can cbd oil be used for insomnia

Hemp Oil For Sleep and Insomnia: CBD, CBN and More

Hemp oil, or more specifically, full spectrum hemp oil which is rich in CBD, CBN, and other phenolic compounds with sedative properties may be a promising natural sleep remedy.

Sleepiness is estimated to cost the United States $411 billion dollars annually, a whopping 2.28% of our GDP. According to the National Institutes of Health, over one-third of American adults report daytime sleepiness that interferes with work, social functioning and driving at least a few days out of every month.

Studies have established a clear link between hemp oil phenolics (e.g. cannabinoids, terpenes, flavonoids and others) and sleep, supporting hemps role as a natural sleep aid with few to no side effects.


Cannabinoids such as CBD, CBN, and THC are a unique type of phenolic compound produced by hemp flowers or buds. They are unique because they can interact with our body’s endocannabinoid system, which plays an important role in sleep and relaxation.

Cannabidiol, or CBD, the main cannabinoid found in hemp oil has been found to lead to sedation or sleepiness in higher doses and wakefulness in lower doses. In contrast, cannabinol (CBN) has the opposite effect: triggering sedation in low doses and wakefulness in higher doses.

Unlike the high producing tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), CBD and CBN do not make you high. They also have not been reported to lead to major negative psychological side effects such as anxiety, paranoia, and memory impairment, making their therapeutic benefits useful in everyday situations.

While the majority of cannabis research has focused on the cannabinoids CBD and THC, recent findings suggests that the cannabinoid CBN may be an even more potent sedative than other cannabinoids found in hemp.

Because the amount of CBN, even in full spectrum hemp oil, is limited, we created a CBD + CBN Sleep Blend that features added CBN along with organic and wildcrafted botanicals used in traditional sleep remedies.

Other Phenolics

In addition to cannabinoids, full spectrum hemp oil is also rich in other phenolic compounds which studies have also shown to possess sedative qualities.

These phenolic compounds are what makes full spectrum hemp oil so special. Whereas isolated cannabinoids may have limited effects when administered alone, when they are administered with the other phenolics in full spectrum oil, they act synergistically to enhance each other’s desired effects.

Hemp Oil and Sleep Research

Cannabinoids have long been shown to affect the sleep-wake cycle. Preliminary research and anecdotal evidence strongly suggest the therapeutic potential of full spectrum hemp oil in helping alleviate insomnia and promoting more restful sleep.

Despite studies examining the effects of cannabinoid administration on sleep dating back to the 1970s, few clinical trials exist. Thus, hemp oil’s mechanisms of action and dose-response remain somewhat ambiguous.

Research into the effects of cannabinoids (mainly THC) on the sleep cycle began in the 1970s and a link was established early on. It wasn’t until more recently, however, that researchers became aware of the many varying effects triggered by the more than 100 different cannabinoids in the cannabis plant. This awareness was a critical turning point in the discovery of CBD’s sedative and non-psychoactive effects making it a prime target for sleep therapy research.

CBD, THC and other cannabinoids like CBN interact with our body’s endocannabinoid system. Every human, dog, cat, mammal, amphibian, and even the ancient sea squirt possesses an internal cannabinoid system.

Implicated in a wide variety of biological functions, the endocannabinoid system has been shown to play an important role in the regulation of the circadian rhythm sleep-wake cycle.

Available data supports a relationship between endocannabinoid signaling and sleep wake cycle processes (Vaugn, et al 2010) indicating that the endocannabinoid system has the capability to modulate circadian rhythms (Sanford, 2008).

When our endocannabinoid systems are activated by either internal (i.e. anandamide or 2-AG) or external cannabinoids like CBD, CBN, or THC, a number of beneficial reactions are triggered in our bodies. Sedation, anxiolytic effects, neuroprotection, neurogenesis or the formation of new brain cells, anti-inflammatory effects, pain relief, a boost in metabolism, feelings of improved well being and a positive impact on brain levels of the depression-related neurotransmitter serotonin have all been observed.

