Ryan Fiorenzi
March 25, 2021
 

How to Research CBD Products for Sleep

CBD has shown promise in helping sufferers of insomnia (without the psychoactive effects of marijuana), as well as many conditions, some of which can interrupt sleep. CBD  has been reported to help with anxiety, depression, addiction, stress, anorexia, epilepsy, glaucoma, high blood pressure, muscle spasms, Parkinson's disease, and joint pain. There are many reputable CBD products available, but you have to be careful because the CBD industry is relatively new, unregulated, and has been referred to as "the wild west." In rare cases, there have been products with no CBD or that have harmful ingredients.

We've done a deep dive into CBD for sleep and insomnia and found a few winners based on several criteria.

  1. Soil: the hemp plant is a bioremediator, which means that it can clean the soil of toxins and other harmful chemicals. It was used in Chernobyl after the nuclear disaster to return the soil to a usable state. You don't want to ingest hemp that has been used in unhealthy soil.
  2. Formula: many CBD products for sleep are combined with other sleep supplements such as melatonin or GABA to make them more effective than CBD alone.
  3. Extraction: CBD can be extracted in 3 ways. The first is to use CO2 (carbon dioxide) under high pressure and low temperatures to maintain the quality of the oil. The second is to use olive oil to extract hemp oil. The third method is using ethanol, which is mainly for extracting CBD for vaping. The issue with ethanol is that it destroys waxes, which have health benefits.
  4. Form: there are a lot of ways to take CBD, including in a  supplement, tincture, gummy, liquid, vape, topicals (balms, creams, etc.) How you take it can affect how quickly you feel the effects and how the product works. As topicals are better for joint pain and vaping looks to be unsafe, we've chosen tinctures, gummies, and capsules as our top choices.
  5. 3rd party testing: to make sure there's nothing harmful and to ensure what's in the final product, all of our top choices have a certificate of analysis (COA). CNN did an episode on CBD and featured a vaping product called "YOLO CBD" that had no CBD in it and was sending people to the emergency room.
  6. Company vision and reputation: in any new industry with lots of opportunities to make money, there will be charlatans who are there just to make fast cash. We've focused on companies with leaders who have a passion for helping improve people's health through cannabinoids.

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What is CBD?

CBD is cannabidiol, a compound from the cannabis plant. The cannabis plant has two species: hemp and marijuana. One of the most important differences between the two is that hemp has a much higher percentage of CBD, and marijuana has a much higher percentage of THC (tetrahydrocannabinol—the compound that makes a person high. Though many CBD products contain .3% THC, these products don't make anyone high. CBD doesn't cause a high and has been shown to reduce the psychoactive effects of THC.

CBD interacts with your endocannabinoid system (ECS). Researchers still don't understand exactly how CBD works with ECS receptors, but the ECS plays roles in many systems in the body, including sleep, mood, appetite, memory, reproduction, and fertility.

Where to Buy CBD Products for Sleep

There are a lot of CBD products, but fewer CBD products are designed specifically for sleep. Taking a product that only has CBD can help you sleep, but if it's in combination with a sleep aid such as GABA or melatonin, it will probably be more effective to help you get to sleep and stay asleep.

You can't buy products advertised as having CBD on Amazon, though they have hemp products. Don't buy hemp products that are missing CBD on the label - you have no idea how much CBD you're getting, if any.

You can buy CBD products from retail stores, a marijuana dispensary, or directly from a CBD company online. We recommend doing thorough research before buying—not just buying off a retail shelf without knowing what you're getting.

Different Forms of CBD

There are many ways to take CBD, and each method has its benefits and drawbacks.

  • Capsule- a good way to take CBD as you know exactly how much you're taking. It has to pass through your digestive system and get metabolized by your liver, so take capsules an hour or two before bed.
  • Tinctures and sprays- the fastest absorption rate of all forms of CBD. Spray or place the drops under your tongue, then wait 60-90 seconds. The CBD will be absorbed in about 20 minutes via the mucous membranes in your mouth. The only drawback of these methods is that it's a little more difficult to get an exact dosage, and sprays and tinctures will sometimes have a taste that people don't like.
  • Gummies- This is a similar absorption method to capsules. The only caution is that some brands contain a lot of added sugar, making it more difficult to fall asleep.
  • Creams and lotions- this method is generally better for localized pain, such as pain in your knee or elbow.
  • Vaping- we don't recommend vaping due to safety concerns. Though it's smokeless and fast-acting, manufacturers aren't regulated, and as of February 2020, there have been 2,807 cases of vaping-related illness and 68 deaths.

