What is CBN? Effects, benefits, and more

Learn how this hemp compound is different from the rest.
What is CBN? Effects, benefits, and more
minute read

It’s easy to believe that 1 in 3 adults don't get enough sleep. Hustle culture has romanticized all-nighters in college and overtime work hours  leaving us to settle for the sleep-deprived cycle.

The average person spends 26 years of their life asleep and about 7 extra years trying to get to sleep. Our time in restoration is not just a mental, physical, and functional need — it’s a significant portion of our time here. 

We shouldn't have to settle for melatonin and sleeping pills that leave us groggy the next day, or rely on caffeine to make it through the workweek. Our bodies and minds deserve a more sustainable option.

Sunmed's goal is to utilize natural plant compounds that support the simple, yet ever-growing need: to fall asleep easily, sleep deeply, and wake up truly restored. 

A promising player in the sleep space is CBN—a natural hemp compound that may have a regulatory role in our sleep (and overall well-being). Here’s what you need to know. 

What is CBN? 

Cannabinol (CBN) is one of many cannabinoids, like CBD or THC. CBN is a minor cannabinoid, which means that it occurs less frequently or in smaller amounts in the hemp plant. 

This molecular compound begins in the hemp plant as CBG, eventually degrading into the psychoactive cannabinoid, THC. Then, the flower begins to break down even further through exposure to heat, air, and light, in a process called oxidation. This is where THC loses most of its psychoactive components and gains interesting, sedative-like properties. Eventually, THC converts into what we know as CBN — which is basically the byproduct of an aged cannabis plant.

While this “sleepy” cannabinoid has certainly gained a powerful reputation as a nighttime supplement, there’s a surprising lack of peer-reviewed data supporting this customer experience. But what we do know is hemp’s powerful influence over the ECS — which means the benefits of CBN are likely much more than just a placebo effect.* 

There are several ways in which CBN may work to play a supportive role in the sleep process, but the experience will likely differ from person to person. There could be cases where the potential benefits of CBN indirectly support better sleep; it may also be the combination of CBN and CBD working together to provide sleep-supporting benefits.*

How does CBN differ from CBD and THC?

Every cannabinoid is capable of interacting with your body’s endocannabinoid system in a unique way, which means different cannabinoids can be responsible for producing different effects.*

Your endocannabinoid system contains receptors all throughout your body, embedded within many important organ systems and processes. Cannabinoids primarily interact with cannabinoid-specific receptors called CB1 receptors and CB2 receptors, but they may also be capable of interacting with similar non-cannabinoid-specific receptors throughout the body.*

When a cannabinoid interacts with these receptors, it can do so in one of three ways. The first is to stimulate a receptor without binding to it or changing how it works. The interaction provided by non-binding cannabinoids encourages receptors within your endocannabinoid system to perform their natural functions—which is how cannabidiol (CBD) works to provide support for your mind and body.*

The second and third methods of interaction are by binding with the receptor. Cannabinoids have something called a binding affinity—and some cannabinoids only have a binding affinity for one type of receptor, which limits or focuses their potential effects. Other cannabinoids have a binding affinity for both types of receptors, which increases the scope of their effects.*

Delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) has a binding affinity for both types of receptors, but its binding affinity for CB1 receptors is much higher. When THC binds to CB1 receptors, it alters the receptor’s ability to send and receive messages via neurotransmitters. The disruption in delivery caused by THC leads to psychoactive, sometimes intoxicating effects.*

Cannabinol (CBN) can also loosely bind to both types of cannabinoid receptors, but it has a higher binding affinity for CB2 receptors

CB2 receptors play a role in the body’s ability to manage feelings of tension and discomfort. This could be a potential mechanism for why some people experience sleep-enhancing effects from CBN. You sleep much better when you’re comfortable—and if your body is tense, you’re likely to have a difficult time falling asleep and staying asleep.*

Many studies combine CBN with CBD and show promising results when the two cannabinoids are used together. CBD has the ability to influence the body’s circadian rhythm, which is responsible for beginning the sleep and wake process within the mind and body.*

CBN could be acting independently alongside CBD, or the two cannabinoids may have a synergistic potential to enhance each other’s effects. Many cannabinoids may be able to work in unison to enhance or modulate each other’s effects, which is the basis for a popular theory called the entourage effect. The entourage effect makes the case for synergy between all compounds in the cannabis plant, and it might be at play when you use CBN-rich hemp products.*

CBN is technically considered a mildly psychoactive cannabinoid due to its binding affinity—but most people who use CBN don’t report experiencing any psychoactive effects at modest amounts. While some people find that it makes them feel sleepy, others may not notice a noteworthy difference in the way they feel after using CBN.*

How does CBN work?

The National Institute of Health suggests that ECS receptors in the forebrain and brainstem are involved in sleep induction, modulation, and sleep cycle regulation. The theory is that, with regular use, CBN will bind to these receptors, signaling your internal processes into “sleep homeostasis.” This means an easier time falling asleep, staying asleep, and waking up with less grogginess.*

Another theory is that when hemp degrades, so do the terpenes. While THC turns to CBN, terpenes convert into terpenoids, such as linalool. This linalool terpenoid has sleep-inducing properties and is the key calming agent in herbs like lavender and valerian root. The idea is that terpenes (such as linalool) may unlock further sedative effects, or could be the end-all reason for CBN’s “sleepy” reputation. 

