Does CBD make you sleepy?

by Apoorva Shivankar, M.D

CBD for better sleep

CBD for better sleep

One of foremost reason CBD market is exploding in popularity is its ability to ‘Make you fall asleep peacefully’.

A nice 7-8 hours sleep is something most of us long for. Though it appears to be a small wish, fulfilling it is a far-fetched dream today. The modern world is struggling with an exponential rise in sleep problems including insomnia, sleep apnoea, sleep disturbances, and disorders. Reasons being the ever-growing stressful life, strained relationships, and demanding work environment.

We bet more than half of you reading this article right now crave for that sound night-time sleep and the fresh start in the morning that follows suit. Even the modern-day luxuries fail to provide this. Unfortunately, even the famous over the counter sleeping pills available come with a baggage of lingering sedative effects rendering you drowsy the very next day.

This led to increasing demand for controversial cannabis compound CBD, wherein a small guided dose can make your dream sleep a reality without any adverse effects.

Yes, several studies have proved now that CBD can bless you with a relaxed, undisturbed peaceful night sleep.

To begin with,

Is sleep actually that important? Isn’t it good to sleep less and get more time to work and enjoy? Try it…

I am 100% sure you will regret it and realize how vital a good nap is to maintain a healthy routine. Lack of sleep is not only bothering but also exhausting. ‘NO SLEEP, NO WORK’. Sleep in real sense is a mode of rest for our brain as well as our body, and an absence of this rest hits your ability to think, focus, and work very hard.

Chronic lack of sleep further affects your immunity and body homeostasis/ functioning precipitating serious health conditions like hypertension, heart attack, stroke, diabetes, obesity, depression, dementia, and even neurodegeneration.

Will CBD help you fall asleep?

Yes, it does. Though the use of CBD in sleep disorders is not backed by Food and Drug Administration, CBD works wonders in its march towards proving its ability. A big section of the population all over the world are enjoying and advocating the use of CBD for quality sleep along with increased undisturbed total sleep time on the basis of their personal experiences.

How does CBD induce sleep?

CBD effectively addresses the root causes of sleep impairment which mainly include-stress, anxiety, depression, pain, substance abuse, and many more. Freedom from these causes imparts peace and calmness to the racing brains promoting quality sleep.

Principle is once the interfering factors are taken care of, our body automatically restores its very own natural sleep rhythm, and in turn, you experience quality, restful sleep. 

Mechanism of Action:

  1. CBD achieves this by boosting/modulating the endocannabinoid system which regulates the essential functions of the human body, including sleep. The cannabinoids enhance our brains’ ability to fight against stress and anxiety. This results in a calmer mind ready to enjoy a deep sound sleep.

  2. Binding of CBD to cannabinoid receptors, inhibit the anandamide binding to the same. This sets anandamide free and its levels increase in the blood which is directly proportional to the calmness and inversely related to the excited states of the nervous system.17

  3. CBD also promotes sleep by binding to 5HT1a serotonin receptors. These receptors in the brain govern the body’s naturally occurring sleep and wake cycle.16 Normally activation of 5-HT1A receptors by agonist causes wakefulness. By binding to these receptors, CBD prevents the agonis-t mediated activation of 5HT1a receptors and thus prolong the sleep state.18

  4. CBD also helps the brain to secrete more quantity of melatonin during night time to ensure you fall asleep faster and deeper.

    What if there is no anxiety or any other significant underlying cause for sleeplessness? Will CBD show its effects then?

    In such cases too, people reported better sleep experiences at night and attributed this to the calmness and relaxation of the nervous system generated/caused by CBD. 

    Can CBD make you sleepy the next morning? 

    Absolutely not. No hangover at all.

    As we know CBD takes care of the normal sleep-wake cycle by merely removing the disturbing factors and not by inducing sleep itself, there stands no possibility of morning sleepiness. Thus, after taking CBD, we enjoy a relaxed natural night-time sleep followed by a refreshing, energized morning unlike the groggy, sleepy mornings seen following a sedative dose.

    Can CBD cause sleepiness or drowsiness?

    CBD is non-euphoria causing, non-psychoactive, and non-addictive in nature. So, no question of drowsiness or excessive sleep.

    This is the best part of CBD sleep management: in spite of promoting quality sleep, CBD never makes you dizzy. The reason being that CBD never induces sleep directly instead it indirectly facilitates normal sleep by relieving the underlying conditions which interfere with sleep.

    Excessive sleepiness, a sense of euphoria and altered sensorium (drowsiness) are usually seen with a similar cousin of CBD-THE THC. This THC is the flag-bearer of psychoactive effects like euphoria, getting one high, etc and it does it by activating CB1 receptors of the endocannabinoid system.

    THC is often confused with CBD due to the following:


      • Both are cannabinoids derived from cannabis plants.
      • Both are grouped under the group cannabinoids.
      • Same molecular formula.
      • Both act via the same CB receptors on endocannabinoid system.


