Does CBD help or hinder sleep?
What most of us wouldn’t give for a good night’s sleep. Without it, we can’t function at peak emotional, physical, and mental levels, yet in today’s high-stress, plugged-in world, so many of us don’t get decent sleep.
Ailments like insomnia, sleep apnea, narcolepsy, and excessive daytime sleepiness cause consumers to turn to over-the-counter and prescription pharmaceuticals for relief, yet many of these medications have their own serious side effects and adverse risks.
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For that reason, many consumers are exploring natural sleep aids like cannabis. We know THC-rich varieties can help people achieve sleep, but what about those sensitive to or afraid of its intoxicating effects?
Can cannabidiol (CBD), a non-intoxicating cannabis compound, also offer sleep benefits?
CBD and sleep: What does the research say?
As CBD has exploded onto the market, consumers are turning to the cannabinoid to treat many ailments, including insomnia. The insurgence of CBD has also prompted a sizable uptick in the number of preclinical and clinical studies looking at CBD’s value in treating a whole host of disorders. However, very few studies center on CBD and sleep.
In a recent Consumer Reports survey on CBD, 10% of respondents report using CBD as a sleep aid. The majority of them said it worked, but that evidence is anecdotal. Without controlled studies, it is difficult to tell whether CBD is truly acting alone to induce sleep. There are several complicating factors.
First, high-CBD strains often contain myrcene , a terpene that is said to be sedating. Although controlled studies on humans are lacking, myrcene’s sedative effects are well established in the animal literature, and for centuries, herbalists have been using hops as a human sleep aid. As it turns out, hops have high myrcene levels.
Therefore, if a person uses a high-CBD strain and says it helps them sleep, it is hard to tell whether CBD, myrcene or the two working in combination is the active agent. However, it’s worth noting that most people aren’t smoking or vaporizing myrcene-rich CBD flowers for sleep. Rather, most are using a CBD concentrate that contains little to no myrcene whatsoever.
Very few researchers have looked at isolated CBD as a sleep aid. Instead, researchers have looked at CBD in conjunction with other cannabinoids like THC. In a 2017 extensive literature review entitled Cannabis, Cannabinoids, and Sleep: a Review of the Literature, the research team found that CBD and THC were indeed the two cannabinoids most often cited as sleep-inducing aids.
Multiple cannabinoids muddy the waters
THC has a sedative effect and can reduce the time it takes to fall asleep. Some research shows that the entourage effect , or harmonized interaction between cannabis compounds like CBD and THC, seems to carry over to sleep.
Sulak explained that CBD may just be reducing symptoms like anxiety, which allows the person to relax so that their natural sleep mechanism can take over.
However, THC does not put a person in a sleep state. Neither does CBD. Instead, THC is a sedative and has other properties helpful to sleep. For example, THC makes a person feel comfortable while remaining still, called catalepsy.
Because CBD doesn’t alter consciousness in the same way that THC does, is it even possible that CBD can work alone as a sleep aid?
Dr. Dustin Sulak, DO, is the founder of Healer.com and Integr8 Health, a Maine medical practice that uses medical cannabis as a treatment for a variety of ailments. Sulak explained that CBD may actually just be reducing symptoms like anxiety, which allows the person to relax so that their natural sleep mechanism can take over.
To demonstrate Sulak’s point, here is one such published example, where a Colorado research team looked at outcomes of psychiatric patients who received CBD in a clinical setting to help with anxiety and sleep complaints. CBD was given as an adjunct to usual treatment. Within the first 30 days of CBD use, anxiety decreased in nearly 80% of patients and sleep scores improved by nearly 70%. CBD was well tolerated by the vast majority of patients.
But was CBD directly responsible for this outcome? And, given that a fairly large group of people with insomnia also have depression and anxiety , what exactly is CBD working on? This is where the waters become even more muddied.
Sulak’s practice has over 8,000 patients, so he sees the connection between sleep and chronic disease every day. “Sleep is extremely important,” he said. “Almost all of our most prevalent chronic diseases require healthy sleep for the patient to get better.”
Sulak said that if he can fix a patient’s sleep disturbance, it serves as a unifying treatment that can help multiple patient conditions like diabetes and chronic pain. While Sulak does treat sleep disorders, he very rarely does so with CBD in any form, whether pure CBD or a CBD-dominant cannabis strain.
Instead, Sulak often uses THC with a sedating terpene profile. He achieves excellent results, even when using low doses.
