For the past 51 years, sleep has been an elusive bedfellow. My mother remembers silently entering my room only to see—time and time again—my watchful eyes opening as she peered into my crib. Sleepovers, slumber parties, and first nights in a new environment all meant infinite hours awake while others slept soundly. As an adult, I have never fallen asleep on an airplane, in a movie theater, or in any other public place, and never fall asleep while watching TV or reading. I am, however, a superb napper, which merely demonstrates how heavily loaded my bedtime sleep is with expectation, fear of failure, and monkey mind. Indeed, my sleep history is tortured and, truthfully, kind of sad.
During heightened times of stress, I am more forgiving of my insomnia, but more frequently, my waves of insomnia wax and wane without warning, understanding, or reason. Over the years, these periods of insomnia—sometimes falling and sometimes maintaining sleep--have become much less intense and disruptive. However, when I am passing the 2-, 3-, or 4-hour mark of NOT sleeping, I do rely on a small dose of an anti-anxiety medication to gently calm my central nervous system and help me fall asleep. Years ago, pre-children, I tried the sleep medication Ambien and had a very aversive—and rare—reaction (let’s just say it involved a terrifying hallucination of my husband morphing into a chicken). Additionally, natural supplements and sleep aids like melatonin and valerian root have not provided any ongoing relief from my symptoms.
Although actually falling and/or maintaining sleep is my Achilles heel, my sleep hygiene—the habits and practices that are conducive to a peaceful night’s sleep—is brag-worthy: no screens at least an hour before bed (and no TV in the bedroom), phone off and tucked away in another room, dark and cool bedroom, a regular and beloved yoga practice, exercise, reading for at least an hour every night (my happiest place), diffusing essential oils, rubbing said oils on the soles of my feet, no caffeine in the afternoon--the list is long and lovely.
And then, two months ago, everything changed when I began taking CBD oil before bed. Now, on most nights, my thoughts slow and recede, and I sleep. After one week of taking a nightly dose of CBD oil, not only was I sleeping more peacefully, soundly, and comfortably than I can ever remember, but the months-long pain that I had been experiencing in my right hip and leg completely dissipated and has not returned. The quality and consistency of my sleep are so drastically improved that it is hard to write these words without sounding hyperbolic.
Derived from the stalk and seed of cannabis (hemp) plants, cannabidiol (CBD) oil is a natural botanical concentrate that is high in the compound CBD. Unlike medical marijuana products, which are typically made from plants with high concentrations of psychoactive tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), CBD oil products contain only trace amounts of THC, usually less than .3%. Because CBD is non-psychoactive, it does not cause the euphoric or “high” feeling of marijuana and is thus a safer, less controversial alternative, while still offering significant health benefits. As opposed to THC, CBD oil will not will adversely affect your sensory awareness, perception, consciousness, reaction time, or behavior.
CBD interacts with the body through the endocannabinoid system, a vital signaling system responsible for regulating a wide array of functions, such as:
- Immune response
- Cycles of cellular life and death
In addition to positively impacting the endocannabinoid system, CBD has been the subject of more than 23,000 published studies in relation to its various medical indications, including the treatment of anxiety, epilepsy, inflammation, cancer, chronic pain, nausea and vomiting, psychosis, neurological disorders, and various other conditions.
Because dosages and brands of CBD hemp oil vary widely, it is very important do your research before using CBD in any form. The following article presents a thorough explanation of identifying high quality CBD oil: https://ministryofhemp.com/blog/identify-high-quality-cbd.
The most common recommendation is to begin with a low dosage (there will be a recommended dose on the packaging) and slowly build up to a dose that offers symptom relief. You cannot overdose on CBD, and there are no reported side effects from taking high concentrations. I visited my local, independently run natural health store and compared the product they carry with online reviews, company information, and internet searches before purchasing and taking the oil.
My mother, who suffers from chronic, often debilitating, back pain, takes a dose in the morning and the afternoon. She self-reports a 70% relief of her back-pain symptoms since beginning the CBD oil. She relies much less on over-the-counter pain medications since taking CBD. A friend of mine began taking CBD oil about 2 weeks ago and is already reporting an 80% improvement in her sleep—experiencing a more restorative and deep sleep; she also has noticed a decrease in the tingling sensations in her legs that may signal the beginning of restless leg syndrome.
Although CBD oil can be taken at any time during the day, I have only used it at night for sleep. At around 10pm each evening, I place drops of CBD oil under my tongue; I also use a topical hemp lotion to decrease inflammation and soreness in the pesky joint of my arthritic toe. I apply the lotion to my foot several times per day, especially before exercise.
I am not exaggerating when I say that my relationship to sleep has changed radically since taking CBD oil. Before I began taking CBD, I approached sleep tentatively, carefully, but with a great reserve of optimism. That posture did not always translate into a restful night’s sleep. Now I am able to trust that as my body signals the beginning of sleep, my mind will follow. I purely enjoy the entire process of sleep so much more, and am grateful, morning after morning, when I have had a cozy and restorative night’s sleep. There is surely, I feel, a very large psychological component to the success of the CBD for me: I am sleeping better so I expect to sleep better, and thus I do sleep better. I trust that the product will work. But my body feels so qualitatively different, I believe that the CBD oil is affecting me on physical levels as well.
Always consult your doctor before you begin taking a supplement or make any changes to your existing medication and supplement routine.
Have you used CBD oil? Please share your experiences, as I would love to hear from you.