Study suggests CBD and terpenes may lead to more restorative rest

CBD sleep study: Person under duvet cover in shadows from the blinds.

Many insomniacs turn to cannabis. About 70 percent of young adults use the plant to help them sleep. There are products designed to inspire a good night’s rest and cannabinoids are often coveted for their potential sleep-inducing properties. A new preprint study shows that cannabidiol (CBD) combined with a specific formulation of terpenes could prompt more restful and restorative sleep.

RELATED: How to make the most of your canna-tourism adventures

Results from A Cannabinidiol/Terpene Formulation that Increases Sleep In Insomniacs are promising, but there are noteworthy limitations. The second phase clinical trial was funded by a for-profit biotechnology company Defined Research Inc. Additionally, it is not yet published or peer-reviewed.

How do you study CBD and sleep?

The placebo-controlled clinical trial focuses on only six insomnia patients using a crossover design, meaning that different patients were given individual treatments over time. Over the course of 28-days (four weeks) patients self-administered 300 milligrams (mg) of CBD with 1 mg each of the terpenes linalool, myrcene, phytol, limonene, α-terpinene, α-terpineol, α-pinene, and β-caryophyllene in capsule form.

RELATED: Eat your greens – ways to use fan leaves

Outcomes were measured by tracking the amount of time spent in slow wave sleep (SWS) and rapid-eye movement (REM) sleep stages. A sleep-tracking device worn on patients’ wrists recorded the data. Study participants also filled out a survey after each four-week period to gauge physiological understanding of sleep mechanisms.

All about slow wave sleep and REM

Slow wave sleep is also called deep sleep. It is essential for waking up feeling rested. The Sleep Foundation shares that this sleep stage could be vital for memory, growth, and immune function.

The REM stage is known to be when we experience vivid dreams. During this period of the night the brain is highly active, and it’s doing more than just projecting a dream world into consciousness. Research shows that the brain is also consolidating memories from the day and could be a mechanism responsible for helping people wake up again. Many consider this stage vital for brain development, especially in newborn humans and animals.

What did the study find?

The Sleep in Insomniacs study showed that the specific CBD and terpene regimen increased restorative sleep in all patients with no adverse results. Participants receiving the CBD and terpene capsule experienced an average of 23.9 more minutes of time in SWS nightly and an average of 27.7 more minutes in REM sleep nightly. Participants experienced no change in the total time they were asleep, and no adverse effects were reported.

RELATED: Could cannabis help your skin? Here’s what science has to say

These results cannot be used to inform physician care before being peer-reviewed and published, but the data is promising. Researchers conclude that more robust clinical trials could help patients seeking alternative sleep aids. With CBD and terpenes more widely available to Americans than THC, research like this could broaden the scope of cannabis medicine in the states.

Cara Wietstock is Senior Content Producer of and has been working in the cannabis space since 2011. She has covered the cannabis business beat for Ganjapreneur and The Spokesman Review. You can find her living in Bellingham, Washington with her husband, son, and a small zoo of pets.