The dosing dilemma
Depending on who you ask, CBD has been reported as having either a stimulating or a calming effect, thus adding confusion to the overall equation. While there is very little published evidence regarding dosing, research to date indicates that at higher doses, CBD has a calming effect; yet at lower doses, CBD has a stimulating effect.
In a 1977 animal study, the “ hypnotic-like effects ” of CBD were first studied. Since then, very few CBD dosing studies have been performed, but the evidence seems to indicate that the effectiveness of CBD depends on whether the person has a normal sleep rhythm or whether the person has a sleep disorder.
In a 2018 study on 27 healthy subjects , a high CBD dose (300 mg) qualifying as a clinically anxiolytic dose had no effect on the sleep-wake cycle. CBD was given 30 minutes prior to bedtime and sleep recordings were made for eight hours thereafter.
In a similar study, very high CBD doses (600 mg) had a sedative effect, but in subjects with insomnia, much lower doses of 160 mg reduced sleep disruption and increased total sleep duration. Conversely, very low doses of 25 mg had no effect.
CBD and REM sleep
CBD has been found to help with certain sleep anomalies that occur during rapid eye movement (REM) sleep. There are two types of sleep: non-rapid eye movement sleep (NREM) and rapid eye-movement (REM) sleep. NREM sleep progresses through a 90-minute cycle leading up to REM sleep, in which brain wave activity increases and dreaming occurs. REM sleep is also the time when previously learned is solidified into a memory.
In normal REM sleep, the limb muscles become temporarily paralyzed so that a person cannot act out dreams. In Parkinson’s disease as well as REM behavior disorder , people are able to flail and act out vivid and violent dreams. CBD at doses ranging from 75 to 300 mg was shown in a preliminary study to help these patients, and in an early case study, high-dose CBD helped a pediatric PTSD patient .
Low-dose CBD formulations seem to keep people awake and not alter the sleep cycle. However, this may one day prove beneficial for circadian rhythm disorders like excessive daytime sleepiness and narcolepsy because they may help people stay awake during daylight hours.
So, should you be using CBD for sleep?
Every individual’s body is unique, and therefore the effect of CBD will be highly individualized. Sulak explained that he would be open to using CBD in his own practice if a patient had not responded well to THC. Some patients are extraordinarily sensitive to THC and have symptoms during the night or still feel impaired in the morning. Sulak said he would likely select CBD strains that contained high levels of myrcene (luckily, there are plenty of options ).
Sulak said that CBD may offer benefit for people with sleep disturbances, and he feels it is important to move forward with pragmatically designed clinical trials, meaning a trial that does not provide every patient with the same exact treatment. Instead, an algorithm type approach would be used, starting with one treatment and moving to others if the previous ones are unsuccessful.
Sulak also stated that Americans are desperately in need of education on understanding sleep hygiene and the critical importance of sleep for health and happiness. “Most people don’t know that sleep disturbances are associated with decreased analgesic (pain-relieving effects) of opioids and antidepressant drugs, so it’s such a vicious cycle,” he said. “It’s wonderful to use cannabis to break that cycle,” Sulak said.
CBD is safe, even at high doses
Sulak said that he ensures his patients that CBD is extraordinarily safe, so if it is not effective at low to moderate doses of 10 to 50 mg, CBD is safe to try at higher doses of 100 to 200mg. In a 2018 study , single doses of 1,500 mg, 3,000 mg or 6,000 mg were administered to healthy subjects daily for six days. While the study was not aimed at researching CBD’s effects on sleep, it demonstrated that CBD is indeed safe.
However, it’s important to note that research has a long way to go in establishing drug interactions associated with cannabinoids. While CBD appears to be safe on its own, consider consulting a medical professional before adding CBD or other cannabis products to your regimen.
Despite the overall lack of CBD sleep studies, the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine concluded in a 2017 report that moderate evidence exists for cannabinoids to improve short-term sleep outcomes in a variety of conditions. As more research is conducted, CBD may well benefit patients who have ailments like obstructive sleep apnea, fibromyalgia, chronic pain, and anxiety.
They say cannabis helps with sleep, but what if you'd rather not get high? Learn more about the differences between THC and CBD for sleep, with expert weigh-in on strains to try out.
CBD Dosage: How Much to Take for Pain, Anxiety & Sleep
Written by Livvy Ashton
- Last Updated: September 2, 2020
So you’ve bought yourself some CBD, but one question remains unanswered — How much CBD oil should I take?
Is one dropper daily enough to manage symptoms?
What’s the best CBD dosage for specific conditions?
This article is going to blow the doors wide-open on dosing CBD.
