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A solid, restful night’s sleep is key to our mental and physical health. For many people though, getting great sleep is easier said than done — and can require the assistance of tools to support their body’s wind-down.

There are a number of tried-and-true nonpharmaceutical strategies to support better quality sleep: shutting down screens at least an hour before bed, drinking a favorite herbal tea in the evening, and soaking in a warm bath with Epsom salts, to name a few. Another option that’s come into the mainstream more recently is the CBD massage.

What is CBD?

Cannabidiol, or CBD, is a chemical compound found in the flowers of hemp (Cannabis sativa). There are hundreds of compounds in this plant, including tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). Unlike THC, CBD is not psychoactive and will not get you high. This phytocannabinoid’s beneficial properties include supporting relaxation and sleep, relieving muscle inflammation, and reducing overall stress.

CBD can be ingested via capsules and beverages, or it can be absorbed through the skin with the use of topical products, as is the case with CBD massages.

“CBD interacts with the body’s endocannabinoid system, a vast network of receptors that help the body maintain many of its physical processes to support general wellness and good health,” says Cord Coen, founder of Antara, a full-spectrum CBD body-care line that is used in the CBD massages at LifeSpa. “CBD can aid in relief from daily stress, promote a sense of calm and well-being, and encourage recovery after exercise.” (Read more: “Is CBD Effective?”)

How is CBD used in massage?

At LifeSpa specifically, a variety of Antara products — including two balms and an oil — can be introduced into a massage. A favorite is the Relief Balm that contains 800 mg of CBD used only in a small amount to specifically target extra tense areas of the body.

“Where many CBD products only offer 10 mg of CBD,  the Antara products used for massage start at 100 mg and go up from there,” Coen says. “We see that there are a lot of companies offering such low levels of CBD in treatment and in their retail products that, to us, it feels more like a marketing spin instead of a truly authentic wellness tool. Our mission was to offer treatments with what we believe is a therapeutic dosage of at least 100 mg for every massage to truly move the needle and help our guests.”

A LifeSpa CBD massage is similar in technique to other massages and can be tailored to a person’s specific needs. What sets it apart is that Antara CBD products are used in place of traditional massage oils and lotions. A therapist uses the CBD Balance Oil, which contains 300 mg of CBD, on the full body, while any targeted pain is addressed with the Relief Balm. (A massage therapist may also introduce the Restore Balm 300 mg — versus 800 mg — if the client desires.)

“Our focus as a brand has been on providing an effective strength while also maintaining safety across the wide range of people who use our products every day,” Coen says. If there are any concerns — or if you’re pregnant, breastfeeding, a person with underlining medical issues or taking medications — then it’s always recommended to talk to a trusted medical professional.

As a former massage therapist, Coen has a unique perspective on how powerful a massage can be when paired with high-quality CBD. He founded Antara with a commitment to delivering a pure and potent CBD product; the LifeSpa team chose this brand understanding that promise.

“The CBD we use is from plants grown on an organic farm, making it very pure,” says Coen. “It is also full-spectrum, meaning that it contains other beneficial compounds from the hemp plant, which can provide an ‘entourage effect’ — the positive benefits are magnified when all the compounds work together.”

How do you feel after a CBD massage?

Zac Ellis, a massage therapist at LifeSpa in Minnetonka, Minn., has seen — and felt — the response from clients. “I always notice that their muscles loosen up faster than those of my clients who have a massage with an oil that doesn’t contain CBD,” Ellis says. “My clients are mellow and relaxed after a CBD massage. My favorite reaction is when clients walk out of the treatment room and say they feel brand new and ready to go — but also ready for a nap.”

That combined reaction can occur because the CBD helps people feel calmer and more clear-headed, thus the sense of renewal; at the same time, tension has been lifted and pain is removed from the muscles. “Essentially, your mind is not concentrated on your pain anymore so you can rest better,” Coen says. “More specifically, CBD supports the body’s ability to bring itself into balance. When the body is in balance, you can relax and rest more fully.”

Ellis agrees: “CBD can help us deal with a wide range of issues that we deal with in our daily lives. Getting a CBD massage can help with inflammation, both internal and external; decrease pain, stress, anxiety, tension, and muscle aches; and increase focus and regulate our bodies, bringing us back to an overall well-balanced state.”

So, how long does a CBD massage need to be for someone to enjoy the benefits?  “I’ve been with clients who’ve really felt the effects of the CBD in a 30-minute session,” says Ellis. “But of course we can go up to a 90-minute session as well.”

How close to bedtime should I get a CBD massage?

While a CBD massage can help you get better sleep, it won’t induce drowsiness, so it is safe to receive a CBD massage and then drive a vehicle. Additionally, you don’t have to schedule the massage close to bedtime either for it to help you get a good night’s sleep.

“The best time of day to use CBD is the time that is right and makes the most sense for you,” Coen says. “Some people prefer it in the morning for the clarity benefits — and if used then, it can still help with better sleep later.”

If you’re concerned about long-term disrupted sleep, consult with your healthcare provider to to rule out any serious health issues. But if it’s simply some unwinding you need to do to return to center, CBD massages may be just what you need to relax and restore.

Jolene Turner
Jolene Turner

Jolene Turner is a beauty writer and social media strategist focusing on the salon, spa, and professional hair care industries. She currently works with the Life Time LifeSpa team on social media marketing and content development. Turner’s background includes working as the senior editor for American Salon, as a head writer for beauty blogs, and as a communications and consumer engagement professional for a global beauty brand. She’s worked with leading beauty brands including Aveda, Hotheads Hair Extensions, HiBar, Wella, and more.

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