CBN vs melatonin: is one better for sleep?

CBN vs Melatonin

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Many body functions are facilitated by hormones. You’ve probably heard of anandamide, serotonin, dopamine, melatonin, and many other hormones. These hormones mediate various processes, and without them, we stop functioning efficiently.

In certain cases, our body is not able to create the required amounts of these hormones successfully. So, we turn to supplements to make up for our bodies’ inadequacies. The dietary supplements market value was approximately $340 billion in 2021 and is projected to double by 2030. This just shows the magnitude of the importance of these products.

Today, we look at CBN vs melatonin, two ingredients popularly used to make sleep supplements.

Key Takeaways

  • CBN and melatonin are widely marketed as sleep aids.
  • Besides their potential sleep-promoting property, CBN and melatonin have other possible benefits, such as pain and inflammation relief, promoting bone health, reducing symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), and improving eye health.
  • Choosing between CBN and melatonin is a matter of preference. However, cost, the scope of potential benefits, and legality may also play a role.

What is CBN?

CBN is one of 100+ cannabinoid compounds found in cannabis. It is considered one of the “big six” in cannabis research but naturally occurs in low concentrations. For this reason, it is a minor cannabinoid.

This compound is widely marketed as a sleep aid and is a common ingredient in many sleep supplements. Even though sleep promotion is considered its strongest quality, CBN possesses other pharmacological traits suggesting it may have other benefits.

CBN’s close association with THC would imply it is psychoactive, i.e., it can cause mind-altering effects. However, this cannabinoid is weakly psychotropic (about ¼ the potency of THC), making it highly unlikely to cause an overt “high.”

CBN is the first cannabinoid to be identified and extracted from cannabis, yet research on it is scarce. As such, some aspects, e.g., its toxicology profile remains a gray area that calls for more work. Nonetheless, it is increasingly gaining traction as an effective sleeping aid hence the need to learn more about it.

How is CBN Made?

CBN is a weakly psychotropic cannabinoid formed when tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) oxidizes in the presence of light, air, and heat. Accordingly, it is prevalent mainly in aged cannabis material, especially under poor storage conditions.

Interestingly, CBN content is one way of assessing the quality of cannabis material. According to one study, THC completely degrades into CBN within four years under poor storage conditions, i.e., light (24 hours) and temperature (22℃).

For users who prefer the “sleepy cannabinoid in weed,” leaving your stash somewhere for a while could help raise its CBN content. Also, amping the temperature could be helpful to fast-track the conversion.

However, neither light nor heat is used for large-scale production of CBN from THC. As you’d expect, manufacturers employ a well-guarded proprietary SOP which involves refluxing THC in specific solvents in the presence of metal catalysts.

Extractors typically start with biomass rich in CBNa, the CBN precursor. This tracks back to the growing conditions, i.e., the amount of UV light the crop is exposed to and the CBNa content potential of the strain.

The most common CBN extraction method is Cold Temperature Ethanol Extraction. CO2 extract is also pretty famous, but it’s not as popular.

What Are the Effects of CBN?

CBN is mildly psychotropic but doesn’t induce a noticeable “high” like THC. However, users claim its “high” stimulates drowsiness and sedation. Others claim CBN products may create feelings of relaxation, which is why it is a popular go-to sleeping aid.

What Are the Benefits of CBN?

The question of CBN’s health benefits is inundated with anecdotal claims and minimal scientific backing. By and large, studies on CBN have mainly been carried out on animals, with minimal validation from human studies. So, it is necessary to emphasize that these are the potential health benefits of CBN:

  • Appetite stimulation
  • Pain relief
  • Promoting bone formation
  • Sleep promotion
  • Treating burns

Possible Side Effects of CBN

This is one of the aspects of CBN that we know little about. As mentioned earlier, research on CBN, and, indeed, many other minor cannabinoids, have been eclipsed by the “big hitters” CBD and THC.

