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Does CBD Make You Tired?

You will know by now that CBD products have taken the nation by storm, offering users a myriad of potential wellness benefits from increased focus and reduced stress to lower inflammation levels and dry skin relief. One of the greatest characteristics of the hemp-derived cannabinoid is that it carries very few side effects; it is non-intoxicating, and the substance is well-regarded as being safe to use.  

However, some cannabidiol enthusiasts swear by CBD oil to help them sleep better, which begs the question: will CBD oil make me tired? Many people use CBD to feel energised, refreshed and for a productivity boost – drowsiness being an undesirable effect - therefore, this question crops up frequently. CBD does have some potential side effects, and in this article, we will take a closer look at those, alongside strategies that can be taken to mitigate those effects.  

Where Does CBD Come From? 

CBD, short for cannabidiol, is a chemical compound that naturally occurs in the hemp plant. Hemp belongs to the Cannabis sativa family of plants, together with the famous marijuana plant. The two plant types, while similar in many ways, also have several distinguishing features.  

Like hemp, marijuana contains CBD. However, it also contains prominent levels of THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), which is an intoxicating compound. (Hemp contains THC too, but in trace quantities.) CBD-infused products in the UK are purified and sold containing less than the legal limit of 0.2% THC.  

How Does CBD Affect the Brain? 

CBD interacts with a complex biological system known as the endocannabinoid system (ECS), which exists throughout the brain, skin, and body. The ECS regulates many of our vital functions including anxiety levels, sleep, immunity, inflammation levels and pain perception. CBD interacts with receptors within the endocannabinoid system known as CB1 and CB2, and in doing so, it triggers changes to these physiological processes. Studies have shown that CBD can reduce stress and anxiety, lower inflammation levels, boost immunity and alleviate chronic pain.  

CBD also triggers 5-HT1a serotonin receptors located in the brain. Serotonin is often referred to as the ‘happy hormone’ since it is associated with feelings of pleasure and happiness and plays a role in reducing anxiety and depression.  

Will CBD Make Me Sleepy? 

In short, the answer to this question is no. This may come as somewhat of a surprise. Whilst it is true that using CBD can help you sleep better, cannabidiol is also effective in promoting wakefulness. Essentially, CBD can promote better sleep, but it does not achieve this by increasing fatigue.  

Rather, CBD works to improve the conditions that impact on sleep quality. For instance, CBD has a calming effect on the nervous system. Hectic, modern lifestyles leave many of us feeling overwhelmed with anxiety and stress daily. When emotional conditions are improved following CBD intake, users are more likely to sleep better. When users report feeling sleepier after using CBD, it is possible that they are simply experiencing heightened relaxation and fewer symptoms of stress.  

Nevertheless, drowsiness and fatigue are frequently reported side effects of taking CBD. Yet research to date, on both humans and animals, indicates that CBD encourages wakefulness, focus and improved concentration levels. One theory is that CBD promotes a healthier sleep-wake cycle, e.g., improved emotional conditions lead to greater sleep quality: this, in turn, promotes feelings of vitality during the day.  

The exact way in which CBD encourages wakefulness and affects the brain is yet to be discovered through more extensive research. The truth, with regards to whether CBD promotes wakefulness or sleepiness, is probably more complicated than meets the eye. 

What Can I Do to Avoid Sleepiness While Using CBD? 

If you are trying CBD for the first time and are unsure how it will affect you, a clever idea would be to trial it during the evening or at a time during the day when you are free from commitments. Certainly, avoid a time where you may be required to drive or operate heavy machinery. CBD can take around an hour for the effects to show; so just relax and maintain awareness of your feelings.  

Once you have used CBD you should have a better understanding of its effects on you personally. Providing you don’t feel too drowsy, you can begin to experiment with dosing at various times of the day such as first thing in the morning. Additionally, you may wish to try a variety of CBD products (oils, gummies, tinctures, etc.) as each product can have a slightly different effect.  

It is worth remembering that CBD will probably make you feel sleepier if you are already tired or using it late at night.  

In terms of CBD dosage, it is wise to start low and go slow. You can build up your dose gradually if your body reacts well to CBD.  

Check your product label. CBD oil is sometimes infused with additional ingredients such as lavender essential oil; a potent extract which can promote sleep.  

Additionally, ensure your CBD product has been third-party tested to ensure that it does not contain more than the legal THC limit of 0.2%. THC can cause drowsiness.  

Potential Side Effects of CBD 

CBD oil is widely regarded as a safe therapeutic product with very few side effects. This does not rule out all side effects, however. From those reported by CBD users, some of the most common side effects include: 

  • Reduced appetite 
  • Drowsiness 
  • Fatigue 
  • Diarrhoea 
  • Dry mouth 

Final Thoughts 

Whether CBD causes sleepiness or wakefulness is not fully understood yet, but animal and human studies indicate that CBD does not have sedative effects and instead, encourages wakefulness. Nevertheless, users of CBD most frequently report fatigue as a side effect. The likelihood is that each individual responds differently to CBD. The type of product, dosage and added ingredients will probably have an impact, too.  

Ideally, CBD should be used for the first time during the evening or a quiet period of the day, using a low dose which can be increased over time if necessary. Check for additional sleep-inducing ingredients; these should be avoided if sleep is not your goal.  

Always contact your GP before using CBD for the first time alongside prescription medication.  

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