Bottle of CBD Gummies on a nightstand with the text "CBD and REM sleep.

Sleep is essential to our health, though it isn’t always easy to get. If you have trouble sleeping through the night, you’re not alone. More than 50 million Americans report having sleep-related issues. There are plenty of sleep aids on the market. CBD is one of the newest—marketed as an all-natural, hemp-derived option for those who want to avoid more heavy-duty over-the-counter options. But is there any truth to the marketing hype that CBD can help with sleep? How about helping with REM sleep?

In this post, we’ll cover what CBD is, why REM sleep is important, and if it’s possible to use CBD to improve your REM sleep.

What is CBD?

CBD is short for cannabidiol. It’s one of the hundreds of naturally occurring cannabinoids produced by flowering hemp plants. CBD is not psychoactive and will not make you feel “high” if you ingest it. This is a key advantage for those who seek the therapeutic benefits of cannabis without the mind-altering effects commonly associated with THC, another cannabinoid found in marijuana.

As of now, there aren’t many FDA-backed studies on CBD’s effect on humans, though there is an FDA-approved drug, Epidiolex, derived from CBD oil, that helps manage rare forms of epilepsy. The approval of Epidiolex marks a significant milestone in the acceptance of CBD as a legitimate medical treatment, paving the way for further research into its potential benefits.

Does CBD Help with Sleep?

CBD is thought to indirectly improve sleep by inducing a sense of calm and relaxation, both of which may help users fall and stay asleep. The interaction of CBD with the body’s endocannabinoid system (ECS) plays a crucial role in this process. The ECS is responsible for maintaining homeostasis, or balance, within the body, affecting various functions including sleep, mood, and appetite.

It’s unclear if CBD improves the quality or increases the quantity of sleep, and we won’t know without more FDA-backed studies. However, anecdotal evidence and preliminary research suggest that CBD may have a positive impact on sleep disorders such as insomnia and sleep apnea. Some users report experiencing deeper and more restful sleep after using CBD products.

There have been some interesting studies into how full-spectrum CBD may affect our sleep architecture, which may have larger implications for CBD and sleep studies moving forward. Full-spectrum CBD contains all the naturally occurring cannabinoids, terpenes, and flavonoids found in the hemp plant, which may work together synergistically to enhance the therapeutic effects of CBD, a phenomenon known as the “entourage effect.”

What is Sleep Architecture?

Sleep architecture refers to the different stages of sleep that our brains cycle through while we sleep. Two types of sleep, rapid eye movement (REM) and non-rapid eye movement (NREM), make up our sleep architecture. NREM constitutes about 75% of your total time spent asleep, and REM sleep constitutes the other 25%. Understanding sleep architecture is essential for identifying sleep disorders and optimizing sleep quality.

Some sleep-tracking technologies like Fitbit and Apple Watches can show your sleep architecture by measuring both your heart rate and tossing and turning. These devices provide valuable insights into your sleep patterns, helping you make informed decisions about your sleep hygiene and lifestyle choices.

What is REM Sleep?

Rapid eye movement (REM) sleep is the deepest state of sleep and is characterized by desynchronized brain wave activity, muscle atonia (the inability to move your muscles), and sudden rapid eye movements. REM sleep is a critical component of overall sleep quality, contributing to cognitive functions such as memory consolidation, emotional regulation, and creative thinking.

It’s commonly believed that dreams only take place during REM sleep, but that’s not true. A majority of dreaming happens during these short windows of REM sleep, though some dreams do take place during NREM sleep too. A more accurate statement would be that most of our vivid dreaming experiences happen during REM sleep. Dreaming plays an important role in processing emotions and experiences, and disruptions in REM sleep can lead to emotional and cognitive impairments.

Why is REM Sleep Important?

All sleep is important, but REM sleep plays a unique role in brain health and development. It’s also less common than NREM sleep—another reason to make sure you’re getting enough! REM sleep cycles typically occur every 90 minutes, with each cycle lasting longer as the night progresses. Ensuring adequate REM sleep is crucial for maintaining optimal brain function and overall health.

Emotional Processing

During REM sleep, your brain processes emotions by way of amygdala activation. Your amygdala is a small region in your brain that processes and organizes your emotional responses to stimuli—the most well-known example being the fight-or-flight response. Researchers theorize that your REM-stage dreams may be linked to processing strong emotions and fear. This emotional processing helps you manage stress and anxiety, contributing to better mental health.

Memory & Recall

During REM sleep, your brain reviews everything you may have learned that day. During REM cycles, your brain decides what information to commit to memory and what to forget. This is why researchers think that infants and toddlers require more sleep and generally spend more time in REM sleep than adults. There is so much to learn when you’re a newborn as opposed to when you’re an adult. Adequate REM sleep enhances memory consolidation, learning, and cognitive performance.

