Cannabinol (CBN) is considered a minor cannabinoid because it exists in much smaller quantities than the two main cannabinoids THC and CBD. CBN is becoming extremely popular in the health and wellness space as a sleep support supplement that rivals CBD.
Since most of the research on cannabis compounds is heavily focused on CBD and THC, there are limited studies available on CBN's effects on pain perception, relaxation, and sleep—but we've put together this guide on summing up the promising benefits of CBN for sleep, and people are making the most of CBN oil for quality sleep.
What Is CBN Good For?
CBN is more abundant in mature cannabis plants as THC molecules begin to degrade from oxidation. Because it's a metabolite of THC, it has an affinity to bind to CB1 and CB2 receptors in the central nervous system and is suggested to have mildly intoxicating effects in extremely high doses .
Because you need such high doses to experience a high, most people don't reach for CBN oil for its psychotropic effects. Most people reach for CBN for its relaxation and reported sedative effects, and at lower doses, it doesn't seem to produce a high in most people.
Common Reasons For Sleep Deprivation
According to Johns Hopkins, roughly one-third of adults experience insomnia at any given time. We all know that sleep is important. When we don't get enough sleep, we deprive our bodies and minds of restorative processes that support optimum function.
Without adequate sleep, we put ourselves at risk not only for fatigue throughout the day but a host of other health concerns. We'll dive into some of the most prevalent reasons for sleep deprivation.
Stress & Feelings Of Anxiousness
It's normal to have trouble falling asleep when something troubling is on your mind. Prolonged feelings of anxiousness can make you lose track of a normal sleeping pattern for months or years, leading to a vicious cycle of poor stress levels and insomnia.
High levels of the stress hormone, cortisol make it difficult to calm anxious thoughts and get the shut-eye needed—but when we don't get enough sleep, we're more prone to stress.
CBN and CBD may be able to help with managing healthy stress levels by raising GABA levels in the brain, which is a neurotransmitter that counteracts the hyperactivity of cortisol .
Pain & Soreness
Pain is one of the top reasons people report not being able to get enough sleep.
If you're living with chronic pain or suffering from an injury, you might be able to eventually fall asleep. However, sudden movements may result in pain, stimulating the central nervous system, waking you up, and making it difficult to calm down to fall back asleep.
CBN, CBD, and THC have been observed to influence the endocannabinoid receptors that mitigate the perception of pain in mice . This study shows a lot of potential of THC and CBN for the treatment of neuropathic pain. While THC is already well established in this space, more pre-clinical and clinical trials are needed for a definitive answer to CBN's effects on pain.
Similar to CBD, CBN has been shown to have anti-inflammatory potential by stimulating specialized fatty acid release that inhibits the inflammatory response . Because pain is linked to inflammation, compounds that help to support a healthy inflammation response may offer relief from pain.
Some prescription medication can interfere with sleep. Common medications that are known to cause insomnia include serotonin re-uptake inhibitors (SSRI) prescribed for anxiety and stress and corticosteroids for pain.
Before reaching for CBD, CBN, or any other cannabis-based compound to support your health and wellness while on medication, it's important that you speak with your health care practitioner. They may prescribe lower doses of your medication or find alternatives to address your insomnia.
CBD And CBN: Which Is Best As A Sleep Aid?
CBD is a broad-acting cannabinoid that interacts with the ECS to keep endocannabinoid levels raised for better communication for some of our most vital systems, including regulating our sleep-wake cycle. CBN has been observed to interact with CB1 and CB2 receptors, similar to THC to have more targeted effects.
Most of the research investigating the health benefits of cannabinoids is focused on CBD and THC. It's important to keep in mind that the current research on CBN is preliminary. However, that hasn't stopped many people from reaching for CBN to support a healthy sleep cycle because of its relaxing properties, pain support, and ability to calm feelings of nervousness and anxiousness.
With CBN becoming more and more popular on the scene, some people report that CBN is much more effective as a sleep aid than CBD, but these reports are anecdotal, and we don't have enough evidence to support that CBN on its own is a sedative compound or improves sleep any better than CBD or any other cannabinoid.
These two cannabinoids share very similar properties that make them ideal for supporting people who have trouble getting to sleep, such as anti-inflammatory benefits, relaxation, and pain-relieving qualities.
Cannabinoids may affect individuals differently, so it's hard to come up with a blanket statement for which cannabinoids will be better for sleep.
The Myth Of CBN Isolate's Sedative Effects
If you're only getting to know CBN, you might have come across CBN products marketed as a sedative compound made with isolate CBN. However, there's no scientific research that supports CBN alone to lend any sedative qualities.
According to prominent cannabis researcher, Ethan Russo, CBN may have sedative effects when combined with THC and terpenes .
For this reason, our product formulators at Neurogan offer CBN products in full spectrum and THC-free broad spectrum to increase its overall support for relaxation, leveraging the entourage effect.
