Is cannabinol (CBN) a sleep aid?

    October 19, 2022 2 min read

    Is cannabinol (CBN) a sleep aid?

    Cannabinol (CBN) was the first phytocannabinoid to be identified, in the 1930’s. It is unique among cannabis derivatives for not occurring in acid form in the plant. It is a product of THC degradation through light, oxygen, and heat. It is a partial agonist of the CB1 receptor, and for this reason, supposedly, it has a reputation for inducing sleep-related effects – up to 10 times stronger than over-the-counter sleeping preparations, according to some advertising copy. 

    This reputation is not justified by preclinical or clinical research evidence so far. It is not impossible that a partial agonist of the CB1 receptor, like CBN, could cause sleepiness. THC, which is also a low-affinity CB1 agonist, does do this. But so far the published evidence that CBN causes drowsiness – or any of the other effects of cannabis – does not exist. Most of the human studies of any aspect of CBN date to the 1970’s and 1980’s, and involve very small sample sizes, with extremely narrow demographics. Studies addressing CBN’s sleep effects specifically are vanishingly rare. There are in fact no published trials of CBN against validated sleep questionnaires or polysomnographic analysis at all. 

    There is only one registered trial investigating CBN for sleep currently; it is in the recruiting stage as of the date of this writing, and has not yet begun. This will bea randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled, single-dose, crossover study of cannabinol’s effects on sleep architecture and next-day functioning in diagnosed Insomnia Disorder. This study will evaluate polysomnography metrics. 


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    The foregoing is a report on trends and developments in the cannabinoid industry. No product described herein is intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease or syndrome.