Insomnia is one of the most common conditions for people in Australia, affecting 12.2% of all adults in the country. However prevalent, most people don’t seek treatment from their health professionals. Today, there is growing evidence that our endocannabinoid system plays a pivotal role in this biological process and cannabinoids may present therapeutic potential.
Ranum et al 2022 compiled 34 studies for review on whether or not CBD or a 1:1 ratio of CBD:THC may have therapeutic potential to help manage insomnia. They found both compounds improved symptoms and suggested further research should be conducted.
Walsh et al 2022 conducted a short 2-week trial on nightly sublingual administration of a cannabinoid mix of THC 10mg/CBN 1mg/CBD 0.5mg and showed a significant improvement in symptoms and sleep quality in people suffering from chronic insomnia.
Earl and Proano 2022 suggest cannabinoids can be a double edged sword. With the uptick of reported use for sleep disorders there are varied results that are dependent on the individual, cannabinoid type, and concentration. They found that without proper guidance regular cannabis use may produce withdrawl symptoms and can profoundly alter sleep.
Your Endocannabinoid System and Sleep
Your endocannabinoid system plays a very big role in biological processes such as sleep. Lavender et al 2022 demonstrated that the endocannabinoid 2-AG is in low concentrations when sleeping, but increases as we wake and go about our day. Peak levels by the afternoon are associated with increased food intake.
The endocannabinoid anandamide are highest just before waking up and lowest prior to sleep. The study showed this pattern was unaffected even with disruptions in sleep. Administration of anadamide to rodents showed increases in slow-wave and rapid eye movement (REM) sleep, and reduced wakefulness.
In the same study, it was hypothesized that manipulating cannabinoid receptors and serotonin levels may affect the dilatory muscles in the upper airways of the body. At this time, only one study was conducted to prove this and used synthetic THC in capsule form. The study involved a group of 27 individuals with a majority reporting reductions in the apnea hypopnea index (AHI).
Restless Leg Syndrome
It was noted that THC-dominant treatments may be more effective for this condition. Two case series were presented where the individuals smoked and took the medication sublingually alongside their regular treatment. The patients reported significant improvement in their symptoms.