Can CBD, and CBN Work Together for Better Sleep?

You spend roughly one third of your life asleep. It’s an important part of your life that affects every other part. Just try going without sleep for a few days and see what happens to you physically and mentally!

While many people with sleep disorders are well aware of their difficulties, there are many others that have sleep disorders, but don’t realize it. Could you be one of the 70 million people in the US alone that suffer from a sleep disorder?

Let’s find out.

There are several symptoms that suggest you might be suffering from a sleep disorder:

  1. Tired even after a full night of sleep. Do you still feel tired after you’ve gotten at least seven hours of sleep? Try to keep track of the time you fall asleep and when you wake up. If you’re getting at least seven hours of sleep and still feel tired, this is a strong indication that you might have a sleep disorder.
  2. Loud snoring, gasping, or you stop breathing during sleep. Does anyone tell you that you snore loudly? Or that you stop breathing during the night? Do you gasp for breath in your sleep? You might have sleep apnea. Sleep apnea can also cause excessive fatigue since you’re not sleeping well.
  3. Fall asleep at the wrong times. Do you find yourself nodding off at work or in front of the TV in the early evening? This is another sign that your normal sleep is disturbed in some way.
  4. Difficulty falling asleep or can’t stay asleep. If you have either of these issues for more than a month, you may have a sleeping disorder. Waking up early and not being able to fall back asleep can also be a sign of depression.

Do any of these symptoms seem familiar? If so, you might have a sleeping disorder. The first step is to ensure that you’re getting enough time in bed each night. If that’s not the issue, it might be time to schedule an appointment with your doctor.

There are five primary types of sleep disorders:

  1. Sleep apnea. Sleep apnea occurs when breathing isn’t continuous during the night. This can either be due to an obstruction in the airway or a lack of coordination between the brain and the muscles involved in breathing.
  2. Insomnia. This is a difficulty in falling asleep or staying asleep. There are many potential causes of insomnia, including stress and hormonal issues.
  3. Parasomnias. These are unusual behaviors that occur during sleep. These include:
  • Teeth grinding
  • Bedwetting
  • Sleepwalking and sleep talking
  • Nightmares
  1. Narcolepsy. This sleep disorder involves falling asleep very quickly when you should be awake. At the most extreme, a narcolepsy sufferer could suddenly fall asleep while driving. More mild cases might involve suddenly excusing yourself from the dinner table and lying down for a nap.
  2. Restless leg syndrome. This sensation is hard to describe if you’ve never experienced it. It feels similar to your foot or leg falling asleep. It’s not quite the same prickly feeling, but it’s close. It's a very uncomfortable tingle. You also have an uncontrollable urge to move your legs to relieve the discomfort.

Sleep disorders can range from mildly annoying to dangerous. You can’t live indefinitely without sleep, and the quality of your sleep impacts the rest of your life.

What does CBN stand for and what does it do?

CBN stands for cannabinol. CBN was the first naturally occurring cannabinoid to be isolated in its pure form back in 1896. People originally thought it was responsible for the cannabis high, but later found out that tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) produces for the intoxicating effects of cannabis. It was discovered that CBN is actually an oxidation product of THC; that is, THC will slowly turn into CBN when exposed to heat and light

Old cannabis or cannabis extracts left unrefrigerated or in the light will have higher levels of CBN. Levels of CBN in cannabis are not controlled by genetic factors, but by environmental factors. Currently, there are no high CBN strains available on the market, so the optimal way to obtain it is by oxidizing THC and CBD. 

CBN on its own does not produce intoxicating effects, however, to the best of our knowledge, the effects of this cannabinoid have not been fully researched in human subjects. THC produces its effects on the body by interacting with the cannabinoid receptors in the endocannabinoid system (ECS), which are located in the central nervous system and throughout the body. Specifically, it produces the high by binding to the CB1 receptors and activating them. 

CBN binds to CB1 receptors as well, but with only around one-tenth the strength of THC. Cannabis medicines are able to treat a variety of conditions using a “strength in numbers” approach, because cannabis has a lot of components in it. These small components influence the major components in what's known as the entourage effect. While many strains available in a dispensary have high levels of THC, each strain produces a different high due to the differing levels of other cannabinoids and terpenes, collectively the entourage.

Potential sleep and health benefits of CBN

The research into the therapeutic benefits of CBN is very preliminary. But it’s starting to heat up, as interest in the health benefits of cannabinoids surges, and the popularity of CBD continues to grow. Here are the areas of health and disease treatment and prevention where initial scientific research suggests CBN may make a difference:

CBN as a sedative. There are indications that CBN is a powerful sedative. Research in mice has shown that CBN can prolong sleep time. Some research indicates CBN’s sedative effects are amplified when combined with THC. But there is, at this point, a lack of scientific research into the sleep-inducing properties of CBN. I’m hopeful we’ll eventually see some additional scientific studies that explore the sleep-promoting capabilities of CBN. 

CBN as a pain reliever. Research indicates that CBN has analgesic or pain-relieving capabilities in the body. CBN appears to influence the activity of neurons that are sensitive to capsaicin. (Capsaicin, you might know, is found in chili peppers, and an ingredient added to many topical pain relievers.) These capsaicin-sensitive nerves are important to the body’s pain signaling and perception. 

CBN as an antibiotic. Research shows CBN has the ability to fight bacteria. A 2008 study found CBN one of several cannabinoids (including CBD) effective in treating MRSA, a bacterial infection that is resistant to antibiotics. 


CBN as an anti-inflammatory. Like CBD, CBN appears to have anti-inflammatory capabilities. Scientists working to better understand how the human endocannabinoid system affects the immune system. Cannabinoids, including CBN, are being examined for their possible therapeutic role in treating inflammatory disease. 

CBN as an appetite stimulant. This is one area in which CBN behaves very differently from CBD. While CBD has appetite-suppressing effects, CBN appears to stimulate the appetite. This may make CBN a therapeutic option to help increase appetite in people who struggle to maintain an appetite because of another illness, such as cancer, or its treatment. 

CBN as a cancer fighter. There’s also some promising preliminary evidence that CBN may have direct cancer-fighting capabilities. Cannabinoids including CBN are being studied for their ability to slow or stop the growth and spread of cancer cells. CBN was one of several cannabinoids found to reduce tumor size in one form of lung cancer. 

CBN as an anti-convulsant. One of the most promising therapeutic uses for CBD is in epilepsy treatment, because of this cannabinoid’s strong anti-convulsant capabilities. Though it appears to be less strong than in CBD and THC, CBN has also been shown to function as an anticonvulsant. 

CBN for bone healing and growth. Research indicates cannabinoids including CBN can help to stimulate the production of new bone, by activating stem cells to help make new bone cells. There are also indications that CBN and other cannabinoids may be helpful in healing fractured bone and helping reverse bone loss, making it of interest to scientists as a potential therapy for osteoporosis. 

CBN as a glaucoma therapy. CBN is one of several cannabinoids that appear to be effective as a treatment for glaucoma, as several studies have shown. 

Some CBN supplement products are available, but this cannabinoid has yet to show up widely in supplement forms. There’s a lot more research to be done to understand how CBN affects the body, and ways it might be a safe, effective therapy for sleep problems and other health conditions. 

Sleep makes up a third of your life. It’s important to get it right!

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