A common question surrounding CBD use is, "does CBD oil make you tired?"
For a clear understanding of the answer to whether or not CBD can make you sleepy, it's important first to understand how CBD works. Cannabidiol (CBD) is one of the many naturally occurring compounds harvested in cannabis plants proven to exert a long list of health benefits, including a good night's sleep without concerning side effects.
In this article, we'll cover the different mechanisms through which CBD interacts with the body to produce its effects, why CBD may make you drowsy or sleepy, and how to use it for better sleep.
What Exactly Is CBD?
CBD belongs to a class of plant-compounds called cannabinoids produced in both hemp and marijuana plants.
Cannabinoids like CBD and THC are found in crystal-like resin trichomes filled with terpenes, fatty acids, wax, and other cannabinoids concentrated on the buds of the cannabis plant.
These compounds interact with a system, aptly named after the plant that led to its discovery, the endocannabinoid system (ECS). The ECS is responsible for maintaining homeostasis, a fancy word for "balance" in the body.
The receptors and messenger molecules, known as cannabinoids, act as modulator for systems regulating vital functions, including: mood, metabolism, stress response, and sleep.
Is CBD Psychoactive?
Unlike its cannabinoid counterpart, THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), CBD is not an intoxicant.
While the two molecules have very similar structures, the THC molecule is better suited to bind to the CB1 receptors in the ECS, concentrated in the central nervous system. One of the many roles of CB1 receptors is in regulating the brain's pleasure-reward circuit. When activated, the CB1 signals dopamine and serotonin release, which produces a high feeling .
CBD, on the other hand, doesn't readily bind to this receptor. Instead, it inhibits the breakdown of two internally produced cannabinoids (endocannabinoids), anandamide and 2-AG. Anandamide looks very similar structurally to THC's molecular structure, and its name "ananda" is rooted in the Sanskrit word for "bliss".
Rather than pushing on the same receptor activation as the bliss molecule and THC, CBD may help in producing a feel-good response by improving the levels of internal cannabinoids in the body and improving the receptors' ability to bind.
While full spectrum or "whole cannabis plant extract" derived from hemp contains trace amounts of THC (up to 0.3%), it's an amount so small it's highly unlikely to result in a high, but can have subtle benefits for improving the overall actions of CBD.
Does CBD Oil Make You Sleepy?
CBD may produce a sense of contentment by slowing the breakdown of anandamide, which may help you feel more relaxed, leading to better sleep. However, this unique interaction simply isn't enough to produce sedative effects.
Some users report, "CBD makes me sleepy" and reach for CBD oil as a natural sleep aid. Simultaneously, many other users turn to CBD to help them feel more alert and clear-headed. So, does CBD make you sleepy or awake?
Researchers are still looking to understand CBD's effects and pharmacological pathways fully, but it's believed that CBD's interaction in the endocannabinoid system helps to regulate the sleep-wake cycle through its relaxation effect.
Some factors that may influence how taking CBD makes you feel may include:
- Type of CBD oil you're taking
How Dosage Affects Your CBD Effects
Figuring out your ideal dosage can be tricky as people respond to CBD differently.
If you're planning on taking CBD and have an underlying health condition, we recommend speaking with your health care practitioner so that they can provide you with better guidance given your condition, medical history, and medication you may be taking.
For those using CBD products recreationally, dosing can be a perplexing field to navigate, and the only way through it is with some experimentation. If you're new to CBD, always start with lighter doses (as recommended on the label) and gradually build your way over the course of a week until you reach your desired effects. If you jump the gun too quickly with large doses, ingesting CBD products can make you feel slight discomfort.
It may be helpful to record your doses and the effects in a journal or an app on your phone so that you can keep track of the effectiveness of your CBD use.
How Does CBD Make You Sleepy?
How much CBD you take can affect how CBD oil makes you feel.
At high doses, CBD may increase Gamma-Aminobutyric Acid (GABA) activity in the brain.