In light of these effects, it is somewhat unclear how much of the sleep improvements experienced by hemp oil users are related to these other benefits versus a direct effect on the sleep cycle.

THC and Sleep

Though the link between cannabinoids and the sleep cycle was established decades ago, it was limited by our incomplete understanding of cannabis and its constituents.

Early research from the 1970s included several sleep studies that recorded brain waves, blood oxygen level, heart rate, and breathing, as well as leg and eye movements. These studies found that cannabis had an effect on sleep, but perhaps because they mainly looked at THC rich marijuana, their findings were mixed.

For instance, one THC study showed a decrease in sleep onset latency, or the time it takes individuals to transition from full wakefulness to sleep (Cousens & DiMascio, 1973), while different studies did not replicate these findings.

Another study examining the effects of THC observed increased waking after sleep onset and a decrease in REM sleep (Pivik et al, 1972). REM, or rapid eye movement sleep, is a phase of sleep unique to birds and mammals. It is generally characterized by low muscle tone throughout the body, vivid dreaming, and random/rapid movement of the eyes.

REM is the 5th stage of sleep and happens throughout the sleep cycle. Experts believe REM sleep helps us process emotions and solidify certain memories, but researchers are unclear as to how much REM sleep is optimal and whether varying amounts can be pathological. For example, one recent study found an association between higher amounts of REM sleep and depression, but it was unclear whether one caused the other.

Other THC work from this period found a decrease in slow-wave sleep latency, an increase in slow-wave sleep, and an increase in total sleep time (Feinberg, et al. 1975 & Barratt et al, 1974). Slow-wave sleep, or SWS, refers to phase 3 of the sleep cycle. Thought to play an important role in memory consolidation, SWS sleep is the deepest phase of non-rapid eye movement (NREM) sleep. Sleepwalking and dreaming can occur during SWS.

As the research community’s understanding of cannabis and its constituents became more sophisticated and the varying effects of different cannabinoids were discovered, researchers began focusing on the types of cannabinoids (THC vs CBD vs CBN), the ratio of cannabinoids, dosage, the timing of administration, and the route of administration, all of which have been demonstrated to play a critical role in sleep outcomes.

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CBD and Sleep

CBD has been found to have biphasic effects on wakefulness. In low doses, CBD acts as a stimulant (Carlini & Cunha, 1981, Nicholson et al 2004). In medium and higher doses CBD exhibits sedative properties (Nicholson et al 2004, Zuardi 2008). These sedative properties have made CBD a viable research target for sleep disorders.

In 1981, Carlini and Cunha published a CBD study on individuals with insomnia. They showed that administration of 160 mg/day of CBD resulted in increased total sleep time and decreased frequency of nighttime arousals. Although their study showed that CBD administration reduced dream recall, they did not find CBD to produce any ‘hangover’ effects.

In 2004 Nicholson and colleagues published a pilot study in humans showing that high-dose CBD was associated with sleep improvements. Further, unlike the use of THC as a sleep aid, which studies have reported to produce next-day memory impairment as well as increased sleepiness and mood changes, CBD did not appear to result in these negative side effects.

In a 2012 study examining the effect of medium and high dose CBD in rats, Hsiao and colleagues found that CBD blocked anxiety-induced REM sleep suppression and increased the percentage of total sleep time.

Similarly, in 2013, Chagas and colleagues published a study that found an increase in the total percentage of sleep in rats after the administration of mid-range and high-dose CBD injections as compared to placebo.

The following year, Chagas and colleagues published another study on four adults with REM sleep behavior disorder (RBD) and Parkinson’s disease. RBD is characterized by the loss of muscle rigidity during REM sleep accompanying nightmares and can involve individuals acting out behaviors associated with dreams. Their study found that CBD was tolerated well by all patients and efficacious in suppressing behaviors associated with RBD.

