There’s a new sheriff in town, and he goes by “CBN”.
Unpopular opinion here but: sleep kinda sucks. I mean I love curling up in my bed and getting a good night’s sleep, but I find myself stuck on these erratic sleep cycles that prevent me from getting consistent, quality sleep. For something as primal to humans as sleep, it kinda blows my mind how difficult it can be sometimes. And I know I’m not alone here, because I literally looked it up and the CDC says that one in three Americans regularly doesn’t get enough sleep on a regular basis. (Seems a bit low to me, but that’s probably because I’m in the unfortunate one third.)
Okay, so say you’re one of the unlucky ones like me; what solutions are there for getting better sleep? Lifestyle changes (no phone in bed and maintaining a circydithm rhythm), diet changes (no eating or consuming caffeine too late at night), vitamins (magnesium and melatonin), medication (from weed to ZzzQuil to trazadone), etc. The list goes on, and I can assure you that I’ve tried a lot of things on the list. But over the past couple of months, CBN has secured its spot at the top of my list, for several reasons. We’re here today to talk about why. But first:
WTF is CBN?
Table of Contents
What is CBN?
For now, I’ll assume that everyone reading this has at least heard of THC and CBD. These are two types of “cannabinoids,” which are compounds found in the cannabis plant. Well another, lesser-known cannabinoid is called CBN (short for Cannabinol), which is really only found in very small quantities. In practice, CBN is actually what results from your body metabolizing THC. It has this wonderful ability to put the body in a relaxed, drowsy state.
But wait: if cannabis doesn’t contain that much CBN in it, and to even get that CBN, your body needs to metabolize THC first, then how is this stuff even commercially available?
Well recently, CBN manufacturers have become far more skilled at actually producing it by exposing THC to extreme amounts of heat and light, which breaks it down and leaves them with… CBN! 🎉 This means we’re actually now able to benefit from CBN’s sleep benefits, without ever having to consume THC. More on that in a bit.
CBN vs CBD vs THC
Alright quick science lesson, so take notes and then we’ll move onto the interesting stuff.
There are actually over 150 different cannabinoids out there, each affecting the body in different ways. Undoubtedly the most recognizable cannabinoid out there is THC, primarily because of its controversial legal history and strong psychoactive effects on the brain. But as legal restrictions have loosened in recent years, other cannabinoids like CBD and CBN have found mainstream acceptance and use.
CBD (aka Cannabidiol) doesn’t cause a “high” or euphoric effect (which many people, myself included, don’t care for). But it does still have many medical benefits, which makes it an excellent option for treating ailments like epilepsy, inflammation, anxiety, and depression.
CBD is the most abundant cannabinoid, while CBN is generally considered a minor one. It shares some similarities with CBD, but one primary difference is that it’s formed through oxidation.
Another very important thing to note here is that CBN does not produce the same psychotropic effects as THC (like getting the munchies or feeling a deeply emotional connection with space). Remember that since scientists have figured out how to skip the whole “metabolizing THC” step from the equation, we’re basically skipping straight to the CBN, without feeling the psychoactive effects that traditionally accompany cannabis consumption.
What does CBN do?
CBN is proven to help you fall asleep. Unlike OTC medication and prescriptions, CBN offers a natural alternative that – for around 80% of people – actually works. In fact, there’ve been records of folks who’d been using Ambien for decades before finding that CBN was effective enough to replace it. Sure, they’re just anecdotal, but for a sleep aid that’s non-addictive and affordable, this is super promising.
The Vail Integrative Medical Group recently came out with an interesting trial that highlights some of the positive effects of CBN. Over the course of seven days, participants consumed CBN and examined its effect on their sleep performance. After the trial was complete, over 80% of them reported that it improved their sleep significantly enough to want to continue using it. These results, combined with the overwhelmingly positive customer reviews for CBN, are very promising signs that CBN is an effective, reliable, and natural alternative to traditional sleep aids.