So, often, we use a ‘guilty by association’ approach to deduce the potential side effects of CBN. Since it is derived from THC, it is logical to presume that CBN may have some of THC’s known side effects.

However, here is the catch—CBN’s weak psychoactivity means it is unlikely to produce THC-like effects. So, we don’t expect it to cause effects like confusion, paranoia, anxiety, etc. But being mildly psychoactive, CBN can potentially cause drowsiness. Moreover, you could fail a drug test after taking CBN products.

Best Way to Take CBN

Nowadays, the most common way to take CBN is supplements. These are available in various forms, e.g., edibles, sublingual, inhalable, and topicals. Let’s review each.


Edibles are essentially regular treats/foods infused with cannabis. They could be gummies, cookies, brownies, energy bars, chocolate, and beverages like smoothies, tea, or cocktails. CBN edibles are made by integrating CBN extract into the recipe. Thanks to the internet, you can easily access these recipes and make them from the comfort of your home.

However, you can also go for ready-made CBN treats like gummies, chocolate, and energy bars. These have the advantage of having a precise amount of the cannabinoid to enable you to tailor your dosing accordingly. Moreover, they are convenient because they can be used on the go and also allow micro-dosing (for low-tolerance users).


These include vape cartridges, pens, and nasal sprays. As the name suggests, these products are inhaled into the lungs, from where their ingredients enter the systemic circulation.

Inhalables have the advantage of being fast-acting; their effects kick in within minutes. However, the downside is that they are short-lived. The principle around using vape carts is similar to smoking, minus the harmful effects of smoke.

Vape carts are ideal accessories for smoking CBN oils. They have a heating mechanism that vaporizes the liquid to produce vapor. However, they do emit a little smoke, which may be a turn-off for users who want discretion.


CBN possesses a broad pharmacological profile that includes antibiotic and anti-inflammatory activity. So, for people with certain skin conditions, e.g Psoriasis, CBN-infused creams and lotions may have significant therapeutic benefits.

The skin, as we all know, contains millions upon millions of pores. These offer entry points for topicals to penetrate and reach the lower layers. Here, they interact with receptors to effectuate their healing properties.

As a result, cannabinoid-containing topicals are a massive hit in the sports industry. Athletes use them to alleviate exercise-related conditions like pain and inflammation and to aid recovery.

What is Melatonin?

Barring the occasional daytime sleepiness, have you ever wondered why you feel sleepy at night? Well, it is due to a hormone called melatonin. The brain produces this hormone in response to darkness to ready the body to sleep. It essentially regulates your circadian rhythm – an internal clock that controls your sleep-wake cycle.

Melatonin doesn’t make you sleepy per se, but it puts you in a state of quiet wakefulness. In this state, you easily fall asleep. Naturally, melatonin levels start rising as evening enters and peak about two hours from bedtime.

A normal person produces enough melatonin to get the job done. However, the demands of modern life sometimes disrupt our sleep patterns. For example, shift workers can find it difficult to sleep due to the nature of their work hours. Jet lag can also misalign the circadian rhythm, especially when traveling across time zones.

The good news is that melatonin supplements can help reset the sleep-wake cycle and improve sleep quality.

How is Melatonin Made?

The body naturally produces endogenous melatonin. This hormone is made in the pineal glands in the brain and then released into the bloodstream. Darkness triggers the brain to signal the pineal gland to release melatonin. This is why sleep experts recommend avoiding bright lights when bedtime approaches.

Melatonin can also be synthesized artificially via a complex biosynthesis pathway that begins with the conversion of amino acid L-tryptophan into 5-hydroxy-L-tryptophan (5-HTP) using tryptophan hydroxylase.

5-HTP is then decarboxylated to serotonin by the enzyme 5-hydroxy-L-tryptophan decarboxylase and acetylated to N-acetylserotonin by serotonin N‐acetyltransferase in the presence of acetyl-coenzyme A. Finally, N‐acetylserotonin is methylated into melatonin. Perhaps, it is noteworthy that serotonin is produced as a by-product during the artificial synthesis of melatonin.