GABA is a neurotransmitter best known as the break-pedal to the stress response in an overly stimulated central nervous system. GABA in the brain pumps the break on the fight-or-flight response, helping to induce calmness and relaxation that can help you fall asleep [ 2].
For those looking to gain CBD benefits for sleep support, it's recommended you take higher doses of CBD as you're winding down for bed. Full spectrum CBD, containing a natural range of cannabinoids (alongside THC and CBD) found in the hemp plant is also known to have stronger effects over CBD isolate.
You can also incorporate other sleep hygiene practices to improve your sleep quality, including:
- Avoiding screen time in the evenings
- Avoid caffeine in the afternoon
- Getting regular exercise in the day, but avoid heavy exercise before bed
- Set a regular sleep and wake time
- Set your room temperature to a cooler temperature
How Does CBD Make You More Alert?
CBD at low to medium doses has been shown to support mental alertness. You'll find some brands on the market, combining CBD with caffeine for a more balanced, less jittery caffeine buzz.
CBD may have effects on a key neurotransmitter that makes us feel tired, adenosine. Adenosine levels in the brain increase as the day ends, so we begin to feel tired and ready for sleep. Caffeine also works on adenosine. When you drink coffee, you block adenosine from connecting to receptors that signal that we're tired . Rather than blocking adenosine receptors, CBD's interaction through this pathway is a bit more complex. Some studies suggest that CBD helps to improve the efficiency of adenosine receptors .
Another pathway through which CBD may help you feel more alert is through the 5-HT1A serotonin receptor. CBD is suggested to enhance this receptor site's activation, which is responsible for elevating mood and improving our focus .
CBD May Support Better Sleep Quality
CBD itself does not have a direct sedative effect. For many people, falling asleep isn't the issue, but staying asleep to get deep restorative sleep is.
REM (Rapid Eye Movement) is a cycle of sleep that occurs about 90 minutes after falling asleep. It's called REM because our eyes move quickly behind the eyelids, and our brains are the most active, undergoing renewal.
As CBD may help slow down the stress response, you're not as likely to be disturbed from sleep, allowing you to get into the deeper, more restorative sleep phase so that you wake up feeling well-rested and energized in the morning.
How To Choose CBD Oil For Sleep
All CBD oil will be labeled with a concentration of CBD in MG on the package.
To get the most benefits for sleep support, you may want to consider a high potency of CBD oil so that you can achieve higher doses in smaller amounts of oil. This will be the most cost-effective option over time.
CBD has a broad range of health benefits, mainly because it supports the balance of so many of our vital systems. To steer the benefits of CBD for more targeted use, some brands will include natural ingredients to work alongside CBD.
For sleep support, you may explore outside of CBD oil and try a CBD tea with chamomile or CBD Gummies with melatonin. These ingredients contain compounds that work on similar pathways to help reduce stress and improve sleep quality.
The Side-Effects Of CBD
Countless studies explore the safety of CBD and found that CBD is a safe compound that's well-tolerated in humans, even in high doses over a long time .
However, that's not to say that CBD is without side-effects. Thankfully, the adverse effects of CBD are short-term, only lasting for as long as the compound remains active in your system ( 3–5 hours). Some of the short term side-effects of CBD include:
- Changes in appetite
Most of these side-effects arise when you've taken too much CBD. If you find that CBD makes you drowsy and you don't want this effect, you may need to adjust your CBD dose.
The Takeaway: Can CBD Help You Sleep?
For some, CBD can make them feel tired or drowsy. For others, CBD is their go-to supplement to support their focus and alertness. The point is that CBD's diverse effects may produce different results for individuals.
If you're looking to use CBD to support your sleep, you should take larger doses as CBD has been shown to provide calming and relaxing benefits in higher quantities. This may be enough to help you fall asleep and stay asleep through the night.
Before trying CBD for any underlying condition, always consult with your doctor to reduce the chances of side-effects and medication interactions.
The statements made regarding these products have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. All information presented here is not meant as a substitute for or alternative to information from health care practitioners. Please consult your health care professional about potential interactions or other possible complications before using any product.