CBD vs. Melatonin for Sleep: Comparison & Which is Better

CBD is becoming more and more popular as a sleep aid, and melatonin use in the US has increased by over 400% in recent years. 

But which natural supplement is the best?

Both are effective — there is scientific and anecdotal evidence to suggest that both melatonin and CBD can help with sleep disorders.

However, they help in very different ways. 

Melatonin is beneficial for people with jet lag, delayed sleep-wake phase disorder, and other problems that arise from melatonin deficiency. CBD for sleep is more beneficial for those with anxiety, pain, or insomnia. Each supplement has a different function. 

Neither melatonin nor CBD is necessarily better — it all depends on what you’re dealing with and what you’re looking for. In this article, we’ll discuss the benefits and downsides of both options.

24webp
Shop CBD Products for Sleep

It's time for restful sleep without the melatonin supplements. Discover our CBD oils, edibles, drinks, softgels, and more. Lab-tested and backed by 100s of reviews.

What is CBD?

Cannabidiol, or CBD, is a cannabinoid that naturally occurs in the hemp plant (hemp is cannabis with less than 0.3% THC by dry weight). 

Research suggests CBD may have benefits for a wide variety of conditions, including pain, anxiety, and sleep. 

What is Melatonin?

Although melatonin is sold in supplements, it’s actually a hormone that your body naturally releases to regulate your sleep-wake cycle. 

Due to melatonin deficiency, which can occur for a variety of reasons, many people turn to over-the-counter (OTC) melatonin supplementation. 

OTC melatonin is generally considered safe, and is technically natural – it’s something your body already produces. But concerns over the long-term effects of melatonin use have people turning to natural alternatives like CBD. 

Benefits of CBD for Sleep

CBD has calming, relaxing mental effects, and it may improve sleep quality.  

But in addition to these benefits, research suggests that CBD can address secondary issues that often cause sleep disruption, such as anxiety, depression, inflammation, and pain. 

In one study of 72 adults who took CBD for one month, roughly two-thirds showed a vast improvement in their “sleep score” – a metric designed by the researchers that measures the quality of sleep.

Almost four-fiths of participants also reported a reduced anxiety score, which may have been tied to their improvement in sleep. 

Another study, which reviewed research on CBD for sleep, found that CBD may reduce insomnia.

Whether most of these results are due to CBD directly promoting relaxation, or are due to the secondary support it provides, research and anecdotal evidence shows that taking CBD can create a clear improvement in your sleep. 

In fact, CBD is often used as an alternative to the sleep medication Ambien (Zolpidem), as well as melatonin and other OTC sleep aids. 

CBN for Sleep tincture

Benefits of Melatonin for Sleep

Melatonin is a hormone produced by your brain in response to darkness, and it directly regulates your circadian rhythms (or your “body clock”). When released, it creates feelings of drowsiness. 

Due to a variety of factors, including disease, age, and light exposure, melatonin production can become compromised. In this case, melatonin supplements, which are made in a lab, can be taken to mitigate melatonin deficiency (we’ll refer to melatonin supplements as “melatonin” for simplicity). 

Melatonin has been shown to be useful for treating jet lag, delayed sleep-wake phase disorder, and some sleep disorders in children, all of which involve problems in your body’s natural melatonin production cycle. 

However, apart from these specific use cases, there isn’t much evidence to show that melatonin can help with sleep issues that stem from pain, inflammation, anxiety, or stress. 

That’s because melatonin is a stop-gap measure for a specific bodily system, unlike CBD, which renders holistic support and is therefore useful for a variety of sleep-related issues. 

Science suggests that occasional, short-term use of melatonin is safe, but research on long-term melatonin use is inconclusive. There is some evidence that it can worsen certain issues and cause problems, but there is also evidence showing it has little long-term effect. 

CBD vs. Melatonin: How They Work in Your Body

We’ve discussed how CBD and melatonin may help you sleep. In this section, we’ll go more in-depth on how CBD and melatonin work in your body. 

How CBD Works

CBD renders its benefits by interacting with your Endocannabinoid System (ECS), a transmitter system in your body that’s responsible for regulating a laundry list of vital functions, your sleep-wake cycle, inflammatory response, and emotional processing systems chief among them.

The ultimate job of your ECS is to keep all of your bodily functions in a state of balance – to support normal, healthy states. 

Your ECS typically functions fine on its own, but during times of bodily stress, it can become compromised and unable to do its job well.

As a result of your ECS being strained, it struggles to balance your body’s vital functions, and as a result, you feel mental or physical discomfort and have trouble sleeping. 

In these situations, research suggests that supplementing your endocannabinoids (internal cannabinoids) with cannabinoids like CBD can help your ECS function better, thereby regulating your sleep-wake cycle and stabilizing the bodily systems that help you sleep. 

