Experts say we should get around eight hours of quality sleep every night. However, a blissful, uninterrupted eight hours is (ironically) a bit of a dream for the insomniacs among us! If you’re one of the many struggling to switch off at bedtime, you might be wondering: can CBD gummies help me sleep?
CBD has exploded in popularity over the last few years, with fans raving about its health and wellbeing benefits. One of those is indeed sleep. Research is in its early days, but it seems that CBD is showing some serious promise as an effective, natural sleep aid.
In this article, we’ll explain exactly what the research says so far, and how you can use CBD gummies like ZenBears to finally get that elusive eight-hour sleep!
Before we dive into how CBD can help insomnia, let’s talk about what causes it and what it means for your health.
It’s normal to have some nights where you find it hard to drift off or you toss and turn. We’re pretty adaptable creatures, so we can bounce back fairly well from the occasional sleepless night. However, if you’re struggling to fall asleep or stay asleep on a regular basis, that’s when the problems start.
There are lots of different reasons for insomnia. It can happen because of a recognised sleep disorder, a medication, or an environmental factor, like an uncomfortable bed or a snoring partner. It can also be caused by general health and lifestyle factors, the most common being stress.
You might recognise cortisol as the “stress hormone”, but it’s also an important part of your 24-hour sleep-wake cycle. It rises during the daylight hours to keep you awake and alert, and then drops after dark to make way for melatonin, the hormone that makes you feel sleepy.
When you’re stressed, cortisol levels spike. If you’re chronically stressed, they stay high. That means that melatonin is suppressed, and you don’t feel sleepy when you normally should. That’s why your mind races when you hit the pillow, or you toss and turn through the night.
To make matters worse, you feel even more stressed the day after a bad night’s sleep. It’s harder to fall asleep the next night, and you feel even more stressed the next day. Stress and sleep can reinforce each other indefinitely if you don’t break that cycle.
Anxiety, depression and chronic illness can also cause sleepless nights, partly because they increase your physical and mental stress. And if you have a condition like back pain, arthritis or fibromyalgia, you might also lose sleep because of the pain.
These are just a few of the many causes of insomnia, but the effects are by and large the same. After only one or two nights of lost sleep, you’ll start to feel mentally and physically sluggish. Your focus, concentration and memory will start to suffer, and you might notice a lower mood too.
Long-term sleep deprivation can cause premature ageing and weaken your immune system. It can also increase your risk of developing mental illnesses like depression and anxiety, and chronic physical illnesses like heart disease, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes and obesity.
Yes, sleep really is that important! For peak performance, a positive mood, and overall good health, we really can’t afford to miss those zzz’s. So back to the big question: how can CBD gummies help?
Can CBD gummies help me sleep?
Scientists are still learning about all of the weird and wonderful ways CBD works in the body. We’d like to see much more research before we can say for sure, but based on what’s been done so far, it appears that yes, CBD does help with sleep in some cases.
How do CBD gummies work?
Unlike sleep medicines you might get from a doctor, CBD isn’t a sedative or a hypnotic. In other words, it doesn’t make you sleepy itself. Instead, it appears to work by addressing underlying problems that might be keeping you awake, e.g. stress or anxiety. It does this by affecting your body’s endocannabinoid system (ECS).
The ECS was only discovered in the 1990’s, but it turned out to be a super-important and complex system. Your ECS is in charge of keeping everything in your body in a state of balance (homeostasis). That includes things like temperature, metabolism, and circadian rhythms like your sleep-wake cycle.
Your ECS is controlled by endocannabinoids, or cannabinoids that are produced internally. These messenger chemicals travel around the body, attaching to receptors or proteins, and telling the ECS to take specific actions. When they’re finished, specialised enzymes come and break them down.
CBD (AKA cannabidiol) is also a cannabinoid, found in the hemp plant. The oil from the plant contains CBD and other beneficial compounds, and is processed and used to make products like CBD oil, CBD creams and CBD gummies.
