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Can CBD Cause Insomnia? Here's What The Research Says...

by Dale Cudmore | Updated: Jun 06, 2021

This is an exciting time in history as many researchers look for possible health benefits that cannabis can have - CBD in particular.

The one thing to be careful of is that there’s a lot of low quality “research” out there that’s sponsored by large marijuana-based companies that are looking for a specific result.

So while there is evidence showing that CBD can have health benefits, beware of studies done by authors with obvious conflicts of interest, and anyone claiming it’s a cure-all for everything.

When it comes to CBD and insomnia, there aren’t many human studies completed at the moment (a few in progress), so it’s hard to come to a firm conclusion. So far, a 2021 study found that while most cannabis users believe that CBD improves sleep, evidence might actually support the opposite (1):

...endorsing current cannabis use was associated with worse subjective sleep quality and increased frequency of consuming edibles was associated with worse subjective sleep efficiency, lower sleep duration, and higher global PSQI scores (worse overall sleep)

We’ll look at the credible evidence both for and against using CBD to improve sleep in the rest of this post.

Does CBD Improve Insomnia?

There are currently no published randomized controlled trials that look at the effect of CBD in patients with diagnosed insomnia (2).

But there is some less rigorous research we can look at.

One case report looked at treating a 10 year old girl with PTSD who suffered from anxiety, insomnia, and other conditions with CBD oil (3).

Regular CBD use was able to improve her objective sleep scores to “normal” levels, so the treatment was as effective as a standard treatment like lithium.

Next, a questionnaire of 60 university students looked to find correlations between CBD consumption and sleep quality (4):

While it’s a weak correlation over a relatively small sample size, CBD users were more likely to be “good” sleepers.

Finally, another study found that CBD could improve sleep quality and pain in chronic pain patients who were reliant on opiods (5):

Over half of chronic pain patients (53%) reduced or eliminated their opioids within 8 weeks after adding CBD-rich hemp extract to their regimens. Almost all CBD users (94%) reported quality of life improvements.

SummaryMuch more research on this topic is needed, but it does appear that CBD may improve sleep quality and insomnia symptoms in certain patient groups (those with anxiety syndromes or painful conditions).

Does CBD Cause Insomnia?

Just like CBD might have a potentially positive effect on sleep, it could also have a negative effect.

Again, there’s a little bit of research on this, but not enough to draw definite conclusions. As a side note, someone who is brand new to CBD might experience insomnia among other symptoms, particularly if they take too much.

CBD Seems to Promote Wakefulness

In animal studies, CBD doesn’t appear to promote sleep.

One study found (6):

CBD enhanced wakefulness and decreased slow wave sleep and REM sleep

The researchers behind this study propose that this might actually be a good thing for those with conditions like narcolepsy where patients have excessive daytime sleepiness.

CBD Can Have Withdrawal Symptoms Including Insomnia

Another specific situation is that people can have withdrawal symptoms if they consume CBD in any form for a while, and suddenly stop. One common symptom is insomnia, and poor sleep in general (7).

Research suggests that this mainly occurs when frequent cannabis users (at least 25 days per month) suddenly stop consuming it (8).

SummaryOverall, there’s a very small amount of research that shows that CBD may increase wakefulness (during the day at least), but nothing conclusive linking it to insomnia except in the case of withdrawal.

Summary: CBD and Insomnia

While there’s more research being done, it looks to me that there’s no strong effect of CBD on sleep in general.

Doctors are going to prescribe insomnia treatments like cognitive behavioral therapy, not CBD any time soon.

However, many individuals have different reactions to CBD. Personally, CBD gummies knock me out quickly, but the sleep quality doesn’t feel very high.

So while there isn’t substantial research showing an effect either way, CBD may improve sleep in some, while worsening it in others.

It could potentially be included in a treatment plan for certain conditions like anxiety disorders that are causing insomnia.

Unfortunately we can’t conclude much decisively, but as more research comes out in the coming years, we might get a clearer picture.

References

  1. Cannabis use and sleep: Expectations, outcomes, and the role of age
  2. Cannabinoid therapies in the management of sleep disorders
  3. Effectiveness of Cannabidiol Oil for Pediatric Anxiety and Insomnia as Part of Posttraumatic Stress Disorder
  4. Investigating views and opinions of using Cannabidiol (CBD) to relieve stress and insomnia
  5. Evaluation of the effects of CBD hemp extract on opioid use and quality of life indicators in chronic pain patients
  6. The nonpsychoactive cannabis constituent cannabidiol is a wake-inducing agent.
  7. WHO Expert Committee on Drug Dependence
  8. Cannabis withdrawal and sleep

Medical Disclaimer: The information on SnoozeUniversity.com is not intended to be a substitute for physician or other qualified care. We simply aim to inform people struggling with sleep issues about the nature of their condition and/or prescribed treatment.


About the authorDale is the founder of Snooze University and a sleep researcher. I overcame my sleep issues and now I'd like to help you do the same by summarizing the latest sleep studies for you.