Can CBD Oil Help You Sleep Uk

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Cannabidoil has a number of health benefits, including easing anxiety, pain and stress symptoms – but can CBD oil be used to treat insomnia and help with sleep? Does CBD really work for sleep? One very tired Cosmopolitan UK writer shares her experience of taking CBD oil for sleep disturbances – and found it helped her What are the sleep benefits of CBD? Discover more about the science behind it, how to use it and how to choose the right CBD product.

CBD oil for sleep: what you need to know

We speak to Dr Sarah Brewer about the benefits and potential risks factors associated with using cannabidiol for insomnia treatment.

If you suffer from insomnia or have trouble getting to sleep from time to time, you might be considering turning to CBD oil for help.

Cannabidoil, more commonly known as CBD, has been associated with a number of health benefits, including easing symptoms of anxiety, pain and stress. But is CBD oil an effective treatment for insomnia or will it keep you awake?

We speak to Healthspan Medical Director Dr Sarah Brewer about using CBD oil as a natural sleep remedy:

What causes insomnia?

Insomnia affects millions of people in the UK and is most commonly caused by stress, anxiety or depression.

Worry-related sleep problems have been on the rise during lockdown, with more than half of Britons saying they have experienced more disturbed sleep than usual.

Can CBD oil help to improve sleep?

While further scientific research is needed on this topic, preliminary studies have suggested CBD oil may be an effective natural remedy for insomnia sufferers, thanks to the way it interacts with the body’s endocannabinoid system.

‘Cannabidiol (CBD) is a popular treatment for insomnia, and promotes refreshing REM sleep to reduced excessive daytime sleepiness,’ says Dr Brewer. ‘CBD is proven to be particularly helpful for sleep disorders in people with neurological conditions, such as Parkinson’s disease.’

‘A review of preliminary research found that cannabidiol (CBD) may have therapeutic potential for the treatment of insomnia and may hold promise for REM sleep behaviour disorder,’ Dr Brewer adds.

How does CBD oil for sleep work?

While you might associate cannabis with feeling relaxed and sleepy, using CBD oil to treat sleep disorders is slightly more complex than simply making you feel drowsy. Ironically, CBD oil can make you feel more alert. So how does it work as a treatment for sleep disorders?

‘It is particularly helpful for people whose sleep problems are due to anxiety,’ explains Dr Brewer. ‘A recent review of 72 adults with anxiety or poor sleep found that anxiety scores decreased within the first month in 79.2 per cent and remained decreased during the study duration. Sleep scores also improved within the first month in 66.7 per cent and it was well tolerated.’

Similarly, one of the other major factors associated with insomnia is stress, but research has shown that CBD oil can improve your stress response, which can in turn help you to relax.

‘Anecdotally, ever since I started taking CBD at night I have enjoyed really deep sleep and also feel more relaxed,’ says Dr Brewer.

“I tried CBD oil for sleep – and it changed my life”

The buzz around CBD oil (and its various offshoots: CBD gummies, CBD-infused lotion and even CBD tea) and its anxiety-reducing qualities have long been doing the rounds – but is CBD oil also good for sleep? If you’re asking team Cosmopolitan, the answer is a solid ‘yes’ on that front.

For me, prior to trying CBD oil, a typical night would go something like this: I’d lie still in the dark, feeling as though something was rushing towards me, a dense unidentifiable mass – huge and heavy – aiming for my head. I’d move away just in time, jolting myself awake. This happened three or four nights a week; just an hour or so after falling asleep, my heart would thump so loud I could feel it in my eardrums and I’d be awake again. Shaking, feeling the adrenaline moving around my legs.

I was diagnosed with Complex Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder at the age of 20, having first (unknowingly) shown symptoms at seven. After a failed counselling attempt, an allergic reaction to an SSRI and, finally, successfully undertaking months of EMDR therapy privately, I felt I had ‘overcome my traumas’. That was, until in the early hours of an unexpected Monday morning, when my sleep was abruptly broken by the sheer panic of feeling like heavy objects were falling on my head.

