ou’ve probably heard of CBD (an ingredient found in cannabis, and which stands for Cannabidiol) and the myriad health benefits it’s said to provide, from reducing anxiety to working as a painkiller or alleviating the symptoms of menopause.
One of its most lauded benefits, according to fans, is improving sleep quality, something most of us are struggling with in these frazzled times. So how do you take CBD for sleep? Is it safe? And does it really help you nod off? We tried a range of CBD oils as well as oil-based beauty and bath products to see which are the best for a trip to the land of nod.
What is CBD?
CBD stands for Cannabidiol an ingredient naturally found in the leaves, stalks and flowers of both cannabis and hemp plants (hemp seed oil comes from the seeds of the hemp plant). Unlike tetrahydrocannabinol (THC, which it’s illegal to possess), CBD is not psychoactive.
CBD oil is made by extracting CBD from the cannabis plant – this is then usually diluted with a carrier oil like coconut oil or hemp seed oil. CBD oil is totally legal to buy in the UK, and no, it won’t get you high. It’s actually sold in Britain as a food supplement, and the NHS advises that there’s ‘no guarantee’ that Cannabidiol provides any health benefits, but many fans of CBD report feeling happier and calmer by day and sleeping better at night thanks to taking regular dosages.
And it seems the UK is hooked on its supposed benefits – CBD brand Trip reported a 500 per cent increase in sales of their CBD oil-based products as a result of the COVID pandemic, and a bevvy of celebrities also swear by taking the oil daily for better sleep.
How can CBD aid sleep?
Dr Tim Bond, chemist and advisor to Dragonfly CBD, explains: “CBD works by acting on cell receptors which control how much serotonin is circulating in the blood. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that makes us feel a sense of well-being and happiness, and it’s also important for regulating sleep – another area where CBD really does help. One trial in 72 patients with insomnia found improvement in sleep quality after CBD use, and in another clinical trial involving 103 adults, sleep scores improved in two-thirds of people taking CBD in the first month.”
Dr Bond points out that The World Health Organization “has recognised that CBD products may have the potential to help health issues like insomnia, as well as anxiety which can prevent you from getting a good night’s sleep.”
Tom Bourlet runs the blog CBD Sloth. He regularly uses CBD oil as a sleep aid, and says: “it used to take me an hour or two to fall asleep at night. I had tried numerous remedies in the past, none of which had any impact. CBD worked progressively, so it wasn’t an overnight change, but [with regular use] I began falling asleep faster – nowadays it takes me 10-15 minutes. That was unthinkable before.”
It’s worth noting that CBD isn’t suitable for everyone – it isn’t recommended for children, anyone who is pregnant or breastfeeding. If you’re on certain medication (such as blood thinners) you should talk to your doctor first before trying CBD.
How to shop for CBD products
Shopping for CBD oils specifically to get better sleep? There’s a massive range of products on the market, and to get started, you can buy CBD oils in droppers which you take orally by popping a few drops under your tongue, or you can choose health and beauty products such as moisturizers, serums, bath salts and even bath bombs that include CBD oil as an ingredient.
Oils are usually a purer form of CBD and are good way to work out what dosage suits you. Some products keep it simple, mixing CBD with a carrier oil, others add extras such as calming chamomile or immunity-boosting Vitamin D as well as adding flavourings such as peppermint or citrus oil to improve the taste as it can be bitty and earthy without this.
If you’re shopping for a CBD oil to take orally, you’ll see different strengths available. CBD newbies are advised to buy a low-strength oil and build up how much CBD they take, starting with 10mg a day and working up to 60-70mg. To take CBD oil, you pop a dropper full of the oil under your tongue and then leave it there for a minute before swallowing, to allow it to enter your bloodstream.
Shop the best CBD oils for sleep below
OTO CBD Sleep Drops
OTO was one of the first brands to properly put CBD on the map and the brand’s sleep drops are a wonderful addition to your night time routine. With their refreshingly minty flavour, these work well to calm you down whenever you’re feeling a little bit stressed, or just as well as you’re climbing into bed with anxious thoughts.
With a potent dose of 1500mg of CBD per bottle, these are stronger than your standard CBD drops and do the magic to ease your nervous system. Rest assured: they won’t actively make you tired, but their soothing lavender, calming butterfly pea flower and fresh field mint infusion does the work to calm you down.
Trip Orange Blossom Oil
‘Take a Trip to happy days’ says this deliciously scented little bottle. Trip is best known for its canned CBD drinks, but we really rated their CBD oil on test – it has a lovely flavour of orange blossom and blood orange that’s ideal if you don’t like the taste of hemp.
The brand’s little bottle is also infused with chamomile, which is also believed to help you get to sleep. While cute packaging isn’t the most important thing to look for when you’re trying CBD, it doesn’t hurt that the millennial-pink dropper looks good in any bathroom cabinet.
Four Five CBD Oil
There’s a lot of mystical stuff written about CBD online – if you want to see if its benefits you without any added woo-woo, try Four Five. A no-nonsense, unflavoured CBD oil in a spray rather than a dropper, Four Five is aimed at athletes and sporty types who want to ease muscle pain as well as get a restorative night’s sleep to aid recovery. The spray makes it easy to get exactly the dose you want and work up to higher dosages of CBD.
