If there’s one thing for certain in the wellness industry, it’s that things are always changing. Just when you might have gotten well acquainted with CBD (cannabidiol), another iteration of cannabis has quickly taken over as a trending supplement. That’s right: If you haven’t yet heard of CBN (cannabinol), you’re about to.
Emerging research shows CBN is more effective than CBD for treating sleep issues such as insomnia. It’s also been found to help reduce pain and inflammation in the body. So, how exactly does it work—and is it really worth adding to your nighttime routine?
We tapped Ross Anderson, COO and formulation specialist at Elevated Wellness to help explain everything you need to know about trying CBN for sleep.
What is CBN?
Put your scientist cap on for a minute. “CBN (aka cannabinol) is a chemical compound found in cannabis sativa plants,” explains Anderson. “It is formed when THC is degraded due to aging, light, heat, or air exposure.” He adds that CBN is, technically, a psychotropic, but it’s quite mild in comparison to THC.
Although it might be milder than THC when it comes to the psychoactive effect, CBN is actually more effective than CBD when it comes to the pain-relieving effect. Here’s why: “Whereas CBN binds to both our CB1 and CB2 receptors, CBD only binds to our CB2 receptors,” says Anderson.
The CB1 receptors are primarily found in the central nervous system, while the CB2 receptors are primarily outside of that system. Studies show when these receptors are activated (with CBN or CBD), they can suppress the pain stimulus.
“CBN is believed to be quite analgesic since it binds to the CB2 receptors very efficiently,” says Anderson. “It should effectively reduce inflammation in muscles, joints, and even nerves (potentially from conditions like temporomandibular disorders).”
Can CBN help you sleep better?
The research on CBN and how it affects the body and sleep patterns is just getting started, but Anderson thinks it’s promising.
“Side effects of CBN include drowsiness and sedation, which is why some people look to CBN for relief and assistance with sleep issues,” he explains. “Though, it should be said that this effect usually only comes through when in conjunction with THC as it’s the collectivity of the two where we see this result really flourish.”
If you can’t sleep due to pain or stress, CBN could be worth a try, in Anderson’s opinion. Just be aware: “It should also be noted that, unlike CBD, CBN can cause a positive result on a drug test,” he adds.
How do you use CBN for sleep?
Anderson suggests pairing CBN with THC to get the sedative quality needed to be lulled into sleep. “The user doesn’t necessarily need a lot of THC, but having it at least present in the product they are taking will help in this area so much more than if THC were omitted,” he says.
Higher doses usually work best for dealing with sleep issues. “But if you’re unsure, you should always start off with a low dosage and speak to a doctor before adding anything new to your routine,” says Anderson.
How much CBN should I take to sleep?
“Depending on the user’s body chemistry, a dose of 10 to 30 milligrams of CBN is often suggested,” says Anderson, noting that this would be in conjunction with other cannabis compounds like THC and CBD. Anderson says a total cannabinoid milligram count of 80 to 200 milligrams is what usually works best.
Make sure to read the label carefully when purchasing CBN to make sure no additional adaptogens or nootropics are added to the ingredients list. “If that is the case, the user should research those compounds, whatever they may be, to make sure taking nightly is a viable option,” says Anderson.
What are the side effects of CBN?
Drowsiness and a sedated feeling are two common side effects of CBN. If you’re taking it and unsure how your body will respond, you shouldn’t take it near a time you’ll be driving or when you have to be alert for any reason. As mentioned above, pain relief can also be a pleasant side effect of taking CBN.
Either way, if you’re ever concerned, make sure to speak with a CBD specialist and/or a doctor who can tell you how CBN will interact with other medications you might also be taking.
Delta-8 is another trendy form of cannabis that might be able to improve your snooze. Check out our guide to delta-8 and sleep to determine whether it’s right for you.