The Science of CBD for Sleep

Posted by Flora Sophia on

If you have trouble getting enough sleep at night, you’re not alone. In fact, 70% of Americans say they consistently don’t sleep well. And over 10% of them also have sleep problems each and every night.

So when counting sheep after a glass of warm milk doesn’t work, many turn to natural supplements like CBD for help. But how effective is CBD for sleep really? And will it actually work for you?

In this article, you’ll learn all about the science of CBD including a primer on how it works, what kind of CBD is best for sleep, how it helped 66% of patients in a clinical trial sleep better, and whether or not it will work for you.

What is CBD?

CBD is the acronym for cannabidiol, a compound that’s been studied since the 1940s in some of the earliest cannabis research. For decades now, researchers have been studying CBD to discover the full range of its medical uses (including help with sleep).

CBD has been the subject of so much attention since it doesn’t cause an intoxicating high like its big brother, THC (the main psychoactive compound in cannabis). The side effects of a THC high are not well tolerated for some people. And where THC has its limits based on the patient’s tolerance, CBD doesn’t. CBD lets you enjoy many of cannabis’ healthy benefits without worrying about any of THC’s potential side effects. 

How does CBD work? 

CBD works by interacting with a system of neuro-chemicals and their receptors in your body called the endocannabinoid system (ECS). The ECS was first discovered and named in 1988. But there’s still a lot science doesn’t fully understand about it.

What we do know is that the ECS works alongside chemicals called cannabinoids. You can find cannabinoids in cannabis and cannabis products like CBD - these are called phytocannabinoids. And our body naturally produces them too - they’re called endocannabinoids. Cannabinoids interacting with your ECS have a role in nearly every critical function in your body. That includes:

  • Learning
  • Forming memories
  • Processing emotions
  • Modulating hunger
  • Maintaining homeostasis (temperature, sweating, etc.)
  • Signaling pain
  • Activating and relaxing inflammatory response
  • Regulating the immune system
  • And more!

ECS receptors

CBD works with the ECS through two kinds of receptors: CB1 and CB2. 

CB1 receptors live in our brain where they outnumber nearly every other kind of brain cell. CB1 receptors regulate many of the processes listed above by acting how a sound mixer might. Imagine an audio engineer sat in front of a console stacked with switches and levers. They raise and lower your levels of stress, hunger, and anxiety as your brain reacts to external stimuli. Cannabinoids and your CB1 receptors work just like this.

CB2 receptors mostly work in the same way as your CB1s. But CB2 receptors are concentrated in immune and skin tissues instead of the brain. 

CBD indirectly interacts with both CB1 and CB2 receptors to create positive changes in your body, led by the ECS. That, in turn, creates the variety of desirable effects many are turning to CBD for.

How does CBD affect sleep? 

Because CBD research is still in its infancy, there’s still no clear cut answer for exactly how CBD will affect your sleep. The bottom line is that research says that CBD can help some people sleep, while causing wakefulness in others. Wondering why there’s such a big difference between people? The type of CBD you take, its form factor, and your own unique genetic makeup all play a role in CBD’s effects on you. But not everything about CBD and sleep is so uncertain.

One promising CBD anxiety and sleep study found that over 66% of 72 patients experienced substantially better sleep over a 3-month trial. Serving sizes ranged from 25-75 mg of CBD per day with one patient receiving 175 mg per day. Unfortunately, the exact type of CBD used was not consistent. Patients were recommended a capsule from their individual doctors. 

It’s true that this oversight gives future researchers no clues about the other cannabinoids present in those capsules. But, it’s also an accurate representation of what your own search for better sleep might look like. Every CBD product on the market (even a different batch from the same brand) has a huge degree of variance in its chemical makeup. So, it usually takes some trial and error to find a type of CBD that works best for you.

Like sleep itself, researchers have a lot left to discover about how CBD affects our rest. For now there’s bad news and good news. The bad news is the only real way to find out if CBD will help you sleep better is trying it for yourself. Because there’s so much variation in each person’s unique ECS, everyone will respond to CBD with just as much variation. But the good news is CBD is extremely well tolerated in clinical trials. And even if CBD is ineffective for some, it causes little to no adverse effects in the vast majority of people.

What is the best CBD for sleep? 

The kinds of CBD you’ll spot online and on store shelves has just as much variety as each person’s unique body. It all might seem so complicated. But really, there are just three main types of CBD you’ll want to know about: full-spectrum, broad-spectrum, and isolate. 

Full-spectrum vs. Broad-spectrum vs. Isolate

  • Full-spectrum CBD contains every natural compound contained in hemp plants (including THC). A full-spectrum CBD extract gives you every healthy compound that hemp can offer. And research seems to say that this is the ideal form. A combination of CBD and trace amounts of THC showed the best results for aiding sleep. You’ll also benefit from the bolstering and optimizing that happens when all of hemp’s cannabinoids get together in a process called the entourage effect.
  • Broad-spectrum CBD contains all the natural compounds contained in hemp plants except for THC. Broad-spectrum is a good choice if you’d like to avoid all THC for personal reasons or you’ve had negative experiences with full-spectrum CBD in the past. You’ll still enjoy the benefits of the entourage effect, but you might be missing out on the positive interactions THC might bring to the table.
  • CBD Isolate is the single chemical, CBD, with none of the other beneficial compounds found in hemp. Hemp plants need to be chemically refined to extract CBD isolate. That makes it an expensive option compared to the other two forms. Still, if you’d prefer to try CBD alone to see how it affects you, CBD isolate can be a decent choice. Just keep in mind that you’re leaving a lot of helpful compounds behind by doing so.

When should I take CBD for sleep? 

When to take CBD for sleep depends on the form you have. Here’s a quick rundown to help:

  • Edibles like gummies, teas, and sweets take the longest time to kick in. Aim for 60 to 90 minutes before bed to make sure it’s in your system by the time you lay down.
  • Tinctures are slightly quicker than edibles thanks to sublingual absorption (under your tongue). Aim for about 30 minutes here. The majority of the CBD in tinctures gets absorbed from the base of your gums and under your tongue. For maximum absorption, try to swish the CBD around the bottom of your mouth for about 60 seconds before swallowing.
  • Inhalants like vapes and CBD flower kick in almost instantly. Effects here peak at about 15 to 20 minutes after smoking.

How much CBD should I take for sleep? 

Because of the lack of comprehensive CBD studies, the inconsistency among them, and the vast differences in each person’s ECS, it’s nearly impossible to predict how much CBD you should take to help you sleep. But, there are some guidelines we guess at based on the science so far.

  • A minimum effective serving for sleep might be around 25 mg per day. That was the amount used in this CBD sleep study that saw results.
  • A moderate serving may be around 50-75 mg per day. That was the next tier up in the same study.
  • A strong serving can be anywhere up to 300 mg per day. In a review of effective CBD servings, researchers found 300 mg to be the sweet spot in patients experiencing anxiety.
  • This CBD study found that servings up to 1,000 mg of CBD per day are well tolerated in most people.

Sleep better with Flora Sophia CBD

Well hey, that just about wraps up our look at the science of CBD and sleep. We hope you’ve learned a thing or two without getting too scienced out. 

And if you’re looking to try CBD for help sleeping, check out our 35mg Full Spectrum 2:1 CBD+CBDAAt 25 mg of CBD per dropper, it’s the perfect entry point based on our serving guide in this article.  

Or for something with a little more oomph, our 60 mg Full Spectrum CBD gives you 60 mg of CBD per dropper. That brings you up to moderate strength according to our guide. 

Order either one today or see our full product catalog for even more options to help.

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