Does CBD really work for sleep?
In this article, you’ll find out what the science says about CBD and sleep.
After reading it, you’ll understand:
- What the current research says about CBD and sleep.
- Average sleep times (time to fall asleep and amount spent in each sleep stage per night).
- Proven methods that’ll help you form healthier, more consistent sleep habits.
Let’s get started …
CBD and Sleep: What the Science Says
Here’s what we know based on current evidence:
- A 2019 study published in the Permanente Journal followed 72 people who took a 25 mg CBD gel capsule for 60 days and found that:
- 2/3 of people (66%) showed improvement in sleep after one month.
- 56% of people said their sleep improved after two months of using CBD.
- A 2016 research review published in the journal PLOS One found that CBD can help improve REM (Rapid Eye Movement) sleep. This stage comprises 20-25% of total sleep time, on average, and is important because your brain processes emotions and memories during this stage.
- A Project CBD survey of 1,521 people who took CBD for sleep revealed:
- CBD decreased “falling asleep” time from 62 to 20 minutes.
- CBD helped people wake up less throughout the night (four times, on average, without CBD vs just one time, on average, with CBD).
- Just 9% of folks who used CBD reported waking up tired (vs. 75% of people who didn’t use CBD).
- A 2013 study of rats published in the Journal of Psychopharmacology found that CBD significantly increased total time spent asleep.
- A small amount of THC (1 mg or less) has been shown to increase the effects of CBD, but ingesting too much could keep you up.
Rule #1 for Sleeping Better
Taking CBD does not come without risk. There are certain side effects and drug interactions (blood thinners, for example), so it’s important to have a conversation with a licensed healthcare professional before you begin using CBD or any other supplement.
If you and your doctor determine it’s safe for you, here’s the first rule of improving your sleep:
You can’t improve what you don’t measure.
Before beginning a CBD regimen for improving your sleep, you should have a solid understanding of the following (using a sleep tracker will help):
- How much time you spend each night in each sleep stage (Light, Deep, and REM sleep).
- How much time you spend awake each night.
- The amount of time it takes you to fall asleep, on average.
If you don’t have this information, how are you supposed to know if you’re actually sleeping bette after trying CBD?
If you don’t want to invest in a sleep tracker (you can get a FitBit for under $100 now), then at least write down the following information for at least two weeks:
- The time you fall asleep and wake up.
- How many times you think you fell asleep each night.
- How long it took you to fall asleep.
When I started using CBD, I didn’t “feel” any different. However, after reviewing my sleep data it was clear I was getting significantly more REM sleep, which was a pretty exciting discovery! It also reduced the time it took me to fall asleep and resulted in being able to fall back asleep much faster than I had before taking CBD.
That’s why I recommend using CBD for 30 days minimum … because you may not notice a difference after just a few days or even a week.
Take the time to collect 30 days worth of sleep data before and after. That’s the only way you’ll really know if you’re sleeping better or not.
Average Sleep Times
According to FitBit, the average person spends a little over 7.5 hours in bed each night. However, only 6.5 hours of this time is spent sleeping–the other hour is time we spend restless or awake.
As far as time spent in each sleep stage, here are averages per night:
- Light Sleep: 4 hours
- REM Sleep: 1 hour, 37 minutes
- Deep Sleep: 1 hour, 7 minutes
Age plays a factor in how much deep sleep you get too. Deep sleep decreases from 17 to 12 percent of your total sleep time from age 20 to 70. This is often attributed to pain, illness, or other medical issues.
And ladies average 25 minutes more sleep per night compared to their male counterparts.
When to Take CBD
To sleep better, you need to take CBD at the right time … and this depends largely on which type of product you’re using.
For CBD tinctures, you can wait until 5-15 minutes before you go to bed. Note the CBD will absorb faster if you let it rest under your tongue for 30-60 seconds (this is called sublingual administration). If you swallow the tincture oil, plan on it taking a bit longer to kick in.
For CBD gel capsules, take a 25mg pill 30-60 minutes before you want to go to bed. Capsules take a little longer to start working than tinctures.
Don’t miss this article about CBD dosing for a more detailed explanation.
Top 10 Ways to Develop Good Sleep Habits
Here are the science-backed strategies that have worked best for me:
- Determine your daily sleep goal. Your number will be different then mine but a research study published in the journal Sleep Medicine Clinics found that somewhere in the 6 – 8 hour range is most likely best for long-term heart health.
- Get in the habit of going to sleep and waking up at the same time each day. On weekends it can be tough be sticking to a similar sleep schedule will help you sleep better.
- Avoid caffeine after 3 p.m. Caffeine, as you probably know, is not good for sleep. If you need your daily fix, be sure to get it in early.
- Avoid alcohol. 1 or 2 drinks a day is okay, but if you drink more than that your sleep will suffer, says a research review published in the Handbook of Clinical Neurology.
- Make it dark. Invest in a room darkening shade and sleep mask if you have trouble sleeping. Research shows keeping your room dark and quiet is one of the best ways to improve your sleep.
- Keep it quiet. For those of you who hear every little noise during the night like me, a white noise machine is a worthwhile investment too. Earplugs can help drown out noise too.
- Limit screen time in your bedroom. I know tons of people who fall asleep watching TV every night but studies show that bright screens in your bedroom can have a negative impact on how you sleep.
- Make time to wind down. Trying reading, stretching, foam rolling, or doing some light yoga or meditation before bed to help reduce any anxious feelings. This will get your mind and body ready for a good night’s sleep. Read more: CBD and Anxiety.
- Upgrade your pillow and mattress. We spend a good chunk of our lives in bed. That’s why a quality mattress and pillow are worthwhile investments.
- Track your sleep. There are tons of sleep trackers available. I’ve used the FitBit, TicWatch, and Withings Sleep Mat. All are around $100. You can also get an Oura Ring, which is a little more pricey.
Try incorporating these strategies into your bedtime routine, along with a 25 mg CBD gel capsule, and your sleep will most definitely improve. It takes a little time and patience, but the results can be well worth it!