July 22, 2021 8 min read

At first glance, many reports of CBD’s effects for sleep are conflicting—some say using CBD for sleep is life changing, while others say that they feel more awake than ever after taking CBD.

So, which is it? Does CBD work to help you sleep at night? Or does it have energizing effects?

What if we told you both could be true, and both may be the reason that research has shown CBD to have potential for fighting certain sleep disruptions.

If that sounds confusing, let us explain.

Table of Contents
CBD for Sleep Research
How CBD Works
Theories About How CBD Affects Sleep and Energy
Conclusion: Can CBD Help You Sleep?
CBD for Other Cannabinoids for Sleep
Best CBD Products for Sleep
Resources

Key Takeaways

  • Research shows that CBD has great therapeutic potential for managing sleep-related ailments, but several different theories exist to explain how it works.
  • Some theories suggest that CBD acts as a sedative on its own, while others report that CBD works by managing symptoms that may keep you awake.
  • All in all, CBD has a sound safety profile and may be a good option for your day and night time routine.
  • CBD product styles and formulas vary greatly, but some products are designed specifically for sleep. These may include other sleep-enhancing ingredients, like melatonin, or other cannabinoids that enhance CBD’s therapeutic properties.

CBD for Sleep Research

Various studies have aimed at determining CBD’s potential for managing a variety of sleep disorders, and the results are overwhelmingly positive.

A woman struggling to sleep before finding CBD sleep products.

While many studies look at the therapeutic benefits of cannabis as a whole or at CBD when used in combination with other cannabinoids, some studies reveal that CBD may be useful for managing a variety of sleep ailments on its own.

One 2017 review compiled information about the capacity of a broad range of cannabinoids for managing sleep disorders. This review highlights recent evidence that suggests CBD may be an effective option for REM sleep behavior disorder and excessive daytime sleepiness.

The review was referencing a 2014 study that evaluated the effects of CBD on four patients with Parkinson’s Disease who suffered from REM sleep behavior disorder, a condition characterized by loss of muscle atonia during REM sleep that causes poor sleep and nightmares. The study concluded that CBD provided “prompt and substantial reduction in the frequency of RBD-related events without side effects.”

Another study consisted of 72 adult patients with complaints of anxiety or poor sleep. It found that CBD generally decreased anxiety in 79.2% of patients and improved sleep in 66.7% of participants. This research points towards CBD’s potential for managing poor sleep caused by anxiety related disorders.

One case study evaluated the impact of CBD on pediatric anxiety in a 10 year old girl suffering from PTSD-related anxiety. 25 milligrams of CBD given at bedtime and an additional 6-12 milligrams of CBD given orally during the day proved to gradually improve sleep quality and quantity over the course of 5 months.

In a 2018 review focused on using CBD for pain, the authors note that CBD may be able to improve sleep quality by reducing pain.

Another study evaluating the effects of whole-plant cannabis flower on 409 patients with insomnia associated higher CBD levels in plant material with greater symptom relief.

All in all, more research is needed before we can fully understand the impact CBD has on sleep, or the mechanisms through which CBD interacts with sleep cycles. Still, many studies provide evidence that CBD has great therapeutic potential for managing poor sleep due to a variety of ailments, like PTSD related nightmares, pain, anxiety, and more.

A woman measuring out a single portion of her CBD for sleep tincture.

How CBD Works

Although the research offers a variety of different conclusions about how CBD affects sleep, they all generally rely on one consistent conjecture: CBD interacts with the body via the Endocannabinoid System, a diverse system of neurotransmitters and neuroreceptors found in the brain and other major organs.

This system is known to help regulate many important bodily functions, like mood, appetite, and body temperature. Research shows that the Endocannabinoid System also plays an important role in regulating sleep, which helps explain why CBD may have an impact on sleep cycles and wakefulness.

More research is needed before we can fully understand the functions of the Endocannabinoid System and the way it impacts sleep, but you can learn more about how CBD works here.