After speaking with a GP I learned that I had a diagnosable sleep condition commonly caused by trauma and anxiety. ‘Hypnopompic hallucinations’ are a multi-sensory experience that can happen just as you’re waking up, in those moments when you’re neither asleep nor awake. And the only way it would stop, my GP explained, was if I truly ‘dealt with my anxiety’ – especially that which had begun spiking around bedtime.

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After a lot of relentless Googling, I came across a vast number of videos, forum entries and social media posts about how CBD products were helping people to not only sleep, but also relieve symptoms of anxiety and even soothe physical ailments. It was also something I’d heard chatter about in the office, with a fellow Cosmopolitan staffer swearing by CBD oil in moments on panic and CBD gummies at night. I was growing more and more tired (literally) of my sleep situation and the underlying anxiety I’d become accustomed to, and felt anything was worth a try.

So, I quizzed an expert on how CBD can be used to induce restful sleep – and put it to the test myself.

Does CBD oil help with sleep?

I took my first dose of CBD oil – via a pipette, dispensing a few drops under my tongue – on a Saturday afternoon and quickly, I felt the positive impact it had. From the Sunday, I slept soundly every single night for the following two months. Honestly, it was that quick – and it went on for eight glorious weeks. Uninterrupted, panic-free, blissful sleep. I felt better in every way.

Unfortunately, after those two months my former sleep terrors began creeping back in, once or twice a week, and I was truly devastated. Crushed, in fact. It had been working – what happened? So, I safely (with research and guidance) increased my CBD dose and once again, I was away.

But it wasn’t just my sleep that benefited from my CBD endeavours either. My thoughts weren’t as chaotic; I felt that I could carefully sift through them, categorise them and act on them. I had clarity, I could focus and it felt as if every process in my body was working better. My digestion, my sex life, my emotional agility, plus sleep, all tied in and were working in harmony for the first time in forever.

I felt and became more pleasant, more patient and more consistently stable. PTSD provides peaks and troughs; CBD oil provided stability.

From an expert: How does CBD oil work?

Bea Lyus, Registered Nutritional Therapist, College of Naturopathic Medicine, and Resident CBD Expert at Cannabotech UK, says, “We know very well that anxiety and stress contribute to sleep problems such as insomnia and that CBD can effectively reduce anxiety and stress, therefore aiding a better quality of sleep. However, it’s important to note that a low dosage of CBD may actually cause alertness, whereas a higher dosage will help you to feel drowsy and sleepy.”

Essentially, CBD works by activating our serotonin receptors, which in turn calm the mind and any anxious feelings. “Serotonin is a neurotransmitter found in the brain and the gut which is responsible for managing our hormones and thus our mood changes,” adds Lyus.

The expert continues to explain that research has shown CBD works effectively to target the Endocannabinoid system (ECS) – the body’s network system. “The Endocannabinoid system is like a computer software which sends signals to the brain, nervous system, immune cells, organs. It acts like a main control of restoring balance in all biological functions, from sleep to appetite, memory, mood, immune system, pain control, energy, reproduction and cell replication.” Pretty powerful stuff, huh?

What is CBD oil?

CBD oil stands for ‘cannabidiol’ and is not the same as marijuana, although it is extracted from the cannabis plant – something that’s a common misconception about this herbal hero. The two main active ingredients in cannabis are CBD and THC; CBD has a calming impact and is not psychoactive (meaning it does not change the state of mind), whereas THC is, and is responsible for the anxiety and paranoia commonly associated with marijuana use.

Is it legal to use CBD for sleep in the UK?

Yes, as long as it contains less than 0.2% THC, CBD oil is often sold as a food supplement or herbal medicine in the UK. “The UK is the first country in the world to regulate CBD for oral consumption, with the Food Standards Agency’s public list of cannabinoid (CBD) products permitted for consumer sale,” says Lyus. “Only the CBD products featured on the list have been given the green light by the FSA to stay on the market, in line with the UK’s Novel Food requirements, and any products not included must be removed from shelves.”