Goodrays CBD Night Drops
Designed specifically for taking before bed, Goodrays CBD Night drops mix CBD (which is sustainably grown in the US) and coconut oil with peppermint oil. Each dose contains 33mg of CBD and packs a lovely minty flavour without a trace of the herby taste of hemp. The mintiness of the Night Drops make them pleasant to take even after you’ve brushed your teeth and clambered between the sheets.
Hapihemp Raw Cold Pressed CBD Oil
Hapihemp keeps it simple with good quality raw cold pressed CBD oil (Cold pressing oils retains their nutrients), using ingredients you can trace from plant to bottle.
Beginners will only need a small dose of the 5 per cent strength to aid sleep, those used to CBD can opt for the 15 per cent. If you don’t like the grassy taste of hemp, the peppermint version has a cleaner taste.
Mindful Extracts CBD Oil
Mindful Extracts’ CBD oils run the gamut in strength from 5 per cent to 20 per cent – we think the 5 per cent is ideal as a first oil to take before bedtime. It contains just two ingredients – hemp extract and cold pressed hemp seed oil, so it’s a good choice if you don’t want a tincture with extra flavourings and additives. The brand also does a sweet orange CBD lip balm and fun CBD bath bombs if you fancy something a little different for your bedtime rituals.
Cannabotech Beauty Sleep Drops
CBD oil meets M2 mushrooms (so-called ‘functional mushrooms’ that are believed to have health benefits) and calming chamomile in this formula designed to send you off to a deeper sleep in no time.
This oil has a pleasantly sweet taste initially, but a strong, bitter aftertaste – while it’s ideal if you fancy trying two natural ingredients believed to help sleep in one go, we wouldn’t recommend it if you dislike earthy flavours.
Serena Organics Premium Broad Spectrum Oil
If you’re not keen on trendy flavours and want to try a pared-back CBD oil, Serena Organics’ range is a great shout. Available in three strengths – 10 per cent, 15 per cent and 40 per cent, the Premium CBD tincture is near tasteless (there’s a very mild coconutty smell but we couldn’t discern any earthy flavour) and is an easy way to build up how much CBD you take each night.
GAEA Sunset Sleep Drops
Gaea’s drops are designed to suit both your waking and resting hours – they make a zingy orange-flavoured CBD oil called Sunrise designed to help you feel calm and happy during the day, and come night-time the Sunset sleep drops are perfect for winding down. Mixing berry flavourings with organic hemp harvested in Oregon California, this oil has a mild grassy taste.
Pollen No Pressure CBD Drink Drops
If you like a comforting hot drink before bed, Pollen’s No Pressure drops are an easy way to add CBD to your evening. Made with water-soluble CBD from broad-spectrum hemp oil, No Pressure’s drink drops contain 20mg per dropper, are flavoured with tasty blackcurrant and raspberry and work nicely when added to a hot chocolate, a fruit drink or even to coffee. A good alternative to oil droppers for taking CBD orally.
It’s also available as a gummy supplement (£35)
Dragonfly CBD Drops with Vitamin D
Vitamin D and CBD are a wellness match made in heaven for both day and night – Vitamin D enhances the immune system (ideal for the winter months or if you usually catch every cold going around) and CBD is believed to reduce anxiety and promote sleep. Dragonfly also offer a subscription of CBD oil, so if you find taking it regularly benefits you, you can have it replenished monthly.
Also at Amazon
Best CBD Beauty Products for Sleep
Leaves & Flowers Skin Sleep Cream
If the hour before your bedtime is all about self-care rituals, Leaves & Flowers skin cream is a lovely extra step that adds the benefits of CBD. This luxuriously thick face cream feels nourishing without being greasy, and has a light rose scent. CBD is believed to be anti-inflammatory, so it’s recommended for problem skin – we definitely noticed smoother skin after using it at bedtime.
Holland & Barrett CBD Night Cream
If you want to try CBD in the evenings but don’t fancy taking CBD oil orally, start out with Holland & Barrett’s CBD and hemp seed night cream before bed. This cream has a light consistency that sits nicely on the skin, and we noticed it helped with problem and dry skin on test. A pleasant herbal smell is miles away from strong hemp beauty products. Great value, too.
Honey Heaven CBD Massage Oil
An oil, but not one you take orally, Honey Heaven’s mildly scented CBD oil also contains sweet almond and coconut, and is designed to be multi-use – pop it on your pressure points, use it as an indulgent moisturiser, use it as a massage oil or rub it on sore joints and muscles for pain relief. Honey Heaven also recommends trying the oil on your face to help with rosacea and puffiness.
Vive Night Recovery Cream
Stressed out skin will love being treated to this calming Recovery Cream before sleep. Shea butter and aloe feel moisturising and calming, and CBD is said to reduce inflammation from hormonal breakouts and the appearance of blemishes as well as ease anxiety for a calmer night’s sleep. We’ve definitely noticed plumper skin as a result of adding this to pre-bed skincare.
Jomo CBD Arousal Massage Oil
It may be made to stimulate arousal rather than sleep-ready relaxation, but Jomo’s massage oil is a pleasure to use before bed as a calming body oil. A gentle floral smell of ylang ylang, and lavender feels as a relaxing as taking an aromatherapy session. This light body oil is also easily absorbed and doesn’t leave any stickiness on the skin. Ideal for tired muscles post-exercise (or just for tired people in general).