Consider this your go-to guide on CBD for sleep, including the potential benefits of CBD as a sleep aid, how CBD works for insomnia and other sleep disorders, and more. Plus, a handful of CBD products to consider trying to score better shut-eye. They say cannabis helps with sleep, but what if you'd rather not get high? Learn more about the differences between THC and CBD for sleep, with expert weigh-in on strains to try out. Can CBD oil cause insomnia by keeping you awake all night? Does CBD act as a stimulant that negatively affects your sleep?
Why You Might Want to Use CBD for Sleep — and How to Do Just That
Consider this your go-to guide on all things CBD for sleep, including exactly how the compound can help you fall asleep and stay asleep, according to experts.
Dominique Michelle Astorino is a contributing writer who has been reporting on health, wellness, and more for Shape since 2018. Based in La Jolla, California, she’s a certified health and nutrition coach with Precision Nutrition and covers a range of topics, from mental health and cannabis, to medical topics and women’s health, to astrology, product reviews, and fitness. Dominique was formerly a fitness editor and on-camera host for POPSUGAR before founding her content creation and journalism business, Dominique Media. When she’s not writing for Shape, she’s either at Pilates, with her dog Stella at the beach, experimenting with skin-care products, or planning her next travel adventure.
Trouble catching some zzz’s? Maybe your sleep hasn’t been great lately? Either way, it’s time to do something about it.
“Sleep quantity is as important as sleep quality,” says Alex Dimitriu, M.D., double board-certified psychiatrist and sleep medicine physician and founder of Menlo Park Psychiatry & Sleep Medicine. And while many substances (looking at you, wine) might help you feel sleepy, they can actually reduce your deep and REM sleep — two stages of sleep that are particularly beneficial to your brain and body’s overall wellbeing.
But that doesn’t seem to be the case with CBD. “Some recent research has suggested that CBD may be beneficial to sleep, without negatively impacting sleep architecture [aka what determines the quality and restorative ability of sleep],” according to Dr. Dimitriu.
So should you try using CBD to catch a few more winks? Perhaps. Ahead, experts weigh in on the potential pros of using CBD for sleep, explain the available research, and more.
First, What Is CBD?
By now, you’ve likely heard plenty about CBD, but let’s review what it is so you can understand how it works. Ready? Let’s go.
CBD comes from the cannabis plant (aka hemp or marijuana), which is chock-full of compounds called phytocannabinoids, such as tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), cannabinol (CBN), and — the star of this article — cannabidiol (CBD). While THC is known as the stuff that gets you high, “CBD is generally a non-intoxicating cannabinoid,” says Smita Patel, M.D., a triple board-certified physician in neurology, sleep medicine, and integrative medicine and founder of iNeuro Institute. (
CBD is “believed to produce beneficial effects such as anti-inflammatory, analgesic, anxiolytic [anti-anxiety], anti-nausea, and anti-epileptic effects, without causing the psychoactive or ‘high’ effects seen with THC,” she explains. “In fact, CBD counteracts the psychoactive effect of THC by reducing anxiety and other negative effects of THC.”
So, How Can CBD Be Beneficial for Sleep — If At All?
As with so many components of marijuana, there is a rather limited amount of scientific evidence on CBD for sleep. That being said, current research suggests that CBD may help with those zzz’s due largely thanks to its ability to reduce anxiety and pain. The logic is somewhat simple: The calmer you are and the more comfortable you feel as you hit the hay, the more likely you are to drift off to dreamland successfully.
“Because of the way CBD interacts with the endocannabinoid system [a part of the nervous system that’s designed to receive cannibinoids], it can help calm down the brain and body, making sleep more refreshing [as well],” says Melanie Bone, M.D., physician and cannabis specialist. “CBD interacts with receptors in the central nervous system (brain) as well as in other parts of the body. Biochemical reactions take place that increase certain neurotransmitters in the brain that encourage relaxation and sleep. This is a bit simplified, but it’s the essence of how it works.”
Similarly, CBD has also been shown to help with insomnia, which typically involves chronic difficulty falling asleep, staying asleep, or both. Because of their history of poor sleep, folks with insomnia might suffer from sleep anxiety, which can, in turn, increase their nighttime sleeplessness. CBD, however, might be able to help patients conquer this vicious cycle, thanks to its ability to reduce anxiety, according to the Sleep Foundation. As for research on the topic? A study looking at the use of CBD and THC in humans clinically diagnosed with insomnia is underway. (See more: Could Sleep Anxiety Be to Blame for Your Tiredness?)