The bottom line? Be sure to do your research when choosing a CBD product, but as long as you’re shopping from a reputable retailer, such as Boots or Holland & Barrett, you’ll be fine.

Does CBD oil get you high?

No, that’s the THC talking. According to Lyus: “There are over 100 different types of cannabinoids and it’s important to differentiate between CBD and THC. CBD (or ‘cannabidiol’) is the most known for its health supporting benefits.

“The other compound is THC (or ‘tetrahydrocannabinol’), which is a controlled substance and is illegal in most countries worldwide. There are 3 different kinds of CBDs which are commonly available on the market including: full-spectrum, broad-spectrum and CBD isolate.”

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She adds that CBD isolate only contains CBD and no other cannabinoids, and absolutely zero THC. “With isolate, you can guarantee the amount of CBD per crop; it is pure and odourless plus there is no potential allergic reaction to other ingredients found in the hemp plant. This is backed up by a very recent study in the Lancet Psychiatry.”

To conclude: no, CBD oil will not get you high. “If you use a CBD with THC within the legal limit, it will not get you high,” Lyus confirms. “Better still, if you use broad-spectrum or CBD isolate, it will never make you high as they contain zero per cent THC.”

How long does CBD oil take to work for sleep?

Of course every brain and body works and reacts differently, but I noticed the anxiety-reducing effects of CBD within around half an hour. Longer-term benefits became more clear for me after around two weeks, and I stopped taking any CBD oil for my sleep after about six months. I simply didn’t need it anymore.

Bea says: “We are all different individuals, so it may take longer for some people than others. Anecdotal evidence suggests it can take up to 15 minutes when using an oil, drop, tincture or mouth spray. Though, tablets and creams can take longer.”

Under periods of stress, I still experience the occasional sleep disturbance – but it’s nothing like the nightly battle I was having before I found the benefits that CBD oil can have for sleep.

Can CBD really help you sleep better?

I love getting comfy and feeling myself drifting off; I love dreaming; and, most of all, I love waking up, no alarm clocks in earshot, feeling completely rested.

However, as with most love stories, loving sleep doesn’t equate to having a successful relationship with it – in fact, it’s something I really struggle with.

A few months ago I had a week of such bad sleep that I felt like crying everytime I woke up: enough was enough, I thought, and it was time to make a change.

I’d heard a lot about how CBD can help you not just get to sleep, but have a better quality sleep, but I wasn’t sure if it was a gimmick, so I decided to try it out for myself.

CBD is cannabidiol, one of over 110 chemical compounds known as cannabinoids which are found in the cannabis plant – and it’s everywhere right now.

The CBD market has boomed exponentially over the last few years, expected to be worth £1billion by 2025, and is used most commonly for anxiety, sports recovery, neurological disorders like epilepsy, chronic pain and, of course, sleep.

What does the science say about CBD oil and sleep?

Dr Elisabeth Philipps is a clinical neuroscientist and leading expert in the endocannabinoid system and phytocannabinoids including CBD. She runs a CBD clinic and consults and collaborates with CBD brand FourFive.

She tells Metro.co.uk that, although the human studies around sleep and CBD are only small scale (around 70 to 80 people), many show that people’s sleep improved within the first month of taking CBD.

‘Not only that, but they felt better in the morning as well,’ she says. ‘I think it’s quite important with sleep to look at both how much sleep we’re getting and also, the quality of it.’

According to Elisabeth, there are a number of hypotheses for why CBD seems to work.

The first is that it simply makes us feel more relaxed: ‘There are studies that show CBD can reduce anxiety and help us feel more relaxed,’ says Elisabeth, which is what ultimately helps some people deal with that whirring mind I mentioned earlier.

Another theory is that it helps with chronic pain and, since pain is more heightened at night, the pain relief may help with insomnia.

These are both ‘indirect effects’ that, in turn, help us sleep better, Elisabeth says.

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However, a third theory – and one that doesn’t have enough solid research into it yet – is that CBD actually changes our sleep architecture.