The answer to how CBN works is most likely a combination of these two ideas. 

But this knowledge just isn’t enough. There are still too many questions involving the potential of this compound—and we are tired of waiting (also—just tired of being tired).

That’s why we partnered with Radicle Science to determine the most efficient formula of CBN for improving sleep.

This historic clinical trial will provide some of the first rigorous human data on how different dosages of CBN impact sleep—and the findings will lead our future CBN formulations. This isn’t just a big deal for Sunmed, but the entire hemp industry. 

For more details, check out the full press release here. And in the meantime, give our botanical CBNtincture a try. We have a 30-day, no questions asked, money-back guarantee, but we’re confident you’ll want to keep these Zzzs by your nightstand.

What kinds of CBN products exist?

CBN is available in every form CBD comes in. People who use cannabinoids for their wellness often prefer to use edibles like gummies or CBD oiltinctures. There are also cannabinoid vape products, but not much is known about the potential long-term effects of cannabis vapor products. 


CBNgummies are an excellent choice for people who already use gummy supplements. If you take supplements throughout the day and keep them separated in an organizer, it’s easy to pop a CBNgummy into your nighttime compartment.

Some people find that CBNgummies are easier to measure appropriately. Tinctures require measurement—if you want to use a specific amount of CBN, you have to calculate the amount in milliliters. Each gummy has a specific amount of total cannabinoids, making it that much easier for you to get your daily wellness support. 

They’re also easier to travel with—and if you sleep away from home at least some of the time, you may feel better about traveling with a tub or pouch of gummies than you do about traveling with a small glass bottle. 

CBNgummies may take a little longer to work than other CBN delivery methods. The body needs to digest the gummy and metabolize the CBN before it’s able to reach your endocannabinoid system, and this process usually takes between 45 minutes and an hour for most people. Make sure to time your serving right so that your CBN will have enough time to reach your endocannabinoid system before bed.*


Tinctures are a tried and true way to use cannabinoids. You release the CBN drops under your tongue and hold them there for at least a minute. While you’re holding the drops in place, the cannabinoids begin to absorb through the soft tissue under your tongue before swallowing. This gives CBN a head start in reaching the endocannabinoid system, allowing some of the CBN to bypass your digestive system and potentially get to work sooner.*

Tinctures usually begin to produce effects within 30 to 45 minutes. They’ll already be working by the time your body finishes digesting the tincture that you swallowed.

Some people don’t use tinctures because they don’t like the taste; you have to hold a tincture in your mouth for at least a minute, and it’s not exactly easy to do that if you find the taste off-putting. But we’ve improved the experience with our blueberry CBNtincture. No icky taste here. 

We’ve enhanced our nighttime tincture with soothing linalool terpenes from lavender, which may work to naturally induce relaxation. We’ve also included valerian root, a natural sleep supporter that may help prepare the mind and body for sweet dreams.

Does CBN have side effects?

Anything that impacts important systems within your body is capable of producing side effects. Side effects for cannabinoids like CBN are uncommon and usually mild if they occur. Any side effects may be more noticeable when you use higher concentrations of CBN.*

The potential side effects of CBN are usually much more mild than the side effects people may experience when they use over-the-counter sleep aids, or hormone supplements like melatonin. Some people experience drowsiness when they use CBN, but that may be the entire point. If you’re using a cannabinoid to fall asleep, it only makes sense to expect that it might make you feel a bit sleepy.* 

But unlike melatonin hormone supplements and over-the-counter sleep aids that leave consumers feeling completely sedated, many users also note that this is not the case with CBN—as they can wake up easily in the middle of the night if need be, and feel they are able to wake up without that unwanted grogginess.*

The bottom line

CBN is a fascinating cannabinoid with major potential for natural sleep support. It could be the difference between a snoozed alarm and a natural, refreshed awakening—a feeling you deserve to experience every single day.

Although it isn’t exactly clear how CBN works to promote better sleep, researchers have some theories as to why many people report using CBN as a natural sleep supporter. Using CBN products that also contain CBD may be more effective than using CBN products that don’t contain CBD. 

Cannabinoids can be used to support your mood, focus, and full-body relief throughout the day. Shop our full collection of cannabinoidwellness products here

*This statement has not been evaluated by the Food & Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.


Prevalence of Healthy Sleep Duration among Adults — United States, 2014 | MMWR | CDC

Effects of Cannabinoids on Sleep and their Therapeutic Potential for Sleep Disorders | PubMed Central | National Institutes of Health

Our Life in Numbers: How Long We Sleep, Work & More | Dreams

100+ Sleep Statistics - Facts and Data About Sleep 2023 | Sleep Foundation

The Curious Case of CBN & Sleep | Project CBD

Cannabinol - an overview | ScienceDirect Topics

An overview of the cannabinoid type 2 (CB2) receptor system and its therapeutic potential | PubMed Central | National Institutes of Health

Taming THC: potential cannabis synergy and phytocannabinoid-terpenoid entourage effects | NCBI