Feeling cranky and tired in the morning? If you toss and turn for hours before you doze off, or find yourself waking up in the middle of the night, something has to change. Poor sleep can cause or contribute to numerous health issues, including brain fog, heart disease, and diabetes. But should you opt for a supplement, or try to smooth out your sleep schedule on your own? To find the best solutions for insomnia and other sleep woes, we reached out to experts on CBD, melatonin, and other natural sleeping strategies.
Is CBD a good supplement for sleep?
Cannabidiol, or CBD, is the second-most active ingredient in medical marijuana, though it’s not psychoactive. (In other words, it doesn’t give you the “high” of traditional cannabis.) Those who use CBD claim that it helps ease anxiety, chronic pain, and insomnia — but can it really help improve the quality of your sleep?
“Cannabinoids like CBD, THC [tetrahydrocannabinol, the main psychoactive in cannabis], and CBN [cannabinol, a mild cannabinoid found in aging cannabis plants] can help consumers with sleep in a variety of ways,” says John Friess, CEO and founder of Metolius Hemp Company. “These compounds … help one achieve a restful state through a variety of effects, including calming the mind, easing the body from tension or stress, promoting relaxation both in a physiological state as well as emotional, and possibly even induce feelings of ‘sleepiness.’ Depending on the strain (variety) of the cannabis or hemp product, these sleepy effects can be quite potent.”
Friess adds that CBD inhibits pain receptors, which can help ease aches and pains, inflammation, anxiety, stress, and depression. All these effects can therefore make it easier to fall asleep and stay asleep. He points to a 2019 study published in The Permanente Journal, which found that nearly 80 percent of participants who took a CBD treatment experienced less anxiety and better sleep.
In addition, a Medicines study which took place from 2016 to 2018 tested the effects of cannabis flower on over 400 participants with chronic insomnia. The cannabis flower contained about 20 percent THC and 5 percent CBD, and after two years of usage, patients reported that they had significantly better sleep.
Looking for a high-quality supplement to try? For the best of the best, we like the Dragon Hemp REST Tincture (Buy from Dragon Hemp, $90), made with full spectrum hemp CBD and CBN extracts and traditional Chinese herbs like passionflower and lavender to help ease the mind for better sleep. For a budget-friendly option, there’s also the River Dreams CBD and CBN Sleep Powder (Buy from Metolius, $14.95), which also includes magnesium to help promote a relaxed state. And if you prefer gummies, look no further than SUNMED’s Full Spectrum Nighttime Blueberry Gummies (Buy from SUNMED, $12.50).
Does melatonin improve sleep quality?
We already have melatonin in our bodies — it’s a hormone that our brains produce in response to darkness, according to the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Supplement forms of melatonin are usually synthetic, and often derived from animals or microorganisms.
The NIH states that melatonin may help you overcome certain sleep disorders like insomnia and anxiety. But what do the experts and researchers think?
“Short-term or intermittent use of supplements such as melatonin may be OK,” says Abhinav Singh, MD, MPH, FAASM, and Expert at SleepFoundation.org. “Anytime you feel you are frequently relying on these supplements for sleep, it may be a time to get a formal assessment by a sleep specialist or your primary care.”
Friess notes that melatonin may leave you feeling groggy the next morning. He also pointed to research highlighted by CNN, which states that melatonin supplements may disrupt the body’s natural sleep cycle.
Tony Ferrari, PhD, Chief Science Officer for Your CBD Store and its SUNMED products, states that SUNMED didn’t include melatonin in its products because it’s controversial. “We have had mixed reviews on the melatonin component and decided to not include it in our SUNMED CBD formulations,” he says.
Ferrari does believe, however, that melatonin can safely be used alongside CBD. “If a passionate melatonin user wants to use both, they can just take a melatonin product in conjunction with the CBN CBD products we have formulated for restful nights,” he adds.
Still, low doses of melatonin may help you in certain situations. Johns Hopkins Medicine suggests taking a low dose if you are trying to overcome jet lag. To do, take a dose one to two hours before bedtime at your destination. And just make sure that you know when to stop using supplements. If it doesn’t help you after a week or two, it’s best to discontinue use. If you’d like to try a low-dose melatonin supplement we like Hope Health’s Strawberry Melatonin Gummies (Buy from ShopHope, $14.99). Each gummy contains just 2.5 milligrams (mg) of melatonin, making it easy to adjust your dosage.
The Argument for Zero Sleep Supplements
While supplements may help some of us overcome our sleep troubles, some experts believe that a natural approach is the best way to get better Zzzs.
“Behavioral therapies are better and longer acting and more durable in insomnia resolution,” says Dr. Singh. “Not enough research is available for long-term benefits on [CBD and melatonin]. For the short-term, they may be used with limited benefits and fewer side effects.”
Instead, Singh recommends the following tips for promoting better sleep:
- Limit phone usage. “Keep phones on ‘do not disturb’ mode and greater than six feed away from you so that your hands cannot reach them,” he says. “Give yourself one hour of disconnect from your phone prior to climbing into bed … and replace ‘doom scrolling’ with a calming ritual. Instead, use a gratitude journal, light audio, reading, breathing exercises, and/or stretching, [which] have been shown to increase relaxation.”
- Use a cooler temperature in the bedroom. A cool room temperature can make it easier for your body to regulate its own temp. Singh suggests using a “smart thermostat” which can change the temperature automatically in the evenings.
- Amber lighting. Using soft lightbulbs and less bright, white light is easier on your eyes. Amber light or soft yellow light can also promote a state of relaxation.
The bottom line? It’s up to you and your doctor to make the best decision for your health when it comes to your sleep routine. Ask your physician whether CBD or melatonin is a good solution for you, or if you should improve your sleep habits without supplements. Hopefully, this information helps you make the right choice for your health! Your sleep depends on it.
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