The compound might also have the power to help manage REM sleep behavior disorder (RBD), a condition in which a sleeping person physically acts out and vocalizes their dreams, often with sudden, potentially violent arm and leg movements, according to the Mayo Clinic. For example, a 2014 study found that CBD (75 to 300mg per day for six weeks) reduced the frequency and symptoms of RBD. But (!!) it only involved four patients.
All that being said, “some patients find that taking an evening dose of CBD makes them feel awake, but when they lie down and close their eyes, they sleep deeper and longer than they do without the CBD,” says Dr. Patel. “Other patients simply report that their CBD use in the morning or early afternoon helps them to relax and sleep more at night. CBD may disturb sleep in a small number of people when it’s taken in the evening before bed.”
Some good news? CBD probably isn’t bad for your sleep cycle. Meaning, unlike wine, it likely won’t change your sleep architecture (reminder: this is what determines the quality and restorative nature of the sleep you’re getting). Case in point: A 2018 study that found that “CBD does not seem to interfere with the sleep cycle of healthy volunteers,” explains Dr. Dimitriu. (And, TBH, just the fact that research like this exists is really exciting!)
How Much CBD Do You Need To Sleep?
If you’re thinking, “wait, I tried this stuff, and it didn’t work for me at all!” know that such a situation is pretty normal. “Because each person has a unique endocannabinoid system, each person may have a somewhat different reaction to a particular cannabinoid,” says Dr. Bone. It could also come down to the dose; you just might not be taking enough. “Doses can range from 10mg to 500mg before people feel any effect,” says Perry Solomon, M.D., a cannabis expert and board-certified physician. (Quite the range, no?)
“The key to achieving successful results with CBD is using an appropriate amount tailored to your individual needs,” says Dr. Patel. “First, try CBD during the morning and in the middle of the day for three to five days before trying it right before bedtime. If you find CBD energizing and want to try it at bedtime, you may find that increasing your dose by two to four times may help with relaxation and sleep.”
The universal advice from the experts: Start low and go slow. Begin by taking a small amount, and gradually scale up until you find what works best for you and helps you nod off. And if you’re just getting started on your CBD for sleep journey, consider keeping tabs on your trials and errors. “You need to keep a sleep journal to record what you took, when you took it, and how you felt the next morning,” advises Dr. Solomon. “You might need to adjust the time and dosage accordingly.”
Dr. Patel shares a similar piece of advice: “Be sure to check in with your body and mind before taking [CBD] and one hour after taking the product so you can track its effectiveness.” You can jot down how you feel right before you take your CBD and then 20, 40, 60 minutes later. Doing a body-scan meditation at these points can help you determine if any tensions have been released in your body (thereby telling you that the product’s kicked in).
What Are the Forms of CBD?
There are plenty of options when it comes to the delivery of CBD, such as capsules, gummies, chocolates, oil droplets, tinctures, and more. But don’t start stocking up on a veritable smorgasbord of products just yet. It helps to first identify your specific shut-eye struggles to best determine which, if any, CBD products could be a fit for you. “There are two issues with difficulty sleeping: falling asleep and staying asleep,” says Dr. Solomon.
If you have trouble falling asleep, you’ll typically want something fast-acting, such as a vape pen (but proceed here with extra caution given the recent health scares associated with certain pens), tincture (or oil) or dissolving under-the-tongue strips — all of which provide deliveries with the fastest efficacy, says Dr. Solomon.
As for how long it takes for your dose of cannabidiol to kick in? It totally depends — and the experts don’t have a formula. It depends on your body, the delivery, what you’ve recently eaten, and many other factors (those are just the ones experts know of right now). A rough range would be 15 to 90 minutes, with inhalation providing the fastest delivery (as little as 15-30 minutes). Research, however, is still scant on this.
Now, if you’re having trouble staying asleep the whole night, you likely “need to take something that takes longer to begin to work and lasts longer,” says Dr. Solomon. This means an edible method (including capsule) is your best bet. “An edible, such as a gummy, can take one to one and a half hours to kick in, and lasts four to six hours,” says Dr. Solomon. “If taken before bed, it will start to work when you are asleep — and help keep you asleep.” (
CBD Products that Help With Sleep
“There are many products with varying ranges of CBD, CBN, and THC that some [patients] find effective, but others find don’t work at all,” says Dr. Solomon. “I might stay away from products that have a high amount of THC (the product that gets you ‘high’) since some people don’t like that feeling. The exact amount can range from 5-10mg of THC, but again, it varies from person to person.” (
Unfortunately, THC still is not federally legal — so this author’s personal favorite sleep gummy, Plus Dual Action Sleep Lychee Gummies, is only available in California. They have 3mg CBD, 2mg CBN, 1mg THC, and are like a FastPass to sleepy town, sans high.