A recent and allegedly first of its kind double-blind, placebo-controlled randomized clinical study from the Center for Applied Health Sciences looked at the effects of CBD rich hemp oil extract consumption on 65 overweight, but otherwise healthy adults. Individuals who took the hemp oil extract every day over a period of six weeks experienced a 22% improvement in sleep quality and a 21% improvement in sleep quantity. They also reported experiencing a 12.5% improvement in pleasure from life.

Another study from the University of Colorado and Colorado State University recorded the effects of hemp oil use on 72 patients with anxiety and sleep-related disorders over a month-long period. After one month of hemp oil use, 67% of participants reported improved sleep, while 79% reported experiencing less anxiety.

In a 2018 study by Vigil and colleagues, 409 individuals with insomnia used a mobile app to measure which characteristics of medical Cannabis flower were associated with changes in perceived insomnia. Participants recorded real-time ratings of self-perceived insomnia severity levels prior to and following consumption over 1056 cannabis administration sessions. The study found that while cannabis as a whole improved sleep rating, CBD was associated with greater statistically significant symptom relief than THC.

How to Use Hemp Oil as a Sleep Aid

Although research is still in its infancy, studies point to the ability of medium to high doses of CBD to increase total sleep time, decrease the amount of time it takes to fall asleep, and reduce problem sleep behaviors like RBD related sleepwalking and the number of times individuals wake during the night.

If you are ready to try CBD as a sleep aid, be sure to select a high-quality hemp product and a healthy method of administration. CBD rich full-spectrum hemp oils can be vaporized, taken orally, and applied as topical treatments, which is probably not the best administration choice for alleviating insomnia.

Because there are some bioavailability caveats when it comes to edibles, we recommend holding the full spectrum hemp oil under your tongue for one or two minutes to get the most out of your product. This method helps your body absorb the highest concentration of CBD without any harmful side effects.

Check that your oil is produced from a proven cannabis source like an all-natural Colorado sunshine fueled hemp-farm run by farmers who care about the integrity of their product. Make sure the company you source from has not watered down the product with fillers. Avoid anything with corn syrup, propylene glycol, GMOs, pesticides, trans fats, or artificial additives.

Look for products that are cold processed and lab tested. Lab testing can help assure consistency and verify that the product you’re receiving is free of bacteria, pesticides, solvent residues, mold, and other contaminants.


Carlini EA, Cunha JM. Hypnotic and antiepileptic effects of cannabidiol. J Clin Pharmacol. 1981;21(8–9 Suppl):417S–27S.

Chagas MH, Crippa JA, Zuardi AW, Hallak JE, Machado-de-Sousa JP, Hirotsu C, et al. Effects of acute systemic administration of cannabidiol on sleep-wake cycle in rats. J Psychopharmacol. 2013;27(3):312–6

Chagas MH, Eckeli AL, Zuardi AW, Pena-Pereira MA, SobreiraNeto MA, Sobreira ET, et al. Cannabidiol can improve complex sleep-related behaviours associated with rapid eye movement sleep behaviour disorder in Parkinson’s disease patients: a case series. J Clin Pharm Ther. 2014;39(5):564–6.

Cousens K, DiMascio A. (−) Delta 9 THC as an hypnotic. An experimental study of three dose levels. Psychopharmacologia. 1973;33(4):355–64.

Hsiao YT, Yi PL, Li CL, Chang FC. Effect of cannabidiol on sleep disruption induced by the repeated combination tests consisting of open field and elevated plus-maze in rats. Neuropharmacology. 2012;62(1):373–84

Nicholson, A. N., Turner, C., Stone, B. M., & Robson, P. J. (2004). Effect of Δ-9-tetrahydrocannabinol and cannabidiol on nocturnal sleep and early-morning behavior in young adults. Journal of clinical psychopharmacology, 24(3), 305-313.

Pivik RT, Zarcone V, Dement WC, Hollister LE. Delta-9- tetrahydrocannabinol and synhexl: effects on human sleep patterns. Clin Pharmacol Ther. 1972;13(3):426–35.

