Not many people get enough sleep. That’s according to a recent survey by the American Sleep Apnea Association, which indicated that roughly 50–70 million Americans are sleep deprived. Not the news you were expecting to hear, right?
But why sleep? Because it is an essential aspect of good health. It’s pretty simple: if you’re not getting 7–9 hours of sleep daily, you’re doing yourself a huge disservice. But we’re also on this topic because there are ways to improve sleep quality.
Most people turn to OTC sleep supplements, like melatonin, to help them sleep better at night. While these are largely effective, there are risks and concerns you can’t ignore. So, natural sleep-promoting supplements are considered better alternatives. Enter cannabinol, aka CBN.
In this article, we focus on CBN and melatonin. We establish how these two may help improve sleep. More importantly, we compare and contrast them so you can make a better choice if you’re struggling with sleep.
- CBN is a non-psychoactive cannabinoid formed when THC is exposed to air, light, and heat.
- It’s commonly marketed as a sleep-promoting product.
- Melatonin is a natural sleep hormone released in the brain in response to darkness. It puts the body into a state of ‘quiet consciousness,’ making it easier to fall asleep.
- CBN supports sleep indirectly by alleviating the causes of sleep disorders.
- Melatonin helps you sleep better by targeting the circadian rhythm and resetting it to function as it should.
What is CBN
CBN is one of the cannabinoid compounds in cannabis. It is widely marketed as a sleep aid, mainly due to its calming effects. However, to this point, there are no concrete studies supporting this claim.
Like other cannabinoids, CBN interacts with cannabinoid receptors in the endocannabinoid system (ECS). The ECS is a neuromodulatory system that regulates various bodily functions, such as:
- Learning and memory
- Immune response
- Reproduction, among others
CBN displays the capacity to bind to both ECS receptors, i.e., CB1 and CB2. It also exhibits significant activity at the TRP cation receptors and GABA. These are special non-cannabinoid receptors outside the ECS that also maintain body homeostasis.
CBN also affects the reuptake of neurotransmitters serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine. As a result, CBN has immense therapeutic potential, which we shall discuss in later sections.
How is CBN Made
CBN is a weakly psychoactive cannabinoid that forms when THC degrades in the presence of light, air, and heat. Essentially, CBN is an oxidized product of THC. This is why CBN concentration is one of the quality control checks for cannabis. Higher concentration levels typically imply aged cannabis material.
CBN is also known as “weak THC,” which is a misnomer considering it doesn’t even induce a “high.” The reason for CBN’s inactivity is its weak binding strength to the CB1 receptor. Consequently, it is significantly weaker than THC (~1/4 the potency of THC).
Does CBN Get You High
CBN won’t make you “high” because its interaction with the CB1 receptor is relatively weak. With roughly 25% of the potency of ∆9-THC, CBN doesn’t stimulate these receptors strongly enough to cause intoxication.
How Does CBN Make You Feel
Cannabis’ mental and physical effects are the reasons it appeals to many users globally. While THC gives you both, CBN doesn’t. Most users claim CBN is calming and relaxing, ergo, its ability to promote sleep.
In higher doses, users suggest CBN may smoothen the transition from a wired state to sedation. This helps you fall asleep faster. Indeed, many people who use CBN claim they sleep more soundly and experience minimal wake-ups at night.
Some even describe CBN by how it DOESN’T feel! They say a sudden relief from back pain or the absence of racy thoughts is not uncommon. So, if you’re still on the fence about using CBN, these sentiments could perhaps embolden you.
What are the Benefits of CBN
Even though CBN research is still young, there are indications that this cannabinoid could have substantial health benefits. These are:
- Promoting bone formation
- Preventing platelet aggregation
We should add that these findings are largely based on animal studies, implying that it’s unclear whether they can be replicated in humans. Still, they are promising and highlight CBN’s therapeutic potential.
Potential Side Effects of CBN
Besides CBD and THC, whose toxicology profiles are well understood, it’s unclear how other cannabinoids may affect users. Scientists have mainly focused on the ‘big two,’ i.e., CBD and THC.
Generally, CBN’s potential side effects are inferred from its close relationship with THC. While it’s unlikely to induce an intoxicating “high,” CBN may cause mild drowsiness. It could also produce a positive drug test because it has THC molecules.
User reports indicate that large doses of CBN could affect your ability to concentrate and even cause dizziness. Overall, some side effects appear to be dose-dependent, which is good because you can control such.
Different Ways to Take CBN
As production technologies advance, CBN and other cannabinoids are now produced in various forms. This broadens your options for taking this rare compound. Here are the most common:
Oils and tinctures have become popular owing to their simplicity of use. They come with droppers that make them easy to administer.
The best administration method for CBN oils and tinctures is the sublingual method. That’s because the ingredients are directly absorbed into the bloodstream. As a result, the effects kick in within minutes, which is ideal for users seeking quick relief.
Want to learn how to make your own CBN oil? Click on the link.
Since the old days, smoking has been the most popular method for taking cannabis flower. It has its downsides, but high-tech devices are now available for this purpose. Bongs, cough-less pipes, vaporizers, etc., incorporate cutting-edge technology to eliminate the toxic substances in smoke, making it gentler for the lungs.
Generally, high-THC flowers tend to have high CBN levels. Check out our blog for a quick peek at high CBN strains.
CBN capsules are another effective way to take this cannabinoid. These capsules may contain whole-plant extracts to enhance their efficacy. One advantage of CBN capsules is that they are easy to swallow, pre-measured, and typically have less oil than regular oils or tinctures.
CBN gummies are among the most popular products at the moment. They are tasty, discreet, and can pack quite a punch, depending on their potency. These are suitable for consumers who are always on the move.