Theories About How CBD Affects Sleep and Energy

Although the aforementioned studies confirm a link between CBD and improved sleep, many fail to explain how CBD works for sleep.

Unfortunately, the research is still limited, and the idea of using CBD for sleep is still fairly new. Still, several well-rounded theories attempt to explain CBD's energy balancing and sedative-like effects.

CBD Is a Biphasic Substance

One theory suggests that CBD can act in two opposing ways, by enhancing alertness and inducing sedation. This theory identifies CBD as a biphasic Substance, which means that it causes two very different dose-dependent effects.

Let's break that down further:

At small doses, CBD is thought to be a wake-promoting substance that can enhance cognition and alertness, which is why it's sometimes used in formulas intended to enhance focus or energy.

At larger doses, however, CBD is thought to promote deep relaxation similarly to some sedatives, but not quite as strong.

This biphasic action can also be found in other common substances, like alcohol. A small amount may make you energetic and social, while a large amount may make you tired. Of course, CBD's effects are much milder (and safer) than copious amounts of alcohol, so it may be a better nightcap.

A selection of CBD oil products laid near natural hemp leaves. CBD Promotes a Healthy Circadian Rhythm

Another theory is largely based on the biphasic effect theory—that CBD balances your natural circadian rhythm.

The circadian rhythm is the body's natural tendency to sleep and wake at the same times daily, and it's based on a 24 hour cycle. Sometimes, the circadian rhythm gets knocked out of whack. This imbalance can be sudden or gradual, and it can be caused by many regular life effects, like traveling, having a new baby, or changing jobs. Moreover, certain biological imbalances (like skewed hormone production) can interrupt the circadian rhythm.

Some researchers believe that CBD can help in multiple ways. First, CBD may be able to help fight daytime grogginess when taken during the day. This can help regulate wake cycles so that the body is effectively and efficiently using energy during "wake hours."

Then, larger doses of CBD may be useful for unwinding the brain and promoting relaxation when it's time to rest. A combination of both methods is thought to balance the circadian rhythm so that sleep comes naturally when it's due.

Of course, there is some argument about the use of CBD as a sedative. Some researchers align with the idea of CBD causing sedation, while others believe that CBD promotes sleep through other mechanisms, which leads us to our third theory:

CBD May Relieve Ailments That Keep You Awake

One common explanation for CBD's efficacy as a sleep aid is that it helps relieve ailments that disrupt sleep. Instead of acting directly as a sedative, this theory implies that CBD may resolve various issues that may keep you awake, like pain, anxiety, nightmares, and more.

Research suggests that CBD may have therapeutic potential for managing some symptoms and chronic conditions that may impact sleep quality, like muscle spasticity or pain. More evidence is needed to understand the reach of CBD’s therapeutic properties.

The Final Verdict—Can CBD Help You Sleep?

It’s likely! The research evaluating CBD’s potential for managing sleep isn’t as clear cut as many may hope, but that’s not to say CBD isn’t a great option to try for improving your sleep quality.

Leading organizations suggest that CBD has no public safety risks, and many of the studies outlined above show that CBD can be used with little to no risk of adverse effects (though you may want to look into CBD-drug interactions).

Whether or not CBD works to manage sleep depends on the unique balance of a person’s endocannabinoid system and whether the symptoms disrupting sleep will respond to CBD. The impact CBD has on sleep will also be affected by your dosing routine and consistency.

Furthermore, CBD may be complemented by other plant-compounds to create a more effective sleep-enhancing routine.

CBD and Other Cannabinoids for Sleep

While CBD is the most heavily researched non-psychotropic cannabinoid, some minor cannabinoids have also found their way into the sleep-enhancing spotlight. The most common cannabinoid chosen for sleep concerns is CBN, although research has yet to catch up with the anecdotal reports.