Dosage

The general rule for dosing CBD is to take 1-6 mg for every 10 lbs of body weight. It's better to start small and track the amount you're taking and the effects you're experiencing. For more information, check out our guide to CBD dosage. We took the latest dosage recommendations and turned this into an easy to use CBD dosage calculator. Simply enter your weight, and we output a dosage range.

Full-Spectrum vs. Isolate

Full-spectrum CBD contains a range of cannabinoids, including THC. It will be .3% or less, so the chances of it showing up on a drug test are very small, and it won't make you high, but for those who don't want to ingest any THC, isolate is recommended. The drawback of isolates is that they don't have the benefits of other cannabinoids, terpenes, or flavonoids. Isolates are also more difficult and expensive to process.

CBD studies such as this one from Israel showed full-spectrum to be more effective than isolate. When CBD is used in conjunction with other compounds, it's referred to as the "entourage effect." Dr. John McPartland describes cannabis as "inherently polypharmaceutical." For those who are looking for the most benefits from CBD, full-spectrum is a good choice.

What are Terpenes?

Terpenes are organic compounds produced by plants as well as some insects. There are over 20,000 of them, and at least 100 are produced by the cannabis plant. Terpenes often have strong odors and protect plants from insects and animals. They're the primary constituents of essential oils. They will give a plant distinct smells, flavors, and colors. They also affect the endocannabinoid system (ECS).

Some terpenes found in plants and herbs are:

  • Curcumin: from the turmeric plant, often used in Indian cooking, it's a powerful anti-inflammatory and antioxidant.
  • Terpinolene: found in sage and rosemary, it's a sedative, antioxidant, and anti-bacterial.
  • Limonene: found in citrus, it smells like lemons, elevates mood, relieves stress, is anti-fungal and anti-bacterial.
  • Linalool: found in flowers, spices, and cannabis, it relieves stress, anti-inflammatory, and an anti-depressant. Linalool may boost the immune system and reduce lung inflammation.
  • Myrcene: found in lemongrass, hops, basil, thyme, and cannabis, it can compose up to 50% of the cannabis plant's terpenes. It's a muscle relaxer, sedative, and anti-inflammatory.

What are Flavonoids?

Flavonoids are a diverse group of phytonutrients (with over 6,000) found in almost all fruits and vegetables and are responsible for vivid colors. They're also found in grains, bark, roots, stems, and flowers.

Some flavonoids are only found in cannabis. These are called cannaflavins.

Three flavonoids found in cannabis are:

  • Quercetin: antioxidant and anti-viral, also found in green tea, red wine, and berries.
  • Apigenin: anti-anxiety and anti-inflammatory, also found in chamomile, parsley, and celery.
  • Cannaflavin A: a natural anti-inflammatory; research suggests that it could be a natural replacement for aspirin.

CBD and Insomnia Research

The U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) has approved two CBD-based medicines in the last few years:

  • In 2014, Elixicure was the first CBD-infused over-the-counter topical pain relief cream product to have a certified registration with the FDA.
  • In 2018, the FDA approved Epidiolex, the first drug comprised of an active ingredient from marijuana to treat two rare and severe forms of epilepsy in patients two years old and older: Lennox-Gastaut syndrome and Dravet syndrome.

Though neither of these are used to treat insomnia, CBD has shown promise in other areas that are related to insomnia, as insomnia may be caused by many things, including anxiety, depression, and pain.

A study from Colorado concluded that of 72 patients who suffered from poor sleep or anxiety, 79.2% experienced less anxiety, and 66.7% slept better within the first month of using 25 mg/day. The CBD was well tolerated in all but 3 patients.

The National Institutes of Health published a study from Serbia that stated that cannabinoids and cannabis are "old drugs but are a promising new therapeutic strategy for pain treatment."

A lot of CBD users report falling to sleep quicker and feeling more refreshed when they wake up. There have been a few studies, such as this one published in the Journal of Clinical Pharmacology, where subjects who took 160 mg of CBD reported sleeping more than those taking a placebo.

As CBD users often report a sense of calm, some use it to reduce anxiety, and it may help sufferers of Parkinson's disease who have REM behavior disorder. It's not surprising that many people use CBD for sleep. It also shows promise in the reduction of stress, social anxiety, and depression. Researchers believe that CBD interacts with serotonin receptors in the brain.