Let’s start off by looking at some of the best CBN products on the market, and then we can move on to the science + studies before you decide on which to try first.
Best CBN Products: Gummies, Oil Tinctures, and more
Since CBN is still relatively new to the broader market, it’s not likely that you’ll find it at a physical store any time soon. Our team, friends, and family have tried CBN sleep aids from two of the more popular brands, though, and have seen stellar results from both: SlumberCBN and Sunday Scaries.
Best CBN Sleep Gummies / Edibles
Price: $48 (or $41 with code zenmaster)
Quantity: 30x 15mg gummies
CBN content: 450mg
How many days’ worth? 30-60 days supply
CBN gummies are hemp extracts that are high in CBN combined with chewy candy. This makes gummies the best option for people who don’t like the taste of cannabis, but want help sleeping – provided that you find a brand that does things right.
Traditionally, raw hemp extracts can be pretty difficult to use because they naturally taste pretty bitter and are sticky. They’re also inherently very concentrated, which can make them difficult to dose.
Slumber Sleep Aid (SlumberCBN.com) has done an amazing job not only of making their gummies tasty, but their quality assurance standards and transparency also result in accurately dosed products.
Need even more of a kick to help you sleep? Using a CBN product that also contains melatonin gives you the best of both worlds! Benefit from CBN’s effects of relaxing your mind/body and lulling you into sleep, while also taking advantage of melatonin’s abilities to help you stay asleep.
Similar to other gummies, it’s best to take a gummy about 30 mins before bed. Whereas the CBN gummies we mentioned before have 15mg of CBN in each bite, these ones by Slumber Sleep Aid have 13mg CBN and 2mg of melatonin. Other than that, it’s pretty much the identical product (and price).
Best CBD + CBN blend
Quantity: 1 fl oz bottle
CBN content: 250mg CBN + 750mg CBD
How many days’ worth? 25-50 days supply
This is actually the product that introduced me to CBN. Before that, I’d only tried (and been disappointed by) pure CBD products. But when my friend Hailey gave me a bottle of this to try out, there was no turning back. Fair warning that Hailey is the Creative Director at Sunday Scaries, but I genuinely love this product and she doesn’t know I’m posting this. 🙂
A full spectrum tincture like Big Spoon contains a concentrated dose of CBN and CBD. In this case, it’s at a healthy 1:3 ratio. One dropper has always been great for me.
Big Spoon also has other good stuff that promotes sleep, like 5-HTP, chamomile, GABA, and Lemon Balm. Supposedly, when all this stuff combines with the terpenes, which results in an “entourage effect.” This is what happens when a select variety of ingredients work together perfectly together and create a superior outcome.
Many people report that when combined with CBD, CBN can provide help with pain management, help people relax, and of course, assist with sleep. As Dr. Michael J. Breus, PhD, DABSM states:
Best CBN Oil (aka Tincture)
Price: $48 (or $41 with code zenmaster)
Quantity: 1 fl oz bottle
CBN content: 300mg
How many days’ worth? 30-60 days supply
My personal favorite, CBN tincture oils get straight to the point and offer hemp-based oils in a simple dropper bottle (called a tincture). Just take a half or full dropper about 30 minutes before bed, let it sit under your tongue for like 10 seconds for maximum absorption, and you’re off to the races. Err, I guess that opposite of that.
Anyway, the stuff works, it’s easy to use, and it’s SlumberCBN’s has been our favorite. It also tastes really pleasant at nighttime.
Best CBN Capsules / Pills
Price: $28 (or $24 with code zenmaster)
Quantity: 30x 5mg capsules
CBN content: 150mg
How many days’ worth? 15-30 days supply
Just like swallowing any other pill. They’re pretty small and easy-to-swallow. You might not get the same enjoyment that you would from eating a gummy, but capsules are simple and (generally) a bit cheaper than other forms.