As for CBD products you can find now online nationwide? Here are five solid options (that I’ve personally tested!) — each of which uses U.S.-grown hemp, premium ingredients (if any in addition to the weed compounds), and is lab-tested. Meaning, unlike so many shadier brands out there that might cut corners (thereby potentially impacting your health) to make a quick buck, these ones are all above the fray. (See also: How to Buy the Best Safe and Effective CBD Products)
Not Pot CBD Gummies
With 30 gummies per jar, these blueberry-flavored edibles comes out to be just $1 per gummy — a seriously killer value, especially given the amount of sleep-inducing ingredients packed into each bite. Just one gummy contains 20mg of sustainably-sourced CBD and 3mg of melatonin, making these bedtime bites particularly potent and effective. As if the added melatonin doesn’t give you enough of an extra edge, you can trust that you’ll sleep soundly knowing that these gummies are vegan as well as free of gluten and, in the brand’s words, “artificial anything.”
Sleepy Bear Nighttime Gummy
For a lighter dose of CBD for sleep, try Sleepy Bear’s low-sugar, vegan, and downright delicious gummies. Seriously, these bad boys comes in a borderline-adictive sour raspberry flavor that might make sticking to the reccomended 1-3 gummies a challenge. Each edible has 5mg of CBD, 3mg of CBN, and 2mg of melatonin to ensure a good night’s rest. (Speaking of which, is it bad to take melatonin evey night?)
Winged Sleepy CBD Gummies
Formulated with the goal of “banishing sleepless nights for good,” Winged’s gummies boast a blend of sleep aids, including (but not limited to!) amino acids GABA, 5-HTP, and l-theanine. In addition to the 10mg of CBD, each edible also contains 2mg of melatonin and 100mg of evening primrose oil to up your odds of slipping into a peaceful slumber. (See also: The 10 Best Natural Sleep Aids According to Customer Reviews)
Lord Jones Old Fashioned Hemp-Derived CBD Gumdrops
Made by hand in small batches, these edibles make scoring shut-eye an even sweeter experience thanks to their strawberry and lemon flavors. While there are only nine gummies per box (making it one of the pricier options on this list), each gummy is an indulgent, culinary confection. And need not forget about the impressive 20mg of CBD per gumdrop. When it comes to CBD for sleep, Lord Jones might just be the master of delivering a high potency product in a high quality package. (Need even more proof? Kristen Bell is a big fan of the brand.)
WYLD Elderberry CBD Gummies
Real fruit teams up with 25mg of CBD and 5mg of CBN to set you up for a succesful night of shut-eye. And yes you read that right: Each one of these vegan-friendly, gluten-free edibles contains a whopping 25mg of CBD, making these CBD sleep aids the most potent of the picks in this list. In other words, WYLD’s gummies are perfect for when you’re really struggling with sleep. And they taste great, too.
Does CBD help or hinder sleep?
What most of us wouldn’t give for a good night’s sleep. Without it, we can’t function at peak emotional, physical, and mental levels, yet in today’s high-stress, plugged-in world, so many of us don’t get decent sleep.
Ailments like insomnia, sleep apnea, narcolepsy, and excessive daytime sleepiness cause consumers to turn to over-the-counter and prescription pharmaceuticals for relief, yet many of these medications have their own serious side effects and adverse risks.
Catching zzz’s with CBD?
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For that reason, many consumers are exploring natural sleep aids like cannabis. We know THC-rich varieties can help people achieve sleep, but what about those sensitive to or afraid of its intoxicating effects?
Can cannabidiol (CBD), a non-intoxicating cannabis compound, also offer sleep benefits?
CBD and sleep: What does the research say?
As CBD has exploded onto the market, consumers are turning to the cannabinoid to treat many ailments, including insomnia. The insurgence of CBD has also prompted a sizable uptick in the number of preclinical and clinical studies looking at CBD’s value in treating a whole host of disorders. However, very few studies center on CBD and sleep.
