the morning.

After the first month, anxiety scores decreased in 79 percent of the people. Sleep scores improved in 66 percent of the participants, which indicated less trouble sleeping. The results suggest that CBD decreased sleep difficulties in many of the participants. But while the decrease in anxiety symptoms remained steady for the duration of the study, the sleep scores fluctuated over time.

Several smaller studies have also supported the use of CBD oil to improve sleep. For example, a case study involving a 10-year-old girl with post-traumatic stress disorder and poor sleep was treated with CBD. A trial of 25 mg of a CBD supplement was administered at bedtime. An additional 6 to 12 mg of CBD was given via a sublingual spray during the day for anxiety. Sleep quantity and quality gradually improved over five months.

Though there is plenty of supporting evidence that shows CBD and cannabinoids can improve sleep, the results are not conclusive and more research needs to be done.

Forms of CBD

CBD is extracted from the cannabis plant and known as CBD oil. But it can be a little complicated. CBD may be extracted from either the marijuana or hemp plant, which are both strains of the Cannabis sativa plant. But they are harvested differently. Hemp comes from the seeds and stalks of the plant, which contains less THC than marijuana.

Because the THC content in CBD oil may vary, depending on the state it’s sold, there may be restrictions. For example, in some states, CBD oil is sold legally if all of the THC is removed. If CBD oil still contains THC or other cannabinoids, it may only be sold in states that have legalized marijuana use.

Depending on the laws in your state, you may need a doctor’s prescription for CBD oil. But laws continue to change quickly, so in the near future, it may be different.

CBD oil can be placed under the tongue. It may also be infused in different products including the following;

  • Edibles: Various types of edibles infused with CBD oil are available including gummy bears, cakes, and cookies. Edibles usually list the concentration of CBD in milligrams.
  • Vaporing: CBD extract can be used in a vaporizer or vape pen. As the extract heats up, it creates a vapor that is inhaled.
  • Tinctures: CBD also comes in tinctures. A few drops of the liquid can be added to drinks.

CBD oil is available in different concentrations. Since research is ongoing, the exact dose to treat sleep issues may not be fully known. It might take some trial and error to determine what works best.

Because there are so many different ways to ingest CBD, there are tons of CBD products to choose from. If you aren’t sure where to start, here are the CBD products we recommend to try if you want to improve your sleep.

Overall, there is scientific research that supports the theory that there are CBD health benefits. While more research needs to be done, the use of CBD can potentially decrease your symptoms of insomnia and help you get more quality sleep. If you struggle with sleep issues, the best first step is to consult your doctor and learn more about causes and treatments.

Can CBD Help With Sleep?

Verywell Health articles are reviewed by board-certified physicians and healthcare professionals. These medical reviewers confirm the content is thorough and accurate, reflecting the latest evidence-based research. Content is reviewed before publication and upon substantial updates. Learn more.

Arno Kroner, DAOM, LAc, is a board-certified acupuncturist, herbalist, and integrative medicine doctor practicing in Santa Monica, California.

Getting better sleep is a challenge for many people, and researchers are exploring whether cannabidiol (CBD) can help. Over 80 different chemicals, called cannabinoids, can be found in the Cannabis sativa plant. The most abundant cannabinoid found is tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), while the second most abundant is CBD.

Unlike THC, CBD is non-psychoactive, so it does not give you the high or buzz you feel when using cannabis products that contain THC. Instead, CBD is well known for its soothing, relaxing properties. This is why CBD is being actively investigated for its use in improving sleep difficulties.

The research, while emerging and evolving, is promising, suggesting that CBD may improve both sleep quality and quantity.

What the CBD Research Says

While it’s true there is scientific evidence that CBD can help with sleep, many of the human studies examining this association are small, and/or they lack a control group.

In addition, some studies have examined the combined role of THC and CBD for sleep, which we are not addressing here.