Interestingly, taking CBN in capsule form is often preferred by people who’ve been taking medication or prescription sleep aids for years, since it satisfies the same “swallow a pill and go to sleep” thought process.
🤓 The Research: Do the studies say CBN is helpful for sleep?
While I can sit here and talk about how effective CBN has been for improving my sleep, I’m also just one guy. And a skeptic, at that. So let’s dig into the research a bit and understand what’s going on inside the body when we eat those sleep gummies.
How does CBN work?
CBD and CBN affect the body in different ways. Let’s start with CBD, since most people are at least familiar with it.
CBD binds with the CB1 endocannabinoid receptors, which are typically found in the central nervous system. THC also acts on the CB1 receptor, but at much higher strengths – strengths high enough, in fact, to give off that “high” and altered state of consciousness. But since CBD doesn’t act on that CB1 receptor quite as much, its effects don’t extend much further than helping people feel calm and sedated, in the majority of cases.
CBN also affects the CB1 and CB2 receptors, but here’s the kicker: CBD is much more readily absorbed by those receptors than CBN. So when you take both together, there can sometimes be a “race” for the receptors’ attention. Something to keep in mind when you’re deciding between getting a CBN isolate or a CBD+CBN hybrid.
Anyway. There are several studies and accounts of the positive benefits of cannabis. The plant is known to help with pain and mental health, alongside sleep.
THC is different from CBD and CBN because it’s psychoactive. In other words, THC alters changes in moods and perceptions. CBN and CBD don’t produce similar extreme effects. In fact, both substances typically contain less than about 0.2% THC. So no, they won’t get you high.
Alrighty, more evidence that CBN helps with sleep:
We know that the effects of CBN occur because of how it reacts with the endocannabinoid system or ECS. The ECS is a complex cell-signalling system that was discovered in the 1990s by THC researchers. A lot more work needs to be done before we fully understand the ECS, but today’s research suggests it plays a role in regulating appetite, mood, memory, fertility, and, of course, sleep. Additionally, it occurs naturally in the body without using cannabis.
Endocannabinoid receptors are located all throughout the human body. Endocannabinoids (like CBN) bind to these receptors to tell the ECS to take action. The two primary endocannabinoid receptors are:
- CB1 receptors: These are typically found in the central nervous system.
- CB2 receptors: These are typically found in the peripheral nervous system.
When CBN interacts with CB1 and CB2, the receptors cause a powerful sedative effect. It’s this effect that makes CBN effective as a sleeping aid.
While there is no conclusive evidence to suggest that CBN directly causes sleep on its own, the studies do say that it promotes sleep indirectly by reducing psychological arousal at bedtime. For anyone who has issues putting their phone down in bed, this should sound familiar. Psychological arousal can be caused by, for example, pain, anxiety, and sources of stress.
There are two strong pieces of evidence to bolster the suitability of CBN for promoting sleep. They’re both published on Pubmed, and I’d encourage anyone who’s interested in digging deeper into the science to check them out.
- CBN acts like an anti-inflammatory, which means that it can reduce pain and psychological arousal in some subjects.
- CBN has been shown to reduce sensitivity to mechanical stimulation.
Of course, reducing psychological arousal can be achieved in several ways that don’t require medicine or alternative medicine. Meditation and other types of winding down will work for some people. Additionally, this is one of the reasons that sleep experts recommend not using screens too close to bedtime.
FAQs on CBN
Is CBN legal?
Yes: hemp-based CBN has been fully legal in all 50 states since the 2018 Farm Bill was passed, enabling scientific and medical research to be conducted on hemp.
Can you bring CBN on a plane?
Domestically, yes: the TSA states that you can fly with hemp-based products as long as they contain <0.3% THC. Just make sure that any liquids are still under 3 ounces.
Will CBN show up on a drug test?
Short answer: you never know.
The reality is that drug testing is not always a black/white thing, because there’s a huge variance in which compounds a certain test is looking for. So if you ever hear a hemp-based company dishing out medical advice or assuring you that their product for sure won’t show up on a drug test: turn and run.
