Did you know that 7 out of 10 Americans report not getting eight hours of sleep every night? If you’re one of these millions of Americans you know that not being able to get a good night’s rest can quickly become a nightmare. Sleep deprivation can lead to serious short-term and long-term health effects like high blood pressure, depression, and an increased risk of a heart attack.
If you’re one of the millions of Americans that suffer from irregular sleep, you may have heard of a new cannabinoid, CBN, which some believe has sleep-promoting properties.
In this piece, we’ll take a look at CBN, how it affects your body, whether taking CBN for sleep might help you, and more.
What is CBN?
CBN, short for cannabinol, is one of the 100+ naturally-occurring chemicals produced by the cannabis plant. Unlike CBD and THC, cannabinoids you may be familiar with, there is little CBN found on a fresh cannabis plant. A majority of CBN comes from the oxidation and breakdown of THC.
Too many three-letter cannabis acronyms? Read our handy decoding guide here!
Disclaimer: This piece was written for purely informational purposes. The efficacy of CBN has not been confirmed by FDA-approved research. CBN is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. There is no guarantee that CBN will help you get to or stay asleep.
Does CBN Help With Sleep?
Because of CBN’s relative novelty, there are no FDA-approved uses for the cannabinoid yet. That doesn’t mean that people aren’t using CBN and other cannabinoids like CBD for sleep.
According to a recent study  on “reasons for CBD” use published in the Journal of Cannabis Research, 42.5% of survey respondents said that they were currently or had used CBD to “improve sleep quality” or treat “self-perceived insomnia.” Nearly 40% of the same sample said that they “sleep better,” after using CBD.
As of this writing, there are no published studies supporting the claim that CBN promotes sleep in humans or animals. There is some evidence though that would suggest CBN can reduce psychological arousal caused by stress and pain, as well as evidence suggesting that broad-spectrum CBN can have sedative effects.
What Does CBN Do?
One study on rats published in 2016 suggested CBN may reduce inflammation caused by arthritis. Further research is needed in both animals and humans before we fully understand this link. 
If CBN does have anti-inflammatory properties, there’s a chance that it may, in some people, reduce pain and sleep-preventing arousal.
Another 2019 study found that a combination of both CBD and CBN was able to relieve myofascial (chronic) pain in rats. Further, this study found that a combination of CBN and CBD was more effective than either cannabinoid taken alone. 
Another study conducted in Japan in the 1980s concluded that both CBN and THC have pain relief properties, but that the dose of CBN needed was about 9 times higher to match the strength of the THC dose. 
A recent human-centered study published in 2021 out of the Australian Sleep Disorders Research Institute found that a combination of THC, CBN, and CBD taken regularly under the tongue significantly improved insomnia symptoms and self-reported sleep quality in people compared to the placebo group. 
How Does CBN Affect the Body?
CBN, like its predecessor cannabinoid THC, interacts directly with your endocannabinoid’s CB1 and CB2 receptors. One of the CB1 receptor’s main functions is to regulate restlessness and deep sleep via neurotransmitter release.
Your CB2 receptors improve your immune system functions and can actually help your body fight off infections.
Is CBN better than CBD for Sleep?
Because there is so little research published on either, it would be difficult to declare one as better than the other.
It may be more helpful to think about CBN and CBD as working together than one vs. another. A 2019 study on rats found that a combination of CBD and CBN was more effective in managing pain versus using just CBN or just CBD. The same may be true of CBN and CBD’s sleep-promoting properties: better together.
How Should You Use CBN for Sleep?
How much CBN Should You Take To Sleep?
If you’re new to CBN and cannabis products in general, be sure to talk to your pharmacist about any potential prescription drug interference CBN may cause.
We always recommend starting with a lower dose and working your way up once you’re acclimated. This is especially true for CBN as it’s believed to be mildly psychoactive and sensitive users may experience some unwanted effects at high doses.
When it comes to CBD, we recommend starting with 25mg at a time, but we recommend starting with an even lower CBN dose. Start with 10mg of CBN and stay at that level for at least 14 days so that you’ll understand how your body reacts to prolonged use at that level.
If you experience any unwanted side effects at the 10mg level, stop taking CBN until you can consult your physician.
How Do You Take CBN To Sleep?
As with any supplement, you should give CBN time to take effect. Depending on your ingestion method, CBN products can take anywhere from 20 to 120 minutes to fully work their way into your system.
Do not take CBN, and then take another dose when you don’t experience immediate results. This is especially true if your CBN product contains any amount of melatonin as taking too much melatonin can make you restless and disrupt your circadian rhythm.
CBN Gummies & CBN-Infused Edibles
If you decide to eat a CBN-infused edible, be aware that it may take longer to kick in— anywhere from 45 to 120 minutes. This is because the CBN needs to make it through the initial stages of your digestive system before entering your bloodstream via the membrane in your small colon.
Sublingual CBN Tinctures
CBN can also come in a liquid form that you place under your tongue— think CBN + CBD oil tinctures. If you take your CBN sublingually (under your tongue) you should expect to feel effects faster than you would with an edible.
The average user will feel the effects of sublingual ingestion in 20 to 45 minutes.