This is down to the way CBD reacts with the body’s endocannabinoid system, a biological network of receptors and proteins that run through the body, such as in the brain, spine, guts, kidneys and lungs.

‘Our body already has cannabinoids,’ explains Elisabeth. ‘CBD helps to activate and raise the level of these cannabinoids and helps activate the endocannabinoid system, which helps regulate most bodily functions.’

According to Elisabeth, the research is expected to show, in just a few years from now, that CBD is actually working in the endocannabinoid system in the brain to improve and support sleep architecture, therefore improving the quality of our sleep.

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How to use CBD for sleep

Other than inhaling (or vaping) CBD, the best way to consume it is under the tongue, says Elisabeth.

Drop the oil (you can also find spray bottles) under your tongue and hold it there for one to two minutes before swallowing.

Elisabeth advises doing this around 20 minutes before or after eating and drinking, to ensure you’re not washing it away.

If you’re using CBD predominantly to help you sleep, taking a few drops around 20 minutes before bed is usually the best way to go.

Elisabeth adds that, if your sleeplessness is a symptom of anxiety, taking CBD throughout the day to calm your nerves might also benefit your sleep.

Also, if you wake up throughout the night, you can also take a few drops to either help you get back to sleep or at least make you feel less worried about the fact that you’ve woken up in the middle of the night.

Elisabeth lives by the mantra “start low and go slow,” so it’s a good idea to start with one drop at a time and gradually build it up over the days or week.

I tried taking CBD every night before bed for a month

Studies show that people using CBD notice the sleep benefits in the space of a month, so I thought that would be the perfect time to try out a product.

Starting with one drop per night and gradually building my way up to three or four, I placed the oil under my tongue using the pipette (you can also get spray bottles from other brands), around an hour to twenty minutes before I wanted to sleep.

Anecdotally speaking, from her experience running a CBD clinic, Elisabeth says most people are likely to notice an improvement in their sleep after just a few days – this was absolutely my experience.

Week 1: The first week I started taking CBD was admittedly rocky.

I had already been struggling with my sleep for a while and still found myself waking up a few hours too early and unable to go back to sleep.

That being said, actually falling to sleep in the first place was much easier as I felt calmer and much more relaxed.

Week 2: My second week taking CBD I had really started to notice a difference.

Although I would still occasionally wake up throughout the night, I didn’t struggle with getting back to sleep, and I would wake up feeling rested.

Weeks 3 and 4: The last two weeks of my experiment were definitely where the magic happened.

I was no longer worried that I wouldn’t be getting good quality sleep.

Most nights, I would fall asleep upon my head hitting the pillow and wake up feeling refreshed and energised.

If I did wake up, it was only ever to use the toilet, and I would be back to sleep within minutes – something I had always struggled with.

By this point, I’d become one of those irritating CBD converts, raving about it to anyone who would listen.

When my first bottle of CBD oil ran out around the one month mark, safe to say I cracked open another without a second thought.

How to choose a CBD product for you

Like I mentioned earlier, CBD is everywhere and, as Elisabeth puts it, can be quite a “minefield”.

However, when choosing a CBD brand, it’s important to look out for a reputable brand that will be able to show you a certificate of analysis.

‘This shows exactly what is in the product,’ says Elisabeth – and the CBD market isn’t short of fraudsters, so do your research.

You can get bottles with a higher concentrate (usually up to 2000mg) or a lower concentrate (around 500mg).

The main difference between these products is that you’ll need to take more drops of a lower dose to feel the same effect.

So, while higher doses are more expensive, they usually last longer, so the cost balances out overall.

It’s likely a good idea to choose a lower dose for your first bottle – that way, if you’re not a fan, it’s not too much money lost.

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The verdict: Can CBD help improve sleep?

I was pretty sceptical when I decided to give this a go, given that most wellness products are gimmicks, but my sleep improved pretty much instantly and I haven’t looked back.

While research is still lagging, I truly believe CBD has changed my sleep – and my life — for the better.

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