CBD is loved for its sleep supporting powers and in drop form can get to work in just 20 minutes. Which blends are worth your money? We put them to the test
Alongside pillow spray and a silky eye mask , CBD sleep drops are essential on many a struggling sleeper's bedside table. Designed to be taken 20 minutes to an hour before bed, CBD sleep drops can help to soothe anxiety and aid restful sleep.
It's not just anecdotal. A 2019 study by the medical journal Permanente Journal found that 66 per cent of people who were given a dose of 25mg of CBD every day for a month saw improvements in their sleep. CBD sleep drops often contain other sleep-inducing botanicals such as lavender, hops, chamomile and lemon balm.
What strength should CBD sleep drops be?
The strength of CBD drops can be a little hard to get to grips with at first. You might see the drops measured in percentage, or in milligrams.
"CBD oil drops tend to use percentages as it’s difficult to know exactly how big a drop your pipette might deliver," explains Dr Sarah Brewer, medical director of Healthspan, and author of the extremely readable CBD: The Essential Guide to Health and Wellness . "The percentage refers to the concentration of CBD within the product. So, if a product is described as a 5 per cent strength, then CBD makes up 5 per cent of the total product and the other listed ingredients will account for the remaining 95 per cent."
Sometimes the total amount of CBD present within the whole bottle of drops is also listed (ie. on Dreem Distillery's bottle it says 2400mg) and while this can be used to compare products, it won't necessarily tell you how much you're getting per dose.
How to take CBD drops at night
Bedtime CBD products come in sprays, drops and capsules, but Dr Sarah Brewer told us that putting them under the tongue as a drop or spray and holding them there for around two minutes is the best way to take CBD. This way, it works quicker and for longer.
"When applied under the tongue, CBD is absorbed directly through the lining of the mouth into the bloodstream. As a result, two or three times more (up to 35 per cent) will reach the bloodstream compared with swallowing your CBD," Dr Brewer says. Taking them this way you should feel them starting to work after 20 minutes or so, according to Dr Brewer. The effect will tend to last longer, too, for five to 12 hours, she says.
If you swallow your CBD drops right away rather than holding them under your tongue, they act in the same way as a capsule - they are broken down in your body by enzymes and so will have less of an effect. Plus they will take up to 90 minutes to start working and will last three-to-five hours, according to Dr Brewer.
How much CBD should I take?
Your drops should have clear recommendations on daily dose, such as 'take one to two drops 20 minutes before bed, do not exceed 20 drops in a day.' Dr Brewer recommends starting low and increasing slowly to find the dose that works for you.
With any CBD product, the UK Food Standards Agency (FSA) recommend that no one takes more than 70mg per day without medical supervision.
How to tell if CBD drops are good quality
Dr Brewer recommends looking for CBD drops that are made to the Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP) standard. This means that labelled claims are accurate and that it contains the ingredients, in the amounts specified, with no contaminants. "Not all manufacturers making CBD supplements comply with GMP guidelines because of the extra cost and effort involved," she warns.
To check if your CBD is made to the GMP standard, look on the manufacturer’s website (they should proudly mention this on their ‘about us’ page), or use your browser to search for the manufacturer’s name plus the term ‘GMP’.
How to know if your CBD drops are worth the money
If you've looked into buying CBD drops, you'll likely have noticed some disparity in pricing. If they're on the pricier end, they might have a higher amount of CBD in, so check the percentage. "Products that are wildly expensive compared to others containing the same amount of CBD are simply making more profit," warns Dr Brewer.
CBD sleep drop reviews
We put CBD sleep drops to the test and found these to be the most effective in helping us fall asleep quicker and lessen sleep disruption.
Dreem Distillery CBD Oil Night Drops, £160 for 30ml
The spec: 2,400mg / 8% CBD. Take 6-8 drops 30 minutess before bed and add more once you're familiar with the dosage. Blended with calming terpenes, peppermint taste
Pros: Our tester has been taking these vegan CBD drops since September on nights she feels anxious (they're a little to pricey to take every night!) and each time she takes them she has a much improved nights sleep, falling asleep quicker and staying asleep the whole night through, whereas she might normally wake a few times a night. They have a more pleasant taste that other CBD, sort of pepperminty.
What makes these so expensive? They have a ‘super terpene’ blend. Terpenes are what give plants their scent, if we take them they bind to our brain’s receptors so can impact our mood and stress levels. These drops have three types of terpenes in for a triple-printed attack: alpha-pinene, found in pine needles and rosemary, for anti-anxiety powers, limonene which you find in fruit rind, which has anti-inflammatory effects and myrcene, which is found in cannabis plants and has a sedative effect.
