Experience with CBD for sleep regulation?
September 10, 2018 10:14 AM   Subscribe

I live in a state with legal recreational marijuana. Are CBD-based products likely to help me with sleep issues?

I didn't grow up smoking weed, and have almost no experience with it. I'm currently dealing with some sleep issues related to ongoing anxiety (I have a therapist I'm working with to deal with that, but it's slow going). Some nights, I sleep fine, but at least a couple of times a week I spend hours awake or dozing off and waking back up immediately. I want to stay away from prescription sleep meds, and OTC stuff I've tried haven't given me good sleep or left me with terrible hangovers.

I know that the few times I've partaken of edibles (THC/CBD combos), I've slept pretty well and woken up with no hangover, but I don't particularly want to get high a couple of times a week or more. I'm hoping to get some anecdata from you guys about primarily CBD-based products, "yes, CBD has helped me sleep" or "no, CBD keeps me awake" kind of stuff.

This would primarily be edible-based. I don't smoke or vape.

I should probably add that melatonin doesn't do much, if anything, for me. I have a few things that sometimes help with sleep - white noise generators, random word visualization apps, soothing podcasts - but there are times that they do not help at all.
posted by anonymous to Health & Fitness (18 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
Sometimes it helps me and sometimes (more often? It doesn’t). My friends downstairs swear by it.
posted by rtha at 10:28 AM on September 10, 2018 [1 favorite]

CBD by itself does not help me with sleep, and pure THC products just get me high and make me lose sleep because I'll fall into an endless pit of watching dumb videos on my phone or reading stuff.

The vaporizer pens that offer 50/50 rations of CBD /THC work wonders for my sleeplessness and are very cheap here in AZ. It's like $20 for the rechargeable battery/pen and $30 for a single cartridge that lasts me more than a month.

My inability to fall asleep easily comes from a combination of back pain and anxiety/racing thoughts. Your mileage my vary but it's a (relatively) low cost experiment.
posted by kzin602 at 10:58 AM on September 10, 2018 [2 favorites]

I've been taking both edible and alcohol-extract CBD for pain (fwiw I find glycerin-extract less effective) ; CBD doesn't keep me awake, but nor does it seem to do much to help me sleep. I sometimes take a hit of home-grown weed from a pipe at bedtime, which also doesn't automatically lead to sleep but does help get there - I find I sleep very deeply after a smoke, once I drop off, waking quite refreshed.
I don't use marijuana during the day.
posted by anadem at 11:02 AM on September 10, 2018

I did not notice your detail about not wanting to vape. Although you may want to be open to the idea, the pens have hardly any smell. I have had good results as far as sleeping after taking low dose 50/50 items; I just find that with me the time it takes for these items to take affect is far too variable. I've had the exact same product take 10 minutes to kick in and an hour and a half to kick in. I have not tried sublingual drops nor have I tried things like a hard candy or gummies that you would just dissolve in your mouth.
posted by kzin602 at 11:25 AM on September 10, 2018

My husband has horrible insomnia, and he found that some combo of CBD/THC is the best. CBD only doesn't help him. He uses a vape. We live in a state that has medical and recreational (California), but has been doing this since it was just medical, and he goes to a dispensary that was formerly only medical. They are really good about giving him advice. I recommend going to a dispensary with good rep and talking to their "budtenders."
posted by radioamy at 11:41 AM on September 10, 2018

CBD capsules have helped me enormously. In fact I can’t take them during the day because they make me too sleepy.
posted by HotToddy at 12:01 PM on September 10, 2018

I use CBD oil from Modern Medicinals before bedtime. I find it winds down and softens anxious thought spirals which helps me get to sleep better.
posted by matildaben at 12:10 PM on September 10, 2018 [2 favorites]

I have tried various combinations for my insomnia; none have helped. YMMV, hopefully.
posted by The otter lady at 12:26 PM on September 10, 2018

I also don't like feeling high and I take a 10:1 CBD:THC capsule (1 or 2 depending) that has helped. If you time it correctly it basically just knocks you out. And when it knocks you out it knocks you out GOOD.
posted by colorblock sock at 12:52 PM on September 10, 2018

20:1 CBD had no effect I could discern. I was hoping it would be good for anxiety but it did zero things. Possibly I didn't take it for a long enough time.
posted by Smearcase at 1:07 PM on September 10, 2018

I take about 40 mg cbd in capsules about 2 to 3 hours before bed and the sleepiness is noticeable. Weirdly, if i take it right before bed, it leaves me unable to fall asleep.
posted by whistle pig at 1:10 PM on September 10, 2018

I accidentally bought CBD weed a while back and while it was worthless for recreation, I did notice it made me feel quite tired and sleepy feeling so for a while I used it as a sleep aid, not that I've ever had much trouble sleeping, but it did seem to make me fall asleep sooner with less time spent sucked into TV or my phone or whatever. Edibles in general have also historically only succeeded in making me feel very sleepy. It's definitely worth a shot.
posted by GoblinHoney at 2:29 PM on September 10, 2018 [1 favorite]

CBD didn't really help me with my sleep, possibly because is have difficulty staying asleep, rather than actually going to sleep. I take 5 mg melatonin and 5-HTP at night which actually seems to help. I wake up pretty groggy in the morning, but I do actually sleep, and after I make breakfast and get some coffee I'm pretty much awake.
posted by Dr. Twist at 3:36 PM on September 10, 2018

I also live in a state with legal recreational marijuana, and micro-dosing has made a huge difference for my insomnia. CBD on its own, though, has not proved to be very helpful for me. I also don't smoke or vape.

