Some nights, you have trouble getting to sleep or staying asleep. But there are also nights when you don’t remember having a problem, but you still don’t feel rested when you wake up in the morning.
That’s because the quality of sleep is as important as the quantity of sleep. Healthy sleep cycles follow a definite pattern throughout the night, which vary somewhat from person to person but are necessary for all people to function well. And even if you’ve always been a good sleeper, quality sleep can be harder to maintain at certain times of your life.
That’s why many people are using CBD for sleep as part of their nightly wellness routine. It’s not a sedative that just knocks you out but a natural substance that helps your body and mind stay in balance. And when used in combination with other natural substances like herbal teas, it can help you maintain that top-quality sleep for years to come.
What Is Good Sleep?
Sleep might seem as simple as falling off a log, but it’s really a complex process involving your whole body and brain.
It begins before bedtime when you start to feel sleepy. This is due in part to hormonal changes: your cortisol, sometimes called the “stress hormone” because it’s associated with alertness and agitation, starts to drop while your melatonin levels increase.
Once you go to bed and into the Land of Nod, your sleep goes through repeated four-stage cycles that typically last between 70 and 120 minutes.
- Stage 1: This is typically a brief stage when you’re tuned out but not completely relaxed. Do you know those odd twitches people (and animals) get in bed? That’s in Stage 1.
- Stage 2: Once you’ve passed into Stage 2, you’re more properly asleep: breathing slows, body temperature drops, and brain waves change from their waking pattern. It’s still fairly easy to be awakened from this stage, though, which usually lasts between 10 and 25 minutes.
- Stage 3: This is the beginning of deep sleep when your systems really slow down, and your brain starts producing delta waves. Deep sleep is important to your health because your body really focuses on recovery and repair during this stage.
- Stage 4: In this stage, you’re so deeply asleep that your body is actually paralyzed except for vital functions and rapid eye movement (REM). But your brain activity actually increases because this is the stage when you have the most vivid dreams. Even if you think you don’t dream, you probably do; you just don’t remember them.
As you repeatedly cycle through the night, the REM stage typically gets longer. Eventually, as your need for sleep gets satiated, your melatonin levels start to drop, and your cortisol starts to rise again, and you naturally wake up.
Because you cycle through these stages multiple times per night, it’s not necessarily a problem if you wake up at some point. You might just be between sleep cycles. But if you spend too much of the night awake or not enough of it in a deep sleep, you can end up feeling tired in the morning.
What Can Interfere with Good Sleep?
Given the complexity of this process, it’s not surprising that a lot of things can throw it off. Here are some of the chief culprits in modern life.
- Light: Or, more specifically, light at the wrong time. Your melatonin patterns are attuned to the natural cycles of sunlight, so if you don’t get enough light during the day or get too much at night, it can disrupt your sleep. Blue light, as well, is especially disruptive to sleep, which is why it’s a good idea to avoid screen time before bed.
- Temperature: For similar reasons, melatonin tends to rise with falling temperatures. Climate control that keeps your home at the same temperature all day and night might actually be messing with your sleep.
- Food: Your eating patterns actually affect your sleep patterns more than you might realize. Eating too little or too much before bed can keep you awake or in lighter stages.
- Stress: Stress keeps up your cortisol levels so that even if you’re sleeping, you stay in the lighter stages, so you’re prepared to wake up at any time.
- Noise: Yeah, you might be able to fall asleep with the TV or radio on, but it could still be preventing you from sleeping as deeply as you need to for proper rest.
- Stimulants and sedatives: While it’s obvious why stimulants like caffeine disturb your sleep, sedatives like alcohol can also do so by disrupting your normal cycles. Heavy sedation before bed tends to prevent REM sleep in the early part of the night, which is one reason why you usually need a long time to “sleep it off.”
Why Use CBD for Sleep?
So to summarize what we’ve learned so far about how to sleep better:
- It depends on a delicate balance of hormones to progress through multiple four-stage cycles.
- It’s easy to throw it off with artificial lights, heat, stress, and other common features of modern life.
- Taking sedatives can actually make things worse.
That’s why CBD oil for sleep is such an attractive option. It’s not a sedative or a drug, but it does interact with your body in ways that can help you stay calm and relaxed so your sleep cycles can run at optimum.
CBD and the Endocannabinoid System
CBD is one of many compounds in the cannabis plant, called cannabinoids, that scientists have been studying for possible wellness benefits. The key seems to be the human body’s endocannabinoid system (ECS).