Sanford AE. Cannabinoids and hamster circadian activity rhythms. Brain Res. 2008;1222:141–8.

Vaughn LK, Denning G, Stuhr KL, de Wit H, Hill MN, Hillard CJ. Endocannabinoid signalling: has it got rhythm? Br J Pharmacol. 2010;160(3):530–43

Vigil, J., Stith, S., Diviant, J., Brockelman, F., Keeling, K, & Hall, B. (2018). Effectiveness of raw, natural medical Cannabis flower for treating insomnia under naturalistic conditions. Medicines, 5(3), 75.

Zuardi AW. Cannabidiol: from an inactive cannabinoid to a drug with wide spectrum of action. Rev Bras Psiquiatr. 2008;30(3):271– 80.

CBD oil and insomnia

Each night, millions of individuals in the United States have difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep. While for some this is a temporary problem, for others insomnia can become a chronic issue that detrimentally affects day-to-day life. An estimated 10% of American adults experience insomnia, which occurs at least three times per week.

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According to The 2018 National Sleep Foundation Sleep in America Poll, only 46% of those who identified as having poor sleep patterns felt that they were very effective in getting things done during the day, compared with 89% of those who identified their sleep patterns as excellent.

Restful, nourishing sleep is not only essential to getting things done and performing at one’s best, it also supports optimal functioning of the immune system, mood stability, improved energy and motivation levels, and enhanced overall well-being.

Unfortunately, the quest to achieve a good night’s sleep can lead to those with insomnia becoming addicted to sleeping pills, which comes with a range of potentially dangerous side effects such as dizziness, daytime drowsiness, and a higher risk of mortality.

Anecdotal reports indicate that CBD oil may help to induce somnolence or sleepiness, with no known adverse side effects. Photo by: Gina Coleman/Weedmaps

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Anecdotal reports indicate that CBD oil may help to induce sleepiness, with no known adverse side effects.

Research overview

There is conflicting evidence about the efficacy of CBD to support healthy sleep regulation. Some studies show that although CBD oil may help some individuals to fall asleep and stay asleep, it can cause wakefulness or disturbed sleep in others.

At present, there is also a lack of knowledge about the mechanisms by which CBD modulates sleep. It has been theorized that it may change dopamine levels, or exert effects over the body’s cannabinoid system, including the sleep-wake cycle.

The studies

Chronic insomnia is often closely linked to anxiety. Those who experience sleeplessness, or have trouble staying asleep, are often anxious about aspects of their waking life or anxious about their poor sleep patterns.

A 2019 retrospective case study in the Permanente Journal investigated the use of CBD for anxiety and sleep. Twenty-five of the 72 patients surveyed reported poor sleep as a primary concern, while 47 reported anxiety as a primary concern.

At the first monthly assessment following the beginning of CBD treatment (25-175 milligrams per day), 66% of patients experienced an improvement in sleep, while 25% experienced worse sleep. At the two-month mark, 56% reported an improvement in sleep compared with the previous month, while 26% reported worsening problems associated with their sleep. The patients demonstrated a more sustained response to CBD as a treatment for anxiety than sleep and experienced a more marked reduction in their anxiety than their insomnia.

The authors also noted that the CBD was well-accepted and well-tolerated by the patients in the study, with minimal side effects.

A 2006 study published in the journal of the Federation of European Biochemical Societies Letters, found that CBD increased wakefulness and decreased REM sleep in rats during their inactive cycle (when the lights were on). REM sleep refers to rapid eye movement, the phase of sleep in which dreaming occurs. No changes in sleep were observed during darkness, when rats are typically active. CBD appeared to increase activity in waking-related areas of the brain. The study also found that CBD induced an increase in dopamine release. Dopamine is one of several neurotransmitters involved in wakefulness.

