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CBD Oil vs Melatonin: Which Is Better for Sleep?

Written By Ellese Symons Sep 22nd 2023
Table Of Contents
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 Decades of research have linked sleep deprivation to an alarming number of health concerns, everything from an increased risk of cardiovascular disease to the development of chronic mood disorders. Although research shows that deep, restorative sleep has a positive impact on nearly every cell in the human body (Dworak et al., 2010), most people simply aren't getting the rest they need for optimal health (Dobric, 2021). 

When racing thoughts, changes in routine, or shift work make it difficult to fall asleep or stay asleep, many sleep-deprived adults add hemp-derived CBD oil or melatonin to their nightly routines, products that work in different ways. If you've been losing (even more) sleep trying to choose between them, knowing how these popular options compare could provide the clarity you need to make an informed decision. 

Understanding the Many Causes of Sleep Difficulties  

There are many potential causes of sleep difficulties, from physical discomfort and poor sleep hygiene to underlying medical conditions (Suni & Demitriu, 2023) and medication side effects. However, many sleep experts believe most short-term issues are stress-induced. Although the connection is not fully understood, current investigations suggest that elevated levels of the stress hormone cortisol can make it increasingly difficult to sleep.   

Based on what the research shows so far, even a single night of too little sleep can cause ongoing sleep problems. Over time, the increase in cortisol triggered by sleep deprivation can cause circadian rhythm disruptions that throw several other neurochemical processes out of sync, including melatonin production (Foster, 2020), which can eventually lead to circadian disorders (Kalmbach et al., 2018). 

CBD Oil for Sleep: Mechanisms of Action  

CBD (cannabidiol) is the most abundant of more than 113 potentially beneficial cannabinoids in hemp's flowers (Rudd, 2023). After the cannabinoid-rich oil is extracted and distilled, it's used to make an impressive number of health and wellness products for oral or topical use. Based on the feedback of 1,900 CBD users in a 2019 survey of CBDistillery® customers, most report positive results using high-quality hemp-derived CBD products for relaxation, mild or temporary anxiety, pain, stiffness, and inflammation after physical activity, and better sleep. 

Cannabis researchers credit CBD's impressive list of potential benefits to the cannabinoid's ability to interact with multiple molecular targets, including the endocannabinoid system (ECS) receptors, the body's largest regulatory system. Decades of research suggest ECS signaling is involved in nearly every crucial function, including sleep cycle regulation and the perception of pleasure and pain (Marzo & Piscitelli, 2015). Cannabis researchers believe supporting ECS function with CBD helps promote internal balance (homeostasis) (Sallaberry & Astern, 2018).   

Melatonin for Sleep: Mechanisms of Action   

Primarily known as a sleep hormone, melatonin is also essential for emotional regulation, brain health, immune system function, and more (Malhotra et al., 2004). It's produced in the pineal gland in response to darkness and light. Without enough melatonin in your system when you're ready to call it a night, it can be nearly impossible to drift off to sleep. Melatonin supplements have several possible sources, but most are synthetic (Arnao et al., 2023). 

Most people produce enough of the sleep hormone, but many who have difficulty falling asleep don't have enough to start feeling sleepy at the right time. Numerous studies suggest indoor lighting, LED screens, and disrupted sleep routines can inhibit (or delay) production. Available since the mid-1990's (Cox, 2013), decades of research support the use of melatonin to supplement natural hormone production and help reset the body's circadian rhythms (Van De Wall & Seladi-Schulman, 2023). 

Comparing Their Possible Side Effects & Risk of Chemical Dependency  

Just about any substance you put in your body has the potential to cause side effects, including CBD oil and melatonin. However, in a report published by the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, melatonin appears to be safe for short-term use. The side effects of melatonin can include daytime sleepiness, dizziness, headache, and vivid dreams or nightmares. While it is possible to take too much, there's no risk of chemical dependency (NIH, 2022).   

There's also no risk of chemical dependency using products made with CBD oil. In a report published by the World Health Organization, the agency found "no evidence of public health-related problems" associated with daily use (WHO, 2020). However, some CBD users experience dry mouth, fatigue, nausea, or changes in appetite (Bergamaschi et al., 2011). Although CBD oil and melatonin are generally well-tolerated, they're not appropriate for people with certain medical conditions and can both interact with several medications. Consult your healthcare provider if you have questions or concerns. 

CBD Oil vs Melatonin: A Comparative Analysis of Other Considerations  

While it might look as if your body essentially shuts down during sleep, there's a lot going on. As your heart rate slows and blood pressure drops, subtle temperature changes release a surge of hormones that aid in tissue recovery, fortify your immune system, and help regulate your appetite. Your brain is busy transferring your experiences from short-term to long-term memory during REM (dream) sleep (Nunez & Lamoreux, 2023). That's why the quality of your sleep is just as important as the quantity. 

When you choose melatonin for better sleep, you're using a supplement intended to fulfill a single purpose. When you purchase CBD oil, you're investing in a product with the potential to promote system-wide homeostasis. Since there's plenty of scientific evidence suggesting either option could produce the effect you're hoping for safely, you may also want to consider how they compare in the following areas before finalizing your decision.   