What is Melatonin
Melatonin is a natural sleep hormone produced in the brain. It’s released in higher quantities in the evening as night approaches.
Melatonin supports sleep by regulating the sleep/wake cycle, a system that tells the body when to sleep or wake. Although we generally produce enough melatonin to help us sleep easily, the body’s ability to make this hormone can be impaired.
When this happens, the sleep/wake cycle gets affected. Shift workers are prone to having an altered cycle due to their work hours. Traveling across different time zones can also affect your ability to sleep since melatonin production changes.
How is Melatonin Made?
The onset of darkness triggers the brain to release melatonin. The role of melatonin is to put you in a state of “quiet consciousness” to enable you to fall asleep quickly. That’s why most people get sleepy at night.
Since it’s only produced when it gets dark, melatonin is also known as the “hormone of darkness.” Melatonin synthesis starts with tryptophan and goes through a series of enzymatic reactions to create melatonin. Interestingly, serotonin is one of the intermediate products formed during melatonin synthesis.
How Does Melatonin Make You Feel
Melatonin makes you feel calm and relaxed, which is ideal for you to fall asleep quickly. These effects are noticeable within 30 minutes.
What are the Benefits of Melatonin
Melatonin supplements may help reduce jet lag and the symptoms of some sleep disorders. As a sleep aid, melatonin helps reset an altered sleep/wake cycle enabling you to sleep when you should. It could also help reduce pre- and post-surgery anxiety.
In addition to improving sleep, melatonin can boost immune function and lower blood pressure and cortisol levels.
Potential Side Effects of Melatonin
Melatonin is generally safe and non-addictive when used in the short term. However, its adverse side effects, when used long-term, remain unknown. That’s because longitudinal studies on its side effects are limited to adults.
That said, melatonin supplementation may cause side effects like headaches, anxiety, nausea, dizziness, and daytime sleepiness. Some studies have even linked melatonin supplementation to nightmares, vivid dreams, irritable mood, stomach cramps, and depression.
So, melatonin supplements are not for everyone. People with autoimmune disorders, seizures, and depression are advised to avoid melatonin. Also, if you have high blood pressure or diabetes, talk to a healthcare provider before taking melatonin.
How and When to Take Melatonin
Not all melatonin supplements are similar, so it’s important to stick to the recommended dosage on the label. Most publications advise against taking more than 10mg of melatonin per day to avoid unwanted side effects.
If you’re unsure about the correct dose, start with the lowest dose (0.5mg per day).
If you’re using melatonin for better sleep, take it 30 minutes before bedtime. But if you want to reset your circadian rhythm, take melatonin 2–3 hours before going to bed.
CBN vs Melatonin: Effects
Now that we have more information about CBN and melatonin, we can compare CBN vs melatonin to know which is better.
Effects-wise, CBN doesn’t have any concerning side effects. The commonly observed effects are mild and completely manageable.
Melatonin is a different story altogether. Its list of side effects ranges from mild to downright severe. Some, like depression and seizures, may even need further medical attention. In this regard, CBN is the better option.
CBN vs Melatonin: For Sleep
While melatonin is a bona fide sleep aid, CBN’s ability to promote sleep is not backed by scientific evidence. It’s mostly anecdotal.
So, if you have serious sleep issues and need something that works, melatonin may be the way to go.
CBN vs Melatonin: Potency
CBN is a weakly psychoactive cannabinoid with ¼ the potency of THC. As such, it may not be as effective as THC in terms of sleep promotion. Also, CBN promotes sleep indirectly by alleviating the causes of sleep disorders like stress, anxiety, and discomfort.
On the other hand, melatonin acts directly on your circadian rhythm by resetting it. As a result, the effects are felt sooner than with CBN. So, with regard to potency, melatonin may have the upper hand.
CBN vs Melatonin: Cost
CBN doesn’t occur in large amounts like CBD or THC. So, as expected, it’s artificially synthesized via proprietary processes that are well-kept secrets. One thing that’s certain is that these processes are resource-intensive, making CBN production costly.
According to CHEMANALYST, a site that monitors real-time price movement of chemical and petrochemical products, a kilo of melatonin cost $128.50 in the quarter ending December 2022. Compared to the $472 needed to produce a pound of cannabis in the US (2020), CBN is more expensive.
Can You Take CBN and Melatonin Together
Yes, you can take CBN and melatonin together, provided you dose each correctly. Those who’ve used these two together claim they complement each other. However, there is no evidence that taking CBN and melatonin together enhances their overall effects.
It’s also possible that taking these two together might magnify their side effects. Moreover, cannabinoids have been shown to interact with conventional medications. As such, it’s unclear how CBN may interact with melatonin.
It’s certainly a good idea to talk to your doctor before supplementing with CBN if you’re already taking melatonin.
CBN vs Melatonin: Which One Is Right for You
Ultimately, this depends on several factors, such as the severity of your condition, known reactions to melatonin/CBN, etc.
CBN may help you sleep better by indirectly rectifying the causes of your sleep problem. So it’s more of a long-term fix. On the other hand, melatonin offers quick relief by targeting the circadian rhythm, so it provides an immediate solution.
Choosing between CBN vs melatonin involves trade-offs. CBN has minimal side effects, while melatonin is cheaper and faster-acting.
Other natural herbs, like valerian root, are also touted to have sleep-promoting qualities. Learn more about how melatonin compares to valerian root in sleep promotion.
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For those that enjoy an authentic cannabis experience, the CBN Live Resin doesn’t disappoint. It contains CBD, ∆9-THC, and CBN to ensure you reap the benefits of a high CBD cannabis flower accompanied by the pleasant psychoactive properties of D8-THC.