There are other ways to synthesize melatonin, but companies patent their processes to maintain a competitive edge. Naturally, these are not accessible.

What Are the Effects of Melatonin?

Melatonin is called the sleep hormone for a good reason. It is a popular sleep aid for problems like sleeplessness, and many studies have, indeed, confirmed this effect.

What Are the Benefits of Melatonin?

Most people recognize melatonin as a sleep aid for combatting problems like insomnia. However, this hormone is an antioxidant and may also significantly impact other aspects of health, such as:

Reducing Symptoms of Seasonal Depression

Approximately 10% of the global population suffers from seasonal affective disorder (SAD). This condition is triggered by seasonal changes and occurs around the same time each year. Researchers contend it could be linked to a disrupted circadian rhythm due to seasonal light changes.

Since melatonin can reset the circadian rhythm, it helps reduce the symptoms of SAD. However, other studies are inconclusive on whether melatonin does help with SAD. So, more research is needed.

Increase Growth Hormone Levels

The human growth hormone (HGH) is critical to cellular regeneration and growth. Indeed, high HGH levels are linked to better bone strength and muscle mass. It turns out that supplementing with melatonin may boost HGH levels, especially in men.

Boost Eye Health

Melatonin is rich in antioxidants and could help reduce cell damage and maintain eye health. Indeed, studies indicate that melatonin could have therapeutic benefits for age-related macular degeneration and glaucoma.

A rat study also showed that melatonin lessened the severity of retinopathy, which can lead to loss of vision. Though these findings are promising, more research is needed to assess the long-term effects of melatonin supplements on eye health.

Potential Side Effects of Melatonin

According to the National Health Service, quality melatonin does not cause side effects in most people. However, in case it does, these are the most common:

  • Stomach ache
  • Headache
  • Nausea
  • Daytime sleepiness
  • Dizziness
  • Dry mouth
  • Itchy skin
  • Irritability
  • Night sweats
  • Strange dreams

However, these tend to resolve on their own. If they don’t, consult a doctor. Serious side effects are rare and happen in less than 1 in 1,000 people. But if you start feeling sad or low, seek medical help immediately, as it could signal the onset of depression.

Best Way to Take Melatonin

The best way to take melatonin is in the form of supplements. Tablets, pills, and gummies are quite common, but liquids and chewables are also available. So, it all depends on your preference. Of course, each form has its pros and cons.

Pills, Tablets, and Capsules


  • Often tasteless
  • Longer shelf life
  • Easy to divide into smaller portions


  • Have to be taken with water
  • May be difficult to swallow

Liquid Melatonin

You can also go with liquid forms of melatonin, which resemble regular syrups


  • Faster absorption
  • Easier to take than pills and capsules


  • May have an unappealing taste
  • Tend to be more expensive than other forms of melatonin


Gummies are not only available for hemp cannabinoids, so melatonin gummies are another way to take melatonin


  • Often taste great
  • Chewable and easy to swallow


  • Delayed onset

CBN vs. Melatonin: Effects

Now to compare herbs and synthetic compounds – CBN and melatonin. The best way to gauge the possible effects of CBN vs. melatonin is by highlighting their primary effect. For CBN, we know it is widely marketed as a sleep aid, while melatonin is also a popular sleep supplement.

Both compounds don’t exhibit physical body effects such as THC’s “high.” CBN is too weakly psychotropic to induce psychoactive effects for most people. Melatonin does not exhibit any physical body effects either. However, there are fears that supplementing with melatonin may reduce your body’s ability to produce the hormone. Luckily, studies indicate otherwise.

CBN vs Melatonin: Potency

CBN is one-fourth as potent as THC, which, as mentioned, makes it a mildly psychoactive cannabinoid. Typically, CBN supplements indicate the recommended dose on the label. We encourage users to start with lower doses and gradually increase the dosage.

