CANNABIS & SLEEP – How can Cannabinoids and Endocannabinoids Influence Sleep?

Do sleep issues affect your life? I am on a mission to find the answer to my issues, using CBD and this is my nerdy πŸ€“ research! If it raises any questions for you please comment below & we’ll have a natter πŸ’šπŸ’š

Thought to affect a large proportion of the population, including around a third of people in the UK who are classified as not β€˜good sleepers’. Getting enough sleep is vital to maintain your body’s regular function, as without it can lead to irregular brain and bodily homeostasis, low energy levels, and decreased cognitive ability.

Cannabis, long known to have significant therapeutic and medicinal potential, it’s effects on sleep can be traced back to reports in medical journals during the 1800’s. Cannabinoids, found both within the cannabis plant (phytocannabinoids) and within our bodies (endocannabinoids) have potential to promote a normal sleep pattern/behaviour.

Looking at it’s fascinating use throughout history

Scientists increasingly believe that endocannabinoids play a huge role in sleep and sleep neurophysiology, so more research is required to fully understand the β€˜HOW’ cannabinoids may alter these processes. Numerous studies, in both humans and animals, have shown the introduction of cannabinoids, such as tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD), may β€˜help to induce sleep and decrease the chance of waking after the onset of sleep’.

The Effects of THC on Sleep

For example, a survey carried out in 2017 of over 1,500 patients at a New England medical cannabis dispensary, showed that around two-thirds reduced their use of sleeping tablets in favour of medical cannabis.

In addition, a number of studies have indicated that long term and heavy THC exposure, as well as other CB1-activating compounds (remember the receptors in our endocannabiniod systems?), appear to improve sleep. It must be noted however, many of these studies recognised that the sleep as being of low quality.

The Effects of CBD on Sleep

With most past studies on cannabinoids in sleep modulation focused on THC, an increasing number of studies have begun to focus on the potential of CBD!

Results remain unclear on the overall effect that CBD may have on improving sleep, with one study finding that CBD had opposing effects to THC when it came to sleep. In this study CBD appeared to have β€˜wake-enhancing effects’, as opposed to the sedative properties seen in THC administration.

Another study, used a self reporting model among it’s participants and found a modest improvement in sleep. Other evidence suggests that a near-equal ingestion of both THC and CBD may improve sleep, without increasing tolerance to the cannabinoids. This may present an opportunity, if proven, for cannabinoids to be used as a natural and sustainable treatment for many sleep disorders.


Although there are promising results for the use of cannabinoids to help sleep from looking a their use through history to date, only large scale clinical trials will help researchers of the above mentioned studies gain a clearer understanding of how cannabinoids could help modulate sleep on a medicinal level.

(With thanks to the Sapphire Clinic for their research papers).


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