Here are our key findings:
Despite its retail popularity, the data available on CBD for sleep “is in its infancy,” according to researchers.
There is some information on the behavioral effects CBD can have, though. Authors of the aforementioned paper sought out to investigate CBD’s role on anxiety and sleep quality in 103 adult patients. They discovered that sleep scores improved for 66.7% of patients in the first month but fluctuated over time.
Another clinical trial comparing CBD with Nitrazepam, a benzodiazepine with hypnotic properties, found administration of doses of CBD 160 milligrams or higher significantly increased the duration of sleep. Other studies show that cortisol levels decrease with CBD administration at doses as high as up to 600 mg. The decrease in cortisol levels yielded a sedating effect for patients.
Another review of the literature on cannabinoids like CBD for sleep published in 2017 “suggests that cannabidiol (CBD) may have therapeutic potential for the treatment of insomnia” as well as showing promise for REM sleep behavior disorder and excessive daytime sleepiness.
While CBD’s exact mechanism of action is still unknown, the working theory behind how CBD works for sleep suggests its reduction in anxiety plays a part.
CBD can also impact sleep by helping our bodies’ endocannabinoid systems better maintain circadian rhythm. Circadian rhythm is the internal process by which our bodies regulate our sleep and wake cycles. Available data suggests endocannabinoid signalling is implicated in the circadian process, and if we know CBD impacts our endocannabinoid systems its possible CBD can, “…serve as a chronobiotic [an agent that can cause phase adjustment of the body clock] therapeutic compound for individuals with disrupted circadian function.”
In other words, if your body struggles to naturally wake and fall asleep every day, CBD may be able to help.
Melatonin is a naturally occurring hormone. Produced by the pineal gland at night, its primary function is to regulate circadian rhythms and help promote sleep.
Melatonin’s reputation catapulted it to becoming one of the most popular dietary supplements on the market today. It’s marketed as a sleep aid, but is the research there to support the idea?
Yes and no. A 2021 review examining the safety and efficacy of melatonin found that melatonin could advance the time of sleep onset—making you feel sleepy more quickly—but the effect was “modest and variable.”
“Most people’s bodies produce enough melatonin for sleep on their own,” explains sleep expert Luis F. Buenaver, director of the Behavioral Sleep Medicine Program at Johns Hopkins’ Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences. “However, there are steps you can take to make the most of your natural melatonin production.”
Buenaver recommends using melatonin supplements for a specific set of circumstances—on a short term basis for insomnia, overcoming jet lag or for those looking to fall asleep and wake up earlier.
Though there is little to no research into the long-term effects of combining cannabis and melatonin, the general consensus from brands and consumers who create CBD and melatonin products have found that, generally, yes, you can combine CBD and melatonin safely.
That said, according to Leaf Report Medical Reviewer Eloise Theisen, MSN, AGPCNP-BC, melatonin should only be used for the short term and is not considered a long term solution to sleep issues.
“If you need help staying asleep rather than falling asleep, the addition of melatonin may not be necessary. Melatonin can cause a drugged, groggy effect in some and may not be necessary to add to a CBD regimen for sleep,” she said.
At Elevated Wellness, a CBD brand founded by health care professionals based in Austin, TX, their CBD-melatonin products are some of the brand’s top sellers. In using these products, the brand’s Marketing Manager Daniel Britt stresses the importance of understanding dosing is unique to each person.
“It’s not just about weight, which is what we first assume because of other pharmaceuticals,” says Britt. “It actually doesn’t have to do as much with weight as it does with body chemistry.”
Finding the right dose then, can take some trial and error. Going overboard on dosing can result in “hangovers” the next day, or feelings of immense grogginess that can accompany too much CBD or melatonin, says Britt. In fact, Thiesen adds, “CBD can be stimulating at low doses, so adding in melatonin may counteract that effect and make low-dose CBD more suitable for sleep.” So, you shouldn’t require a super high dose of CBD-melatonin product to see effects.
Thus, experts like Britt suggest a low and slow approach to trying CBD and melatonin—especially if you already know you’re very sensitive to CBD or melatonin’s effects. For instance, Elevated Wellness’ products suggested dose is 1 ml of the tincture under the tongue, but if you are concerned about how it might affect you—do half of that and increase from there based on how you feel.
Additionally, both Thiesen and Britt emphasize that if you have never taken CBD or melatonin before, it is best not to mix them until you have tried them separately to see how you respond to them individually.
“It may be wise to try CBD products without melatonin first to see how that works for you,” said Britt, adding that taking the two together may enhance the strength of the overall effect.
Thus, in the end, melatonin may not be necessary to add to a CBD regimen for sleep, Thiesen says.
In addition to taking a “low and slow” approach to dosing, it’s essential consumers ensure the efficacy and safety of their CBD/melatonin product by vetting its quality. Here’s how:
Elevated Wellness, for instance, third-party tests both their CBD and the melatonin that they use in their combination products, and they source all the extracts used in their products from pharmaceutically regulated labs to ensure the utmost quality of their products. They also third-party test for heavy metals, pesticides, microbials, mycotoxins, residual solvents and debris.
All of this information is readily available on their website, or through contacting their team for a CoA—and that’s the kind of transparency you want in whatever brand you’re purchasing your CBD/melatonin product from.
Certain populations, however, are not advised to use melatonin including pregnant women, those with seizure disorders, diabetes, or anyone taking birth control pills, blood thinners, or blood pressure medications. Some melatonin supplements can raise blood pressure levels in those taking certain medications.
This can be a risky interaction with CBD as a 2017 research study found taking CBD with antihypertensive medications may change blood concentrations of either substance. The same goes for taking CBD and blood thinners.
As such, at risk populations should speak to a healthcare professional before using products that contain CBD and melatonin.