In the quest for a good night’s sleep, many people turn to supplements to help them drift off into dreamland. With sleep disorders affecting millions worldwide, the demand for effective and natural sleep aids has never been higher. Two popular options in this realm are CBN (cannabinol) and melatonin. Both are renowned for their sleep-inducing properties, but they come from entirely different origins and work in distinct ways. While melatonin has been a staple in sleep aid supplements for years, recent interest in CBN has sparked debates about its potential benefits and effectiveness. In this blog, we will explore the differences between CBN and melatonin, examining why many are starting to favor CBN over melatonin as a natural sleep aid. 

What is CBN?

Cannabinol (CBN) is emerging as a standout ingredient for those seeking a natural solution to sleeplessness. It is also one of over 100 cannabinoids found in the cannabis plant. Unlike its more famous cousin THC, CBN does not induce psychoactive effects and is known as a minor cannabinoid. While research on CBN is still in its early stages, preliminary studies suggest that it may offer several therapeutic properties, particularly in the realm of sleep.

CBN is one of the many cannabinoids present in the cannabis plant, but it is usually found in smaller quantities compared to more prominent cannabinoids like THC and CBD (cannabidiol). The production of CBN is often a byproduct of the oxidation of THC. When THC is exposed to oxygen and heat, it gradually converts into CBN. This process can happen naturally over time or can be induced deliberately by aging cannabis under controlled conditions.

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How CBN Works

CBN interacts with the endocannabinoid system (ECS), which plays a crucial role in regulating various physiological processes, including sleep, pain, appetite, and immune response. The ECS is comprised of cannabinoid receptors (CB1 and CB2), endocannabinoids produced by the body, and enzymes responsible for breaking down these endocannabinoids. CBN is believed to bind to these receptors, particularly CB2 receptors, which are predominantly found in the peripheral nervous system and immune cells. This interaction helps to promote relaxation and sleep.

While the exact mechanisms of CBN are not entirely understood, preliminary research suggests that it may influence the release of certain neurotransmitters, such as serotonin and dopamine, which are involved in regulating mood and sleep. Additionally, CBN's mild affinity for CB1 receptors in the central nervous system may contribute to its sedative effects.


CBN's potential as a sleep aid is increasingly gaining attention due to its unique properties and interaction with the endocannabinoid system. One of the primary benefits of CBN is its ability to promote deep relaxation, which is crucial for falling asleep and staying asleep. Unlike melatonin, which primarily signals the body to prepare for sleep, CBN works on a broader level by engaging with the body's endocannabinoid system to induce a state of calm. 

Promotes Relaxation: CBN has sedative properties that can help reduce anxiety and promote a sense of calm. This is particularly beneficial for individuals who experience racing thoughts or heightened anxiety before bed, making it easier to transition into sleep. CBN's ability to induce a state of calm may also help reduce nighttime awakenings. By minimizing disturbances during the night, CBN may contribute to a more consistent and uninterrupted sleep cycle.

Synergistic Effects with Other Cannabinoids: When used in combination with other cannabinoids like CBD, CBN can create an "entourage effect," enhancing the overall therapeutic benefits. This synergy can provide a more comprehensive approach to managing sleep cycles.

Minimal Morning Drowsiness and Dependency Risks: One of the concerns with prolonged use of melatonin is the potential for morning drowsiness and dependency. Some users report feeling groggy the next day, which can impact daily activities. Over time, the body may also become reliant on melatonin supplements to initiate sleep, potentially leading to dependency issues. In contrast, CBN is less likely to cause morning drowsiness and dependency, making it a more sustainable option for long-term use.

By addressing multiple factors that contribute to poor sleep, such as anxiety, pain, and inflammation, CBN offers a comprehensive solution for improving sleep quality without the risk of dependency. This makes it an appealing alternative for those seeking a natural and effective sleep aid.


Melatonin is a hormone naturally produced by the pineal gland, a small, pea-sized gland located in the brain. It plays a crucial role in regulating the sleep-wake cycle, also known as the circadian rhythm. The production and release of melatonin are influenced by the light-dark cycle. Typically, melatonin levels begin to rise in the evening as it gets darker, signaling to the body that it is time to prepare for sleep. These levels remain elevated throughout the night and start to decline in the early morning hours, promoting wakefulness as daylight approaches. Unlike CBD and CBN, melatonin directly influences sleep patterns by signaling to the body that it is time to wind down and prepare for sleep.

How Melatonin Works

Melatonin functions as a timekeeper for the body's internal clock. By influencing the sleep-wake cycle, it helps synchronize the body's circadian rhythms with the external environment. This is particularly important for individuals whose natural sleep patterns are disrupted, such as shift workers, travelers experiencing jet lag, or those with certain sleep disorders. When melatonin levels rise in the evening, it signals to the body that it is time to prepare for sleep. This process involves lowering body temperature, reducing alertness, and promoting feelings of drowsiness. Melatonin binds to specific receptors in the brain, including MT1 and MT2 receptors, which help regulate sleep-wake cycles and the timing of sleep onset.