      • Different structural formula.
      • Different binding sites on CB receptors.
      • THC gets you HIGH whereas CBD doesn’t.
      • THC has multiple psychoactive effects whereas CBD doesn’t.
      • THC causes drowsiness whereas CBD actually promotes wakefulness during daytime.14
      • THC masks/dampens brain activity whereas CBD enhances the focus and alertness levels of the brain.
      • Higher concentrations of THC is present in Marijuana plants, whereas CBD in hemp plants.
      • THC is intoxicating in nature whereas CBD doesn’t.

    So, enjoy the soothing and relaxing effects of CBD and forget about drowsiness, it’s not going to be there for sure.

    What do you think - Will CBD make me sleepy during the day?

    CBD is famous for its calming and relaxing effects, but it has a contrasting side too.

    1. CBD makes you fall asleep at night but not during the day-time.
    2. Instead in the morning hours, it can actually make you more alert and focussed.

    At night time, our drained-out brains initiate a natural sleep process by ordering the release of a peptide called Melatonin. Our sleep cycle is meticulously regulated by release (night) and inhibition of this melatonin release (morning) as per the body’s demand. CBD blocks the area of brain which inhibits melatonin release, thus strengthening sleep. During the day, there is no melatonin secretion as such, so no melatonin-based effects of CBD.

    But, but, but….

    During the day, CBD continues to demonstrate the rest of its health benefits (anxiolytic, anti-inflammatory, analgesic, neuroprotective effects) which are mediated by the Endocannabinoid System (ECS). This helps to clear the mind of the unwanted anxiety, stress, and pain if any and makes it available to focus on something more important. Some studies suggest that CBD may actually promote wakefulness during the day.

    Simply speaking, CBD keeps us attentive, alert, energetic, and focussed during the day-time and then shut our racing brains down at night to ensure good sleep.

    So guys, there stands no risk of dozing off or any alteration in cognitive behavior at day time, if you consume CBD for any other reason.

    Comparison between CBD and conventional OTA sleeping pills



    Indirect action - alleviates underlying causes and facilitates normal sleep cycle.

    Direct action-sedates and induces sleep directly.

    Takes time to show its effects.

    Immediate action.

    Influences only night-time sleep.

    Can induce sleep anytime.

    Boosts the focus and alertness of brain during day and calms down brain activity at night.

    Sedative, Depresses brain activity.

    No risk of drowsiness- No sedative effect.

    The risk of Drowsiness is common. Acts as a sedative.



    The same dose works each time.

    The dose has to be increased after regular use.

    Additional neuroprotective, anti-inflammatory, immunomodulatory, anti-anxiety, anti-depressant and analgesic effects are a bonus.

    Deals with sleep only.

    Different forms and flavours available to choose from- Topicals, edibles, vapours

    Pills only


    Which forms of CBD products are preferred to manage sleep?

    CBD Oil used orally or as a massage oil or chewing Gummies 1-2 hours before hitting the bed are usually the preferred modes.


    There are complaints made by some people suggesting that an evening dose of CBD may make you tired sometimes. This contradicts with the no side-effect status of CBD based drugs. Studies are still going on to find the facts.

    Tips to buy a CBD as a good quality sleep aid:

    Apart from the regular guidelines to be followed while buying a CBD, one should also look for

    • A very potent CBD-product to enjoy good sleep.
    • Full-spectrum CBD oils of hemp origin should be preferred.
    • Gummies containing a blend of CBD and melatonin are serving a great role in this field.

    To conclude:

    • CBD is derived from a variety of Cannabis plant but is will not get you a high.
    • While CBD may help you go to sleep, it won’t make you feel drowsy.
    • CBD oil can help with insomnia, but it doesn’t do so by sedating you.
    • CBD can calm your brains at night but the same CBD may also alert you at day time.


    14. Murillo-Rodríguez E, Sarro-Ramírez A, Sánchez D, Mijangos-Moreno S, Tejeda-Padrón A, Poot-Aké A, Guzmán K, Pacheco-Pantoja E, Arias-Carrión O. Potential effects of cannabidiol as a wake-promoting agent. Curr Neuropharmacol. 2014 May;12(3):269-72. doi: 10.2174/1570159X11666131204235805. PMID: 24851090; PMCID: PMC4023456.

    17. Ronan PJ, Wongngamnit N, Beresford TP Molecular Mechanisms of Cannabis Signaling in the Brain, Progress in Molecular Biology and Translational Science.Volume 137, 2016, Pages 123-147

    18. Bjorvatn B, Ursin R. Changes in sleep and wakefulness following 5-HT1A ligands given systemically and locally in different brain regions. Rev Neurosci. 1998;9(4):265-73. doi: 10.1515/revneuro.1998.9.4.265. PMID: 9886141.

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