Practice Good Sleep Hygiene
CBN isn’t FDA-approved, nor is it a proven sleep aid. It’s far too novel to have been thoroughly researched. If you decide to add CBN to your nighttime routine, you should do so in addition to practicing good sleep hygiene.
According to the CDC, sleep hygiene is a way to refer to a set of sleep habits that are scientifically proven to lead to more consistent and higher-quality sleep.
Going to bed at the same time every night and getting up at the same time each morning will help your body get into a rhythm. This includes weekends, too. Unfortunately, it’s impossible to train our brains to adhere to a pattern 5 out of the 7 days of the week.
If you want to fall asleep faster and stay asleep, consider removing as many, if not all, electronic devices from your bedroom.
Most electronics emit noise, heat, and blue light— all of which can disrupt your sleep. Not to mention devices like smartphones which have a much more profound impact on our brain chemistry. How often have you had the urge to check your phone when you’re restless in bed?
For the best sleep, make sure that your bedroom is quiet, cool, and dark. External lights can pull us out of our sleep cycles and lead to a restless night.
Try to be physically active during the day, even if just for 20 minutes. Being tired will help you fall asleep at the end of the day.
Avoid big meals and caffeinated beverages too close to your set bedtime. Being too full or buzzing on caffeine will make it harder to fall asleep.
What Happens if You Take Too Much CBN For Sleep?
Is CBN Safe?
CBN is thought of as a safe, naturally-occurring cannabinoid. There are no known negative side effects at this point because of limited research.
What are CBN’s Side Effects?
As of this writing, CBN use has no known unwanted side effects, but that doesn’t mean that they don’t exist. If we take what we know about CBD, an analogous cannabinoid, we might make an educated guess that too much CBN may cause:
- Changes in appetite
- Upset Stomach
Where Should You Buy CBN?
A full night’s rest isn’t something you should leave up to chance. But there are so many cannabis retailers out there selling CBN nighttime drops or CBN relax gummies. How can you have confidence in the CBN you’re buying?
There are a few green flags you should look for.
Website Smell Test
Think of an eCommerce store as a salesperson. The first question you should ask yourself is: can I trust them? For many, it’s a gut reaction. Trust your instincts. If the CBN vendor’s website doesn’t look trustworthy, don’t bother with them.
Find Their Certificates of Analysis
From our blog post: How to Read a Certificate of Analysis
A certificate of analysis, or COA for short, is a document from an accredited third-party lab that confirms that your hemp product meets advertised specifications. COAs tell you a few things, most importantly the concentrations and variety of cannabinoids present in your product.
Certificates of analysis are important and should be included with every CBD and CBN purchase because…
- They ensure that your product contains advertised levels of CBD and CBN.
- They indicate whether or not the cannabis (product) in question is federally-legal hemp or a federally-prohibited cannabis product.
- Products with over 0.3% of delta-9 THC by dry weight are considered to be THC cannabis.
- Depending on how your product is advertised— full-spectrum, broad-spectrum, THC-free, etc.— the presence of additional cannabinoids may raise an eyebrow.
Curious to see Sunset Lake CBD’s certificates of analysis? You can see them here.
Before you press that “Buy Now” button, take a look at customer reviews, both on and off the website. It may turn out that previous buyers have extra insight into how best to use the product, some tips on dosing, or, in worst-case scenarios, you may find out that the CBN product in question may not help with sleep at all.
Frequently Asked Questions about CBN:
Is CBN Legal?
CBN is not listed as a Schedule I substance. Because CBN is derived from oxidized THC, it’s thought by some that CBN could be illegal under the Federal Analogue Act.
That said, CBN can also be derived from federally-legal hemp plants defined as “cannabis that contains less than 0.3% delta-9 THC,” albeit in smaller quantities. As long as the CBN is derived from hemp, it’s believed to be analogous to CBD and legal.
Is CBN the Same as CBD?
CBN and CBD are both cannabinoids produced by cannabis plants but they are not the same thing. Their molecular structure, how they interact with your endocannabinoid system, and even some of their effects on your well-being are different. Read about all of that and more here. [Link]
Is CBN Similar to Melatonin?
CBN is not similar to melatonin. Your body naturally produces its own melatonin in order to tell your brain that it should be tired when it starts to get dark out. Too much melatonin has also been known to raise blood-sugar levels and increase blood pressure in people taking hypertension medications.
CBN interacts with the endocannabinoid system that’s believed to help with inflammation, pain management, and other factors that help you relax and get ready for bed.
Is CBN Going To Interact With Other Medications?
It’s very possible that CBN interacts poorly with some medications. Be sure to consult your doctor and pharmacist before adding CBN to your nighttime routine.
Takeaway: Is CBN a Good Sleep Aid?
Not getting enough sleep can impact every part of your life, from suppressing your immune system to making it hard to focus at work. If you’ve struggled with sleep problems, you know that the days you actually get your eight hours can be game-changing.
While CBN is an underresearched cannabinoid, it may help with marginal issues that prevent you from falling and staying asleep. If you plan on adding CBN, CBD, or cannabis products in general, to your nighttime routine, be sure to do your research first.
As always, you should also be wary of companies that promise you a silver bullet for your sleep-related issues. There’s no such thing.