Melatonin and CBD have emerged as preferred sleeping aids. But which is better? While the debate of CBD vs melatonin rages, SleepSherpa tries to shed some light on it. Should you be taking Melatonin, or CBD, for sleep? Find out the different mechanisms between the two.
CBD vs. Melatonin – Which is a Better Alternative
Editor’s Note: This post contains affiliate links, which means I receive a commission if you make a purchase using these links. For full details visit the disclosures page.
Sleep disorders have been on the rise since the past decade or so. It is hard to find people who experience healthy sleep every night or don’t resort to a sleep aid. Because sleep is vital to mental and physical health, the growing incidence of sleep disorders around the world is concerning. Sleep disorders are more common in the US than any other country; the reason why scientists and sleep experts are always trying to find out the causes behind it and possible solutions.
If you are one of those people who has failed to get a good night’s sleep in a long time, you are acutely aware of how sleep disorders can strip your life of joy and peace. When you are sleep deprived sleep deprived, everything becomes harder than usual. You lose your appetite, you are unmotivated to work out, your social and personal commitments suffer, and your productivity at work keeps dropping. In fact, the American economy suffers a loss of millions of dollars every year simply because of workers not getting enough sleep.
Don’t be surprised, because sleep disorders have far-reaching consequences. Sleep deficiency causes daytime sleepiness and drowsiness, causing accidents and injuries. Drowsy driving is one dangerous consequence of sleep deficiency and daytime sleepiness. It is as dangerous as driving under the influence of alcohol.
Of course, no person can go without sleep for a long time, and they all reach for some kind of sleep aid at some point. However, the recent FDA warning about conventional sleep medications has led people to look for natural solutions to sleep disorders.
Dangers of Sleep Medication
A large number of people depend on sleep medications for a good night’s rest. Older people have usually prescribed sleep medicines because they are unable to get proper sleep any longer. However, even though in the beginning the medications work as intended, they are harmful in the long run because the user starts to get dependent on them. Most sleeping pill users are unable to sleep again without taking the medication, and the dependence only keeps growing. Most doctors do not hesitate to increase the dosage, but this only adds to the danger.
The FDA has recently called out certain sleep medications for being dangerous and causing injuries and accidents. However, even without the FDA warning, most people have always known about the side effects of conventional sleep medications. They are quick to work, but the chemicals in them are harmful to health and often make sleep disorder worse. Increasing the dosage of the medicine only leads to sleeping pill abuse, some of the most common symptoms of which are:
- Dry mouth
- Difficulty with coordination and focus
- Excessive daytime sleepiness
- Foggy memory
- Itching and swelling
- Lightheadedness or other vision changes
- Difficulty breathing or swallowing
- Hoarseness of the throat
If sleep medications are continued for a long time, it can lead to other health complications and even death. These fears are not unwarranted because there are a large number of people suffering from the side effects of sleeping pills. Sleeping pills being available over the counter have also contributed to their overuse.
All these fears surrounding sleeping pills have led people to look for natural alternatives. At the moment, there are two natural sleep solutions, one of them proven and the other debatable. They are melatonin and cannabidiol.
Melatonin Supplements for Sleep
Melatonin is the sleep hormone produced by the brain in response to the dark. When the sun begins to set, the body clock tells the brain it’s time to produce melatonin, the hormone that helps us relax, makes us feel drowsy and ultimately gets us to sleep. Melatonin is hindered by bright lights and triggered by darkness. That is the reason why sleeping in a dark room is the healthiest.
Imbalances in the production of melatonin are often responsible for sleep disorders. If shunning bright lights don’t work, then a possible remedy is melatonin supplement. This is a natural sleep remedy that has recently started to be administered to insomnia patients. The reason why melatonin supplement has become so popular is that it is not known to have any side effect for it simply replicates the natural melatonin produced by the brain. The melatonin supplement remedies any imbalance and helps the hormone function normally to bring about healthy sleep.
So far melatonin supplements have not been found to cause any adverse side effect. Because this hormone is already produced by the body, melatonin supplements simply aim to correct any shortage or imbalance of the hormone. However, because melatonin supplements tend to work very quickly, the dosage must be appropriate and timed right. Otherwise, the person can feel drowsy well into the next morning.
CBD Oil as Sleep Aid
Another popular sleep solution that is still controversial to some extent is cannabidiol. Also called CBD, this is a natural extract of the hemp plant, and has been hailed to be highly beneficial for a lot of health issues. One of the most popular uses of CBD is in treating insomnia and other sleep disorders. Although the exact connection between CBD and sleep is not yet known sleep experts believe that CBD helps induce sleep by reducing anxiety and stress. If you have stress and anxiety related issues that prevent you from falling or staying asleep at night, CBD can be used as a natural alternative to conventional sleep medications.