One animal study suggests that despite CBD’s popularity to aid sleep, it may, in fact, promote wakefulness by decreasing REM sleep. Photo by: Gina Coleman/Weedmaps

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This animal study suggests that, despite CBD’s popularity to aid sleep, it may in fact promote wakefulness by decreasing REM sleep. However, for those individuals with a REM sleep disorder, this could be beneficial. In fact, a 2014 study in the Journal of Clinical Pharmacy and Therapeutics, researchers reported several case studies where Parkinson’s patients with REM behavior disorder experienced marked improvement when using CBD.

Similarly, patients with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) also often have sleep disturbances and nightmares, which occur during REM sleep. In a 2019 study in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, cannabidiol improved the sleep quality of 38% of the patients with PTSD, and reduced nightmares.

A 2018 randomized controlled trial with human participants published in Frontiers in Pharmacology investigated the effects of CBD on the sleep-wake cycle of normal, healthy volunteers. Twenty-seven research participants received either CBD or a placebo over two nights. The study found that CBD did not produce any significant effect, nor did it interfere with the normal sleep cycle of these healthy individuals.

Insomniacs who ingested daily doses of 40, 80, or 160 milligrams of CBD reported having a better night’s sleep and less dream recall than those who took a placebo. Photo by: Gina Coleman/Weedmaps

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Insomniacs who ingested daily doses of 40, 80, or 160 milligrams of CBD reported having a better night’s sleep and less dream recall than those who took a placebo. The authors of the study hypothesized the CBD may decrease REM sleep capacity, or decrease the frequency of periods of wakefulness during the night, which helps with remembering dreams.

Patient perspectives

For a long time, chronic insomnia severely affected Paul Miller’s waking life. “I had tried melatonin and various herbal teas, but nothing worked. I was stressed out and exhausted, and it was a vicious cycle. The more I couldn’t sleep, the more stressed I became about it.”

When a friend gave Miller a 500 milligram tincture of CBD oil to help with his sleeplessness, he initially set it aside.

“I knew nothing about it and was hesitant to even try it because I had no idea what the side effects might be,” Miller explained to Weedmaps News.

One restless night, however, Miller was so desperate for sleep he took the CBD oil down from the shelf and tried it.

Further research into appropriate dosages and more randomized clinical trials in the future may offer greater insights and understanding into the use of CBD as a sleep aid. Photo by: Gina Coleman/Weedmaps

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“It worked so well that I started researching more about it, and that’s what led me to starting our company, Lokus Nutrition, a CBD company. The reason we exist is because of my insomnia.”

Daniel Robbins turned to CBD as an alternative to other sleep medication. “I have a hard time falling asleep and used to take melatonin or Sleep Aid, but would have side effects like a racing heart, or waking up very groggy and unable to go back to sleep.”

He started experimenting with CBD gummies, taking 10-20 milligrams before sleep, with no other medication. “At first I noticed a feeling of relaxation and then I would begin to feel sleepy. “I fall asleep faster, with zero side effects. It has done wonders.”

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Robbins notes that the CBD also helps to manage his anxiety. “Additionally, I take it in the morning and feel calm when I start to have anxiety coming on as I often get very stressed and anxious.”

Bottom line

Studies show that CBD may support healthy sleep in some individuals, but it can potentially increase sleeplessness in others. Further research into appropriate dosages and more randomized clinical trials in the future may offer greater insights and understanding into the use of CBD as a sleep aid.

Can CBD Oil Help You Sleep Better?

Medical cannabis and its ability to reduce stress & anxiety

It’s no secret that insomnia is widespread, affecting an estimated 40 million Americans. Many of them continue to seek new ways to overcome the condition and enjoy a good night’s sleep again. The latest option is CBD oil, a chemical compound found in the cannabis plant. Many states have updated their laws to allow legal sales of medical cannabis to improve health.

