Interested in trying CBD for sleep? Here are six things to look for.

While the research is promising, many CBD products do not live up to their promise of improving your sleep. In this guide, we're going to break down what to look when choosing a CBD product to help you sleep better.

Cannabidiol, or CBD as we all know it by, has made a grand entrance into many of the products we consume on a daily basis. Smoothies, juices, coffee, snacks, skincare, the list goes on. It is one of the many active ingredients, or cannabinoids as we call them, that can be found in the hemp plant, and one that has made waves as a compound that can reduce stress, manage inflammation and even help you sleep better. In one study, 66.7% of respondents reported improved sleep scores in the first month that they started taking CBD oil.¹ Respondents from another study reported an increase in the total amount of sleep time and decreased amounts of mid-night wake ups.²

While the research is promising, many products do not live up to their promise of improving your sleep. In this guide, we're going to break down what to look when choosing a CBD product to help you sleep better.

I. The right product type.

You can drink it. You can eat it as an edible or swallow it as a capsule. You can put it on your tongue, on your toast or even on your skin. With all these ways of consuming CBD, how do you decide which one to choose? Well, each product type has its own benefits and its own pitfalls. Topical products, or ones that you apply on your skin, are suited for localized relief but don’t do much beyond where they are applied. Edibles, beverages or capsules have the ability to provide longer, more sustained relief but their effects take long to set in.

Furthermore, a large amount of CBD gets lost in the digestive tract - it doesn’t make it into your bloodstream and never ends up providing the relief you’re looking for. For the purposes of helping you fall asleep faster, a sublingual product - one you apply under the tongue - is your best bet. The glands in your mouth are well equipped to easily absorb the CBD oil, and because the blood vessels in your mouth are close to your brain, it doesn’t take very long for you to start feeling the calming benefits of the cannabinoid. This has to do with the concept of bioavailability, which we’ll explain in the next point.

What to look for? We highly recommend a sublingual product for sleep. This can be a tincture or oral spray - what matters most is that you take it under the tongue. This product type is going to help you get the most out of the CBD that you’re taking and help you feel the effects quickly.

II. Bioavailability

Not a word you read every day. We’ll break it down for you (and you’ll shortly understand this pun). Bioavailability means the degree to which your body is able to absorb an active ingredient into your bloodstream in order to process it. Let’s assume that you are taking a CBD oil by spraying it under your tongue. High bioavailability means that for every 10 milligrams (mg) of CBD you take, you are actually absorbing the majority of those 10mg, rather than losing the compounds through your saliva or in your digestive tract. CBD can be made more bioavailable through a process of emulsification, which essentially turns the CBD oil into tiny droplets as small as 400 nanometers (we won’t get into what a nanometer is, but it’s very small). This process makes it much easier for your body to break down the CBD and absorb it into your bloodstream - as much as 8 times easier than regular CBD oil. This means that 10mg of an emulsified oil is equal to 80mg of a non-emulsified oil.

If you’re still a little confused, here’s an analogy to help make sense of it. Imagine that you’re trying to throw a rock through a chain-link fence. Probably not going too well, huh? Emulsification breaks that big rock down into tiny little pebbles that you can easily throw through the fence. The submucosal glands inside your mouth are that fence, and have a much easier time absorbing the CBD when it’s emulsified. As a secondary benefit, the emulsified cannabinoids are also absorbed much faster. People have reported feeling the effects of an emulsified product as fast as under 10 minutes.

What to look for? If you want to get more out of your CBD oil, look for ones that use an emulsification process. This will allow you to use less CBD to achieve a lot more, and feel the effects quicker than any regular CBD oil, perfect for when you want to hitch a quick ride to dreamland.

III. The right dose for you.

While we currently know rather little about the effective dosage of CBD for sleep, we know that higher doses of CBD tend to be sedative where lower doses tend to cause alertness. However, this concept of a ‘higher’ dose is relative to each person, as the size of our bodies and the severity of the issues we are trying to manage with CBD vary drastically from person to person. Further research indicates that age and even gender also play a role in how our bodies react to CBD.