The most reputable companies (like the two that we’ll highlight later in this post) hold product quality and the accuracy of lab results to the highest regard. But even though this guarantees 100% legality of the product and tests for a 0.00% THC final product, there’s just no way for them to guarantee that the drug tester is cool with hemp-based products. So the best rule of thumb is always to just consult your employer and ask if hemp-based products are acceptable, given that they contain 0.00% THC. It’s easy, and the best hemp companies will publish all their Certificates of Authenticity online for maximum transparency.
Are there any CBN side effects?
Well obviously, they make you tired, so don’t take them before driving or anything. Generally, follow all the same precautions that you would with traditional sleep aids. Oh and if you prefer eating sleep gummies, make sure to eat them before brushing your teeth. 🙂
What’s the best way to take CBN for sleep?
There are a few common ways of taking CBN, and no one is really the “best” method. You’ll very often see it sold as gummies, oils (aka tinctures), mixed as a hybrid with CBD, and also sometimes used in combination with melatonin. I’ve seen that you can also vape it, but that’s the one method that I haven’t personally tried.
CBN Dose for Sleep: How many mg CBN do you need for better sleep?
Let me get the most exciting part out of the way first. Contrary to most other sleep aids out there, your body doesn’t really build up a notable tolerance to CBN. So if you find 5mg to be an effective dose for you, you very well might expect that same 5mg dose to work effectively for you for a long time to come.
Finding the correct dosage of CBN that helps you sleep can take a bit of experimentation. But since there’s not really all that wide of a margin, you should have it locked within a couple of days. Just keep in mind that several factors, like height, weight, and genetics will affect dosage.
The best advice out there suggests that users should begin with a low dose (around 5mg) and cycle up to higher amounts as required (around 10mg). Don’t think that just because you smoke a lot of weed, currently have a high tolerance for Zzzquil or prescription medications, or are heavyset, that you’ll be better off starting at a higher dose of CBN. Because you’d be wrong. At the very least, you’ll establish your starting point more accurately and not waste all that precious CBN you bought.
For example, if you take CBN oil from a dropper, 5mg is usually enough to achieve a good effect. A 10mg dose can knock you right out. But again, this will vary from person to person.
CBN for Sleep Reviews: What do people on Reddit and elsewhere say?
CBN is a relatively new product within the already early-stage cannabis industry. So unsurprisingly, we probably won’t be seeing a ton of clinical trials digging into the effectiveness of CBN for sleep anytime soon. BUT among folks who have taken the plunge and tried CBN out for sleep (or those who were just desperate for a better sleep aid), the feedback is pretty stellar.
Take a look at some standouts I found by digging through Reddit, Trustpilot, etc.
Contrary to the above review, my personal experience is that CBN helps me fall asleep, but doesn’t eliminate those times when I wake up in the middle of the night (or earlier than anticipated). For folks like me, it’s great to take CBN in combination with melatonin.
The Bottom Line: Does CBN work for sleep?
While more research is needed before saying outright that CBN for sleep works, there are encouraging signs. Just ask the large, growing online community of who swear by it – myself included.
Losing sleep sucks. Using crutches like alcohol, Zzzquil, sleeping pills, and even anxiety medications like Xanax or Diazepam is not a healthy, long-term solution. Not to mention that many of these bandaids are habit-forming and come with nasty side effects.
CBN is a natural alternative to other sleep aids that (for around 80% of people) actually works, and works very well. It’s not habit-forming, and you won’t get high from it. If you’ve found yourself dependant on taking Ambien or Zzzquil just to get a decent night’s sleep, consider giving CBN a shot.
Research and anecdotal evidence suggest that cannabis can help assist sleep. For anyone who wants the sleep benefits of cannabis (but not the high), CBN just might be the solution you’ve been looking for. And realistically, the cost of entry is low enough that it’s worth a shot.