How CBD Oil Is Changing My Life One Drop at a Time For the past 51 years, sleep has been an elusive bedfellow. My mother remembers silently entering my room only to see—time and time again—my Melatonin, magnesium, or prescription pills not doing the trick with your insomnia? Here, a cannabis expert explains how to use CBD oil for sleep.
How CBD Oil Is Changing My Life One Drop at a Time
For the past 51 years, sleep has been an elusive bedfellow. My mother remembers silently entering my room only to see—time and time again—my watchful eyes opening as she peered into my crib. Sleepovers, slumber parties, and first nights in a new environment all meant infinite hours awake while others slept soundly. As an adult, I have never fallen asleep on an airplane, in a movie theater, or in any other public place, and never fall asleep while watching TV or reading. I am, however, a superb napper, which merely demonstrates how heavily loaded my bedtime sleep is with expectation, fear of failure, and monkey mind. Indeed, my sleep history is tortured and, truthfully, kind of sad.
During heightened times of stress, I am more forgiving of my insomnia, but more frequently, my waves of insomnia wax and wane without warning, understanding, or reason. Over the years, these periods of insomnia—sometimes falling and sometimes maintaining sleep–have become much less intense and disruptive. However, when I am passing the 2-, 3-, or 4-hour mark of NOT sleeping, I do rely on a small dose of an anti-anxiety medication to gently calm my central nervous system and help me fall asleep. Years ago, pre-children, I tried the sleep medication Ambien and had a very aversive—and rare—reaction (let’s just say it involved a terrifying hallucination of my husband morphing into a chicken). Additionally, natural supplements and sleep aids like melatonin and valerian root have not provided any ongoing relief from my symptoms.
Although actually falling and/or maintaining sleep is my Achilles heel, my sleep hygiene—the habits and practices that are conducive to a peaceful night’s sleep—is brag-worthy: no screens at least an hour before bed (and no TV in the bedroom), phone off and tucked away in another room, dark and cool bedroom, a regular and beloved yoga practice, exercise, reading for at least an hour every night (my happiest place), diffusing essential oils, rubbing said oils on the soles of my feet, no caffeine in the afternoon–the list is long and lovely.
And then, two months ago, everything changed when I began taking CBD oil before bed. Now, on most nights, my thoughts slow and recede, and I sleep. After one week of taking a nightly dose of CBD oil, not only was I sleeping more peacefully, soundly, and comfortably than I can ever remember, but the months-long pain that I had been experiencing in my right hip and leg completely dissipated and has not returned. The quality and consistency of my sleep are so drastically improved that it is hard to write these words without sounding hyperbolic.
Derived from the stalk and seed of cannabis (hemp) plants, cannabidiol (CBD) oil is a natural botanical concentrate that is high in the compound CBD. Unlike medical marijuana products, which are typically made from plants with high concentrations of psychoactive tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), CBD oil products contain only trace amounts of THC, usually less than .3%. Because CBD is non-psychoactive, it does not cause the euphoric or “high” feeling of marijuana and is thus a safer, less controversial alternative, while still offering significant health benefits. As opposed to THC, CBD oil will not will adversely affect your sensory awareness, perception, consciousness, reaction time, or behavior.
CBD interacts with the body through the endocannabinoid system, a vital signaling system responsible for regulating a wide array of functions, such as:
- Immune response
- Cycles of cellular life and death
In addition to positively impacting the endocannabinoid system, CBD has been the subject of more than 23,000 published studies in relation to its various medical indications, including the treatment of anxiety, epilepsy, inflammation, cancer, chronic pain, nausea and vomiting, psychosis, neurological disorders, and various other conditions.
Because dosages and brands of CBD hemp oil vary widely, it is very important do your research before using CBD in any form. The following article presents a thorough explanation of identifying high quality CBD oil: https://ministryofhemp.com/blog/identify-high-quality-cbd.
The most common recommendation is to begin with a low dosage (there will be a recommended dose on the packaging) and slowly build up to a dose that offers symptom relief. You cannot overdose on CBD, and there are no reported side effects from taking high concentrations. I visited my local, independently run natural health store and compared the product they carry with online reviews, company information, and internet searches before purchasing and taking the oil.
My mother, who suffers from chronic, often debilitating, back pain, takes a dose in the morning and the afternoon. She self-reports a 70% relief of her back-pain symptoms since beginning the CBD oil. She relies much less on over-the-counter pain medications since taking CBD. A friend of mine began taking CBD oil about 2 weeks ago and is already reporting an 80% improvement in her sleep—experiencing a more restorative and deep sleep; she also has noticed a decrease in the tingling sensations in her legs that may signal the beginning of restless leg syndrome.
Although CBD oil can be taken at any time during the day, I have only used it at night for sleep. At around 10pm each evening, I place drops of CBD oil under my tongue; I also use a topical hemp lotion to decrease inflammation and soreness in the pesky joint of my arthritic toe. I apply the lotion to my foot several times per day, especially before exercise.