For those who struggle with the fatigue, irritability and lethargy that comes with insomnia, CBD oil represents a new solution for a frustrating (and sometimes debilitating) condition. Though sleeping pills (both prescription and over the counter) are widely available, they have potentially negative side effects, from addiction to daytime drowsiness. For many people, the risks of sleeping pills outweigh the benefits and a non-narcotic option is an attractive alternative.

How does CBD oil for sleep work?

CBD oil itself does not cause sleepiness. Its claim to fame is its ability to reduce anxiety and create sense of calm. Those are important factors that help prepare your body for sleep.

“The root cause of insomnia is often stress and not a disease or genetic disorder,” says Mike Robinson, founder, Global Cannabinoid Research Center and in Santa Barbara, Calif. “For this reason, CBD is very useful to many people to combat sleeplessness by attacking what’s causing it – stress. Cannabidiol’s ability to reduce anxiety is well noted among multitudes of studies which is why many find they have a good night’s sleep when using it.”

On a biological level, CBD oil works to calm, reduce pain and inflammation by interacting with many different brain receptors, proteins and chemicals. Those biological interactions alter how neurotransmitters, hormones, and other cells throughout the brain and body behave.How do you use CBD oil for sleep?

There are three main ways CBD oil can be used to help you sleep better – orally, topical application or as an inhalant. Some people don’t mind the taste of the oil, which has been described as grassy, earthy and nutty. If that’s the case for you, put a few drops under your tongue to allow the compound to be absorbed by the capillaries in the mucous membranes before reaching the blood stream. The flavor can be masked in a glass of water or juice or a teaspoon of olive oil or butter. CBD-infused flavored edibles are also available.

If you’re using CBD oil to address aches and pain, then applying it in cream form may be your preferred choice. There are even products like CBD soap and shampoo if you prefer a relaxing shower or bath before sleep.

It can also be inhaled using a special vaporizer, but as this method allows the effects of the oil to be felt more quickly, it’s not suggested for new users.

For first-timers, the oral method is a convenient and effective option. As Robinson points out: “When using CBD oil for sleep, it’s best if smaller doses are taken twice. One right after dinner and the other approximately 45 minutes before bed. Splitting the CBD dose in half in that manner generally will allow the user to gain the most from that single cannabinoid. The cardinal rule when medicating or using cannabis and its extracts is a simple one: You can always add to a dose, but you can never take away.”

For dosage recommendations, talk to a healthcare provider or a dispensary professional.

What the future holds for medical CBD oil

With more resources and money being invested in cannabis research, researchers are finding that CBD can also help with the growth of new brain cells, thanks to its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. In the future, there’s potential for CBD to be used to tackle a number of conditions, such as depression, seizures and autoimmune diseases.

But we need to know more. “Studies that specifically looked at the effects of CBD on sleep in healthy patients are rare,” says Winston Peki, a cannabis and CBD expert, and founder of, a site that offers science-based research and reviews. He notes that most research to date, studied the effects of CBD on sleep either patients with pre-existing conditions like PTSD or Parkinson’s Disease, or looked at the effects of formulations with both CBD and THC.

True or false? Test your knowledge of CBD oil

There is plenty of information available about medical cannabis and CBD oil, but confusion persists among consumers. How well do you know the facts about CBD oil?

  • Using CBD oil will cause a psychoactive or mind-altering response. FALSE. CBD oil does not contain THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), the chemical compound that creates a “high.”
  • To use CBD, it’s not necessary to smoke it. TRUE. It comes in a number of forms, including sprays, tinctures, sprays or pills. Drops of the oil can be added to water and taken orally to take advantage of its sleep-friendly benefits.
  • CBD is effective for pain relief. TRUE. That property may help some people feel more comfortable and more able to fall asleep.
  • The effectiveness of CBD oil on sleep is well documented with a wealth of scientific data. FALSE. Studies on healthy patients have been scarce, but likely this will change given the changes in the law and wider availability.

To find out whether CBD oil is right for your sleep needs, consult your healthcare provider.

Rest well & wake up ready to go!

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