While cannabinoid dosing is subjective because people react to them differently, CBN doses for sleep tend to range between 3-6mg for most people.

But keep in mind that the form in which you take CBN also determines its potency. For example, edibles undergo the first-pass process in the stomach, effectively reducing the amount of CBN that enters your systemic circulation.

Considering that the oral bioavailability of cannabinoids is quite low (13-19%), you can estimate how much CBN you should take to get 3-6 mg into your circulation. As a rule of thumb, don’t exceed 10mg of CBN per day.

Like cannabinoids, there is no consensus on the optimal melatonin dose. Each person has specific needs, and factors like age and the severity of a sleep problem dictate how much melatonin they can take.

Generally, experts recommend 1-3 mg two hours before bedtime. Oral doses of 1-10mg can raise melatonin levels 3 to 60 times above normal levels. For this reason, try to avoid unusually high doses.

CBN vs Melatonin: Legality

Melatonin is sold in the US as dietary supplements, which are regulated by the FDA. CBN’s legality originates from the 2018 Farm Bill, which legalized hemp and its derivatives. The hemp was to have THC concentrations of not more than 0.3%.

CBN vs Melatonin: Cost

Pricing for CBN and melatonin supplements depends on the manufacturer. Other factors, such as potency, added ingredients, and total package volume, also affect pricing.

Because it exists in trace amounts, CBN is artificially manufactured for commercial purposes. These processes require lots of resources, making CBN quite expensive compared to synthetic melatonin.

CBN vs Melatonin: Which One is Right For You?

When choosing between CBN and melatonin, you should consider several factors. Top of the list is the side effects — CBN’s side effects are not well-established due to the scarcity of research, but this does not in any way mean it is flawless. As for melatonin, there are wide-ranging potential side effects though nothing life-threatening. Both of these substances are widely regarded as a method of helping with sleep and pain. However, one of the best things you can do is use them together. There are CBN products enriched with small amounts of Melatonin, which is great for people like you who want the best of both worlds.

Where to Buy CBN & Melatonin

If you’re looking to buy CBN products with melatonin, there are plenty of options. Here are some of our favorite products with these two substances combined.

We have various products designed to offer that much-needed relief for sleep problems.

First up are the Sweet Sleep CBD capsules from GreenRoads that contain 5mg of melatonin and 25mg of CBD/CBN to support better sleep and overall wellness. These are the best supplements out there if you’re looking for an entourage effect for sleep. For best results, take one capsule 30 minutes before bedtime.

You can also try these Sleep Aid CBN + Melatonin gummies from Slumber. Each vanilla blueberry-flavored gummy has 13 mg of CBN and 2mg of melatonin to lull you gently to sleep and keep you asleep for longer. What’s more, these delectable edibles have zero THC, so no worries about getting overtly high!

Next up are Sky Wellness’ CBD + CBN + Melatonin Sleep Soft Gels that pack a punch. With 25mg of broad-spectrum CBD, 3mg of CBN, and 3mg of melatonin, these soft gels are ideal for calming the mind, relaxing the body, and priming you for a gratifying and restful sleep.

If you love gummies, these Mixed Berry Sleep gummies from Cibadol will certainly see your mouth water. With 30mg of CBD, 5mg of melatonin, and 5mg of CBN, these incredible tasty gummies are formulated to give you the deep, restful sleep you’ve been yearning for. Compact and lightweight, these can be taken on the go!

The final product from our list is NuLeaf’s CBN Oil. It is available in three strength levels—300mg, 900mg, and 1,800mg—and contains full-spectrum hemp extract to help improve sleep and relaxation.

Hearst Newspapers participates in various affiliate marketing programs, which means we may earn a commission when you purchase products featured here. Please consult your doctor before starting any new supplement to see it is right for you.