CBD: For Sleep and Insomnia

Doctor holding CBD oil

In recent years, the use of marijuana and CBD for the treatment of a variety of conditions has risen significantly. Specifically, CBD has been found to have potential health benefits for symptoms like insomnia. Here’s a little background on what CBD is and how it impacts your sleep and body.

What Are Cannabinoids and CBD?

Cannabinoids are chemical compounds that bind or attach to certain receptors in the central nervous system and act as chemical messengers. Depending on the specific cannabinoid, it may have varied effects on the body.

The most well-known and probably most researched cannabinoids include cannabidiol (CBD) and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). We know that THC is the cannabinoid that leads to the “buzz or high” from cannabis use.

CBD differs from THC and does not cause psychoactive effects or a “high.” Because it does not cause the psychoactive effects and it might help certain conditions, such as pain, anxiety, and insomnia, CBD is gaining traction as a possible treatment for several diseases.

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How Do CBD and Cannabinoids Work?

Not everything is completely understood about how cannabinoids (including CBD) work. What we do know from research is that CBD and cannabinoids interact with proteins and cells in the brain. A relatively newly discovered system may also hold some answers.

Chemistry of CBD with plant

The Endocannabinoid System and Sleep

Researchers discovered that the endocannabinoid system plays a role in maintaining certain body functions, such as mood, appetite, sleep, and regulating circadian rhythms. Within the endocannabinoid system is a network of cannabinoid receptors in the brain and central nervous system.The two primary receptors identified are CB1 and CB2.

Cannabinoids attach to these cells and have various effects. As far as how they may affect sleep, some research indicates that the cannabinoid CBD may interact with specific receptors, potentially affecting the sleep/wake cycle. 

Additionally, CBD may also decrease anxiety and pain, which can both interfere with restful sleep. By reducing certain symptoms, it’s also possible that sleep may improve.

Woman sleeping in bed

What Does the Research Say About CBD?

Although more studies need to be performed, some research supports the theory that CBD and cannabinoids may improve sleep. This study published in the journal, Medicines, involved 409 people with insomnia. Data was collected from June 2016 to May 2018. Participants rated their symptoms of insomnia on a scale of 1 to 10 with 10 being the most severe. Starting symptoms were rated 6.6 on average.

The participants were treated using the cannabis flower with varied combustion methods including vape, pipe, and joint. THC potency on average was 20 percent and limited to 30 percent. CBD potency was on average 5.7 percent and limited to 30 percent. After using cannabis, participants rated symptoms on average to be 2.2, which was a decrease of 4.5.

The results indicated the cannabinoids in cannabis decreased symptoms of insomnia. But the study involved using the cannabis flower, which contains several cannabinoids. It’s difficult to determine if relief from insomnia was due to CBD or another cannabinoid.

In another study published in the Permanente Journal, 72 adults with anxiety and poor sleep were involved. The participants completed anxiety and sleep assessments at the start of the study and at the first-month follow up. Study participants were given 25 mg of CBD in capsule form. Those that predominantly had sleep complaints took the dose in the evening. Participants that had anxiety as their predominant complaint took CBD in the morning.

After the first month, anxiety scores decreased in 79 percent of the people. Sleep scores improved in 66 percent of the participants, which indicated less trouble sleeping. The results suggest that CBD decreased sleep difficulties in many of the participants. But while the decrease in anxiety symptoms remained steady for the duration of the study, the sleep scores fluctuated over time.

Several smaller studies have also supported the use of CBD oil to improve sleep. For example, a case study involving a 10-year-old girl with post-traumatic stress disorder and poor sleep was treated with CBD. A trial of 25 mg of a CBD supplement was administered at bedtime. An additional 6 to 12 mg of CBD was given via a sublingual spray during the day for anxiety. Sleep quantity and quality gradually improved over five months.

Though there is plenty of supporting evidence that shows CBD and cannabinoids can improve sleep, the results are not conclusive and more research needs to be done.

Forms of CBD

CBD is extracted from the cannabis plant and known as CBD oil. But it can be a little complicated. CBD may be extracted from either the marijuana or hemp plant, which are both strains of the Cannabis sativa plant. But they are harvested differently. Hemp comes from the seeds and stalks of the plant, which contains less THC than marijuana.