Brain Development

Researchers believe that REM sleep plays a huge role in healthy brain development and is also the reason that newborns spend most of their time in REM sleep. The high demand for REM sleep during infancy and early childhood underscores its importance in neurodevelopmental processes, including synaptic pruning, neurogenesis, and brain plasticity.

Waking Up

As opposed to NREM sleep, REM sleep activates more sections of our central nervous system and is believed to prime us for a new day. The increased brain activity during REM sleep prepares you for waking up, promoting alertness and readiness to face the day ahead.

Not Getting Enough REM Sleep?

A number of studies suggest that not getting enough REM sleep may interfere with memory, retention, and may even cause emotional dysregulation. In general, not getting enough sleep can present many challenges, like:

  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Fatigue
  • Poor memory
  • Food and impulse control
  • And more…

Chronic sleep deprivation, including insufficient REM sleep, is linked to various health issues such as obesity, cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, and impaired immune function. Addressing sleep disorders and ensuring adequate REM sleep are crucial for maintaining overall health and well-being.

Can CBD Help with REM Sleep?

If REM sleep is so important to memory, recall, and emotional regulation, it makes sense that we would want to get to sleep quickly, increase the amount of time we spend in REM, and reduce the time we spend tossing and turning every night, right?

Is it possible to optimize our sleep with CBD?

Yes and no.

A study published in 2013 found that rodents given medium- to high-dose CBD doses slept longer than rodents in the control group, meaning CBD may help you stay asleep. Across the board, experts agree that getting more sleep is better. However, a review of studies found that the size of CBD doses may actually affect REM latency.

REM latency is the amount of time it takes to reach the REM stage of sleep. In the aforementioned rodent study, higher doses of CBD were found to increase REM latency, while medium-sized doses were found to reduce REM latency. What gives?

Not every study or review is going to have definitive conclusions—small-scale studies rarely do. As we delve further into the benefits of CBD and its impact on sleep, we may notice that different dosing schedules affect sleep differently. It’s about finding that sweet spot. It may be that a CBD dose for you and your sleep may not have any effect on your neighbor. Personalized approaches to CBD dosing, considering individual differences in metabolism, body weight, and sleep needs, are essential for optimizing sleep benefits.

CBD & REM Sleep Behavior Disorder

REM Sleep Behavior Disorder (RBD) is characterized by aggressive movements during an individual’s rapid eye movement (REM) stage of sleep. It’s more common in older people with neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. RBD can cause significant disruptions to sleep and lead to injuries or other complications.

In one small-scale study, CBD was found to help manage REM Sleep Behavior Disorder symptoms and reduce the frequency of aggressive movements. This finding suggests that CBD might offer therapeutic benefits for individuals with RBD, improving their sleep quality and reducing associated risks.

Will CBD Interact with Prescriptions?

CBD can interact with other prescriptions that an individual might be taking by slowing down the liver’s ability to break them down. This interaction occurs because CBD inhibits certain enzymes in the cytochrome P450 system, which is responsible for metabolizing many medications. If you’re considering using CBD to aid in your sleep, you should first consult your doctor and find out if CBD negatively interacts with any of your medications. It’s crucial to ensure that CBD use does not interfere with the efficacy or safety of other treatments.

Should You Take CBD to Optimize REM Sleep?

Taking CBD to help with sleep is a personal decision and one that you should consider with your doctor first. Many have found that CBD can help improve the quality and quantity of sleep they get every night, but the flip side is that plenty of folks also don’t experience those benefits. Individual responses to CBD can vary widely, and factors such as dosage, timing, and product quality can influence its effectiveness.

CBD isn’t a magic bullet for your sleep issues. But it may be a useful tool that you can use on your journey for a better night’s sleep. Incorporating CBD into a comprehensive sleep hygiene routine that includes practices such as maintaining a regular sleep schedule, creating a conducive sleep environment, and managing stress can enhance its potential benefits. As research on CBD and sleep continues to evolve, more insights into its mechanisms and optimal use will likely emerge, helping individuals make informed decisions about their sleep health. Get more info in our website.


  1. What is CBD?
    • CBD, or cannabidiol, is a naturally occurring cannabinoid found in hemp plants. It is non-psychoactive and used in various health products.
  2. How does CBD help with sleep?
    • CBD is thought to promote sleep by inducing relaxation and calm, which may help individuals fall and stay asleep.
  3. Can CBD improve REM sleep?
    • Some studies suggest that CBD can affect REM sleep latency, but more research is needed to confirm its effectiveness.
  4. Is CBD safe to use with other medications?
    • CBD can interact with certain medications by slowing down the liver’s metabolism. It’s important to consult a doctor before using CBD with other prescriptions.
  5. What are the side effects of using CBD for sleep?
    • Potential side effects of CBD include fatigue, changes in appetite, and interactions with other medications. Always consult a healthcare provider for personalized advice.