The ECS is a set of receptors in your nervous system that are involved in an ever-growing list of bodily functions – mood, memory, appetite, immune response, even standing upright. Overall though, the ECS supports homeostasis: the balance of your body’s rhythms and cycles. Sleep-wake homeostasis is one kind of homeostasis: the longer you’re awake, the more you want to sleep, and the longer you sleep.
CBD and other cannabinoids interact with those receptors in ways that researchers are still figuring out, but many users have found that CBD helps them maintain a calm and relaxed feeling through common stresses like public speaking. So it’s not surprising that many people also use CBD oil for sleep.
What’s the Best Way to Use CBD for Sleep?
There’s no one-size-fits-all approach to CBD or sleep, for that matter. For quality sleep, though, you’ll likely prefer some ingestible form of CBD to an inhaled form like a vape because you want something that will stay in your system all night. Inhaled CBD usually wears off in a few hours.
Many people like CBD gummies for sleep because they’re tasty, but if you’re sensitive to sugar, you might prefer to take a simple CBD oil tincture. You can make the experience more flavorful and relaxing by blending it with a cup of tea, which can include herbs that are themselves relaxing. Some of the best herbs for tea that helps you sleep include:
- Valerian root
- Lemon balm
- Magnolia bark
- Passion flower
It’s best to put milk or cream in your tea before the CBD oil since oil and water don’t mix, but the fat in the milk will help it blend. cbdMD will also soon be coming out with fruit-flavored CBD drink mixes that are water-soluble, so you can make CBD tea without any milk or cream if you prefer.
Whatever way you prefer it, it’s best to take your CBD oil for sleep about an hour before bed so your body has time to digest and absorb it.
Taking a CBD Sleep Aid
While many people find that plain CBD products help them maintain quality sleep, there are also specially formulated CBD sleep aids that include extra ingredients to aid slumber. cbdMD’s CBD PM is actually made with many of the same herbs for tea that make you sleep that we mentioned earlier – chamomile, valerian root, passion flower, lemon balm, and hops – along with melatonin, which can be extracted from plant sources.
Currently, CBD PM is available either in tincture or softgel form. Each has advantages and disadvantages, so which one you choose depends on your preference.
Advantages of CBD oil for sleep:
- It’s faster-acting than the capsule if you absorb it through a mucous membrane, which you can do by holding it under your tongue for 30 to 60 seconds before swallowing
- It’s vegan
- It comes in mint and berry flavors
- It has more melatonin per serving (5 mg)
- You can blend it with food or drink
Advantages of the CBD softgels for sleep:
- It’s faster to take since you can just swallow it
- Each capsule has exactly the same amount of ingredients
- No flavor
- No spilling
- If you’re carrying it on a plane, you don’t have to worry about liquid content
- Less melatonin per serving (3 mg) if you’re sensitive to it
In addition, cbdMD is developing CBD for sleep gummies with a similar formulation. Gummies have benefits similar to those of the softgels, but you don’t need a liquid to swallow them with, and they come in delicious flavors.
Using CBD in Your Sleep Routine
CBD can be a great tool for helping you get better sleep, but it’s good to remember the list of things we mentioned earlier that can lower sleep quality. If you really want to keep your nights restful in the long term, you also want to practice what the experts call sleep hygiene.
For the most part, this simply means avoiding those disruptors. Keep your bedroom cool, dark, and quiet in the evenings. Eat moderately at dinner and avoid coffee and alcohol too late. Avoid screen time before going to bed. But it’s also good to create positive nighttime rituals that help you relax and that you train your brain to prepare for sleep.
Those rituals depend on your personal tastes and needs. But there are several ways that you can incorporate CBD for sleep.
- Try combining CBD and meditation. We have a whole post about that!
- Make a cup of CBD tea, as we described above. Sip it slowly while reading your favorite escapist novel.
- Take a bath with CBD bath products. There’s reason to believe that a hot bath in the evening by itself will help you sleep, and adding CBD to the mix makes it extra relaxing. A lavender-scented CBD bath product can bring even more benefits because lavender is one of those calming herbs.
These are just a few ideas. Feel free to dream up your path to sweet dreams!
Keep Up with the Latest on CBD for Sleep
As we mentioned, we’ve got new products coming out like CBD for sleep gummies and new concentrations and options to help you get better rest. We also still have our staple sleep aids, like our CBD oil for sleep and CBD PM Softgels. So stay tuned to the sleep tag on our blog for more announcements and tips on getting better sleep so you can live a better life!