In a recent Consumer Reports survey on CBD, 10% of respondents report using CBD as a sleep aid. The majority of them said it worked, but that evidence is anecdotal. Without controlled studies, it is difficult to tell whether CBD is truly acting alone to induce sleep. There are several complicating factors.
First, high-CBD strains often contain myrcene , a terpene that is said to be sedating. Although controlled studies on humans are lacking, myrcene’s sedative effects are well established in the animal literature, and for centuries, herbalists have been using hops as a human sleep aid. As it turns out, hops have high myrcene levels.
Therefore, if a person uses a high-CBD strain and says it helps them sleep, it is hard to tell whether CBD, myrcene or the two working in combination is the active agent. However, it’s worth noting that most people aren’t smoking or vaporizing myrcene-rich CBD flowers for sleep. Rather, most are using a CBD concentrate that contains little to no myrcene whatsoever.
Very few researchers have looked at isolated CBD as a sleep aid. Instead, researchers have looked at CBD in conjunction with other cannabinoids like THC. In a 2017 extensive literature review entitled Cannabis, Cannabinoids, and Sleep: a Review of the Literature, the research team found that CBD and THC were indeed the two cannabinoids most often cited as sleep-inducing aids.
Multiple cannabinoids muddy the waters
THC has a sedative effect and can reduce the time it takes to fall asleep. Some research shows that the entourage effect , or harmonized interaction between cannabis compounds like CBD and THC, seems to carry over to sleep.
Sulak explained that CBD may just be reducing symptoms like anxiety, which allows the person to relax so that their natural sleep mechanism can take over.
However, THC does not put a person in a sleep state. Neither does CBD. Instead, THC is a sedative and has other properties helpful to sleep. For example, THC makes a person feel comfortable while remaining still, called catalepsy.
Because CBD doesn’t alter consciousness in the same way that THC does, is it even possible that CBD can work alone as a sleep aid?
Dr. Dustin Sulak, DO, is the founder of Healer.com and Integr8 Health, a Maine medical practice that uses medical cannabis as a treatment for a variety of ailments. Sulak explained that CBD may actually just be reducing symptoms like anxiety, which allows the person to relax so that their natural sleep mechanism can take over.
To demonstrate Sulak’s point, here is one such published example, where a Colorado research team looked at outcomes of psychiatric patients who received CBD in a clinical setting to help with anxiety and sleep complaints. CBD was given as an adjunct to usual treatment. Within the first 30 days of CBD use, anxiety decreased in nearly 80% of patients and sleep scores improved by nearly 70%. CBD was well tolerated by the vast majority of patients.
But was CBD directly responsible for this outcome? And, given that a fairly large group of people with insomnia also have depression and anxiety , what exactly is CBD working on? This is where the waters become even more muddied.
Sulak’s practice has over 8,000 patients, so he sees the connection between sleep and chronic disease every day. “Sleep is extremely important,” he said. “Almost all of our most prevalent chronic diseases require healthy sleep for the patient to get better.”
Sulak said that if he can fix a patient’s sleep disturbance, it serves as a unifying treatment that can help multiple patient conditions like diabetes and chronic pain. While Sulak does treat sleep disorders, he very rarely does so with CBD in any form, whether pure CBD or a CBD-dominant cannabis strain.
Instead, Sulak often uses THC with a sedating terpene profile. He achieves excellent results, even when using low doses.
The dosing dilemma
Depending on who you ask, CBD has been reported as having either a stimulating or a calming effect, thus adding confusion to the overall equation. While there is very little published evidence regarding dosing, research to date indicates that at higher doses, CBD has a calming effect; yet at lower doses, CBD has a stimulating effect.
In a 1977 animal study, the “ hypnotic-like effects ” of CBD were first studied. Since then, very few CBD dosing studies have been performed, but the evidence seems to indicate that the effectiveness of CBD depends on whether the person has a normal sleep rhythm or whether the person has a sleep disorder.
In a 2018 study on 27 healthy subjects , a high CBD dose (300 mg) qualifying as a clinically anxiolytic dose had no effect on the sleep-wake cycle. CBD was given 30 minutes prior to bedtime and sleep recordings were made for eight hours thereafter.
In a similar study, very high CBD doses (600 mg) had a sedative effect, but in subjects with insomnia, much lower doses of 160 mg reduced sleep disruption and increased total sleep duration. Conversely, very low doses of 25 mg had no effect.
