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CBD and sleep: Does it work? Is it safe?

May 16, 2019

All of a sudden, it’s everywhere. People are using CBD, or cannabidiol, for sleep, anxiety, pain and many other issues. Experts say it could help with sleep -- but users should be careful.

CBD is a compound found in both hemp and marijuana, but it does not produce a high or create an altered state of mind or consciousness.

The popularity of CBD, which is sometimes sold as an oil but can be infused in edibles like gummy bears, cosmetics or pills, is believed to contain anti-inflammatory, analgesic and anti-anxiety properties.

When it comes to sleep, experts say vaping CBD might work faster, but pills and oils might help you sleep longer.

According to Lisa Gill, a special investigations editor with Consumer Reports, there is a lot of research still needed to determine CBD’s safety and effectiveness.

“We don’t have a ton of research on CBD and insomnia,” Gill said.

“But the research that we have suggests that CBD may reduce a person’s anxiety and possibly reduce pain. Relieving one or both of those could help a person get to sleep and stay asleep.”

A recent survey found almost 80 percent of people in the U.S. have trouble sleeping at least once a week.

Experts say if you have chronic insomnia, talk with your doctor before trying CBD, because something else may be going on.

If a doctor recommends CBD for sleep, be sure you ask to see a certificate of analysis when you purchase it.

The certificate shows how that product performed on tests checking for CBD and tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC levels, as well as the presence of contaminants. THC is a crystalline compound that is the main active ingredient of cannabis.

It’s still not a guarantee, but it’s a step toward making sure you’re getting the real deal, experts say. You should also talk to your doctor if you take other medications, because CBD may interact with them.

Consumer Reports has more information online.