A version of this story was originally published in April 2019. It has been updated.
From the shelves of supplement stores to hip cafes and a Kim Kardashian baby shower, CBD is just everywhere these days.
It's crazy to think that just a couple of years ago I'd never even heard of it, but CBD, a non-psychoactive compound found in Cannabis plants, crept into my social media feeds and conversations until I couldn't ignore it...so I decided to try it.
In some ways, I'm an unlikely person to be jumping on the CBD bandwagon. I don't even drink alcohol anymore. But (like a lot of moms) I do deal with anxiety and have a lot of difficulty falling and staying asleep.
For me, a glass of wine at the end of a stressful day is not an option but I'm also not looking to get "high" on marijuana. But the idea of getting the relaxing benefits of cannabis (and getting a good night's sleep) without feeling stoned really appealed to me.
I'm hardly alone in this. This survey of more than 800 women who have tried CBD found the top five reasons for taking CBD are reducing anxiety, pain relief, relaxation, improved sleep and mood stability. The women surveyed rated CBD as 54.7% effective in treating anxiety and 47.4% effective in increasing relaxation.
Personally, I would rate CBD as being more effective than that. After taking it in capsules and as an oral spray, I feel like it's at least a solid 75% effective in lowering my anxiety levels and helping me relax. That could just be a placebo effect, but whether it's the CBD that's making me chill or just the idea of CBD, I'll take it.
Literally the first time I popped a soft gel capsule I felt relief from my pretty much constant state of overwhelm and anxiety. I felt like I could focus on a task without worrying about all the other ones that I wasn't getting done at that moment, without worrying about my son's future and my future and the world's future and everything else that's constantly swirling around in my brain.
This aligns with others' experiences of CBD: A study published by the Kaiser-Permanente health insurance company found that even when people take CBD for sleep, not anxiety, their anxiety levels decreased measurably.
I feel like the reduction in my anxiety makes me a more patient parent. My anxiety is pretty severe, so sometimes it's really hard to just shut off my brain and get down on the floor to play superheroes with my son when I know that I have a million deadlines looming and an ever-growing to-do list. But CBD helps me take back my time from the demands of the world and focus on the very important person who is right in front of me.
Before CBD, I'd find myself almost resenting story time. My mouth would be smiling and reading, but in the back of my brain, I was screaming, frustrated that I was reading the same LEGO Batman book for the 700th time when I should be unloading the dishwasher, putting away laundry or catching up on emails. CBD lets me slow down and be the mom I want to be: A present, chilled out version of myself.
Research suggests that CBD may benefit people like me who have anxiety-related disorders, but experts point out that controlled clinical studies and further research are needed. The same can be said about CBD's impact on sleep, but my own experience is that CBD helps me shut off my brain and rest.
Falling and staying asleep has always been a problem for me (literally since infancy, ask my mom) and my sleep problems got worse after becoming a mom myself. My preschooler is a much better sleeper than I was at his age and is now sleeping through the night (can I get a hallelujah!) but I don't always.
However, I've been taking CBD as part of my nighttime routine for three months now and I am definitely sleeping better. I'm falling asleep easier and not waking as frequently as I usually do to pee, check locks and stress eat peanut butter.
That said, not everyone loves CBD as much as me and Kim Kardashian do. Surveys of women who use CBD suggest only 39% of millennial women who've tried it are moderately satisfied with CBD, and some people report it has no impact on their anxiety or sleep (although experts suggest that people who feel no effect may not be taking the right dose).
Your mileage may vary and more science is needed, but my personal experience is that CBD worked for me. I'm less stressed, sleeping better, and I think I'm a better mom for it.