CBD oil is unlikely to cause insomnia and may help you get to sleep, but there are some ways CBD can negatively affect sleep. 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. Can CBD oil cause insomnia by keeping you awake all night? Does CBD act as a stimulant that negatively affects your sleep?
Can CBD Oil Cause Insomnia?
While cannabidiol (CBD) oil does not often cause insomnia, there are a few circumstances in which CBD may negatively affect sleep.
However, it is more likely that CBD oil will promote better, more restful sleep. CBD’s effects are dose-dependent, having stimulating effects in lower doses and sedative effects in higher doses.
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Can CBD Oil Cause Insomnia?
CBD is a cannabinoid found in hemp and cannabis plants. The main difference between CBD and the other most common cannabinoid, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), is that CBD is not psychoactive, meaning it does not cause the “high” feeling associated with cannabis. CBD oil does not contain THC.
Insomnia is when a person struggles to fall asleep, experiences sleep disturbances such as night awakenings, or wakes up too early and cannot fall back to sleep. Common causes of insomnia include stress, anxiety, depression, pain, alcohol, and recreational drugs such as cocaine and ecstasy.
CBD is not thought to cause insomnia and is believed to have the opposite effect in most cases. The most common therapeutic effects of CBD are relief from anxiety, pain, depression, and stress. These effects can help improve sleep onset and duration, resulting in more restful sleep.
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Why CBD Oil Could Potentially Cause Insomnia
CBD may cause difficulty falling asleep or insomnia because it may be wake-promoting in low doses. Research shows that in low doses (around 15 milligrams or less), CBD may provide an energy boost, directly negating feelings of tiredness.
It is thought that low doses of CBD may increase protein synthesis in specific parts of the brain that are involved in wakefulness. This increased activity in the brain may wake you up rather than help you sleep. However, this wake-promoting effect of CBD is only observed when taken in low doses. Therefore, if you experience an energy boost at night when using CBD oil, you may find that this effect does not occur when taking a larger dose.
Sleep assistance is a byproduct of many of the therapeutic effects of CBD oil. If CBD oil helps you fall asleep by relieving symptoms inhibiting sleep, you might find you are using it every night to fall asleep.
This alone is not bad; some people can use CBD every night without adverse effects. However, some people may develop a tolerance for it. This means your body becomes used to CBD levels, so you no longer experience the desired effects. To combat this, you would increase the dosage to continue feeling the effects, creating an ongoing cycle. You may start to rely on CBD during this cycle to fall asleep. This creates problematic use patterns and may result in insomnia if you happen to be without CBD oil at night.
How to Use CBD Oil for Sleep
How Does CBD Help Sleep?
CBD may provide relief from anxiety, stress, depression, and pain. By relieving the symptoms of these conditions, CBD may help you fall asleep or maintain sleep, reducing insomnia. Additionally, high doses of CBD have been shown to sedate healthy adults (adults who do not suffer from conditions that negatively affect their sleep). However, it is unclear whether this sedative effect is a direct result of CBD use or if it is due to a significant drop in the amount of cortisol in the bloodstream following CBD administration.
Dosing for Sleep
The general guideline for using CBD for therapeutic benefits is to start low and slowly increase the dose until you experience the desired effect. If you experience conditions that affect your sleep, such as anxiety or pain, you may require a lower amount than healthy adults to aid in sleep.
Research has shown that 160 mg per day of CBD can increase total sleep time and decrease the frequency of awakenings in the night in patients with insomnia. However, healthy adults require 300-600 mg of CBD daily for sedative effects.
When to Take CBD for Sleep?
If you require help falling asleep, taking CBD 30 to 60 minutes before bed is best. This is because CBD must be absorbed into your body and enter your bloodstream before it can take effect. The time it takes for you to notice an impact will vary based on the following factors:
- Method of ingestion
- Personal metabolism rate
When CBD oil drops are placed under the tongue, effects tend to take place within 15-30-60 minutes. This occurs much quicker than the CBD molecules absorbed directly into the bloodstream, where they can start working. If CBD oil is used in beverages or edibles, the effects take longer, closer to 60-90 minutes. This is because the CBD must pass through the liver and undergo metabolism before entering the bloodstream.
The Bottom Line
CBD oil is unlikely to cause insomnia. Some people may experience an energy boost with small doses, but taking larger doses can help you avoid this issue.
Common therapeutic uses of CBD oil include relief from pain, anxiety, stress, and depression, all common causes of insomnia. Easing these conditions’ symptoms may help you fall asleep more quickly and have better quality sleep, reducing insomnia.
Frequently Asked Questions
Will taking CBD oil late at night keep me awake?
CBD oil may keep you awake at night if you take low doses. However, many people experience the opposite effect when they take CBD for sleep. Often, insomnia is caused by anxiety, pain, or stress. CBD oil can reduce symptoms of these conditions and help you feel more relaxed, improving the ability to fall asleep.
Why is CBD keeping me up at night?
CBD may keep you awake at night if you’re taking low doses. CBD has an energizing effect, increasing protein synthesis in certain parts of the brain that keep you awake.
Cannabinoids like CBG and terpenes like limonene can also combine with CBD and have stimulating effects. If CBD keeps you awake at night, try increasing the amount of CBD oil you take. Higher doses of CBD oil have sedative effects in healthy adults. Keep an eye out for products that test higher for terpenes like myrcene and linalool, which have more relaxing, sedative effects.
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.
Will CBD Oil Keep You Awake At Night?
Can CBD oil cause insomnia by keeping you awake all night? Does CBD act as a stimulant that negatively affects your sleep?
CBD, otherwise known as Cannabidiol, oil is a relatively new medicine in Australia that patients are taking to treat chronic conditions that have existed for more than three months.
Studies show that CBD oil has great benefits for patients with insomnia.
Further studies indicate that CBD oil combats sleep apnea and sleep disturbances.
So what does this tell us? CBD oil should not be keeping you awake at night, and in fact, it should be promoting your sleep by relaxing you.
CBD oil should be treating your anxiety, stress and depression. This is one of the main ways CBD oil helps you sleep.
If you are having trouble sleeping after taking CBD oil, then any of these could be keeping you awake:
- CBD oil ingredients may include stimulants
- Poor quality CBD oil may have an adverse reaction
- CBD oil dosage may be affecting your sleep
If you think that CBD oil is keeping you awake, then you should discuss this with a health professional that can ensure these aren’t signs of a larger problem.
If you are buying CBD oil with peppermint flavouring, this may have little-to-no effect on most people, but for you it may act as a stimulant. Flavouring is another way that CBD oil can keep you awake at night.
CBD oil should not keep you awake, and the most common cause of people in Australia having insomnia after taking CBD is due to inferior quality products. Stay safe and buy legal medicinal CBD oil.
Have you had any experiences with CBD oil and insomnia? Does CBD oil keep you awake at night? Let us know about your experiences down in the comments!