You’ll understand the ins and outs of dosing cannabidiol, learn how to properly measure your CBD dose with different products, and learn the important differences between dosing CBD oil for different types of symptoms.
CBD Dosage: How Much CBD Oil Should I Take?
A one-size-fits-all dosage for CBD doesn’t exist. Even the FDA doesn’t provide a Recommended Daily Intake (RDI) for CBD.
In simple terms, CBD doesn’t have an official serving size.
CBD acts on 60 different molecular pathways, meaning it has a very complex relationship with the body and the brain. It’s difficult to come up with a definite dosage guideline that would help any person regardless of individual physiology.
Some CBD manufacturers give you their own dosage recommendations, but they do so to provide new users with a general point of reference. It’s impossible to tell if a specific dosage is the right amount for a given person because it doesn’t address a few critical variables — which I’m going to discuss below.
Important Considerations For Dosing CBD
Finding an effective CBD dosage may depend on the following factors:
- The potency of the product
- The bioavailability of the chosen product
- Your unique biochemistry
- Prior experience with CBD
- Your weight
- Your metabolism
- The severity of your condition
- Other medications you’re currently taking
Nick Jikomes, an esteemed neuroscientist, says:
“As our body undergoes physiological changes, so do cannabinoid receptors in the endocannabinoid system, which are directly linked to the effects produced by CBD.”
This means that your “best CBD dosage” can change throughout your life, so there will never be a universal or static amount that works for you.
How to Calculate the Best CBD Dosage for Your Needs
There are steps you can take to find your ideal CBD dosage for your health goals. Let’s go over the process step by step.
1. Decide What Form of CBD to Use
Currently, the most common way to deliver CBD to your system is through CBD oil drops. They’re relatively easy to use and allow you to absorb CBD directly into the bloodstream as opposed to capsules and edibles.
However, pure CBD oil has a distinct earthy taste. Some find this flavor too harsh and somewhat bitter. If you don’t like the taste of CBD oils, something like a capsule, gummy, or vape oil may be a better option.
The above routes of administration are typically preferred by people who need fast relief from anxiety, stress, pain, or inflammation.
Other popular methods include CBD edibles, capsules, and topicals. Topicals are the better option if the area you’re trying to treat is on the skin, joints, or muscles.
Remember when I mentioned the importance of the chosen consumption method on your dosage regimen?
Here’s why it matters.
2. Check the Bioavailability of Your Product
Bioavailability refers to the percentage of ingested CBD that your body absorbs into the bloodstream.
Below you’ll find the bioavailability of 4 different delivery methods:
CBD topicals: 3. Talk to a Physician
Before taking any CBD product, I advise you to consult with a physician. This is the best way to make sure the CBD or other supplements you’re taking won’t interfere with any medications you may be taking. It’s also the best way to rule out any major causes for your symptoms before starting supplementation.
4. Start With a Lower Dose than You Think You Need
Everybody has a different history with the use of certain substances, supplements, and medications. And since we’re all made differently, what works wonders for you, might not work for your friend — and vice versa.
The best way to determine your initial CBD dosage is to count it by your body weight. Experts recommend starting with 1–6 mg of CBD per pound. Low doses allow the user to monitor their body’s reaction more effectively.
This brings us to our last tip.
5. Gradually Increase the Dosage Until You Notice the Difference
Increasing the amount of CBD oil gradually is the best way to figure out the best CBD dosage.
I recommend lower CBD doses at first because if the dose is too high, it may trigger some unwanted effects, such as sleepiness, lowered blood pressure, lightheadedness, or diarrhea. Side-effects are a cue to dial your dose back to the last one that didn’t produce these effects.
On the other hand, if you continue to use a dosage that’s too low, you may not feel anything at all, so again — observation is key. Listen to your body, you’ll soon get a feel for how CBD works for you.
How to Measure Your CBD Oil Dosage
CBD oil drops come in dropper bottles. They’re easy to use and allow you to precisely measure out your serving of CBD.
All you need to do is squeeze the dropper so it draws the oil from the bottle, apply a few drops under the tongue, and hold it there for about 60 seconds. This way, CBD will absorb into the bloodstream through sublingual membranes under the tongue.
But how do you estimate your CBD oil dosage?
To answer this, you’ll need to know how much CBD a dropper holds. Typically, a dropper can carry 1 ml of liquid. If you know the total volume of your oil drops, you can do the math and calculate your CBD dosage using a simple formula.
[Total CBD in the bottle] ÷ [Number of milliliters in the bottle] = mg of CBD in a dropper.
