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? From ashwagandha to 5-HTP, there has been a significant increase in the range of sleep supplements in the UK lately. Given the range of options available, we wanted to break down the best options for CBD oil for sleep. But of course, to accurately compare these products and their results, you first need to understand the basics – such as how does CBD oil work for sleep? We realise some people might even be new to the idea of using CBD oil to improve sleep, so what is this all about? 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
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.
Best CBD Oils for Sleep UK (2022)
From ashwagandha to 5-HTP, there has been a significant increase in the range of sleep supplements in the UK lately.
Given the range of options available, we wanted to break down the best options for CBD oil for sleep.
But of course, to accurately compare these products and their results, you first need to understand the basics – such as how does CBD oil work for sleep?
We realise some people might even be new to the idea of using CBD oil to improve sleep, so what is this all about?
What is CBD?
CBD is a health supplement taken from the hemp plant. For decades, research into this supplement was halted due to the legal issues around cannabis.
However, as cannabis laws have slowly relaxed around the world, CBD is becoming more and more popular as a supplemen t with a myriad of benefits – one of which is improved sleep and a reduction of insomnia symptoms.
CBD, short for cannabidiol, is an organic compound found in hemp and cannabis plants. You are likely aware of THC, the most famous compound from the cannabis plant. This is the (mostly) illegal substance that gets people “high” and the ingredient for which recreational users smoke cannabis.
CBD, on the other hand, has no psychoactive effects or risk of addiction, making it relatively harmless in comparison.
Is CBD Legal?
While CBD has previously been illegal in the UK as part of a blanket ban on cannabis as a whole, it is now fully legal. THC remains illegal due to its potential for abuse but CBD alone can be used legally in health supplements, skincare products etc.
However, most drug tests that check for cannabis do so by detecting the presence of THC. Due to this, CBD products that contain THC do pose a risk of failing such a drug test. As such, full spectrum CBD products or any that contain notable amounts of THC should be avoided by lorry drivers, people who operate heavy machinery, or anybody who is likely to be drug tested regularly.
CBD itself does not show up on drug tests, does not make you drowsy and holds no serious potential for abuse or addiction, and so CBD products with negligible or zero THC content are risk free.
Does CBD Have Side Effects?
Taking too much CBD can cause mild side effects such as:
However, these side effects are very rare and often require a huge dose. In general, CBD is as low in side effects as other herbal supplements such as chamomile or lavender. As long as you use high quality CBD products with quality ingredients such as those listed in this article, there is nothing to worry about.
Can CBD Help With Sleep?
CBD has become very popular as a sleep supplement as well as to reduce symptoms of related complaints such as anxiety.
A 2019 study found that when test subjects were given 25mg of CBD per day, 66% of them saw improvements in sleep.
Another study concluded that 160mg of CBD provided clear additional sleep benefits over placebo.
While studies are still in their early stages compared to other supplements due to the previous legal issues around CBD, the existing studies are almost entirely positive so far and there is a strong suggestion that CBD can help reduce cortisol levels (the stress hormone) and cause a mild sedative effect that can help reduce stress, anxiety, encourage relaxation and help with a good night’s sleep.
What is Broad Spectrum CBD Oil?
Since hemp contains both CBD and THC in varying concentrations, the way CBD oil is prepared is extremely important and can dramatically change the quality of the end product.
Beyond THC and CBD, hemp contains over 100 other lesser known cannabinoids, many of which hold their own benefits. These cannabinoids have also been found to work together to increase the results experienced from taking CBD in something known as ‘the entourage effect’.
Pure CBD that has all other cannabinoids removed is known as CBD isolate. This is generally the worst way to take CBD for health benefits as it throws the entourage effect out the window.
An unchanged hemp extract that contains all of the same natural ingredients in the same ratios as the plant itself is known as full spectrum CBD. This is much better than CBD isolate as it benefits from the entourage effect, but it also usually contains THC, making it potentially cause similar side effects to cannabis. There is also a risk that taking full spectrum CBD can cause you to fail a drug test. Most full spectrum CBD products are illegal in the UK due to the THC content.
As a result, the best way to take CBD for sleep (or any other health benefit unless advised otherwise by a doctor) is to take broad spectrum CBD. This has THC removed (or less than 0.2% THC content), but with all of the other cannabinoids remaining in their natural quantities – allowing you to experience the full benefit of the entourage effect without any potential side effects or legal risks.
Unfortunately regulations are still premature enough that many of the CBD oil products for sleep in the UK use low quality ingredients, very low doses, CBD isolate alone, or in some cases no CBD at all.
Fortunately for you, you’ve done the research so you don’t need to, and here are our picks for the top CBD oils for sleep in the UK:
The Best CBD Oils for Sleep
1: Evopure Sleep Broad Spectrum CBD Oil
Evopure is a UK based CBD startup that has gone from strength to strength in the last few years. From a product perspective they have done everything right – their CBD oil is broad spectrum and high quality from EU hemp farms, they make use of sustainable farming practices and offer independent testing results for each batch letting you see exactly what your bottle contains.
Add to this a no-GMO rule, fully organic ingredients and a 30 day guarantee and it’s pretty hard to find fault with Evopure.
But they’ve gone a further step and made a sleep specific product which combines the benefits of broad spectrum CBD oil with additional ingredients to help you switch off.
