CBD and Sleep
CBD is often marketed as a sleep aid, but its effect on sleep is not well understood.
Russo, who one Cleveland Clinic doctor told me was the “CBD guru,” told me that “it is clear that pure CBD in low to moderate doses is alerting,” as shown in his 2007 review and a 2004 study by a different group of researchers.
Some Californians, Russo adds, even use pure CBD, sometimes called CBD isolate, to replace caffeine.
Alertness is not what you want from a sleep aid. But that’s not to say that CBD products can’t help you sleep. When they do, it could be the CBD-adjacent compounds in those products, not the CBD, that is helping you nod off.
CBD isolate is a compound that’s further purified from CBD extract, which is what’s often sold in shops and added to foods, says Russo.
Sometimes labeled “full-spectrum CBD,” extracts can contain several other compounds derived from hemp in addition to CBD. Sometimes it has a bit of THC, but not enough to get you high, at no more than 0.3 percent.
Those other compounds can pack a punch. “Other influences can be operative,” Russo tells me. In particular, a compound called myrcene, a type of terpene, may be doing the sleep-inducing work behind the scenes.
“Specifically, most cannabidiol extracts are rich in myrcene, producing the misimpression that CBD is sedating,” Russo says. “That would also make sleep more likely.”
If there was something in the roll-on oil that put me to sleep, it probably wasn’t the CBD. But CBD may still have an important role in the sleep process: removing obstacles in the way of sleep, and perhaps clearing a path for stranger dreams as well.