Because the THC content in CBD oil may vary, depending on the state it’s sold, there may be restrictions. For example, in some states, CBD oil is sold legally if all of the THC is removed. If CBD oil still contains THC or other cannabinoids, it may only be sold in states that have legalized marijuana use.

Depending on the laws in your state, you may need a doctor’s prescription for CBD oil. But laws continue to change quickly, so in the near future, it may be different.

CBD oil can be placed under the tongue. It may also be infused in different products including the following;

  • Edibles: Various types of edibles infused with CBD oil are available including gummy bears, cakes, and cookies. Edibles usually list the concentration of CBD in milligrams.
  • Vaporing: CBD extract can be used in a vaporizer or vape pen. As the extract heats up, it creates a vapor that is inhaled.
  • Tinctures: CBD also comes in tinctures. A few drops of the liquid can be added to drinks.

CBD oil is available in different concentrations. Since research is ongoing, the exact dose to treat sleep issues may not be fully known. It might take some trial and error to determine what works best.

Because there are so many different ways to ingest CBD, there are tons of CBD products to choose from. If you aren’t sure where to start, here are the CBD products we recommend to try if you want to improve your sleep.

Overall, there is scientific research that supports the theory that there are CBD health benefits. While more research needs to be done, the use of CBD can potentially decrease your symptoms of insomnia and help you get more quality sleep.  If you struggle with sleep issues, the best first step is to consult your doctor and learn more about causes and treatments.

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30 thoughts on “CBD: For Sleep and Insomnia

  1. bob panuto Reply

    I am a 71 year old male who has progressed from occasional insomnia, over a 10 year period, to having a more chronic problem over the past 2 months. Just prescribed Restoril which has some limited benefit. I would like to try CBD oil but do not know where to obtain a reliable source. Would appreciate any recommendations.

    • Meg Reply

      I use a brand called Nuvita and have had noticeable results for both sleep and anxiety reduction. I use the full spectrum oil.

  2. Eli Richardson Reply

    It really helped when you talked about CBD and how it could help you sleep better. Recently, one of my cousins mentioned she’s been dealing with more anxiety attacks. My cousin’s tried it all, but nothing seems to reduce her anxiety and improve her sleeping habits, so I’ll be sure to share your article with her. Thanks for the advice on the positive health effects of CBD products.

  3. Nancy Garfinkel Reply

    CBD chewies- good to get me to fall asleep BUT wake up 3 hrs later and can’t fall back to sleep???

  4. Beverly Casella Reply

    Need cbc 4 insomnia badly.would prefer in gummies form. Sleeping pills do not work anymore such as Ambien dayvigo etc. Have high tolerance issue

  5. John Lock Reply

    I think I’ll continue to be treated with CBD. I just got CBD products from Weedborn and I feel much better now: D

  6. Eve Keret Reply

    Does CBD oil Full Spectrum used to enhance sleep…cause extreme dryness of the mouth?

  7. Kathleen McClain Reply

    For Tim Fontenot: Company Lazarus Naturals offers a 60% discount to low income people. I applied (I’am on Social Security fixed income) and was approved. Check them out. Think you will be very happy. I did, and am. I love the CBD oil for both anxiety and for sleep and am very happy I found this option. I didn’t think I was going to be able to afford to continue the CBD but Lazarus made that possible.
    Best Regards

  8. Cindy L Holleman Reply

    My experience is within about 3 days you would start experiencing the balance of sleep/wake cycles. Meaning more alert during the day, and more restful sleep at night.

  9. Nelson Fogerty Reply

    It’s cool that you point out that using CBD oil can help people who suffer from insomnia. I have been having a hard time sleeping lately, so I’m considering buying some CBD oil to try. I’m going to look for a good company that can sell me some CBD oil.

  10. Julia L Rose Reply

    Does CBD help the brain reach all four stages of sleep? Prescription sleep medications put you to sleep but prevent the brain from getting stages 3 & 4 which restore the body. Does CBD help or block the brain from getting restorative sleep?
    Please email me back about this matter.
    Thank you.

