Not Getting Enough ZZZs? Like Many Others, You May Be Considering Cannabis and CBD

Sleep. Many Americans can’t get enough of it, certainly not the recommended seven to eight hours out of each 24-hour day.
Written by 
Joan Oleck, Cannabis Journalist.
|Last Updated:

Fully 33 percent, or 84 million U.S. adults, describe their sleep as “fair” or “poor,” according to a new Casper-Gallup report. The young are particularly impacted: Two in five adults in the study were among this group.

No wonder so many sleepless people are looking for solutions – from traditional sleeping bills (with sometimes worrisome ingredients) to “natural” remedies like lavender, melatonin, valerian root – and cannabis/CBD.

“What we’re really seeing is that increasing stress levels in Americans overall are driving consumers to find help with their sleep, and many are turning in increasing numbers to cannabis (THC) and CBD products to help with that,” observes Bethany Gomez, managing director of Brightfield Group, a cannabis/wellness research organization.

Interestingly, the National Sleep Foundation, which last week sponsored Sleep Awareness Week, March 13-19, doesn’t seem to mention cannabis or CBD on its site.

The foundation didn’t respond to a query as to why this is so, but Gomez hazarded a guess. “I think it’s odd, but I also know there are organizations that are [reluctant] to focus on cannabis and CBD,” she said in a recent interview. “It’s still somewhat of a taboo subject.”

Taboos don’t seem to stop those with sleep challenges from turning to these products, as measured by Brightfield’s quarterly surveys of 3,500 cannabis (THC) consumers aged 21 and up and living in legal states. According to the latest surveys, released in line with Sleep Awareness Week:

  • Fifty-four percent of cannabis consumers listed sleep as the desired effect for their usage in 2021.
  • Some 21 percent of cannabis consumers said they suffer from (medically diagnosed) insomnia; 85 percent of that group said they used cannabis to treat it.
  • Some 33 percent of cannabis consumers with insomnia reported spending over $250 a month on cannabis, compared to 27 percent of all cannabis consumers. Younger consumers were particularly affected.
  • Sleep-deprived respondents skewed female, with 61 percent of the female cannabis consumers self-reporting themselves as insomniacs.
  • Cannabis sleep remedies chosen the most often were concentrates, tinctures and edibles.

(These figures come from Brightfield’s proprietary surveys, descriptions of which may be viewed free).

To put these cannabis statistics in proportion, 18 percent of American respondents in a Brightfield survey of the general U.S. adult population said they had purchased cannabis in the preceding three months.

Of course many people use the term “cannabis” to refer to all parts of the plant: In this light, Gomez described another Brightfield survey – with 5,000 respondents this time – who said they used hemp-derived CBD. Fifty percent of them in a 2021 report said they used CBD for sleep.

“So, it’s a strong percentage,” the managing director said of the hemp group, adding, “We have seen relaxation and sleep are the top two need states in cannabis.” Physical wellness also figures in, too, Gomez said. Overall, sleep findings for those choosing cannabis products for sleep versus those choosing CBD “are fairly similar.” And of course there are more and more products, sold in legal states, that combine the two substances.

Not surprisingly, today’s heightened levels of stress among Americans – stemming from the pandemic to inflation to the Ukraine war – have become a leading motivator for using cannabis or CBD to get an adequate night’s rest, Gomez said.

“Consumers have had more and more trouble with their sleep,” she said, noting “a really significant uptick” in reported sleep challenges in recent quarters. “Before the pandemic, you’d think ‘fun’ as being at the top of the list as the reason people used cannabis,” Gomez pointed out. “Now, it’s relaxation and sleep.”

That’s important for good health. The National Sleep Foundation cites medical experts in linking sleep deprivation to issues like stress, depression, weight gain, reduced immunity, heart disease, even dangerous driving.

What does the future hold in this area of medical concern? Companies are starting to make products using CBN, a cannabinoid often associated with sleep. Then there are the many products that combine CBD with melatonin and valerian root for extra strength and the ability to comply with the Federal Trade Commission’s regulations against medical claims for cannabis, Gomez said. Specifically, melatonin is regulated; cannabis is not.

In the end, sleep is a luxurious, restorative part of anyone’s day. Given the numbers on Americans craving it, the increasing use of cannabis and CBD in over the counter and prescribed remedies seems to be a given.



Joan Oleck
Joan Oleck
Cannabis Journalist
Joan Oleck is a freelance writer currently specializing in the cannabis industry and cannabis tech. She has been an editor and reporter on staff for such publications as, Business Week, Newsday and The Detroit News. She won the Jesse Neal Award for best feature series in a trade publication, Restaurant Business, and a GLAAD Award for a Salon story about discrimination in adoption against single and gay parents

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