These additional ingredients include passiflora extract ( proven to help support sleep ) and a custom-sleep focused blend of terpenes and flavonoids.
While they do offer a full range of products including hemp tea, pure CBD oil and CBD capsules, their sleep broad spectrum CBD oil is the best CBD product in the UK for sleep or insomnia, without question.
2: Love Hemp CBD Liquid Oral Drops 10,000mg CBD
At almost 7 times the price of our #1 pick, Love Hemp’s broad spectrum CBD oil is likely not for newcomers or the budget conscious.
However, for those CBD enthusiasts who are willing to push the boat out a little – it certainly earns its place on this list with a whopping 10x the CBD content of Evopure’s sleep CBD oil.
Made primarily from hemp extract and MCT oil with little in the way of additional ingredients to boost results, Love Hemp’s option is still an amazing choice for those who want to take a large dose of high quality broad spectrum CBD, quickly.
Testing has found positive results on sleep from as little as 25mg of CBD, meaning this won’t be necessary for the vast majority of people – but if you find your tolerance has risen after using CBD for a long time (or a history of cannabis use) and that you need very large doses to experience the results you’re looking for – Love Hemp is the only realistic solution for getting a massive hit of CBD in a single drop.
3: OTO CBD Pillow Spray
Unlike our two higher ranked products, this one isn’t an oral supplement. However, it’s a powerful pillow mist containing 2400mg of broad spectrum CBD combined with lavender and chamomile extracts.
This makes it the perfect product for those who don’t like taking oral supplements before bed and/or dislike the natural earthy taste of pure CBD oil, but still want to experience the sleep benefits of CBD oil. It’s luxurious herbal scent will have you ready to doze off as soon as you smell it.
Studies show that inhaling CBD can be just as beneficial as taking it orally, although CBD isolate is much more bioavailable than most other cannabinoids meaning there is a chance the entourage effect will be reduced slightly by going this route. Even with that said, for people who don’t want to orally ingest CBD, there simply isn’t a better product around.
4: Apothem Lights Out Drops
Following in the footsteps of Evopure’s sleep oil, Apothem takes a high quality CBD oil for sleep and adds additional herbal sleep supplements to boost results. This time it’s lemon balm, 5-htp, L-theanine and chamomile. The product also comes in a delicious caramel and vanilla flavour.
At 3x the price of Evopure’s product for the same dose and with no sustainable farming practices mentioned on their website, it’s hard to rank this one higher – but it undoubtedly deserves it’s spot on our list, and if you have the extra cash to spend it’s a brilliant quality product that is made from 100% organic hemp extract.
It comes in a suitably premium feeling bottle and the wide range of sleep-inducing additional ingredients means you’re almost guaranteed to feel something, even if CBD isn’t quite your thing.
5: CBDistillery Relief + Relax CBD Oil
CBDistillery is a veteran of the CBD game and one of the first companies to show up back when CBD was just a niche topic being discussed online but mostly unknown to the general public.
Despite a huge range of competitors popping up since then, very few have overtaken CBDistillery and they remain an authority in the industry. You’ll be glad to know then, that they’ve recently launched their new Relief & Relax CBD oil.
The product misses out on the entourage effect by only including pure CBD, but makes up for this by offering 3 separate strengths to give you the exact dose you feel you need, making it a potential #1 option for people who are regularly drug tested.
CBDistillery hemp comes from a US non-GMO farm and while there is no mention of organic hemp on their site, in most other areas it can hold its own against the other products here and is one of the best CBD products available in the UK.
6: Kiara Naturals CBD Sleep and Relax Tincture
Kiara Naturals is a Swiss manufacturer known for potent CBD supplements. Their CBD oil is full spectrum but with the THC removed to less than 0.2% presence for the full entourage effect. Added ingredients include valerian root, hops and California poppy.
This is the only CBD product on our list that contains alcohol, which may be a no go for some but Kiara claims it helps to deliver the herbal remedies into the system more quickly.
Despite the alcohol question and the fact that Kiara’s CBD oil is one of the more expensive on the list, it’s high dose, added ingredients and typical Swiss high quality make sure it remains a great option for anybody looking to experience CBD’s benefits for sleep.
7: Holistic Hemp Scotland CBD Tincture Oil
Holistic Hemp is a small, family run business in Scotland. Their hemp plants are sourced from small farms all over Europe in an attempt to minimize their footprint on the environment and all hemp is certified organic.
They also take more care in the harvesting process than most, handpicking hemp flowers and extracting the CBD with minimal heat or pressure, which they claim results in a better quality CBD oil.
With only one choice of dosage which is the smallest on this list, and none of the added ingredients included in our higher ranked products, this is a no frills option for CBD oil for sleep – but it’s a high quality and trustworthy one that puts nature first, and that’s hard to argue with!
8: Vibes CBD Oil
Vibes delivers a premium quality CBD oil that has won a lot of industry awards, and what really makes it stand out amongst the rest of this list is the delicious mixed fruit flavour. The hemp used is 100% organic, non-GMO, and lab tested regularly
The CBD is broad spectrum and while the starting price is high, the dose is too so there are no issues with value.
Without any additional beneficial ingredients and no sustainable policies mentioned on their website, you will likely get better results and less guilt from something like Evopure – but if you aren’t a fan of the natural herbal taste that product provides, this is a perfect solution.
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“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.
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.”
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.