More research on this is needed. But based on what we do know, it seems that the mechanism by which CBD helps you sleep is natural and non-intrusive to other bodily systems. 

How Melatonin Works

Whenever it gets dark, the pineal gland in your brain produces melatonin, which synchronizes your sleep-wake cycle and lets your body know that it’s time to rest. 

When you’re exposed to light, like when the sun comes up and begins to shine through your window, melatonin production decreases as your body prepares to wake up. 

The mechanism by which melatonin works helps to explain why some people have trouble falling asleep with lights on, or in some cases, unless it’s almost pitch black. 

Melatonin production can also by inhibited by artificial light, such as from your phone or computer. Your melatonin production can also be negatively impacted by consuming caffeine or alcohol. 

But long-term melatonin deficiency, which results in sleep disorders, is not caused by light disturbances or the things you consume – it’s typically due to disease, age, and other factors. 

In these situations, melatonin supplementation can combat the deficiency and help you sleep better. 

Pros and cons of melatonin for sleep

CBD vs. Melatonin for Sleep: Downsides

Although they are both natural supplements, CBD and melatonin do have side effects and downsides. Here’s what to be aware of when choosing one or the other.

Side Effects & Downsides of CBD

Using CBD may result in a few short-term side effects:

  • Dry mouth
  • Diarrhea
  • Reduced appetite 
  • Drowsiness
  • Fatigue

However, in most cases, you won’t experience adverse effects as long as you start with a small dosage and work your way up. 

Click here for our CBD dosage guide, chart, and calculator. 

It’s also important to be aware that CBD is contraindicated with certain classes of drugs, particularly blood thinners, heart medications, SSRIs (i.e. antidepressants), immunosuppressants, and others. For a comprehensive list, see here

CBD can cause higher-than-normal concentrations of these drugs to build up in your liver, leading to increased side effects and potentially, liver damage. 

If you’re on prescriptions, before you use CBD for sleep (or for any other purpose), speak to your doctor to ensure it’s a safe option for you.

Side Effects & Downsides of Melatonin

Melatonin has a few short-term side effects:

  • Headache
  • Nausea
  • Dizziness
  • Daytime drowsiness

The main downside of melatonin is that it only works for sleep problems if they’re caused by melatonin deficiency. It stands to reason that if you aren’t melatonin deficient, adding more melatonin to the mix wouldn’t do much.

Therefore, if you aren’t dealing with delayed sleep-wake phase disorder (DSWPD), jet lag, or other similar conditions, melatonin likely won’t work well for you. 

Like CBD, melatonin is contraindicated with many classes of drugs, including some SSRis, benzodiazepines, blood pressure medicines, and others. See here for a comprehensive list. 

As with CBD, we recommend you speak to your doctor before taking melatonin to ensure it’s a safe option. 

Can You Take CBD and Melatonin Together?

Mixing CBD and melatonin is safe from a medical perspective, given you don’t take any medications that either supplement interacts with.

However, doing so can increase the side effects of both CBD and melatonin. This won’t be an issue if you’re only taking small amounts of each, but it’s important to be aware of. 

In fact, you may find combining CBD and melatonin to be beneficial. 

Melatonin can bring fast relief for sleep problems that occur as a result of melatonin deficiency, while CBD can tackle the indirect barriers to sleep such as stress and anxiety.

Natural Ways CBD gummies

Conclusion: CBD or Melatonin, Which is Right For You?

Melatonin is tried-and-true from a scientific perspective — especially for conditions like jet lag. If you’re dealing with an issue caused by melatonin deficiency, it’s the better option. 

CBD, on the other hand, doesn’t have as much research backing it. However, it’s far more effective if the reason you’re struggling to sleep is  pain, anxiety, or some secondary issue – because of the way it works, CBD can render comprehensive wellness support. 

Both options are safe — it all comes down to your specific situation and which supplement fits your situation. Talking to your doctor about both options can help you decide which is the best way to go. 

Click here to shop CBD for sleep. 

CBD vs. Melatonin for Sleep: Frequently Asked Questions

Here are some questions our customers frequently ask us about choosing between CBD and melatonin for sleep.

Should I take CBD or melatonin?

The right sleep supplement for you will depend on why you’re struggling to sleep. Melatonin may be helpful if you’re dealing with jet lag or other issues caused by melatonin deficiency, while CBD is the better option if you’re encountering sleep troubles as a result of anxiety or pain.

How effective is CBD as a sleep aid?

There is a variety of research and anecdotal evidence to show that CBD may promote restful sleep. In one study, two-thirds of participants who used CBD over a one month period reported improvements in sleep. CBD may directly promote relaxation, as well as address secondary problems like anxiety and pain. 

Does CBD stimulate melatonin?

Research suggests that CBD may work synergistically with melatonin, promoting a variety of benefits for sleep.

