Lockdowns and home confinement during the pandemic have resulted in both physiological and psychological challenges, one of them being the disruption of sleep. With drastic changes in routine, coupled with anxiety and stress, some individuals are finding it harder to achieve a good night’s rest.
To improve their restlessness, some people are making an effort to restore their sleep cycles through various regimes, such as taking a bath before bedtime, sticking to a schedule, and exercising.
However, if nothing seems to be working out for you, perhaps it’s time you considered CBN.
CBN and Sleep: What’s the Connection?
Cannabinol, aka CBN, is considered to be the most sedative of all the compounds found in the cannabis plant. It is obtained from the decomposition of THC (the psychoactive compound in cannabis) and is a sesquiterpene – compound with more hydrogen and carbon molecules that are known for having calming properties.
But what might make CBN exclusive for sedation?
One reason is the prominence of CBN in old cannabis flowers. Anecdotal evidence claims that matured cannabis makes people sleepy, which is probably why certain people associate CBN with sedating effects.
However, there isn’t any prominent scientific claim to back this up, so let’s investigate a little more.
CBN, the Sleep Specialist
CBN is generally used as a sleep aid compound. Let’s check these out.
CBN and the REM Cycle
According to marketers, CBN helps achieve a longer and deeper sleep, particularly in the REM dream cycles.
This has exponential health benefits since during the REM cycle, bodily systems repair themselves, the brain forms and stores memories, and digestion occurs more proficiently. This is different from sedation since CBN does not make the body and mind comatose, rather it triggers the brain into falling asleep and staying asleep so that you wake up refreshed and well-rested.
CBN vs. Prescription Medicine
Another factor that sellers claim makes CBN a better contender to boost sleep is that it functions very differently from sleep aids.
Prescription medicine for sleep is usually classified as hypnotics since they sedate you and are designed to kind of shut your ‘brain off’. This creates brain fog which makes you heavy-headed, and unlike CBN, restricts the restorative processes that occur in the body as you sleep.
CBN vs. Alcohol
These are trying times, and a few glasses of wine before bedtime might’ve helped you fall asleep on especially rough days.
But remember that alcohol is a depressant, and consuming larger amounts can cause disorientation, increased heart rate, and dehydration. So despite making you feel numb and fall asleep, it doesn’t allow your body to enjoy a deep sleep, which is why you’ll wake up feeling groggy with a hangover.
CBN Supplements – Quick and Efficient
CBN and Science: What Research Says
While the above claims seem alluring, and many people claim to have used CBN to achieve better sleep, there is very little scientific evidence suggesting the compound can help.
In fact, one of the few studies investigating CBN and sleep dates back to 1975.
Five men received oral doses of THC and CBN. Researchers found that while THC induced symptoms of being drunk and drugged with dizziness and drowsiness, reports about the effects of CBN were different. Even though CBN seemed to somewhat amplify the effects of THC, there wasn’t a significant difference.
Bottom line: the evidence from this study isn’t enough to make sweeping claims regarding CBN, but this is all we have at the moment.
CBN Can Help with Sleep
As we’ve seen, there isn’t any direct and concrete evidence that CBN enhances sleep.
However, CBN is also claimed to have many other benefits, and these might help promote sleep indirectly.
Here are a few examples:
- CBN can help reduce psychological arousal caused by pain, stress, etc., at bedtime due to its anti-inflammatory properties (seen in rodent studies), which is also a factor contributing to lack of or disturbed sleep.
- CBN reduces opiate withdrawal symptoms in mice.
Hence, if these results also occur in humans, then taking CBN for pain may help an individual feel calmer at bedtime and have an easier time falling asleep.
So CBN, Yay or Nay?
For all the claims about CBN’s sedative abilities, there just isn’t enough scientific evidence to back them up.
In fact, its counterparts CBD and THC have been tested more rigorously for their potential sleep benefits, but scientists still state that more research is required to better guide customers.
So, does this mean that CBN is not worth trying for improved sleep?
Despite limited evidence, different people have different experiences, and while some might not find THC or CBD to be helpful, they might find comfort in taking CBN for sleep. It is fast-acting, non-addictive, and has no potential side effects.
So if you try CBN products and they make you feel relaxed and well-rested, go for it – but only after consulting a medical professional.
- Wong H, Cairns BE. Cannabidiol, cannabinol, and their combinations act as peripheral analgesics in a rat model of myofascial pain. Arch Oral Biol. 2019;104:33–9.
- Zurier RB, Burstein SH. Cannabinoids, inflammation, and fibrosis. FASEB J. 2016;30(11):3682–9.
- Bhargava HN. Effect of some cannabinoids on naloxone-precipitated abstinence in morphine-dependent mice. Psychopharmacology (Berl). 1976;49(3):267–70.
- Karniol, I. G., Shirakawa, I., Takahashi, R. N., Knobel, E., & Musty, R. E. (1975). Effects of delta9-tetrahydrocannabinol and cannabinol in man. Pharmacology, 13(6), 502–512. https://doi.org/10.1159/000136944
- National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2017. The Health Effects of Cannabis and Cannabinoids: The Current State of Evidence and Recommendations for Research. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. https://doi.org/10.17226/24625.
- Wong, H., & Cairns, B. E. (2019). Cannabidiol, cannabinol, and their combinations act as peripheral analgesics in a rat model of myofascial pain. Archives of oral biology, 104, 33–39. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.archoralbio.2019.05.028