Pharma / Supplements

CBD for Sleep

Written by Sabine Downer

By now you have probably heard about cannabidiol (CBD). CBD for sleep is just one of the many beneficial health claims you may have heard about. CBD and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) are the two most abundant cannabinoids in the cannabis plant. Hemp is a variety of cannabis that is rich in CBD which does not get you high. Marijuana is the variety of cannabis that is rich in THC and does get you high. But if CBD does not get you high, can it still help promote sleep?


How Does CBD for Sleep Work?

The endocannabinoid system (ECS) is present in all mammals and helps direct the body in how to respond. The ECS does this by directing biological mechanisms like the serotonin receptor 5HT. By telling it to increase serotonin circulation and stop breaking it down, it can cause effects like reduced feelings of anxiety [1].

“The activity of CBD at 5-HT1A receptors may drive its neuroprotective, antidepressive, and anxiolytic benefits…”

  • Shannon S, Lewis N, Lee H, Hughes S. Cannabidiol in Anxiety and Sleep: A Large Case Series.

The benefits of CBD for sleep may not be that the CBD directly promotes sleep. It could be that CBD benefits like the reduction in pain, inflammation, anxiety, and improved sense of wellbeing all contribute to improve sleep. Since things like soreness and worrisome thoughts often make it harder for people to fall asleep, improving those factors could lead to better sleep without any direct action to make the body drowsy.


Studying CBD Dosage for Sleep

Shannon, et al. conducted a study to see if CBD helped to improve sleep and reduce anxiety [3]. This small study gave CBD treatments to 47 participants with concerns of anxiety and 25 participants with concerns of poor sleep.

Most of the study participants were given 25mg of CBD in an oral capsule [3]. Those complaining of anxiety were given their CBD dose in the morning, and those complaining of poor sleep were given their dose after dinner in the evening. A small number of patients with more intense symptoms were given 50mg or 75 mg CBD capsules.

The study observed that after two months of CBD treatment, anxiety symptoms significantly improved for about 78% of participants [3]. Sleep improvements were reported for about 67% of participants after the first month, but only about 56% reported improved sleep after the second month of treatment with CBD.


Does CBD Really Improve Sleep?

Another study by Linares. Et al. notes that doses of CBD intended to treat anxiety to not cause disruption in the sleep-wake cycle [2]. That is to say that taking CBD will not interfere with your natural sleep processes. This means that more study is needed to see if CBD is able to modulate or improve clinical sleep disorders. For those who have anxiety disorders, CBD may be a good option because anxiolytic and antidepressant drugs such as benzodiazepines and selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors can cause disruption to natural sleep cycles. In either case, you will want to check with your doctor before starting CBD. While it is safe for most people, CBD can have drug interactions and side effects that you will want to be aware of.


Image: by Grav on Unsplash


  1. Bergamaschi MM, Queiroz RH, Chagas MH, et al. Cannabidiol reduces the anxiety induced by simulated public speaking in treatment-naïve social phobia patients. Neuropsychopharmacology. 2011;36(6):1219-1226. doi:10.1038/npp.2011.6
  2. Linares IMP, Guimaraes FS, Eckeli A, et al. No Acute Effects of Cannabidiol on the Sleep-Wake Cycle of Healthy Subjects: A Randomized, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled, Crossover Study. Frontiers in Pharmacology. 2018;9. doi:10.3389/fphar.2018.00315
  3. Shannon S, Lewis N, Lee H, Hughes S. Cannabidiol in Anxiety and Sleep: A Large Case Series. Perm J. 2019;23:18-041. doi:10.7812/TPP/18-041


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Sabine Downer

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