Our tester definitely felt the sedative effect and even shared the precious drops with two friends to see if they felt the same and they confirmed they did. What our tester found most impressive about these is that you can use them every so often and they work perfectly each time – you don't need to use them every night to see the benefits.
Cons: It's hard to measure out exactly how much you're using. Our tester found she just used a full pipette each time for ease, so probably ran out quicker than she'd have liked to!
OTO Sleep Drops, £69 for 15ml
The spec: 1,500mg / 10% CBD. Take one dropper 30 mins before bed. The 15ml bottle is designed to last 30 days. Peppermint taste, blended with lavender
Pros: OTO's dropper is designed to deliver 50mg of CBD at the touch of a button, making it easy to take the recommended dose, which is a godsend compared to the guesswork of other CBD drops. The CBD is blended with lavender for calming properties, butterfly pea flower which is also designed to calm and field mint and spearmint flavouring for a pleasant minty taste. OTO says you should see a difference in the quality of your sleep after three days of usage, but our tester found that she slept better even on her first night of taking them. OTO also sell a daytime ' power drop ', £49, which has a blood orange flavour and is designed to sharpen your mind of a morning. Our tester liked the routine of using both and felt more relaxed at night and increasingly alert in the day.
Cons: Designed to last 30 days, it's quite the investment price-wise to buy a new bottle every month.
Apothem Lights Out CBD Oil Drops, £75 for 10ml
The spec: 1,000mg / 10% CBD. Take four to five drops. Vanilla and salted caramel flavour. Blended with chamomile, L-theanine, lemon balm and skullcap
Pros: The biggest pro we found with these drops was the flavour – the salted caramel taste made taking these a real joy. They're blended with an impressive range of ingredients; chamomile which is rich in the afore-mentioned terpenes for a calming vibe, 5 HTP which helps your body produce serotonin and melatonin which have an impact on sleep, L-theanine, which reduces anxiety, lemon balm to relieve restlessness and skullcap which sounds menacing, but actually has anti-inflammatory effects. Our tester, who also tried OTO and Dreem Distillery found these to be the fastest acting, falling asleep within minutes of taking and sleeping the whole night through.
Cons: These were almost too effective, our tester felt a little drowsy until mid-morning the next day.
Kloris 1,000mg CBD Oil Drops, £64 for 10ml
The spec: 1,000mg / 10% CBD. Take 2 to 5 drops per dose, the bottle should contain 200 drops. Classic CBD flavour.
Pros: Kloris don't label this as a night drop, however they also have a lower dosage 500mg / 5% CBD drop which we'd use in the day, making this stronger option good for nighttime usage. Kloris' CBD is rich in terpenes too and is blended with MCT oil to make it readily absorbed into the body. Our tester has been using this for over a year now and reports that her sleep has been consistently better since using it nightly. She did start on the lighter dosage of 500mg and moved up to this one, but hasn't seen the effect wear off / become immune to the higher dosage.
Cons: It has the muddy sort of taste you expect from CBD, so if you're not a fan of this, it might not be for you.
Healthspan Night Time CBD Oil Drops, £22.95 for 10ml
The spec: 260mg / 2.75%. Hold 2 drops under your tongue before bed, contains 350 drops, mixed with hops and lemon balm
Pros: This is the most reasonably priced of the drops we tried and is a great entry into the world of CBD. It combines a relatively low dosage of CBD with chamomile, hops, lavender and lemon balm, all known for their sleep-promoting properties. It tastes a little like linseed but nothing overly strong. These are Dr Brewer's CBD of choice and she recommends starting with six drops and working up to the maximum recommended dose of 18 drops per night.
Cons: Our tester found it difficult to drop out the right dose, so had to keep these in the bathroom and watch herself in the mirror dropping them in to get the right amount.
Unique CBD Night Drops, £135 for 10ml
The spec: 2000mg / 20%, comes in a set with day drops, mint flavour.
Pros: These are a finalist in our 2021 Beauty and Wellness Awards in the Self Care category, and both our CBD tester and the judge in the awards were impressed by how blissful a sleep the night drops delivered. They have a mint taste which disguises the soil flavour sometimes associated with CBD. They're blended with the terpenes myrcene to soothe anxiety and limonene, which reduces stress, so they pack quite the punch if you're feeling jittery at bedtime. They also do a day drop.
Cons: They have MCT oil in, which does leave an oily feel in your mouth which is temping to wash out, but stick with it to get speedy absorption of the CBD.