That said, here are examples of research studies supporting the use of CBD for improving sleep:

  • In a study of 72 adults with primary symptoms of anxiety and poor sleep, over 65% of the patients improved their sleep quality scores after taking daily CBD (average dose of 25 milligrams) for one month. This improvement was sustained over the duration of the study (a total of three months).
  • In a study of 21 patients with Parkinson’s disease without dementia or other psychiatric conditions, participants experienced improved quality of life (including sleep) when taking 300 milligrams of CBD per day.
  • In a case series of four patients with Parkinson’s disease and REM sleep behavior disorder, CBD (75 to 300 milligrams per day for 6 weeks) reduced the frequency of rapid eye movement (REM) sleep behavior events.
  • In a pediatric case study of a 10-year-old patient with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), the patient had an increase in sleep quality and quantity and decrease in anxiety after taking 25 milligrams of CBD at bedtime and 6 to 12 milligrams of CBD sublingual spray during the day (as needed for anxiety).

Taking a Step Back

The idea of finding a natural therapy for sleeping problems is certainly appealing. However, sleep is a complex phenomenon. In fact, there is an array of reasons why a person may suffer from sleeping difficulties.

While not an exhaustive list, some potential reasons include:

  • Having a psychiatric condition like anxiety or depression
  • Having a primary sleep disorder like restless leg syndrome or sleep apnea
  • Experiencing chronic pain (which wakes a person from sleep)
  • Having a medical condition like hyperthyroidism, Parkinson’s disease, or acid reflux
  • Experiencing trauma or chronic stress

Genetics, environmental factors (such as travel, a crying baby, a loud bedroom), medications, or substance abuse may also contribute to poor sleep.

If you or a loved one is dealing with sleep problems, it’s important to see your healthcare provider or a sleep specialist. In some instances, treatment of the underlying problem (e.g., an overactive thyroid or changing a medication) will resolve the problem. Other diagnoses may require a more comprehensive approach.

Other Considerations

Besides addressing the cause behind you or your loved one’s sleep issues, there are other problems to consider regarding the use of CBD.


CBD oil is extracted from the marijuana or hemp plant, which are both strains derived from the Cannabis sativa plant.

Once extracted, CBD oil can be taken by itself or infused into other forms, including:

  • Edibles (for example, gummies or chocolates)
  • Tinctures (add drops to drinks or food)
  • Capsules
  • Vapors (inhaled)
  • Ointments and lotions
  • Sprays
  • Bath salt

The concern here is that the concentration and absorption of CBD will vary among these different formulations—and this will ultimately affect CBD’s therapeutic effect.


Dosing is another consideration. Unfortunately, it’s not yet clear exactly what dose of CBD is needed to give a person a restful night’s sleep.

For instance, in one of the studies mentioned above, the average adult dose used was 25 milligrams per day, whereas in another study, the participants used 300 milligrams per day.

It’s likely that the dose required needs to be individualized and perhaps, titrated, based on its effect.

Factors that may affect dosing include:

  • The severity of the person’s sleep disorder
  • Medications the person is taking (both sleep-related and drugs that may interact with CBD)
  • Side effects experienced (such as whether the person is feeling drowsy or fatigued the next day)
  • The formulation used

Another factor in dosing is that there is only one CBD medication available by prescription—Epidolex—which is FDA-approved for some forms of epilepsy. Its CBD concentration and purity are standardized. CBD products bought without prescription lack standardization.

A 2017 study found that only 31% of 84 CBD products bought online were labeled accurately for concentration, with 43% having less CBD than stated and 26% having more. In addition, over 21% had detectable THC.  

Side Effects

Research suggests that, in the short-term, CBD is largely safe and well-tolerated. Some people, however, do experience side effects, such as:  

  • A change in appetite (either reduced or increased)
  • Weight gain or loss
  • Tiredness
  • Diarrhea
  • Increase in liver enzymes

In addition, some people may experience a worsening of their sleep quality after taking CBD.   This paradoxical effect warrants further investigation.


Lastly, there is the legal issue of CBD to consider. Here is a brief summary of the laws encompassing CBD:  

Federal Law

CBD oil extracted from industrial hemp, which must contain less than 0.3% THC, is federally legal. Marijuana, however, remains illegal under federal law in the United States.

State Law

Hemp-derived CBD is legal in all 50 states. However, state laws vary with regard to the legality of marijuana. CBD oil that still contains THC or other cannabinoids may only be sold in states that have legalized marijuana use.

A Word From Verywell

While an encouraging prospect, there is still much to learn about CBD and its role in sleep. To ensure your safety, please only move forward with taking CBD under the guidance of your healthcare provider.