How To Use CBN Oil For Sleep
Many people swear by CBN for sleep. While more research is needed to back these claims, we're going to offer some suggestions for making the most of your CBN oil or gummies for improving your sleep quality.
CBN Dose For Sleep
The appropriate dose for CBN for sleep will be different for everyone—just like CBD, CBN may affect everyone differently because of its interaction with the endocannabinoid system. Since there are not many studies on CBN specifically, most indications recommend following the same doses for CBD.
While CBN is found to be safe to use, when introducing a new compound to your body, start on the lower end to avoid side effects. Start around doses of 25 mg – 50 mg, and expect to experiment with your doses until you experience the ideal effects of CBN.
Timing Your Dose
Ideally, you would test out your CBN oil on an evening when you don't have commitments early the next morning, just to stay on the safe side.
Like with CBD, you should take your CBN oil about an hour before your target bedtime, to let the effects of CBN, other cannabinoids, and terpenes take their effects in your system.
Take your CBN oil underneath your tongue and hold it there for 15–20 seconds to allow it to absorb through the network of microcapillaries, which will give you a much higher absorption rate than swallowing it straight.
Take Your CBN Product Consistently
If you're not feeling the effects of CBN right away, you may need to give your body more time to adjust to the new levels of cannabinoids.
Keep your CBN oil in sight either by your bedside or on your counter as part of your wind-down routine, and set an alarm if you need to so that you remember to take it around the same time each evening. It can take up to three weeks for your body to adjust to CBN and reap the benefits, so keep consistent.
Melatonin And Cannabinoids
Melatonin is one of the most-hyped sleep supplements out there, and when combined with CBN it may offer an even better sleep-inducing effect.
Our bodies secrete melatonin naturally as part of our sleep-wake cycle to prepare the body for rest. Sometimes too much exposure to screens, jet lag, or shift-work schedule can throw off our melatonin production, which is why oral supplementing melatonin can help the body readjust to an appropriate sleep routine.
Cannabinoids are generally safe to combine with melatonin. A popular combination for sleep support is CBD and melatonin. There aren't any studies specifically on CBN and melatonin together, but you should be safe to combine them as long as you stay on the lower end of doses 1–5 mg of melatonin and 20–50 mg of CBN.
If you're on any other medication or are diagnosed with a sleep disorder, please consult with your doctor before reaching for cannabis products or melatonin supplements.
How To Choose The Best CBN Product For Sleep
Hemp-derived cannabinoids are a new industry only having been legalized in 2018 with the Farm Bill.
As you can expect, marketing regulations are slow to adapt, and there's a lot of myth and scam products on the market that over-promise the benefits of CBN and other cannabinoids, but underdeliver.
If you're looking to try CBN to support a healthy and regular sleep cycle, we're here with some tips on selecting a quality product.
1. Full Spectrum CBN
You should look to leverage the whole-plant benefits with full spectrum or broad spectrum CBN products.
CBN is one of over a hundred cannabinoids found in hemp—and there's no evidence to show that CBN isolate products provide any support towards sleep any better than CBD. However, CBN may offer sleep benefits when combined with THC and other terpenes.
Full spectrum CBN contains a range of cannabinoids and terpenes, including trace amounts of THC (0.3%) that help to compound the effects of cannabinoids in a phenomenon called the entourage effect.
If you can't have THC in your CBN oil or gummies for whatever reason, broad spectrum extracts are your next best option. These extracts still contain a variety of cannabinoids and terpenes but have all traces of THC removed.
2. Hemp Source & Testings
Like with CBD products, quality CBN extracts start at the source.
CBN is found in much higher concentrations in mature cannabis plants. Hemp sourcing matters, so many sure the brand discloses its hemp information and lab testing from an accredited third-party lab to show the product's cannabinoid profile, potency, and contamination report.
Most research on CBN and its potential effects on supporting a healthy sleep cycle uses high doses of CBN—upwards of 50 mg.
That being said, cannabinoids affect everyone differently and you should always start on the lower end of dosing and work your way up until your body adjusts to it. You want a product with a high enough potency, but that you can still dial in slowly with oils or gummies that you can cut in half.
The Takeaway: CBN (Cannabinol) For Sleep
CBN shows a lot of potential towards relaxation and a better night's rest, which makes sense given that CBD and CBN share a lot in common.
The biggest difference between the compounds is that CBN is a CB1 receptor agonist, offering a unique effect profile. However, there's still a lot we don't know about the effects of CBN on sleep quality because of the lack of research. Still, many people find a lot of success with CBN oil and gummies for easing feelings of anxiety, allowing them to feel sleepy at an appropriate time.
When it comes to using hemp to support health and wellness, our philosophy lies in quality hemp plants and leveraging whole-plant synergy for the most potent and balanced effects.
You won't find isolate products on our website simply because there's not enough evidence to show that CBN, CBD, or any other compound is more effective on its own.
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