CBD is becoming more and more popular as a sleep aid, and melatonin use in the US has increased by over 400% in recent years. 

But which natural supplement is the best?

Both are effective — there is scientific and anecdotal evidence to suggest that both melatonin and CBD can help with sleep disorders.

However, they help in very different ways. 

Melatonin is beneficial for people with jet lag, delayed sleep-wake phase disorder, and other problems that arise from melatonin deficiency. CBD for sleep is more beneficial for those with anxiety, pain, or insomnia. Each supplement has a different function. 

Neither melatonin nor CBD is necessarily better — it all depends on what you’re dealing with and what you’re looking for. In this article, we’ll discuss the benefits and downsides of both options.

24webp
Shop CBD Products for Sleep

It's time for restful sleep without the melatonin supplements. Discover our CBD oils, edibles, drinks, softgels, and more. Lab-tested and backed by 100s of reviews.

What is CBD?

Cannabidiol, or CBD, is a cannabinoid that naturally occurs in the hemp plant (hemp is cannabis with less than 0.3% THC by dry weight). 

Research suggests CBD may have benefits for a wide variety of conditions, including pain, anxiety, and sleep. 

What is Melatonin?

Although melatonin is sold in supplements, it’s actually a hormone that your body naturally releases to regulate your sleep-wake cycle. 

Due to melatonin deficiency, which can occur for a variety of reasons, many people turn to over-the-counter (OTC) melatonin supplementation. 

OTC melatonin is generally considered safe, and is technically natural – it’s something your body already produces. But concerns over the long-term effects of melatonin use have people turning to natural alternatives like CBD. 

Benefits of CBD for Sleep

CBD has calming, relaxing mental effects, and it may improve sleep quality.  

But in addition to these benefits, research suggests that CBD can address secondary issues that often cause sleep disruption, such as anxiety, depression, inflammation, and pain. 

In one study of 72 adults who took CBD for one month, roughly two-thirds showed a vast improvement in their “sleep score” – a metric designed by the researchers that measures the quality of sleep.

Almost four-fiths of participants also reported a reduced anxiety score, which may have been tied to their improvement in sleep. 

Another study, which reviewed research on CBD for sleep, found that CBD may reduce insomnia.

Whether most of these results are due to CBD directly promoting relaxation, or are due to the secondary support it provides, research and anecdotal evidence shows that taking CBD can create a clear improvement in your sleep. 

In fact, CBD is often used as an alternative to the sleep medication Ambien (Zolpidem), as well as melatonin and other OTC sleep aids. 

CBN for Sleep tincture

Benefits of Melatonin for Sleep

Melatonin is a hormone produced by your brain in response to darkness, and it directly regulates your circadian rhythms (or your “body clock”). When released, it creates feelings of drowsiness. 

Due to a variety of factors, including disease, age, and light exposure, melatonin production can become compromised. In this case, melatonin supplements, which are made in a lab, can be taken to mitigate melatonin deficiency (we’ll refer to melatonin supplements as “melatonin” for simplicity). 

Melatonin has been shown to be useful for treating jet lag, delayed sleep-wake phase disorder, and some sleep disorders in children, all of which involve problems in your body’s natural melatonin production cycle. 

However, apart from these specific use cases, there isn’t much evidence to show that melatonin can help with sleep issues that stem from pain, inflammation, anxiety, or stress. 

That’s because melatonin is a stop-gap measure for a specific bodily system, unlike CBD, which renders holistic support and is therefore useful for a variety of sleep-related issues. 

Science suggests that occasional, short-term use of melatonin is safe, but research on long-term melatonin use is inconclusive. There is some evidence that it can worsen certain issues and cause problems, but there is also evidence showing it has little long-term effect. 

CBD vs. Melatonin: How They Work in Your Body

We’ve discussed how CBD and melatonin may help you sleep. In this section, we’ll go more in-depth on how CBD and melatonin work in your body. 

How CBD Works

CBD renders its benefits by interacting with your Endocannabinoid System (ECS), a transmitter system in your body that’s responsible for regulating a laundry list of vital functions, your sleep-wake cycle, inflammatory response, and emotional processing systems chief among them.

The ultimate job of your ECS is to keep all of your bodily functions in a state of balance – to support normal, healthy states. 

Your ECS typically functions fine on its own, but during times of bodily stress, it can become compromised and unable to do its job well.

As a result of your ECS being strained, it struggles to balance your body’s vital functions, and as a result, you feel mental or physical discomfort and have trouble sleeping. 

In these situations, research suggests that supplementing your endocannabinoids (internal cannabinoids) with cannabinoids like CBD can help your ECS function better, thereby regulating your sleep-wake cycle and stabilizing the bodily systems that help you sleep. 