Some manufacturers are now producing CBD products in combination with other traditional sleep aids such as melatonin.

CBD Side Effects

CBD doesn't cause problems for most people. However, there are side effects for some people that include:

  • drowsiness
  • fatigue
  • dry mouth
  • reduced appetite
  • gastrointestinal issues

If you're taking any medications, you should talk to your doctor to make sure there aren't any interactions with any drugs that you're taking. CBD tends to have interactions with drugs that have a grapefruit warning. There are more than 85 drugs that interact with grapefruit and a few other citrus fruits, such as pomelos and tangelos, because these fruits contain furanocomarins, which disrupt the normal function of a group of proteins called cytochrome P450 (CYPs). CYPs break down medications, and furanocomarins can interrupt their function, which can increase the levels of the 85+ drugs in the bloodstream.

The following are the types of drugs that have grapefruit warnings:

  • pain
  • blood thinners
  • prostate and erectile dysfunction
  • cholesterol
  • blood pressure
  • heart rhythm
  • mood
  • anti-infection

To see a list of medications that have a grapefruit warning, visit rxlist.com. If you want to understand the potential drug interactions with medicinal cannabis, check out mdpi.com.

There's a lot of confusion about the legality of CBD because it's an often-changing and complicated topic. There are state laws and there are federal laws, and you could be violating the federal law but not the state law, and vice versa. There's also the issue of how the CBD is sourced. Right now, hemp-derived CBD products with less than 0.3% THC (the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana) are legal on the federal level, but state laws vary. According to Green Market Report, "Federal laws are mostly for legislation purposes and will only override the provisions of state law in rare circumstances."

CBD is derived from either marijuana or hemp, and most states allow CBD if it comes from hemp. Vermont allows every type of CBD, regardless of where it's sourced. Other states with the same stance are Washington, District of Columbia, Oregon, Alaska, California, Nevada, Colorado, Illinois, Michigan, Maine, and Massachusetts.

States that have banned any marijuana-based CBD are Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, and Texas.

Some states do allow marijuana-based CBD, as long as it's used for medical purposes. These states include Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Iowa, Louisiana, Maryland, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Utah, Virginia, West Virginia, Wisconsin, and Wyoming.

The states that have banned both hemp-based and marijuana-based CBD are Nebraska and Idaho, unless the product has 0% THC, so in those states, the only product that's legal is CBD isolate.

What you need to know is that if the CBD that you're taking in one state is legal, and you travel to another state, you'll need to research that state's laws regarding your CBD product.

Best CBD Products for Sleep

We’ve spent many hours researching different products based on soil, formula, extraction method, form, 3rd party testing, and company vision and reputation. We've also contacted companies to find some of this information as it isn't always provided on their websites.

All of our top choices are full-spectrum CBD products because they contain all of the cannabinoids, terpenes, and flavonoids naturally found in the plant that are stripped away in CBD isolates. We did include one non-THC isolate for those who don't want to ingest even a small amount of THC.

Sleep CBD Hemp Extract

HempFusion Sleep CBD Extract

Top Choice

  • Includes PharmaGaba, a more natural form of the amino acid GABA, which helps people calm down before sleep.
  • High level of terpenes and plan-based omegas added via hemp oil, black pepper, and clove oil.
  • EU-certified organic hemp grown in unique microclimates in nutrient-dense soil in Poland, Lithuania, and Croatia, producing hemp with unique cannabinoid and terpene profiles. 
  • Presoil validation to ensure there are no harmful levels of heavy metals, herbicides, residual solvents, or pesticide residuals (including glyphosate).
  • Whole food full-spectrum hemp extract.
  • Manufactured in FDA-registered facilities, and the primary facility is ISO 9001 certified (the international standard for a quality management system). Facilities are also certified as cGMP (current good manufacturing practices).
  • Unique One-Pass™ extraction method that doesn't over refine the CBD oil.
  • US Hemp Authority certified.
  • 3rd party tested to have less than .3% THC and for its cannabinoid profile, as well for any dangerous compounds. Every product can be tracked via their website by entering the batch number or scanning a QR code.
  • The company was co-founded by Naturopathic Doctor Jason Mitchell, a passionate leader in the health and wellness industry.

