Even though sleep is essential to our health, it isn’t always easy to get. Many of us have trouble sleeping and either struggle to fall asleep, stay asleep, or generally get the sleep we need to be our best. And while there are plenty of sleep aids on the market, CBD is hailed as a natural, healthy option that can help. Plus, it’s said to have other health benefits like reducing anxiety.
A 2021 survey found improving anxiety was the most popular reason for using CBD — but improving sleep was a very close second.
But is there any truth to the claims? Unfortunately, there isn’t enough research to say for sure whether CBD improves your sleep. But what we do know so far has promise, but the studies are also small, rely on self-reported data, or are on populations with pre-existing sleep disorders or health conditions.
Below, we’ll dive into the research on CBD and sleep, cover what you can try before turning to CBD, and how the RISE app can help you get a good night’s rest.
CBD, or cannabidiol, is one of the cannabinoids found in the cannabis plant. Cannabinoids are chemical compounds that bind to receptors in your central nervous system and interact with the endocannabinoid system in your body.
CBD isn’t the psychoactive part of cannabis that gets you high — that’s tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC. CBD is instead known for making you feel relaxed and less anxious, and it may have some pain relieving properties, too. CBD may also help with health conditions like epilepsy and schizophrenia.
If you use cannabis, you’ll be getting some CBD — the amount all depends on the strain you’re consuming. Indica strains typically have more CBD than THC, while cannabis sativa plants have more THC than CBD.
But CBD can also be extracted from the plant or made in a lab and sold as a product by itself. Nowadays, you can find CBD in products ranging from gummies to droppers, sprays to capsules, vapes to topical creams and lotions.
CBD is available in countries where cannabis is illegal, like the UK, and in the US, it can be sold legally if it’s extracted from the hemp plant. But CBD isn’t regulated, so the benefits that some products promise may not be true. It’s currently classed as a supplement, not a medication, so in the US, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) doesn’t regulate the products.
We break down what we know about whether cannabis helps with sleep here.
More research needs to be done to determine whether CBD can help with sleep, but here’s what we know so far.
CBD may be able to:
A 2018 study found CBD was associated with greater symptom relief in insomniacs than THC.
And a meta-analysis found a 160-milligram dose of CBD increased sleep duration in insomniacs. The 160-mg CBD dose was compared to smaller doses of CBD, a placebo, and to nitrazepam, a prescription sleep aid.
Another review found CBD oil reduced insomnia symptoms in PTSD-related sleep disturbances. And it also found that CBD may help those with Parkinson’s and REM sleep behavior disorder and those with excessive daytime sleepiness.
CBD has been shown to help with many anxiety-related conditions — including generalized anxiety disorder, panic disorder, social anxiety disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and post-traumatic stress disorder.
CBD may be a better option than many anti-anxiety medications or antidepressants. One study found CBD didn’t impact participants’ sleep-wake cycles like benzodiazepines and selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) can.
Finally, a 2020 survey of people taking prescriptive CBD found patients with non-cancer chronic pain and mental health symptoms experienced improvements in pain, depression, and anxiety. Improved sleep and appetite were also positive side effects.
CBD has also been shown to improve sleep in general. Here’s what the research says it may help to do:
While the research into CBD and sleep has promise, it’s not all good news.
Research suggests CBD can:
There are many problems with CBD research on sleep.
As well as problems with CBD research, there’s also little to no regulation in the CBD products out there. You never really know how much of the active ingredient you’re taking. For example, a 2022 study of CBD products in the UK found only 38% of analyzed products were within 10% of the advertised CBD content. Plus, 55% of products contained measurable levels of controlled substances, like THC.
Heads-up: The same goes for melatonin supplements, too. A 2017 study found supplements contained 83% less to 478% more melatonin than advertised on the label. You can learn more about how much melatonin is too much here.
Want to try CBD to improve your sleep? Here are our tips to get it right.
Heads-up: If you think you’re suffering from a sleep disorder like insomnia or a mental health disorder like anxiety or depression, speak to a healthcare professional to discuss treatment options. You should also seek medical advice before taking CBD if you’re on any medication or using melatonin supplements to ensure they can mix.
Looking for a way to improve your sleep that doesn’t have the mixed research CBD does? We’ve got the answer: sleep hygiene.
Sleep hygiene is the name for the set of habits you can do to improve your sleep. But they don’t just take place right before bed. These habits start the moment you wake up and can help you fall asleep faster, wake up less often during the night, and get healthy, natural sleep.
You can learn more about sleep hygiene here.
Here’s what to do:
It may sound like a lot to remember, but the RISE app makes it easy to maintain excellent sleep hygiene each day. RISE guides you through 20+ sleep hygiene habits and tells you the best time to do them based on your own circadian rhythm, which makes them more effective.
RISE users on iOS 1.202 and above can click here to set up their 20+ in-app habit notifications.
Sleep hygiene can be better for sleep than CBD because:
Plus, if you do turn to CBD every now and again, excellent sleep hygiene will make sure nothing gets in the way of a good night’s sleep. You don’t want to take CBD for sleep only for late-night bright light or a large meal to keep you up.
Heads-up: While sleep hygiene is better than CBD for sleep. CBD is most likely better than prescription sleep aids, which come with side effects and can be addictive. You can learn more about sleep aids here.
The jury’s still out on whether CBD can help with sleep. Some studies show it may increase sleep duration, sleep efficiency, and help improve sleep for those with pain, anxiety, or a sleep disorder. But more research needs to be done.
If you want a guaranteed way to improve your sleep, turn to sleep hygiene. To get the most out of these sleep habits, use the RISE app to practice 20+ sleep hygiene habits at the exact right time for your circadian rhythm. This will help you fall asleep, stay asleep, and get enough sleep night after night, all without relying on CBD.
Take CBD oil 1 to 2 hours before bed to get the sleep-boosting benefits. CBD affects us all differently, however, so you may need to experiment to find the best timing for you and whether it can actually improve your sleep or not.
The effects of CBD can include reduced anxiety and pain, and increased sleep duration and sleep efficiency. The side effects include dry mouth, diarrhea, drowsiness, and lightheadedness.
While CBD can make some people feel tired, it can make others feel more alert. It all depends on the dose and your individual biology.
Yes, CBD has been shown to help with anxiety. Research shows it can help with generalized anxiety disorder, panic disorder, social anxiety disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and post-traumatic stress disorder.
The best sleep aid for adults is sleep hygiene, the set of daily habits you can do that will help you fall asleep easier and wake up less often during the night. Unlike other sleep aids, sleep hygiene doesn’t have any side effects. The RISE app can guide you through 20+ sleep hygiene habits and the best time to do each one.
RISE makes it easy to improve your sleep and daily energy to reach your potential
RISE makes it easy to improve your sleep and daily energy to reach your potential