What It Is: Cannabidiol, or CBD, is chemical compound found in the cannabis plant — and an increasingly trendy natural remedy marketed as a cure-all for a litany of mental and physical ailments, from depression and anxiety to menstrual cramps and chronic pain. Unlike marijuana, it does not contain tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), so it won’t give you a psychoactive “high.” Popular products include CBD oil, capsules and edibles like gummies.
Who Tried It: Michele Corriston, Senior News Editor
Level of Difficulty: 1 (on a scale from 1 to 10)
For the past five or so years, I’ve suffered from night terrors, defined by the Mayo Clinic as “episodes of screaming, intense fear and flailing while still asleep.” Basically, I’ll say and do insane things while asleep — and unless the blood-curdling sound of my own shrieks wakes me, I likely won’t even remember. This usually occurs a few times a month, with varying degrees of horror. At best, I’ll wake up my roommates or boyfriend. At worst, I’ve dialed 911, hid in a closet, tried to run out of my apartment or even opened a window and reached my arms precipitously far into the night sky. So, yeah, it’s a blast!
Night terrors are fairly rare in adults, and I’m seeking medical help to try to curtail my episodes, though I’m hesitant to pump pills into my body. I’ve noticed they can be linked to stressful periods of my life, as is anxiety I suppress during my waking hours swells once my head hits the pillow. The fear of having a night terror can also make falling asleep a stressful experience, and in general I’ve been seeking natural ways to calm down my mind. So when I read that reality TV queen/shapewear entrepreneur/aspiring attorney Kim Kardashian takes CBD to fall asleep, eschewing Xanax and Ambien, I wondered if the simple habit could help me, too.
First, I consulted a doctor — as everyone should before considering exploring CBD. Dr. W. Christopher Winter is the president of Charlottesville Neurology and Sleep Medicine in Virginia, the author of The Sleep Solution, and a board-certified sleep medicine specialist who counts professional athletes among his elite clientele. He notes that there “is not a lot of research” into the effectiveness of CBD yet. “We did three sleep studies. They showed nothing.”
If you have serious sleep issues like me, Dr. Winter says to “forget the CBD oil” and consult a sleep doctor about undergoing an overnight test to rule out any physical maladies. He is also skeptical about the claim that CBD can calm you down so that you sleep more peacefully.
“It’s kind of like, would you recommend a beer to help relax people? And I have no problem with beer. I think a little alcohol or a little fermentation in your diet is a good thing. So, drink the beer because you like it with the pasta, or the hamburger, or because you like watching football and having a beer or you believe there’s health benefit. I really think that if you’re feeling like that beer is helping with your sleep, you’re probably missing what the sleep problem is to begin with, and if it’s anxiety that you’re treating with alcohol, I think you’re probably better off doing something that’s more focused as a treatment for anxiety rather than self treating it with the sedating drug like alcohol,” he explains. “I think that’s kind of a dark path you’re getting ready to walk down.”
However, “I do think that there may be properties with this medication that do help with anxiety, at least in terms of what patients tell me,” he says, adding, “There’s no real guidance or recommendation. I would say just to be responsible.”
I sampled CBD products from different companies, and as expected, the results were subtle. I found that CBD gummies that included melatonin helped me catch some Zzz’s, though that’s probably due to the latter ingredient, a long-known sleep aid. The pitch for melatonin-free CBD edibles is that they’ll relax you enough to slumber naturally, not that they’ll knock you out. Any changes in my actual anxiety levels were not obvious enough to note. Still, it seems like it can’t hurt to try it for yourself and see how you feel. Per Dr. Winter’s advice, I’m going to book an appointment with a sleep clinic, but during nights when I feel myself tossing and turning, I’ll happily chew on a gummy.
Below, find the CBD products that I enjoyed the most:
The fashionable mattress-in-a-box company has expanded its offerings to these yummy blackberry tea-flavored gummies. The melatonin helped me fall asleep faster.
Again, the melatonin proved to be a worthwhile addition. You also get bang for your buck with 25 gummies to a bottle, and these fruity favors tasted so good, my boyfriend started stealing some.
Lord Jones feels like a luxury CBD label. The packaging is elegant, the customer service team is eager to educate, and these gummies in particular were delicious and high-quality. This cute box of gumdrops would also make a nice gift.
This oil is stronger than the line’s other tinctures and devoid of any flavoring, so I didn’t notice the taste when dropping it into my coffee each morning. You can also massage it onto your skin or drop it directly onto your tongue. Remember, Lord Jones is like the Louis Vuitton of CBD, so this will set you back $100 for a 1000-mg bottle.
Full disclosure: I didn’t use this as a sleep aid, but I did rub the balm onto my abdomen when I had period cramps. Again, any relief was subtle, but I’ll take what I can get during that time of month. The jar looked cute on my dresser, too, and the lavender scent was wonderful.