Medically reviewed by Lauren Castiello, MS, AGNP-C
Lauren is a board-certified adult-gerontology primary care nurse practitioner. Lauren has done NP clinical practicums focusing on the adolescent, adult, and geriatric populations in internal medicine, long-term care, and in outpatient oncology/bone marrow transplant. Lauren received a BA from Assumption University, a BSN from Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences, and her MS in Nursing from the University of Massachusetts at Lowell. She is certified by the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners (AANP).

If you’re one of the 30% of adults who have a hard time getting consistent sleep, you might have considered taking CBD sleep supplements. CBD is becoming one of the top supplements to alleviate insomnia and other sleep disorders, although it is not an FDA-approved treatment option. It’s so popular that even celebrities like Travis Barker are adding to the market. 

Chronic pain and sleep disorders can have a tangible impact on your health, which is why sleeping pills are often prescribed. Unfortunately, sleeping pills are one of the most common drugs abused. A 2018 survey by Consumer Reports found that 19% of people reported taking an extra dose of sleeping pills because the first one did not work. The survey also showed that 40% of people who take sleep aids don’t follow the instructions, taking them more often or for a longer time than recommended. They also take them with other medications or alcohol, ignoring that prescription sleeping pills are dangerous if combined with alcohol or other sedatives.

Given the levels of dependency and abuse found among people who use sleeping pills, natural sleep supplements are a welcomed alternative. In 2017, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared CBD safe and with no potential for abuse or dependence. 

CBD Benefits For Sleep

It’s time we hit snooze to the stigma on CBD. To be clear, CBD will not get you high, even if it is one of the active compounds in the cannabis plant. As a non-psychoactive compound, it has several medical benefits. Proven benefits of CBD include:

  • Pain management
  • Anxiety
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder 
  • Schizophrenia
  • Reducing seizures
  • Reducing inflammation

To fully understand how CBD can help you sleep, you must first assess the things that negatively impact your rest. That’s because, instead of just making you go to sleep, CBD will tackle the root cause of why you are having a hard time in the first place. 

Unlike other topics, there are not years of CBD research to look back on –– it’s a relatively new field of study. That said, the research we do have shows promising results. Various studies are exploring the effects of CBD on pain management and addiction treatment. A March 2021 study found that high doses of CBD could reduce plaque, which is the hallmark of Alzheimer’s disease.

We all know sleep is essential, but the significance goes beyond just wanting to sleep. Insufficient sleep is linked to several chronic diseases, such as:

  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Cardiovascular disease 
  • Depression
  • Obesity

Targeting the root of your sleepless nights with CBD will have a trickle-down effect on your health.

Forms of CBD

Here’s the cool thing about CBD, it comes in various forms. Each of these allows you to tailor the supplement to suit your specific needs and preferences.


Edibles are probably the form you’ve seen the most –– likely in gummy form. That’s for a very good reason. Edible forms of CBD are extremely affordable and discreet. It’s also one of the easiest forms to regulate dosage. There’s no guessing when it comes to CBD edibles; you know exactly what you’re getting. 

Common CBD edibles variations are gummies, hard candies, chocolate, cookies and cakes. 

Oils and Tinctures

Another common form of CBD is oils. They’re easy to use. All you have to do is drop them under your tongue and wait. The capillaries in your mouth absorb it; this is a quick and easy option for people who can’t take pills. 

Creams and Lotions

People who suffer from muscle and joint pain will favor CBD creams or lotions. These products also are good for relieving symptoms of skin conditions like psoriasis or eczema. 


Capsules or pills are one of the favorite ways to take supplements, including CBD. They’re often used to treat seizure disorders and digestive issues. The Food and Drug Administration has recently approved Epidolex to treat seizures. 

Pills and capsules take a longer time to take effect, so that’s something to keep in mind. We do not advise you to take multiple pills to speed up the process.


When you vape CBD, it’s inhaled and absorbed into the lungs and ultimately your bloodstream. This is why vaping allows the CBD to take effect the quickest. Just remember, vaping is the most challenging way to regulate how much you’re intaking. And the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) advises against vaping for potential harm to the lungs.

An extra note about dosage: There’s not a standard in CBD dosage across the various forms. CBD gummies are likely different from what you should expect from lotion. It’s important to read the label to determine how much CBD is in the container vs. each serving. CBD, like all supplements, isn’t regulated by the FDA, so you may never know how much of the active ingredient you’re actually getting.

CBD TypeTime to Take EffectBest Used For
Edibles30 minutes to an hourPain management or anxiety
Oils15 to 30 minutesAnxiety, anti-seizure, pain relief
Creams and lotionsAbout an hourMuscle or joint pain, skin condition, acne
Capsules 20 minutes to an hourAnxiety

Several individual factors influence the absorption and duration of CBD relief. Research suggests that the effects of CBD can last anywhere from two to six hours, though it will vary from person to person. 

CBD Or Melatonin. Which Should You Take? 

Both CBD and melatonin can offer relief for people who struggle to get a good night’s sleep. That presents a choice for you. Which should you take –– melatonin or CBD?

Melatonin is a naturally occurring sleep hormone that increases as the sun goes down, signaling to the brain it’s time to go to sleep. When used as directed, Melatonin generally doesn’t have any significant adverse side effects associated with it. You can “overdose” on melatonin, though it is not likely to kill you. You may experience side effects like nausea, dizziness, diarrhea or cramps. 

Both supplements are effective though they do target different sleep issues. Melatonin targets a melatonin imbalance in the brain. CBD will not help with that. Instead, it helps relieve the things that are keeping you from sleeping, like pain or anxiety. When you’re deciding which supplement is the best option for you, you must figure out why you aren’t able to get a consistent night’s sleep.

When it comes to dosage, the story is the same for both melatonin and CBD. Check the label to determine your dosage. How you take the supplement will impact how much attention you have to pay. Gummies and pills will have a set dosage, which makes things easy. But oils and lotions make things harder to regulate. Vaping is the hardest form to measure as it’s absorbed directly into your bloodstream.

CBD Drug Interactions

CBD might have unintended interactions with prescription medications or other supplements, depending on what medications you’re taking. If you’re taking medications that cause drowsiness –– antihistamines, antidepressants or opioids –– CBD may end up amplifying the effects of these drugs, which can pose a risk for driving or falling. 

CBD also may interfere with the enzymes being broken down in the liver, ultimately altering the effects of other medications. It could also change the concentration of the drug in your body, leading to amplified side effects or even render the medication ineffective. 

Prescription medications that have the potential for serious drug interaction:

  • Heart medications –– Amiodarone, some calcium channel blockers
  • Blood thinners –– Warfarin
  • Seizure medications –– Layproate, Clobazam, Lamotrigine

The higher concentration of CBD –– like vaping or oils –– will increase the side effects. It’s a good idea to speak with your doctor before you start taking CBD products. 

Considerations For Those In Recovery

CBD is non-addictive and has even been cited as a part of the addiction recovery process. Research shows that CBD helps reduce drug craving and anxiety for people in recovery. CBD may present a way of treating drug addiction without introducing the chance for further addiction. That said, there is still limited research supporting CBD’s role in treatment.

Even though CBD is a derivative of the cannabis plant, it does not have the same effects as THC products. We advise you to talk to your doctor or medical professional before trying any CBD products if you’re in recovery or otherwise. 

Too Long, Didn’t Read?

CBD isn’t as scary as it seems –– it has a significant impact on chronic pain and anxiety. CBD’s various forms give people a choice to decide how they want to take it, though that does make regulation difficult at times. If you’re interested in trying CBD products, it’s a good idea to talk to your doctor first.