CBN – Trendy new cannabinoid for restful sleep

Insomnia and other sleep disorders are extremely common, affecting millions of people worldwide. Pharmaceutical medications for sleep often come with side effects and can lead to dependence. This has many people looking for natural alternatives like cannabis. While CBD has skyrocketed in popularity for its therapeutic effects, another lesser-known cannabinoid called CBN is now emerging as a potential sleep aid.

CBN stands for cannabinol. It is produced when THC, the psychoactive component of cannabis, gets exposed to heat or ultraviolet light through a process called THC degradation. Fresh cannabis plants have very little to no CBN, but as the plant ages, THC slowly converts into CBN. Hemp flowers with higher CBN often have a characteristic stale, somewhat sedative aroma. Like CBD, CBN will not get you high since it does not bind directly to CB1 receptors in the brain. However, early research indicates CBN may offer a variety of therapeutic benefits, including as a sleep aid.

How does CBN promote sleep?

The exact mechanisms behind CBN’s potential sleep-enhancing effects are still being studied. However, current research suggests CBN may promote restful sleep in several ways.

  1. Activates CB1 and CB2 receptors – While it does not directly bind with CB1 receptors as THC does, studies show CBN indirectly activates both CB1 and CB2 receptors in the endocannabinoid system. The activation of these receptors may promote sleepiness.
  2. Raises levels of sleep-promoting chemicals – Experiments have found that CBN increases levels of chemicals in the brain that promote sleep, including GABA. It also elevates levels of the sleep-regulating hormone melatonin.
  3. Reduces inflammation – Chronic inflammation can interfere with sleep and is linked to conditions like insomnia. As an anti-inflammatory cannabinoid, CBN helps reduce inflammation, lowering nighttime discomfort that disrupts sleep.
  4. Contains relaxing terpenes – Hemp flowers high in CBN often contain terpenes like myrcene, linalool, and limonene. These terpenes complement CBN’s natural sedative effects with their relaxing, anti-anxiety benefits.

Current research on CBN for sleep

The most robust scientific study on cbn for sleep examined its effects in combination with CBD. In the randomized placebo-controlled trial published in The Permanente Journal, the CBN+CBD combination significantly improved sleep in 70% of participants after just two days, increasing sleep time and enhancing sleep quality compared to placebo. The next study found that 25mg of pure CBN reduced the time it took to fall asleep in rats. Other lab animal studies also report CBN extending total sleep time.

Ongoing CBN research aims to better understand the dosage, timing, and forms required for improving human sleep. Several smaller human trials indicate positive effects as well. One found that capsules with 2.5-10mg CBN reduced difficulty falling asleep and nighttime awakenings. Subjects also reported feeling more refreshed after taking CBN. Larger-scale clinical trials are still needed though for conclusive evidence. Insomnia and poor sleep plague a staggering number of people, negatively impacting health, productivity, and quality of life. The need for improved natural sleep solutions has put the spotlight on CBN as a promising cannabinoid.