Onset of Action  

The amount of time it takes CBD to work depends on which product you select. When you swallow a CBD oil capsule or enjoy the flavor of a CBD gummy, it can take an hour or more for the effects to peak. So you'll want to time when you take your CBD accordingly. For fast-acting results, consider using a CBD oil tincture. Simply hold a serving beneath your tongue for 45-60 seconds before swallowing. 

Many melatonin supplements are sold at much higher dosages than most people need. To minimize the risk of unpleasant side effects, it's best to stick with a smaller amount. Most sources suggest that melatonin users take the supplement several hours before they want to fall asleep; about the same time melatonin production would occur naturally. Waiting until you've been lying awake for hours could cause persistent morning grogginess (Summer & Singh, 2023). 

Impact on Sleep Duration   

Melatonin binds to the receptors that block wakefulness signals. Researchers testing how long the supplement could impact sleep duration discovered that melatonin levels in the body drop to zero after five hours. If you wake frequently during the night, consider trying an extended-release formula to increase that five hour duration. But if you do, keep in mind that extended-release melatonin supplements carry an increased risk of causing adverse effects, including daytime sleepiness (Pacheco & Rehman, 2023). 

CBD's interaction with ECS receptors and its involvement in homeostasis could positively impact your ability to fall asleep and stay asleep, whether you're kept awake by racing thoughts or physical discomfort after physical activity. At the conclusion of a two-year study, researchers reported "statistically and clinically significant" benefits related to sleep quality using CBD-dominant cannabis (Vigil et al., 2018). A similar report notes CBD's positive impact on sleep duration (Moltke & Hindocha, 2021). CBD oil does not cause morning grogginess, and its effects can last up to eight hours. 

Recommended CBDistillery® Products  

Although you're likely expecting a comparison between CBD oil and melatonin to lead to a clear winner, there's really no way to determine which would be best for your needs without trying them both and tracking your results. But there's also no reason you have to choose between them. Many CBD users and melatonin users appreciate their complementary effects. In clinical trials, researchers investigating their combined sleep-promoting potential reported "remarkable continuity" in study participant satisfaction scores (Palmieri et al., 2022). 

Finding a product that makes it easy to use CBD and melatonin together is a lot easier than you might expect. Consider trying CBDistillery® Broad-Spectrum CBD Sleep Gummies. Our mixed-berry-flavored Sleep Gummies give you 30mg of CBD per serving and just enough melatonin (2mg) to help you fall asleep easily and naturally. If your investigation has you leaning towards trying the sleep-promoting potential of a natural product made without melatonin, the following descriptions could help you determine which of our most popular CBD oil products could be the best fit for your nightly routine. 

CBDistillery® Full Spectrum CBD Oil, Gummies, & Softgels   

Full spectrum CBD oil tinctures, gummies, and softgels give you all the additional cannabinoids and terpenes produced in the plant. Their 15-20:1 CBD to THC ratio ensures there's no risk of intoxication. With full spectrum CBD, you benefit from the potency-maximizing potential the plant species is known for called an "entourage" effect (Nahler et al., 2019). CBDistillery® Full Spectrum CBD Gummies have a subtle strawberry flavor and 30mg of CBD per serving, the same amount as our Full Spectrum CBD Softgels

CBDistillery® Broad Spectrum CBD Oil, Gummies, & Softgels   

CBDistillery® Broad Spectrum CBD Oil Tinctures, gummies, and softgels have many of the same minor cannabinoids and terpenes needed for an entourage effect, but their THC is reduced to non-detectable levels. Our Broad Spectrum CBD Anytime Gummies have an enticing tropical fruit flavor and 30mg of CBD per serving. CBDistillery® Broad Spectrum CBD Softgels (and full spectrum) are available in 30 or 60-count bottles. 

CBDistillery® THC-Free Pure CBD Oil Tinctures 

Not everyone appreciates the flavor or aroma of cannabis. CBDistillery® THC-Free Pure CBD Oil Tinctures are made with a blend of flavorless, odorless CBD isolate powder and MCT oil to improve bioavailability. They're available with 500mg, 1000mg, and 2500mg of CBD per bottle. Since our CBD isolate tinctures are flavorless, odorless, and easy to measure, they're ideal for adding the cannabinoid's sleep-promoting potential to just about any snack or beverage you enjoy. 

CBDistillery® Broad Spectrum CBD Drink Mix  

CBDistillery® Sleep Synergy Drink Mix is made with our broad spectrum hemp-derived extracts. Yes, the THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) is reduced to non-detectable levels (0.01% or less). It's a sleep-specific product that gives you 25mg of CBD plus a soothing blend of valerian root, l-theanine, and chamomile. Simply add the contents of a packet to water, shake (or stir), and enjoy. 

CBDistillery® Sleep Synergy CBN + CBD Oil Tinctures & Gummies  

CBDistillery® Sleep Synergy CBN + CBD Oil Tinctures and CBN + CBD gummies are made with full spectrum hemp extract enhanced with CBN (cannabinol), a minor cannabinoid known for promoting rest and relaxation. Our elderberry-flavored Sleep Synergy CBN + CBD Gummies give you 5mg of CBN and 15mg of CBD per serving. You get 30 delicious hemp supplements per jar. 