However, if your sleep issues are caused by other health problems or hormonal imbalances, then CBD will not be effective. CBD is also highly controversial and not easily available everywhere. Unlike melatonin, CBD has not been proven to be beneficial for sleep disorders and should be consumed only after a consultation with a healthcare practitioner.
Before resorting to a sleep aid, it is recommended that you try making lifestyle changes to deal with sleep disorders. If all else fails, talk to your doctor to adopt the safest possible way to induce sleep and reduce sleep deprivation.
CBD vs. Melatonin
Around 50 to 70 million individuals in the U.S. suffer from a sleep disorder, according to a 2006 Institute of Medicine publication titled Sleep Disorders and Sleep Deprivation: An Unmet Public Health Problem. It’s difficult to find individuals who obtain the sleep their body requires every night, or those who don’t reach for sleeping aids when they can’t sleep. Since sleep is so important to both physical and mental health, the number of sleep disorders worldwide is alarming.
Because there are certain fears that surround sleeping aids, such as side effects, addiction, or potential accidents, it’s led individuals to seek out natural alternatives. Fortunately, there are natural sleep aids, including melatonin and cannabidiol (CBD).
While melatonin was discovered in 1958, and people have been taking it for decades, CBD has recently exploded in popularity for its many benefits, including that it can help people sleep better. A national survey conducted by Consumer Reports revealed that about 1 in 10 Americans who said they tried CBD, and used it to help them sleep, the majority of those people said it worked .
Still, it’s worth learning about the two, and how they differ when it comes to helping you obtain a good night’s sleep.
Melatonin for Sleep
Melatonin, unlike CBD infused oil, is a hormone your brain’s pineal gland produces that helps with sleep-wake cycle regulation. It doesn’t necessarily cause you to fall asleep, but rather it tells your brain and body it’s time for bed. These are actually two totally different brain processes. Both need to be in sync for you to fall asleep.
Melatonin basically sets your body’s gears in motion for you to fall asleep, making them helpful in situations where your sleep-wake cycle becomes disrupted, such as with jet lag, for example.
However, if you’re only experiencing occasional sleepless nights, it may not be as helpful as you think. It takes around 90 minutes for it to send your brain the signal to start getting sleepy. Plus, since it has around a six hour half-life, if you wake up the next morning with it still in your system, it can cause you to experience a slight hangover-like feeling.
CBD for Sleep
CBD is a natural compound extracted from the hemp plant, and has been boasted to have many potential benefits for various health concerns. CBD interacts with your endocannabinoid system (ECS), helping your body maintain homeostasis (a state of stability and balance).
CBD isn’t psychoactive, unlike tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), so this means it won’t get you “high.”
A popular use of CBD is in treating sleep disorders, such as insomnia . While the exact link between cannabidiol and sleep disorders isn’t quite known yet, sleep professionals believe it helps reduce stress and anxiety, and thereby, induce sleep. If you’re experiencing anxiety and stress related problems that keep you from falling asleep or staying asleep, CBD for anxiety may be a good natural alternative solution to traditional sleep aids.
You can take it at least an hour before bedtime, and it could improve your symptoms of insomnia, and promote a restorative night’s sleep.
Some 2019 research looked at if CBD might be able to reduce anxiety and improve sleep . This study involved 72 participants, with 25 of them lacking quality sleep, and the other 47 experiencing anxiety. Each participant was provided with 25 mg of CBD, each day. During the first 30 days, 79.2% of the participants said they experienced lower levels of anxiety and 66.7% said they experienced better sleep.
Before turning to a sleep aid, you might want to first try and make some lifestyle changes to help manage your sleep disorder. If this doesn’t help, be sure you consult with your doctor on how you can induce sleep, and if CBD may be helpful.
Causes of Poor Sleep
There are many things that could contribute to poor sleep and insomnia, including:
- Medicine, which could disrupt your sleep-wake cycle
- Mental health conditions, like post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), anxiety, and depression
- Caffeine, particularly when you consume it late in the day
- Physical conditions, such as restless leg syndrome and chronic pain
- Environmental factors, like an uncomfortable bed and loud noises
While CBD research is still new, some research does suggest it can treat anxiety, which can hinder quality sleep.
Obtain Restorative Sleep With a CBD Pillow
If you’re having sleep difficulties, or are suffering from a sleep disorder, a CBD-infused pillow is a great way to experience the potential benefits of CBD. The pillow contains microcapsules of CBD that break and release microdoses of CBD throughout your system while you sleep. These microdoses go to work to: