When it comes to using cannabis for sleep, cannabinol (CBN) is probably the best cannabinoid to go with. Compared to cannabidiol (CBD), CBN has very powerful sleep-inducing properties. CBN can improve both the length and the quality of sleep. It also helps individuals to progress well from one stage of sleep to the next. This means that you will be waking up the next day feeling refreshed and rejuvenated, after having transited well through each phase of sleep. Unlike tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), CBN is also non-psychoactive and therefore will not trigger an undesired response, although it may create a feeling of wellbeing.  These factors are what make CBN the superior cannabinoid when it comes to sleep-promoting properties.

Why THC vs. CBD vs. CBN?

The cannabis plant has over 140 cannabinoids but just a handful have been investigated for therapeutic actions.  THC, CBD, and CBN fall in the category of common cannabinoids with therapeutic potential that has attracted the interest of researchers. All three cannabinoids affect sleep in different ways.

In this article, you will get to compare the sleep-promoting effects of THC, CBD, and CBN. By the end of the article, you should be able to decide which one to turn to when you desperately need some good shut-eye.

Let’s get started with CBN.

CBN For Sleep

CBN is a newish cannabinoid, but one that is fast rising in popularity due to its therapeutic potential. Early studies have shown that it has anti-anxiety, antibacterial, neuroprotectant, anti-inflammatory, and sleep-promoting effects. THC is broken down into CBN when it is exposed to heat and light over time. Consequently, you expect to find higher amounts of CBN in aged cannabis.

CBN promotes sleep in the following ways:

CBN is a Natural Sedative

CBN has strong sleep-promoting effects as has been elucidated by a few studies.  A study done in 1995 on mice showed that CBN is essential in prolonging a person’s sleeping time. [1] CBN can help with drowsiness during the day. Moreover, it’s good for your sleep onset in the evening.

A recent (2021) study showed that CBN significantly improved the duration and quality of sleep. [2] Participants were able to sleep faster, stay asleep for longer, and progressed well through the various stages of sleep. As a result, the participants woke up feeling rested.”

Earlier on, not much was known about the sleep-promoting effects of CBN. But thanks to the recent CBD Shaman study, it is now clear that this cannabinoid is a powerful sleep enhancer that can be used to tackle several sleeping disorders.

CBN Relieves Pain

Chronic pain is a common cause of sleeping disorders. Those suffering from pain are likely to struggle to fall asleep once they get under the covers. Even when they sleep, they may be easily roused and therefore find it difficult to stay asleep during the night. This is likely to result in chronic fatigue building up to insomnia.

Research on CBN highlights the pain-relieving properties of CBN. The endocannabinoid system (ECS) modulates pain pathways and CBN can relieve pain through its interaction with the ECS.

CBN can improve the quality and duration of sleep. It also addresses pain which is a great deterrent to quality sleep. Fortunately, CBN is not addictive and is well tolerated even in high doses.

Now, let’s talk about CBD.

CBD for Sleep

CBD is the most popular non-psychoactive cannabinoid. It also happens to be the most studied cannabinoid. Research has shown that CBD has anti-anxiety, anti-inflammatory, anticancer, anticonvulsant, and sleep-promoting effects. Below is a breakdown of how CBD enhances sleep.

CBD Relieves Anxiety

Anxiety is a significant cause of sleep problems such as insomnia. If not well managed, anxiety leads to sleep-related anxiety disorders. Anxiety may cause the following sleep complications:

  •      Difficulty falling and remaining asleep.
  •      Early morning awakening.
  •      Unexplained tiredness during sleep and after waking up.
  •      Frequent panic attacks while sleeping

Research shows that CBD can help with anxiety and therefore improve sleep. [4] CBD can help you overcome frequent panic attacks at night that are a result of anxiety disorders. It’s recommended that you start with low CBD dosage so that your body has a chance to adapt to this new cannabinoid.

CBD Relieves Pain

Pain, especially chronic pain, can make you lack sleep at night. Studies have shown that CBD has analgesic properties and therefore can be used to provide pain relief. A review done in 2018 by Frontiers in Pharmacology demonstrated the pain-relieving properties of CBD [5] while a 2021 study corroborated these findings. [6] By relieving pain, patients with sleeping difficulties will be able to fall asleep easily. In this way, CBD is able to improve the quality of sleep of patients with chronic pain.

CBD is a Sedative

Consuming high amounts of CBD is likely to leave you feeling drowsy and sedated. Preliminary evidence suggests that CBD exerts its sedative effects by suppressing natural cortisol levels.

The stress hormone levels, cortisol, are high in the morning; however, the levels are high at night for a person who has sleep problems. Due to this, you end up being awake the whole night.

Studies have shown that CBD acts as a sedative by lowering a person’s cortisol levels. This means that your drowsiness during the day is also reduced. But more studies and experiments still need to be done on the sedative effects of CBD.

THC for Sleep

Like CBD, THC also has sedative properties.  Consuming high amounts of THC is likely to leave you in a sleepy state after the euphoric feelings have subsided. A 2008 study demonstrated that THC limits the length and intensity of REM sleep which is associated with vivid dreams. [7] In the short term, this may help PTS sufferers or those prone to having regular nightmares to sleep through the night. Unfortunately, this may not last for a long time, and withdrawing the THC may worsen nightmares. Consequently, THC is not a preferred candidate for dealing with insomnia.

Side Effects of CBD and CBN for Sleep

There are some side effects that you must experience if you use CBD and CBD as sleep aids, they include:

  •        Tiredness during the day.
  •        Sometimes drastic weight loss.
  •        Diarrhea.

There are still no well-known side effects of CBN but that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t be careful.


Now you are aware of how CBD and CBN can help you with your sleeping problems. Remember to start with low dosages as you work your way up. This will give your body time to adjust to the cannabinoids as you also find the dose that works best for you.


  1.     Yoshida, H., Usami, N., Ohishi, Y., Watanabe, K., Yamamoto, I., & Yoshimura, H. (1995). Synthesis and pharmacological effects in mice of halogenated cannabinol derivatives. Chemical & pharmaceutical bulletin, 43(2), 335–337.
  2.     PR Newswire (2021): CBD American Shaman Releases Studies Supporting Efficacy of CBD. Retrieved from https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/cbd-american-shaman-releases-studies-supporting-efficacy-of-cbd-301321385.html
  3.     Farrimond, J. A., Whalley, B. J., & Williams, C. M. (2012). Cannabinol and cannabidiol exert opposing effects on rat feeding patterns. Psychopharmacology, 223(1), 117–129.
  4.     Shannon, S., Lewis, N., Lee, H., & Hughes, S. (2019). Cannabidiol in Anxiety and Sleep: A Large Case Series. The Permanente journal, 23, 18–041.
  5.     Vučković, S., Srebro, D., Vujović, K. S., Vučetić, Č., & Prostran, M. (2018). Cannabinoids and Pain: New Insights From Old Molecules. Frontiers in pharmacology, 9, 1259.
  6.     Martin J. De Vita, Stephen A. Maisto, Christina E. Gilmour, Lauren McGuire, Elizabeth Tarvin and Dezarie Moskal. (April 2021) The effects of cannabidiol and analgesic expectancies on experimental pain reactivity in healthy adults: A balanced placebo design trial. Experimental and Clinical Psychopharmacology.
  7.     Schierenbeck, T., Riemann, D., Berger, M., & Hornyak, M. (2008). Effect of illicit recreational drugs upon sleep: cocaine, ecstasy, and marijuana. Sleep medicine reviews, 12(5), 381–389.

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