For example, let’s say you have a 30 ml CBD oil that has 750 mg of CBD:
750 ÷ 30 = 25 mg of CBD per ml (per dropper)
How to Measure Your CBD Vape Oil Dosage
With CBD E-liquids, you’ll need to know how much CBD is in the product. As you vape your E-liquid throughout the day, watch the tank and see how long it will work without refilling.
Dosing vape oil is better using qualitative means. The effects appear much faster than from tinctures or edibles, so you can take little puffs at a time and wait about 5 minutes between another dose to see how it’s affecting you.
Once you start feeling the effects you’re looking for, this is your dose.
If you experience side effects, it means the dose is too high, so the next time you vape, useless.
Recommended CBD Dosage for Pain, Anxiety & Sleep
As mentioned, there are some general dosage guidelines for CBD that you can use for certain conditions. After studying CBD for several decades, scientists have finally created some kind of a framework for CBD dosage. This creates a relatively good point of reference for determining the effective amount of cannabidiol.
CBD Dosage for Anxiety
Most studies have investigated the use of CBD to treat social anxiety. One of the first studies, which was replicated many times since the initial publication, points to a dosage of 40 mg of sublingual CBD as an effective treatment for social anxiety. However, specific cases of anxiety disorders may call for an increase of up to 300 mg of CBD.
CBD Dosage for Different Levels of Pain
The optimal CBD dosage for people with chronic pain ranges between 2.5–20 mg of CBD when administered orally, alongside or without THC. Certain individuals may require higher doses, especially those with a greater body mass.
CBD Dosage to Improve Sleep Quality
CBD is known for its ability to reduce stress and anxiety and mitigate both pain and inflammation.
These factors are important when it comes to maintaining proper sleep quality, but there’s also one more benefit you should be aware of. At higher doses, CBD may induce sleepiness, allowing the user to fall asleep faster without experiencing the stream of racing thoughts.
Depending on the frequency and severity of your symptoms, you may need between 25–175 mg of CBD daily to combat them.
CBD Dosage: FAQ
1. Is CBD Safe?
Yes, CBD is generally considered safe for human consumption, with no signs of toxicity at doses as high as 1,500 mg daily.
2. Can CBD Get You High?
No, CBD doesn’t act on the cannabinoid receptors in the brain as THC does. Therefore, this cannabinoid is non-intoxicating — it can’t get you high.
3. Can You Overdose on CBD?
Overdosing on cannabinoids is impossible because cannabinoids don’t affect the brain stem are responsible for respiration.
4. Does CBD Oil Have Any Side Effects?
CBD has a relatively short list of side effects, most of which are considered minor. However, in high doses, CBD can produce an array of unwanted reactions, such as:
- Dry mouth
- Lowered blood pressure and heart rate
It’s a small price to pay compared to the list of side effects caused by prescription medications.
5. What’s the Best Way to Consume CBD?
If by “the best” you mean the most efficient, then oil tinctures or vaping products will be your best options. That’s because they offer higher bioavailability than capsules and edibles.
6. Should I Take Full-Spectrum CBD or Isolate?
If you’re not subject to periodical drug tests at work, I would recommend a full-spectrum product because of something called the “entourage effect.” This term describes the synergy between all active ingredients in cannabis, including cannabinoids other than CBD and THC, terpenes, and other plant compounds. They’re believed to require less CBD than pure isolate to produce similar effects.
7. Can I Give CBD to My Dog or Cat?
Hemp-derived CBD products are safe for pets because they contain little to no THC, the intoxicating compound that produces toxicity in animals. Pets can benefit from CBD in similarly to humans.
Final Thoughts: What’s Your Optimal CBD Dosage?
The ideal CBD dosage that would work for everyone doesn’t exist. The nature of cannabidiol is very complex — so is the cannabis plant — and there are too many outside variables that can influence CBD’s absorption.
The potency of your product, its bioavailability, your weight, the severity of the condition, cannabinoid spectrum — they all matter.
You can use some general dosage guidelines for specific conditions, but always make sure you treat it as a point of reference, not the one and the only way to dose CBD.
So, what’s the best way to figure out the ideal CBD dosage?
Start low and gradually go up with the dosage until you experience the desired effects. The way you react to CBD can change over time, so you need to monitor the effects throughout your supplementation.
You should also ask a physician who’s experienced in using CBD or hemp extracts with patients to get professional guidance.
What CBD dosage is best for you? How much do you take daily? Let me know in the comments below!
CBD Dosage: How Much to Take for Pain, Anxiety & Sleep Written by Livvy Ashton Last Updated: September 2, 2020 So you’ve bought yourself some CBD, but one question remains