More research on this is needed. But based on what we do know, it seems that the mechanism by which CBD helps you sleep is natural and non-intrusive to other bodily systems. 

How Melatonin Works

Whenever it gets dark, the pineal gland in your brain produces melatonin, which synchronizes your sleep-wake cycle and lets your body know that it’s time to rest. 

When you’re exposed to light, like when the sun comes up and begins to shine through your window, melatonin production decreases as your body prepares to wake up. 

The mechanism by which melatonin works helps to explain why some people have trouble falling asleep with lights on, or in some cases, unless it’s almost pitch black. 

Melatonin production can also by inhibited by artificial light, such as from your phone or computer. Your melatonin production can also be negatively impacted by consuming caffeine or alcohol. 

But long-term melatonin deficiency, which results in sleep disorders, is not caused by light disturbances or the things you consume – it’s typically due to disease, age, and other factors. 

In these situations, melatonin supplementation can combat the deficiency and help you sleep better. 

Pros and cons of melatonin for sleep

CBD vs. Melatonin for Sleep: Downsides

Although they are both natural supplements, CBD and melatonin do have side effects and downsides. Here’s what to be aware of when choosing one or the other.

Side Effects & Downsides of CBD

Using CBD may result in a few short-term side effects:

  • Dry mouth
  • Diarrhea
  • Reduced appetite 
  • Drowsiness
  • Fatigue

However, in most cases, you won’t experience adverse effects as long as you start with a small dosage and work your way up. 

Click here for our CBD dosage guide, chart, and calculator. 

It’s also important to be aware that CBD is contraindicated with certain classes of drugs, particularly blood thinners, heart medications, SSRIs (i.e. antidepressants), immunosuppressants, and others. For a comprehensive list, see here

CBD can cause higher-than-normal concentrations of these drugs to build up in your liver, leading to increased side effects and potentially, liver damage. 

If you’re on prescriptions, before you use CBD for sleep (or for any other purpose), speak to your doctor to ensure it’s a safe option for you.

Side Effects & Downsides of Melatonin

Melatonin has a few short-term side effects:

  • Headache
  • Nausea
  • Dizziness
  • Daytime drowsiness

The main downside of melatonin is that it only works for sleep problems if they’re caused by melatonin deficiency. It stands to reason that if you aren’t melatonin deficient, adding more melatonin to the mix wouldn’t do much.

Therefore, if you aren’t dealing with delayed sleep-wake phase disorder (DSWPD), jet lag, or other similar conditions, melatonin likely won’t work well for you. 

Like CBD, melatonin is contraindicated with many classes of drugs, including some SSRis, benzodiazepines, blood pressure medicines, and others. See here for a comprehensive list. 

As with CBD, we recommend you speak to your doctor before taking melatonin to ensure it’s a safe option. 

Can You Take CBD and Melatonin Together?

Mixing CBD and melatonin is safe from a medical perspective, given you don’t take any medications that either supplement interacts with.

However, doing so can increase the side effects of both CBD and melatonin. This won’t be an issue if you’re only taking small amounts of each, but it’s important to be aware of. 

In fact, you may find combining CBD and melatonin to be beneficial. 

Melatonin can bring fast relief for sleep problems that occur as a result of melatonin deficiency, while CBD can tackle the indirect barriers to sleep such as stress and anxiety.

Natural Ways CBD gummies

Conclusion: CBD or Melatonin, Which is Right For You?

Melatonin is tried-and-true from a scientific perspective — especially for conditions like jet lag. If you’re dealing with an issue caused by melatonin deficiency, it’s the better option. 

CBD, on the other hand, doesn’t have as much research backing it. However, it’s far more effective if the reason you’re struggling to sleep is  pain, anxiety, or some secondary issue – because of the way it works, CBD can render comprehensive wellness support. 

Both options are safe — it all comes down to your specific situation and which supplement fits your situation. Talking to your doctor about both options can help you decide which is the best way to go. 

Click here to shop CBD for sleep. 

CBD vs. Melatonin for Sleep: Frequently Asked Questions

Here are some questions our customers frequently ask us about choosing between CBD and melatonin for sleep.

Should I take CBD or melatonin?

The right sleep supplement for you will depend on why you’re struggling to sleep. Melatonin may be helpful if you’re dealing with jet lag or other issues caused by melatonin deficiency, while CBD is the better option if you’re encountering sleep troubles as a result of anxiety or pain.

How effective is CBD as a sleep aid?

There is a variety of research and anecdotal evidence to show that CBD may promote restful sleep. In one study, two-thirds of participants who used CBD over a one month period reported improvements in sleep. CBD may directly promote relaxation, as well as address secondary problems like anxiety and pain. 

Does CBD stimulate melatonin?

Research suggests that CBD may work synergistically with melatonin, promoting a variety of benefits for sleep.

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