Melatonin supplements are widely used to address various sleep disorders and circadian rhythm disruptions. These supplements are typically derived from either synthetic sources or animal sources. They come in various forms, including tablets, capsules, gummies, and liquid formulations. The dosage of melatonin supplements can vary, but it is usually recommended to start with a low dose and adjust as needed under the guidance of a healthcare provider.

Benefits of Melatonin for Sleep

Melatonin is widely recognized for its significant role in promoting better sleep and overall well-being. This naturally occurring hormone offers a range of benefits, making it an effective and safe choice for addressing various sleep-related issues. Below are the key advantages of melatonin for enhancing sleep quality and maintaining health:

Regulates Sleep-Wake Cycle: Melatonin signals the body that it is time to prepare for sleep by rising in levels during the evening and decreasing in the morning. This helps to synchronize the internal clock, also known as the circadian rhythm, with the external environment. Proper regulation of this cycle is essential for maintaining consistent sleep patterns and overall health.

Reduces Time to Fall Asleep: One of the primary benefits of melatonin supplements is their ability to potentially reduce the time it takes to fall asleep, known as sleep latency. By promoting a sense of drowsiness and preparing the body for sleep, melatonin helps individuals fall asleep more quickly, especially those who have difficulty initiating sleep.

Increases Overall Sleep Duration: Melatonin may help increase the total duration of sleep by improving sleep onset and maintenance. This is particularly beneficial for individuals who wake up frequently during the night or have trouble returning to sleep after waking. By enhancing sleep duration, melatonin ensures that individuals get the necessary amount of restorative sleep.

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Finding Natural Relief

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CBN VS Melatonin

When comparing CBN and melatonin as sleep aids, it's important to consider their origins, mechanisms of action and effectiveness. Melatonin is a hormone naturally produced by the pineal gland that regulates the sleep-wake cycle, making it particularly effective for adjusting circadian rhythms and addressing issues like jet lag and shift work. On the other hand, CBN is a cannabinoid derived from the cannabis plant, which interacts with the endocannabinoid system to promote relaxation and improve sleep quality.

Origins and Composition:

  • Melatonin: A naturally occurring hormone produced in the brain. Made synthetically or derived from animals for supplements.
  • CBN: A cannabinoid derived from the cannabis plant.

Mechanisms of Action:

  • Melatonin: Regulates the sleep-wake cycle by signaling to the body that it is time to sleep.
  • CBN: Interacts with the endocannabinoid system to promote relaxation and sleep.


  • Melatonin: Effective in adjusting the body’s internal clock, particularly useful for circadian rhythm disruptions.
  • CBN: Shows promise in enhancing sleep quality and duration, though more research is needed.

While both supplements have their benefits, many are starting to favor CBN due to its broader approach to improving sleep by addressing underlying issues such as anxiety and pain, and its lower risk of dependency compared to melatonin.

The Bottom Line

Both CBN and melatonin have their distinct advantages as sleep aids, each offering unique benefits and mechanisms to promote better sleep. Melatonin is well-known for its role in regulating the sleep-wake cycle and is particularly effective for managing circadian rhythm disruptions like jet lag and shift work. It is widely used and generally safe, though it can sometimes cause morning drowsiness and dependency with prolonged use. On the other hand, CBN, a cannabinoid from the cannabis plant, is gaining attention for its potential to enhance sleep quality and duration through its interaction with the endocannabinoid system. CBN not only promotes relaxation and deep sleep but also addresses underlying issues such as anxiety and pain, with a lower risk of dependency. As research into CBN continues to evolve, its holistic approach to improving sleep makes it an increasingly attractive option for those seeking a natural and effective sleep aid. For individuals looking to enhance their sleep health, understanding the differences between CBN and melatonin can help in choosing the most suitable option tailored to their specific needs.


  1. Suraev, A. S., Marshall, N. S., Vandrey, R., McCartney, D., Benson, M. J., McGregor, I. S., Grunstein, R. R., & Hoyos, C. M. (2020). Cannabinoid therapies in the management of sleep disorders: A systematic review of preclinical and clinical studies. Sleep Medicine Reviews, 53, 101339.
  2. Kaul, M., Zee, P. C., & Sahni, A. S. (2021). Effects of Cannabinoids on Sleep and their Therapeutic Potential for Sleep Disorders. Neurotherapeutics, 18.
  3. Lavender, I., McCartney, D., Marshall, N., Suraev, A., Irwin, C., D’Rozario, A. L., Gordon, C. J., Saini, B., Grunstein, R. R., Yee, B., McGregor, I., & Hoyos, C. M. (2023). Cannabinol (CBN; 30 and 300 mg) effects on sleep and next-day function in insomnia disorder (“CUPID” study): protocol for a randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled, cross-over, three-arm, proof-of-concept trial. BMJ Open, 13(8), e071148.
  4. Bonn-Miller, M. O., Feldner, M. T., Bynion, T. M., Eglit, G. M. L., Brunstetter, M., Kalaba, M., Zvorsky, I., Peters, E. N., & Hennesy, M. (2023). A double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled study of the safety and effects of CBN with and without CBD on sleep quality.Experimental and Clinical Psychopharmacology. Advance online publication.
  5. CBD & CBN and Sleep. (n.d.). Element Apothec. Retrieved February 14, 2024, from

May 22, 2024 — Griffin Lynch

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