A little context, first. I have always had sleep issues, but the biggest issue in the last dozen years or so has been related to chronic pain. I have a prescription for opioids that can reduce the pain to levels that can help me sleep, but for some reason, the opioids themselves can also keep me awake. Maybe 50% of the time. 75% if I'm stressed (which is often). So I was looking for two separate dosages. I wanted to know if it would be possible to replace the opioids completely, and if not, I wanted to know if there was a dosage I could take on top of the opioids that would counter whatever was keeping me awake.

As with most chemicals, individual responses can vary dramatically, so here's the process I used to figure out what works for me:

The kicker was that I don't really want to be high every night. So I was looking for low dosages that I could tweak over time. Which is easier to manage with edibles, since you can experiment with very specific dosages. But the downside is that edibles generally take longer to kick in, so it can be hard to know if you've had enough/too much for a couple of hours.

What I settled on was two different products that mixed the ability to deliver very small, carefully measured dosages with a faster response time for easier monitoring. Both of the products are delivered under the tongue, which absorbs directly into the blood stream and doesn't pass through your digestive system first. This means that the majority of the effects are noticeable, if at all, within 15 to 30 minutes.

The first product I've been using is a breath strip. There are different combinations of THC and CBD, as well as strains (Indica, Sativa, or Hybrid). Most of the varieties use 10mg of THC.

The second product I've been using is a breath spray. Use as directed. Spray directly under the tongue. Again, there are a number of varieties.

For experimentation, I recommend the breath spray. I've found that the results from the spray tend to be both faster and more intense for the same dosage than with the breath strips. I believe that this is because it is being absorbed more efficiently, while a greater percentage of the breath strips are being inadvertently swallowed, thus delaying the effect. What this means from a practical standpoint, is that you can use the spray closer to bedtime and still have time to slightly increase the dose if necessary.

But maybe more importantly, it's MUCH easier to adjust the dosage with the spray. According to the directions, it takes 6 sprays to deliver the same 10 mg THC as 1 breath strip. So you can sneak up on exactly the best dose for you.

If you're just trying to sleep, I recommend sticking with Indica. Indica gives that drowsy, relaxed feeling. Sativa, by contrast, makes my brain more active, not less.

For me, I've found that 10mg to 20mg of Indica, absorbed under the tongue an hour before bedtime is enough to override the effect of the opioids that keeps me awake, and has even allowed me to lower the dosage of the opioids - without causing any noticeable high. If I increase the dosage to 25 or 30 mg, I can actually skip the opioids, but at that dosage I do feel noticeably altered.

tl;dr: I am not your doctor, but maybe try micro-dosing with an Indica breath spray under your tongue an hour before bed time. Start with a half dose (3 sprays or 5mg) the first night, then increase by 1 spray each night until you find a dose that maybe works for you. Don't mix this with alcohol or other drugs until you have a feel for how your body is going to handle this, and don't do anything that requires focus (no cooking, no fire dancing, no driving, no performing brain surgery, no signing legal documents).

Good luck.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 3:56 PM on September 10, 2018 [1 favorite]

I'm an emergency physician/medical toxicologist. As the latter, I'm what you would call an "expert" on the effects foreign substances (Cannibidiol among them) have on humans.

read this (it's the single best summary of everything we know about CBD from a formal scientific/research perspective)

don't hesitate to memail me if you have any specific questions.
posted by BadgerDoctor at 4:19 PM on September 10, 2018 [1 favorite]

I take about two doses of 600 mg CBD oil per day (note: where I live marijuana, even medicinal use, is illegal so it contains less than .3% THC). What it ACTUALLY helps to control:

Social anxiety
Generalized anxiety

As a result, I am more mellow throughout the day, my paralyzing anxiety is quelled, and I am able to fall asleep/stay asleep for the duration of the night as a result. The brand I use is locally sourced and I purchase it from a local vendor that has allowed me to experiment with the various brands as one may not jive as well with your body chemistry as another (how much this is based in science I don't know). Memail me if you wants specifics.

The only drawback is that as your body adjusts you'll need to up the dosage, and I've noticed this happened for me fairly quickly...which can get expensive for some.
posted by Young Kullervo at 4:46 PM on September 10, 2018

Another option?: I was having a lot of trouble sleeping and then started taking Tylenol PM while sick with a flu-ish something or other. It did a good job of helping me sleep. I was surprised the sleep drug was simply a little Benadryl. Pretty basic and easy to get.
posted by xammerboy at 7:26 PM on September 10, 2018

CBD induces a heavy, relaxed, anxiety-free state with a sense of well-being and freedom from pain, which is why it's useful for some people to relax before bed. However, on it's own, CBD actually has negative effects on sleep in tests.

If you're looking for a non-intoxicating cannabinoid that works as a sleep aid, you're actually looking at the lesser-known CBN. CBN naturally occurs in cannabis at much lower levels than CBD or THC, so products that contain concentrated or isolated CBN are less common...but they still exist!
posted by Juliet Banana at 7:07 AM on September 11, 2018 [1 favorite]

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