When I started to experience sleep issues during menopause, I began collecting all the tips and short cuts I could. Understanding CBD and sleep was high on my priority list.
There are many things affecting sleep in the menopause years. Declining levels of oestrogen can have a significant impact, with insomnia a familiar nightly occurrence for many women. This isn’t surprising, when you consider just a few of the most common menopause symptoms:
• Hot flushes and night sweats – You try sleeping sweetly when your body is covered in sweat!
• Poor mental health – We call anxiety the “secret symptom”, as it takes so many menopausal women by surprise. If you’re experiencing depression and anxiety, your sleep may well be disturbed.
• Joint pain – Any woman who has suffered a frozen shoulder knows only too well how the pain can affect sleep. With ache and joint pains common in these years, pain-free sleep can feel like a thing of the past.
Is it any wonder that, according to Sleep Foundation, a whopping 40% of women in their late 40s and early 50s experience sleep complaints. That compares to just 12% of younger women.
How to help menopause insomnia is a question that is frequently asked in our menopause community. Our medical advisor Dr Stephanie Goodwin‘s recommendations include good sleep hygeine, with regular bed times and no staring a computer screen or your mobile phone before you go to bed. The blue light from digital screens really messes with your body’s ability to doze off.
READ MORE HRT and sleep, does it help?
What is CBD and why is it legal?
First of all, I wanted to know: What is CBD used for? While cannabis has been used for centuries for a wide range of issues including joint issues, today CBD is used for pain management including anxiety. I had a few questions before I tried it out.
CBD or Cannabidiol is derived from the hemp plant. There are many ingredients in cannabis, but CBD is the second most active ingredient and, critically, does not contain the euphoric properties found in THC (Tetrahydrocannabinol). Is CBD a banned substance? No it is not, and is legal to buy and use in the UK.
How does CBD affect sleep quality?
Can CBD oil help you sleep? “CBD is not a sleeping pill,” says Rosemary Mazanet, MD, PhD, Chief Scientific Officer at Columbia Care, a leading producer of science-driven, cannabis plant-based therapies. It is not a tactical tool to be used if you are wound up and can’t sleep. “CBD modulates the homeostasis in the body providing relaxation and therefore sleep,” says Rosemary. “While some people might have an immediate improvement in sleep, CBD needs to be part of your regime. People feel that after a week it definitely has an effect.”
What does CBD make you feel?
CBD is absorbed in the body by the receptors in the endocannabinoid system which is designed to create homeostasis – in other words balance. Ingested, rather than taken topically it can help people focus more, ease aches and pains and relax people into sleep.
What are the side effects of CBD?
In commercial products, side effects are rare and are most often connected to the gastro intestinal tract. Some people may experience dry mouth, diarrhoea, reduced appetite or drowsiness when taking CBD. If this occurs, try taking it at a different time of the day, or test a different preparation. If you are taking any medication, it is important to double check with your doctor in advance.
READ MORE Rosie Green on her essential sleep kit
When should you take CBD?
It doesn’t matter what time of day you take CBD, but it is best to take your CBD with a meal or snack. This is because the body absorbs CBD’s nutrients better, as with vitamins.
Armed with all of this information, I’ve been happily including CBD as part of my midlife sleep kit. CBD doesn’t make you sleep, it lets you sleep. Every CBD and sleep experience is personal, but for me, I’ve found it makes a difference.
Columbia Care Broad Spectrum Peppermint Flavoured 10% CBD Oil, from £39.95
Sleep does not always come easily to me, so the introduction of CBD products to the UK has given me a new tool to help me get a good kip.
There are a few options out there, but I’ve chosen a brand that has deep scientific experience in the field and is plant-based. In other words they are ‘whole of plant’ experts.
I feel more comfortable controlling the dosage myself, so I like this 10% CBD Oil. It’s free of THC, is made of high quality 100% organic hemp and the peppermint flavour actually tastes pretty good – unlike other brands I’ve tried in the past.
Fortnum & Mason Repose Botanical Infusion Tin, £9.95
I am an inveterate tea drinker. I usually have a cup with me all day, but by evening I need to watch my caffeine intake so I switch to an infusion to wind me down.
Peppermint on its own can be too strong for me, but I love Fortnum & Mason’s Repose Infusion which balances the peppermint with ginger, camomile, fennel and cardamom seeds, liquorice, dandelion and turmeric. The ingredient list sounds like a recipe for a smoothie, but it is light and calming and a complete treat about 8pm.
Piglet in Bed Forest Green duvet cover, £160
For years I avoided linen bedsheets because I thought they’d be too hot and scratchy. My Piglet In Bed duvet cover has changed my perspective.
The benefit of linen sheets and duvet covers is that they keep you warm in the winter and are surprisingly cool in the summer. Interestingly, I find linen far less claustrophobic and cloying than my old cotton duvet sets, even if they are a little heavier in weight. Piglet offers a wide range of shades, so if colour is your thing, knock yourself out mixing and matching bedsheets, pillow cases and duvet covers. The combos are endless.
Ten PerCent Happier, £12 month
There are quite a few meditation apps to choose from these days, but my top pick is Ten PerCent. Co-founded by ex-broadcaster Dan Harris, this app brings a pragmatic approach to meditation and features a wide range of authoritative teachers and great courses for those who want to dig deeper without getting too intellectual about it.
My favourite teacher, hands down, is Sebene Selassie, whose wise, grounded meditations have calmed me during stressful times, and sent me to sleep countless nights.
READ MORE What are the 34 menopause symptoms?
White Company Hot Water Bottle, £32
Confession: I have quite a lot of hot water bottles. On chilly nights, half an hour before I go to bed, I’ll often put one or two (yes, two) under the duvet. It’s incredibly comforting to crawl into a warm bed, and it always makes me feel as if someone has taken good care of me… even when I’ve done it myself!
The fake fur cover on this White Company hot water bottle keeps it warm longer and is cosy to curl up to all night long.