Could CBD & Melatonin Help You Get the Rest You Need to Wake Feeling Refreshed?  

Some fortunate people fall asleep within minutes of hitting the pillow. The rest of us are far too aware of how even a single night of poor sleep can cloud our thoughts and leave us feeling drained, unfocused, or unmotivated. If you're tired of feeling tired, consider trying CBDistillery® Broad Spectrum CBD Sleep Gummies. We think you'll love their delicious tropical fruit flavor and how the 5mg of melatonin complements the effects of our high-quality hemp extract. 

 If you could benefit from the sleep-promoting potential of hemp-derived CBD but aren't quite sure which product to try, consider taking our CBD Product Quiz or scheduling a personal consultation. When you choose CBDistillery® hemp-derived products, you can shop with confidence. Our tinctures, topicals, softgels, gummies, and drink mixes are made with 100% clean ingredients, rigorously tested, quality assured, and backed by a 60-day, hassle-free guarantee. 

References 

Arnao M, Giraldo-Acosta M, et al. (2023) Melatonin from Microorganisms, Algae, and Plants as Possible Alternatives to Synthetic Melatonin. 13(1) Metabolites 72.https://doi.org/10.3390/metabo13010072 

Bergamaschi M, Mateus R, et al. (2011) Safety and Side Effect of Cannabidiol, a Cannabis Sativa Constituent. 6(4) Curr Drug Saf 237-49. https://doi.org/10.2174/157488611798280924 

Cox L. (2013) What Is Melatonin? Live Science. 

Dobric M. (2021) 48 Surprising Sleep Statistics & Facts to Know In 2022. MedAlertHelp.org. 

Dworak M, McCarley R, et al. (2010) Sleep and Brain Energy Levels: ATP Changes During Sleep. 30(26) J Neurosci 9007-16. https://doi.org/10.1523/JNEUROSCI.1423-10.2010 

Foster, R. (2020) Sleep, Circadian Rhythms, and Health. Interface Focus. 10(3) https://doi.org/10.1098/rsfs.2019.0098 

Kalmbach D, Anderson J, et al. (2018) The Impact of Stress on Sleep: Pathogenic Sleep Reactivity as a Vulnerability to Insomnia and Circadian Disorders. 27(6) J Sleep Res. https://doi.org/10.1111/jsr.12710 

Mallhotra S, Sawhney G, et al. (2004) The Therapeutic Potential of Melatonin: A Review of the Science. 6(2) MedGenMed 46. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1395802/ 

Marzo, V, Piscitelli F. (2015) The Endocannabinoid System and Its Modulation by Phytocannabinoids. 12, Neurotherapeutics 692-98. https://doi.org/10.1007/s13311-015-0374-6 

Moltke J, Hindocha C. (2021) Reasons for Cannabidiol Use: A Cross Section of CBD Users, Focusing on Self-Perceived Stress, Anxiety, and Sleep Problems. 3(1) J Cannabis Res 5. https://doi.org/10.1186/s42238-021-00061-5 

Nahler G, Jones T, et al. (2019) Cannabidiol and Contributions of Major Hemp Phytocompounds to the "Entourage Effect"; Possible Mechanisms. J Altern Complement Integr Med 70(5) PDF download 

NIH. (2022) Melatonin: What You Need to Know. National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health. 

Nunez K, Lamoreux K. (2023) What Is the Purpose of Sleep? Healthline. 

Pacheco D, Rehman A. (2023) How Long Does Melatonin Last? Sleep Foundation. 

Palmieri G, Vadala M, et al. (2022). Insomnia Treatment: A New Multitasking Natural Compound Based on Melatonin and Cannabis Extracts. 173(1) Clin Ter 91-96. https://doi.org/10.7417/CT.2022.2399 

Rudd J. (2023) CBD vs THC – What Are the Main Differences? Analytical Cannabis. 

Sallaberry C, Astern L. (2018) The Endocannabinoid System, Our Universal Regulator. 34(6) JYI 48-55. https://www.jyi.org/2018-june/2018/6/1/the-endocannabinoid-system-our-universal-regulator 

Summer J, Singh A. (2023) Melatonin Dosage: How Much Melatonin Should You Take? 

Suni E, Dimitriu A. (2023) Sleep Deprivation. Sleep Foundation. 

Van De Wall G, Seladi- Schulman, J. (2023) What Does Melatonin Do and How Does It Work? Healthline. 

Vigil J, Stith S, et al. (2018) Effectiveness of Raw, Natural Medicinal Cannabis Flower for Treating Insomnia Under Naturalistic Conditions. 5(3) Medicines 75. https://doi.org/10.3390/medicines5030075 

World Health Organization. (2020) Cannabidiol (CBD) Critical Review Report. PDF https://www.who.int/docs/default-source/controlled-substances/whocbdreportmay2018-2.pdf?sfvrsn=f78db177_2