  11. Tim Fontenot Reply

    I have had insomnia for years (>10), probably associated with Trigeminal Neuralgia & Occipital Neuralgia (occipital stimulator implanted in my body). The latest diagnosis confirmed Narcolepsy (no catalepsy) via sleep study. Added to the ‘mix’ are neck, lower back, shoulder, & hand pain requiring steroid injections. I am a type 2 diabetic with diabetic neuropathy
    in my feet. I have asthma and sleep apnea.

    I fear CBD alone will supply very little relief from so many pain sources, let alone insomnia relief. Southwest Louisiana costs include duly authorized medical doctors (MD) who get paid for 1st office visit, repeat visits, writing the referral (whatever it’s called). Out of pocket expenses for (regular) CBD can get out of reach for this retired person on a fixed income.

    As you can imagine, I’m talking about some SERIOUS pain (sometimes “hit-&-run”, sometimes lasting hours to days). My need is immediate, but I’m told it takes as much as a month to get approved for the THD-CBD combo. I don’t know what else to say …

    • Michael Jones Reply

      Have you tried the Keto diet and fasting to greatly decrease the inflammation in your body? Turmeric and Omega 3s are very helpful as well. I had many of the same issues you have and have had amazing results with the dietary changes I just mentioned. I’m 60 and Type 2 diabetic. Now my blood sugar has stabilized between 99 and 107. Aches and pains have pretty much went away as well. Walking at least 6k steps a day is a must!

      • Kev Reply

        Fasting is simply awesome. Great for body and mind. No one should start the day opening a fridge and/or keep snacking all day. That’s just a nice business. Cheers!

  12. Katie Marshall Reply

    I had chronic insomnia after I was twice diagnosed with cancer.

    I found CBD oil to be powerful in helping me fall asleep at night with anxiousness and it helped me stay relaxed throughout the day though sometimes it was a little tangy to taste (after leaving it under the tongue for 3-4 minutes).

    I found an amazing solution in CBD teas and edibles which were much easier to digest.

    I’d recommend starting on the edibles before using CBD oil, they’re always tasty and easy to swallow and are just as effective.

    Wishing everyone a peaceful sleep using holistic and natural resources.

  13. Cindy Keske Reply

    Do you have information on the use of Ambien, while trying to decrease or wean off
    the habit, and using any CBD oil with or without the THC?
    Do you have to get completely off the Ambien addition before entering CBD Sleep aids?

  14. Trent Reply

    Researchers also found that subjects did not build up a tolerance to the effects of CBD, so there was no need to increase dosage continually. Unlike some pain medications, CBD is not addictive and does not have any intoxicating effects, offering much relief for people who have chronic pain.

  15. Anonymous Reply

    note: 409 people were in the study you mention from the journal, Medicines, not 490.

  16. Ruth Lindemann Reply

    What dosage of CBD oil do you recommend for a good nights sleep? I have had problems sleeping for 20 plus years. I have absolutely NO physical reason for not being able to sleep and my dr. says I do not have depression, probably anxiety (and that comes from not sleeping)!!! She recommend Restoril which is awful, causes constant ringing in my ears PLUS it does not work, well maybe 4 hours sleep and that is it. Can you recommend something for me? I could get a drs. prescription if needed (I think). I really would like to try CBD oil but I have no idea what dosage would be could for me. Please email me. Thank you so much.

    • Katarina Reply

      Have you tried melatonin, valerian, liposomal GABA or CBD?

      For me personally works the best melatonin and CBD – I have read the combination works better as melatonin decreases sleep latency while CBD makes you sleep deeper.

  17. T. Higgins Reply

    I have very vivid and terrible night terrors and have most of my late teens and adult life. I am 50. I have been taking CBD oil (600mg bottle) for about one week, the first couple of nights, I slept very well, but have been having night terrors since. Should I up the dose of CBD oil or am I out of luck for help with sleeping? I do not like to take pills, I have tried melatonin, but that did not work at all for me. Any suggestions?

    I don’t exercise before bed, I try to eat healthy, I go to bed at same time each night, etc….Just tired of waking up every couple of hours with dreams that continue where they left off, when I fall back asleep.

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