When you take CBD gummies, for example, the cannabinoids act on your ECS in a very similar way to your own endocannabinoids. Because we’re still learning about CBD, we know that it affects your ECS, but we’re just not sure exactly how. Does it act on a specific receptor? Or does it stop a particular enzyme from breaking down your own endocannabinoids? Or both?
What does the research say?
We might not know how yet, but we do know that CBD has a few sleep-boosting effects. Perhaps the area with the most research is stress and anxiety.
The US National Institute on Drug Abuse says that CBD has been shown to reduce the signs of stress and anxiety in both animal and human studies.
In one scientific review into CBD as an anxiety treatment, the researchers agreed that CBD reduced anxiety behaviours in conditions like Generalised Anxiety Disorder (GAD), Social Anxiety Disorder (SAD), Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), and Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD).
Another study looking specifically at SAD also found CBD to be effective at reducing symptoms, possibly by calming the area of the brain that mobilises when you’re feeling anxious and stressed.
Yet another study claims that CBD calms the central nervous system, decreasing anxiety and improving sleep. The researchers found that 79.2% of participants noticed a decrease in anxiety symptoms, and 66.7% noticed an improvement in sleep.
CBD may also be effective in reducing depression. In one study, the researchers reviewed evidence that CBD positively interacts with the neurotransmitters responsible for mood. They also discussed the idea that CBD causes beneficial cellular changes in the areas of the brain related to depression, like the hippocampus.
PTSD can have many negative effects on your health and wellbeing, including anxiety, depression and poor sleep. CBD may help indirectly by alleviating these symptoms, and according to this study, it may have a direct effect too. The authors discussed how CBD may affect different stages of memory processing, helping sufferers to properly process traumatic memories.
Finally, we all know how hard it is to switch off and sleep well when you’re in pain. In this study, the authors discussed evidence that CBD could relieve pain thanks to its documented anti-inflammatory and anti-spasmodic effects. This animal study found that CBD relieved not just the perception pain, but the anxiety that comes with it.
It’s worth noting that in every one of these studies, the authors emphasised that more research is needed. We agree! However, we think that CBD definitely shows promise in helping to improve sleep in various different ways.
How to take CBD gummies for sleep
There are lots of ways to take CBD, like gummies, oil, capsules or vape solutions. We love gummies because you don’t have to fuss around with messy droppers, and you don’t have to measure out your dose. Each ZenBear contains 20mg of CBD, so you know exactly how much you’re getting in each gummy. And of course, they taste delicious, so if you don’t like the earthy taste of oils, they’re the perfect alternative.
When you chew a CBD gummy, most of the CBD goes right into your bloodstream via the blood vessels in your mouth. However, it may take around 30 minutes to feel the effects, so if you’re taking CBD gummies for sleep, you might want to take them about 30-60 minutes before you go to bed.
If you’re new to CBD, you might be wondering how much you should take. We recommend starting with a low dose of around 10mg (that’s half a ZenBear) and seeing how you feel. If you don’t get the desired effect and you don’t experience any side effects, try 20mg next time.
Keep working your way up slowly like this until you find your ideal dose. If you do experience any uncomfortable side effects, drop back down to your last comfortable dose and stick with it.
Are CBD gummies safe?
Yes, CBD gummies are considered safe for most people and they don’t have any serious side effects that we know of. For many people, they’re a great alternative to traditional solutions like sleeping pills, which might make you feel groggy the next day.
A word of caution! If your doctor has prescribed you medication for sleep, anxiety or any other condition, don’t stop taking it without consulting them first. You should also keep in mind that CBD can interact with other medications and might not be suitable for people with some pre-existing conditions. If that applies to you, double-check with your doctor that CBD is safe for you.
Where can I buy CBD gummies?
Right here! Our ZenBears are made with only the best hemp grown using organic farming practices, 100% vegan ingredients, and all-natural flavours. That means you can enjoy all the benefits of CBD with none of the health hangovers.