Our Top Choice

  • Full-spectrum extract.
  • 100% organic and non-GMO.
  • Third-party tested.
  • CO2 extraction method helps preserve the terpenes, essential oils, vitamins, trace minerals, omega fatty acids, and cannabinoids.
  • Grown in the USA on licensed farms in Colorado.
  • NuLeaf is passionate about CBD and has been in the industry for over five years. They're members of the Hemp Industries Association and the National Hemp Association.

Best Capsules

From the same company that produced our top choice, NuLeaf Naturals, these 30 mg capsules are for those who prefer capsules to tinctures.

  • Full-spectrum extract.
  • 100% organic and non-GMO.
  • Third-party tested.
  • CO2 extraction method helps preserve the terpenes, essential oils, vitamins, trace minerals, omega fatty acids, and cannabinoids.
  • Grown in the USA on licensed farms in Colorado.
  • NuLeaf is passionate about CBD and has been in the industry for over five years. They're members of the Hemp Industries Association and the National Hemp Association.

Highly Rated

  • Grown in the USA.
  • It is a full-spectrum hemp extract that includes beneficial phytocannabinoids, terpenes, flavonoids, and essential fatty acids.
  • Available in mint chocolate, lemon twist, orange blossom, and olive oil.
  • In the process of getting the official USDA Organic Certification.
  • 3rd party testing/COA (certificate of analysis) is available on their website.
  • One of the CBD industry leaders. The founders were featured in Dr. Sanjay Gupta's TV special on CBD.
  • Gluten-free, vegan, non-GMO, and containers have no BPA. No additives or preservatives.
  • FDA registered facilities following the GMP (good manufacturing practices) protocols.
  • They follow the American Herbal Products Association's (AHPA) contaminant guidelines and specifications for Good Quality.

Highly Recommended

  • The only hemp CBD supplement with published toxicology work to support a Generally Recognized as Safe Independent Conclusion (GRAS).
  • Seed to Shelf™ with EU certified hemp seeds are fully traceable.
  • The company is a member of the US Hemp Roundtable.
  • Third-party tested.
  • Gluten-free.
  • Non-GMO.
  • Full-spectrum hemp extract.
  • US Hemp Authority certified.
  • Non-chemical CO2 extraction process.

Charlotte's Web CBD and Melatonin

Charlotte's web CBD gummies - CBD Oils for Sleep and Insomnia

Best Gummy

  • Grown in the USA.
  • Full-spectrum hemp extract that includes beneficial phytocannabinoids, terpenes, flavonoids, and essential fatty acids.
  • No additives or dyes are used to standardize the color or the gummies, so the color may vary slightly from batch to batch.
  • Flavored with juices from fruits and vegetables.
  • The serving size of 2 gummies contains 10mg of CBD.
  • In the process of getting the official USDA Organic Certification.
  • 3rd party testing/COA (certificate of analysis) is available on their website.
  • One of the CBD industry leaders. The founders were featured in Dr. Sanjay Gupta's TV special on CBD.
  • Gluten-free, vegan, non-GMO, and containers have no BPA. No additives or preservatives.
  • FDA registered facilities following the GMP (good manufacturing practices) protocols.
  • They follow the American Herbal Products Association's (AHPA) contaminant guidelines and specifications for Good Quality.

Charlotte's Web CBD Starter Bundle

Charlotte's web CBD gummies - CBD Oils for Sleep and Insomnia

Best Starter Pack

Charlotte's Web is the most famous CBD producer and has a great starter bundle for those who want to try CBD in several different forms. The bundle contains a 50 mg oil (tincture), a lavender-hemp infused roll on, a 6 count of CBD gummies for sleep, and a 6 count of gummies for recovery.

  • Grown in the USA.
  • Full-spectrum hemp extract that includes beneficial phytocannabinoids, terpenes, flavonoids, and essential fatty acids.
  • In the process of getting the official USDA Organic Certification.
  • 3rd party testing/COA (certificate of analysis) is available on their website.
  • One of the CBD industry leaders. The founders were featured in Dr. Sanjay Gupta's TV special on CBD.
  • Gluten-free, vegan, non-GMO, and containers have no BPA. No additives or preservatives.
  • FDA registered facilities following the GMP (good manufacturing practices) protocols.
  • They follow the American Herbal Products Association's (AHPA) contaminant guidelines and specifications for Good Quality.

CBD Oil Frequently Asked Questions

Here are the answers to our most frequently asked questions about CBD oil and its impact on sleep.