CBD and REM sleep
CBD has been found to help with certain sleep anomalies that occur during rapid eye movement (REM) sleep. There are two types of sleep: non-rapid eye movement sleep (NREM) and rapid eye-movement (REM) sleep. NREM sleep progresses through a 90-minute cycle leading up to REM sleep, in which brain wave activity increases and dreaming occurs. REM sleep is also the time when previously learned is solidified into a memory.
In normal REM sleep, the limb muscles become temporarily paralyzed so that a person cannot act out dreams. In Parkinson’s disease as well as REM behavior disorder , people are able to flail and act out vivid and violent dreams. CBD at doses ranging from 75 to 300 mg was shown in a preliminary study to help these patients, and in an early case study, high-dose CBD helped a pediatric PTSD patient .
Low-dose CBD formulations seem to keep people awake and not alter the sleep cycle. However, this may one day prove beneficial for circadian rhythm disorders like excessive daytime sleepiness and narcolepsy because they may help people stay awake during daylight hours.
So, should you be using CBD for sleep?
Every individual’s body is unique, and therefore the effect of CBD will be highly individualized. Sulak explained that he would be open to using CBD in his own practice if a patient had not responded well to THC. Some patients are extraordinarily sensitive to THC and have symptoms during the night or still feel impaired in the morning. Sulak said he would likely select CBD strains that contained high levels of myrcene (luckily, there are plenty of options ).
Sulak said that CBD may offer benefit for people with sleep disturbances, and he feels it is important to move forward with pragmatically designed clinical trials, meaning a trial that does not provide every patient with the same exact treatment. Instead, an algorithm type approach would be used, starting with one treatment and moving to others if the previous ones are unsuccessful.
Sulak also stated that Americans are desperately in need of education on understanding sleep hygiene and the critical importance of sleep for health and happiness. “Most people don’t know that sleep disturbances are associated with decreased analgesic (pain-relieving effects) of opioids and antidepressant drugs, so it’s such a vicious cycle,” he said. “It’s wonderful to use cannabis to break that cycle,” Sulak said.
CBD is safe, even at high doses
Sulak said that he ensures his patients that CBD is extraordinarily safe, so if it is not effective at low to moderate doses of 10 to 50 mg, CBD is safe to try at higher doses of 100 to 200mg. In a 2018 study , single doses of 1,500 mg, 3,000 mg or 6,000 mg were administered to healthy subjects daily for six days. While the study was not aimed at researching CBD’s effects on sleep, it demonstrated that CBD is indeed safe.
However, it’s important to note that research has a long way to go in establishing drug interactions associated with cannabinoids. While CBD appears to be safe on its own, consider consulting a medical professional before adding CBD or other cannabis products to your regimen.
Despite the overall lack of CBD sleep studies, the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine concluded in a 2017 report that moderate evidence exists for cannabinoids to improve short-term sleep outcomes in a variety of conditions. As more research is conducted, CBD may well benefit patients who have ailments like obstructive sleep apnea, fibromyalgia, chronic pain, and anxiety.
Will CBD Oil Keep You Awake At Night?
Can CBD oil cause insomnia by keeping you awake all night? Does CBD act as a stimulant that negatively affects your sleep?
CBD, otherwise known as Cannabidiol, oil is a relatively new medicine in Australia that patients are taking to treat chronic conditions that have existed for more than three months.
Studies show that CBD oil has great benefits for patients with insomnia.
Further studies indicate that CBD oil combats sleep apnea and sleep disturbances.
So what does this tell us? CBD oil should not be keeping you awake at night, and in fact, it should be promoting your sleep by relaxing you.
CBD oil should be treating your anxiety, stress and depression. This is one of the main ways CBD oil helps you sleep.
If you are having trouble sleeping after taking CBD oil, then any of these could be keeping you awake:
- CBD oil ingredients may include stimulants
- Poor quality CBD oil may have an adverse reaction
- CBD oil dosage may be affecting your sleep
If you think that CBD oil is keeping you awake, then you should discuss this with a health professional that can ensure these aren’t signs of a larger problem.
If you are buying CBD oil with peppermint flavouring, this may have little-to-no effect on most people, but for you it may act as a stimulant. Flavouring is another way that CBD oil can keep you awake at night.
CBD oil should not keep you awake, and the most common cause of people in Australia having insomnia after taking CBD is due to inferior quality products. Stay safe and buy legal medicinal CBD oil.
Have you had any experiences with CBD oil and insomnia? Does CBD oil keep you awake at night? Let us know about your experiences down in the comments!