CBN is a cannabinoid that is created by the cannabis plant as other cannabinoids degrade. Although experts don’t quite understand why, reports show that a combination of THC and CBN induces sedative-like effects.

While CBN’s sleep-enhancing effects are still being researched, there is evidence to suggest that the minor cannabinoid carries many of the same therapeutic benefits of CBD. For this reason, it may boost CBD’s ability to manage many of the symptoms that disrupt sleep.

Other compounds, like terpenes, may impact CBD’s effects. Myrcene has been shown to help induce deep relaxation that may improve sleep quality. Furthermore, many reports show that full spectrum CBD oil (which offer the benefits of the entourage effect) are more effective at controlling sleep disturbances than CBD isolate.

How to Use CBD for Sleep

If you decide to try CBD for sleep, you may need to create a CBD routine that is different from the typical once-daily dose that many consumers adhere to.

Vida Optima CBD Dream Tincture

In some cases, a once daily dose at night may be enough, but multiple theories concerning CBD for sleep point to a routine of two daily doses—once small to moderate dose in the morning to improve wakefulness and a slightly larger dose at night to help manage ailments that keep you awake and improve sleep quality.

You may find many CBD formulas designed for sleep that include other ingredients thought to enhance sleep quality or longevity. These ingredients may include various terpenes and cannabinoids that boost CBD’s efficacy or other additives, like melatonin, that are proven to help you drift off to sleep. These make great options for a nighttime dose, but you’ll want a different type of CBD product (perhaps a more general formula) for during the day.

Of course, CBD interacts with every person differently, so you may need to play around with dosage amounts and dosing times to find a routine that works for you. Read “CBD Dosing” to learn more.

It’s also generally accepted that CBD works best if you take it daily, which may be even more true in the case of sleep cycles since they heavily rely on the body’s regulatory processes.

Best CBD Products for Sleep

There are many different types of CBD available, including different hemp formulas and different dosing styles, which can make it difficult to determine which CBD products are best for sleep. Generally speaking, there is no one best formula, rather CBD is a unique experience for every person.

That means that the best CBD products for you will vary from the next person and should be based on your unique needs and preferences. Keep in mind that some products are fast acting, like tinctures and vaporizers, while others offer convenient and long-lasting doses, like edibles.

When choosing a CBD product for sleep, the most important factor is the hemp formula. Look for a formula designed specifically for managing sleep ailments. This formula may include other ingredients that enhance CBD’s natural properties to help you fall asleep and stay asleep.

As always, you should talk to your doctor before taking CBD, especially if you already take sleep-enhancing medications or other drugs. For help navigating the many different formulas and dosing styles, check out our CBD Buyer’s Guide.

Vida Optima CBD Dream Tincture in Tangerine Flavor

Ready to buy CBD for Sleep? We recommend you check out ourCBD + CBN Dream Collection.

Resources

  1. “Cannabis, Cannabinoids, and Sleep: a Review of the Literature” https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28349316/
  2. “Cannabidiol can improve complex sleep-related behaviours associated with rapid eye movement sleep behaviour disorder in Parkinson's disease patients: a case series” https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24845114/
  3. “Cannabidiol in Anxiety and Sleep: A Large Case Series” https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6326553/
  4. “Effectiveness of Cannabidiol Oil for Pediatric Anxiety and Insomnia as Part of Posttraumatic Stress Disorder: A Case Report” https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5101100/
  5. “Cannabinoids and Pain: New Insights From Old Molecules” https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6277878/
  6. “Effectiveness of Raw, Natural Medical Cannabis Flower for Treating Insomnia under Naturalistic Conditions” https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6164964/
  7. “Cannabinoids in the management of spasticity associated with multiple sclerosis” https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2626929/
  8. “Cannabinoids in the management of difficult to treat pain” https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2503660/
  9. “Effects of delta9-tetrahydrocannabinol and cannabinol in man” https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/1221432/

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