I am not exaggerating when I say that my relationship to sleep has changed radically since taking CBD oil. Before I began taking CBD, I approached sleep tentatively, carefully, but with a great reserve of optimism. That posture did not always translate into a restful night’s sleep. Now I am able to trust that as my body signals the beginning of sleep, my mind will follow. I purely enjoy the entire process of sleep so much more, and am grateful, morning after morning, when I have had a cozy and restorative night’s sleep. There is surely, I feel, a very large psychological component to the success of the CBD for me: I am sleeping better so I expect to sleep better, and thus I do sleep better. I trust that the product will work. But my body feels so qualitatively different, I believe that the CBD oil is affecting me on physical levels as well.
Always consult your doctor before you begin taking a supplement or make any changes to your existing medication and supplement routine.
Have you used CBD oil? Please share your experiences, as I would love to hear from you.
Think You’ve Tried Everything for Your Sleep Issues? Enter CBD…
As editor-in-chief and co-founder of Miss Grass , an elevated lifestyle shop and publication for women and cannabis, Anna Duckworth has tried cannabis for everything from sex to cooking. And now, she’s sharing her cannabis knowledge with Well+Good. Today, she takes on a topic we’re all more than a little bit obsessed with over here: how to get a better sleep.
We are an exhausted nation: Roughly 70 million Americans suffer from chronic sleep disorders. And, considering lack of sleep can lead to mood and personality changes, we’re a cranky one, too. To put it simply, we’re tired of being tired and we’re looking for solutions.
Cannabis—CBD (cannabidiol, the non-psychoactive component of cannabis that’s cropping up in everything from lotions to lattes) in particular—is a tantalizing alternative to the typical Ambien prescription or medicine cabinet full of melatonin that, according to Elizabeth Cramer Ernst, nurse practitioner and owner of the medical marijuana clinic Hamptons Medi Spa, could provide significant relief for insomniacs. In recent studies, CBD has shown promising signs of being both an effective and safe way to get more zzz’s, although much more research needs to be done before definitive conclusions can be drawn.
Through the fog that comes with pulling unintended all-nighters night after night, however, it’s easy to lose sight of the fact that difficulty sleeping is very rarely just that. It’s almost certainly the result of an underlying condition. For many people, a lack of sleep comes down to anxiety—which, as we know, can be attributed to any number of external or internal factors from PTSD to financial strain. For others, sleepless nights are rooted in something physical, like chronic pain or restless leg syndrome. That’s why there’s truly no one-size-fits-all solution for sleep problems—including cannabis.
To find the best way for you to use cannabis or CBD oil for sleep, follow these three steps. And remember, it’s important to speak with your doctor before adding any new supplements to your routine.
1. Get to know your options
Cannabis remains illegal for recreational and/or medical use in many states. The good news for the canna-curious who live in a state that’s still under prohibition is that the passing of the Farm Bill in late 2018 federally legalized hemp, the cannabis plant that contains less than 0.3 percent of the psychoactive compound known as THC (tetrahydrocannabinol). And that means you can now legally access a whole range of hemp-derived cannabis products no matter where you live.
If you’re experienced with products that contain THC, know that some amount of the high-inducing compound can be effective in treating sleep disorders. But if you’re new to the cannabis party, it’s recommended to start with non-intoxicating cannabis products. These contain a high concentration of other active compounds—like the ever popular CBD (cannabidiol) or the lesser known but powerful sedative CBN (cannabinol)—that work by activating a network of receptors in the body known as the endocannabinoid system. Ultimately, your job is to test and try different products to find the dose just right for you.
2. Identify your main sleep issues
Everybody and every body is different. When you’re deciding on a course of treatment for sleep issues, first ask yourself this question: Do you have trouble falling asleep, staying asleep, or both?
According to Cramer Ernst, when using cannabis or CBD oil for sleep, there are a range of products from short-acting ones that can help you fall asleep fast to long-acting ones that can help you stay asleep, so you want to make sure you pick the one that addresses your particular ailment.
A vaporizer like the Her Highness Sleeping Beauty Vape Pen is considered short-acting because it takes effect in less than 10 minutes and is great for people who need help falling asleep. A tincture under the tongue, like Mineral’s Robyn for Sleep, is considered medium-acting because it takes 20 minutes to kick in and lasts between four and five hours. And then there are the edibles or capsules, like Plant People’s Be Calm Caps, which can take up to two hours to take effect but typically last between six and eight hours. (These long-acting ones are a great bet for people who can nod off easily but need help staying asleep.)
3. Integrate CBD into your sleep hygiene routine
So many of us stay up late working or scrolling through Instagram and don’t shut off our screens until it’s way too late (guilty!). Blue light from the screens has been proven to interrupt sleep dramatically and, experts say, should be avoided for up to four hours before bedtime. That’s not realistic for a lot of us, but even putting your phone down and turning off the TV an hour before you snuggle between the sheets can make a difference. It also helps to keep a regular sleep schedule so your body can start to anticipate the routine and begin shutting down without you having to force it.
One easy way to ease off the tech and begin regularizing your sleep habits is to create a bedtime ritual for yourself (with or without CBD—but, me being me, I vote for “with”). Practice meditation if that’s your jam, spritz your skin and bed with a soothing lavender spray, dim the lights, and give yourself a little massage with something like Apothecanna’s Calming Body Oil. One of my favorite tricks is to take a CBD bath with Vertly CBD Bath Salts or the CBD Bliss Bath Bomb, which Cramer Ernst says works by being absorbed into your skin. The mood-boosting power of a good soak plus CBD could be just the ticket to Dreamland you’ve been after.