My relationship with sleep has always been a good one. Almost too good, if I’m being honest. For me, drifting off has never been a problem. Staying awake on the other hand? That’s a whole other story.
That is, until this year. At some point between February and March, my sleep patterns started to unravel. Slowly and then all at once. Where I once grew frustrated that I couldn’t keep my eyes open until the end of a movie to save myself, now I was growing more and more anxious that I couldn’t fall asleep. Midnight would go past, then 1am and sometimes 2, and with each passing hour, I’d count the amount of shuteye I would get if I fell asleep right then and there. However, my body just wouldn’t. do. it.
I had a lot of time to ponder the cause of my newfound insomnia. Was it my new house and the occasionally noisy construction site down the road? Probably. Was it the stress and uncertainty of starting a new job? Didn’t help. Was it the pressure I put on myself? Almost certainly.
Having never grappled with anything like this before, I had nothing to compare it to. What I did know, however, was that I didn’t like it.
Enter CBD oil.
Cannabidiol – or CBD for short – is a buzzy new supplement taking the U.S. (and slowly, the rest of the world) by storm. A naturally occurring compound derived from the cannabis plant, this oil is oft touted as a miracle cure.
As Naturopath and Nutritionist Michaela Sparrow explains, there is a plethora of research behind the health benefits of CBD. “Research has shown CBD can help relieve anxiety, PTSD and other mood disorders,” Sparrow tells Gritty Pretty. “It has also been shown to have significant anti-inflammatory benefits” and can reportedly help with pain management, nausea and epilepsy.
No, it won’t get you high. “CBD does not contain tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) which is the extract found in marijuana (not hemp) that acts as a psychoactive,” Sparrow says.
At present, CBD oil is legal in Australia with a prescription. But there’s a catch: not all doctors can prescribe the supplement. “You need to find a doctor that is an authorised prescriber,” Sparrow explains, “because medicinal cannabis, CBD and other related products do not fall under ARTG (Australian Register of Therapeutic Goods).”
Over in the U.S., Beauty Editors wax lyrical about the stuff. Fashionista Beauty Editor Stephanie Saltzman says she’s “hit a point where 90 percent of the new products I try on a weekly basis include CBD in some form.” You can pick it up from most American health food stores – or, if you’re on the road, some cafes will spike your coffee with a hit of CBD and send you on your way. According to ELLE writer Charlotte Bitmead, “Manhattan’s chicest beauty salons are doling out CBD facials every hour” and even her hairdresser is offering CBD oil-infused treatments.
By calming anxiety and quietening your mind, CBD can act as a natural sleep aid. So, while on an overseas trip recently, I picked up a bottle. Carpe diem! What did I have to lose?
The label recommended a dose of 10 drops under your tongue, where you leave it for 30-seconds to one minute before swallowing. A little apprehensive (10 sounds like a lot), I halved the dose and opted for five.
Then, I played the waiting game and chucked on an episode of The Bold Type. The calming effects were gradual and subtle. About 30 minutes later, I definitely didn’t feel high in any way, just slightly more zen than usual. The feeling is akin to having one glass of red wine or walking out of a yoga class. Namaste.
Seeing as the effects were so subtle, initially, I was a little sceptical about the product’s efficacy. I woke up feeling reasonably well rested but not exactly bounding out of bed either. However, for the sake of research, I diligently took my five drops the next night, and the night after that.
By night five, I had a realisation. I’d been sleeping! And sleeping well! It took me a hot minute to come to this conclusion because while CBD is a sleep aid, it doesn’t knock you out the way a sleeping pill does. Each night, as I turned off the lights, slowly slowly my thoughts would quieten and slowly slowly, I would drift off.
For me, the effects were cumulative. My insomnia was anxiety induced, so as my ‘good sleep streak’ increased, I became less worried about the prospect of lying awake until the early hours of the morning, tired but wired. By night 30, I was in a pretty good place.
CBD isn’t a miracle cure. However, it acted as a stop gap between me and my first ever bout of insomnia. Now that I’m back on track, I don’t feel the need to rush out and buy another bottle – probably a good thing, considering CBD is hard to come by in Australia.
Will Australia follow the America’s lead and make CBD oil available to the masses? Only time will tell. Sparrow has high hopes: “As the stigma and controversy surrounding these products dies down, access, research and education in these areas will be greatly improved. It is truly an exciting time in the medical world.”
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