Some studies suggest the existence of a Goldilocks Zone - an amount of CBD that is ‘just right’ for your needs and body type. Starting to find the Goldilocks Zone can be done through a simple survey to assess your body type and particular sleeping issues, which allows product-makers to recommend the right dose for you. Although a survey is a great start, a process of trial and error is needed to find the most effective dose for you, which involves keeping track of your CBD intake and sleep quality to see what’s working and what’s not.

What to look for? Personalization and a strong feedback system can go a very long way to find the right dose for you. Product-makers like us are going one step further by personalizing the amount of CBD in your product to your needs. We’ve also developed a friendly chat robot that keeps track of your sleep quality and makes automated dose recommendations to help get you to your Goldilocks Zone.

IV. The right formulation.

CBD is not the only hero in this story. Other ingredients, like minor cannabinoids and terpenes found in the hemp plant, work alongside CBD to provide relaxing and sleep-inducing benefits. This is called the Entourage Effect, and essentially describes the process of multiple ingredients working together to create an effect that is greater than the sum of their parts. 1+1=3 type of thing. Good CBD products for sleep are not made with an isolated version of CBD, but rather a combination of powerful ingredients.

This starts with the base ingredient - the hemp extract. In the hemp industry, whole plant or broad-spectrum extracts are considered the gold standard. These contain a blend of CBD and all of the other beneficial cannabinoids naturally found in the hemp plant. Second are the terpenes, which are aromatic compounds that work to stimulate the senses and provide relaxing effects through taste and smell. Particular terpenes for sleep include lavendol (found in lavender), myrcene (found in mangoes) and b-caryophyllene (found in pepper). Last but not least are the adaptogens - compounds that can be added to formulations to provide further benefits for a good night’s rest. Widely used adaptogens with powerful properties for sleep include Chamomile, Reishi mushroom or Valerian Root. Products that include these ingredients tend to go above and beyond in providing comprehensive sleep support, from the time it takes you to fall asleep to the invaluable feeling of waking up refreshed.

What to look for? If you’re looking for the full benefits of CBD, avoid isolated versions of it and look for full or broad-spectrum products. These will contain many of the other cannabinoids that work together for more enhanced and powerful effects. A curated blend of terpenes and adaptogens will also go a long way to help you wind down and sleep steady throughout the night.

V. Potency and safety.

As much as we don’t want pesticides in our food, we also don’t want it in our CBD products. Fortunately, there are a number of accredited testing laboratories that work with product-makers to test their products and make sure they are free of pesticides and other harmful elements like heavy metals or bacteria. These same tests also analyze the potency - the total amount of cannabinoids found inside the product. With recent scandals around the potency of CBD products being far below the advertised amount, it’s incredibly important to know that you are getting what you’re paying for. These testing laboratories create Certificates of Analysis (or COAs for short) - documents that state all the testing results and prove the potency and safety of the product.

What to look for? By our standards, a good product-maker is able to provide a list of COAs on their website that correspond with a batch or lot number on their product. These COAs should tell you the exact amount of CBD in the product and show that the product is clear of pesticides and other harmful chemicals.

VI. Price.

Finally - Price plays a huge role in our decisions when we are choosing a product, and rightfully so - you want to get your money’s worth. As it comes to CBD, it’s important to look at the total milligram (mg for short) count of the CBD in the product. The current market price in US dollars per milligram of CBD is all over the place, with CBD being sold for as high as $0.67 / mg and as low as $0.06 / mg. The current average market price for CBD oils floats around $0.12 / mg of CBD. ³

What to look for? When looking at a product, do a quick calculation to make sure you’re not paying a huge premium for the CBD inside of it. Fairly priced products come in below market price.

¹ Cannabidiol in Anxiety and Sleep: A Large Case Series

² Cannabis, Cannabinoids, and Sleep: a Review of the Literature

³ The CBD Market Consumer Research: A Guide to Become a Smart Consumer

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