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Scientific paper on CBD for insomnia

Scientific paper on CBD for insomnia

Can CBD help treat insomnia?

By Chris D’Rozario, BSc

Reviewed by Liran Baram, PhD


What is insomnia?

As human beings, we sleep for approximately one-third of our lives, yet researchers still not fully understand neither the mechanisms involved nor the nature and role of the sleep-wake cycle.

Insomnia is one of the most common sleep disorders and often categorised as a difficulty in falling asleep, staying asleep, or feeling refreshed following sleep. Insomnia may results in day-time sleepiness which has been linked with other conditions such as depression and cardiovascular disease. Sleep disorders are defined by physiological disturbances or abnormalities during the sleep state. Disrupted sleep is also a common symptom of patients suffering from various diseases.

It is estimated that 30-50% of the population suffer from insomnia symptoms occasionally and up to 30% of these patients are afflicted with these symptoms chronically. [1]

The effects of sleeping disorders on a patient’s quality of life are numerous, ranging from mild to severe sleepiness and lack of rest in the day to potentially causing depression and a risk for heart disease.

Drugs that are commonly known to induce sleep are known as ‘hypnotics’ and some examples of well-known hypnotics are Benzodiazepines, which are usually prescribed to treat Insomnia.

How CBD affects Insomnia?

Studies demonstrated that the endocannabinoid system has a strong and key regulatory role in the sleep-wake cycle which may prove a promising target for developing new sleeping aids.

A study by Wheeler et al. from 2020 [2] reported sleep problems to be the main reason for using edible/sublingual CBD, along with stress relief and relaxation.

A recent on-line survey [3] found that more than 40% of the respondents used CBD to help with sleep, among this group 48% of respondents reported it helped them fall asleep faster. In another study from 2019, Scott et al reported that 66.7% of adults with sleep complaints experienced improved sleep after taking low doses of CBD. [3]

Potential side effect

CBD was found to be well tolerated and minor adverse effects were reported when using CBD, such as: dry mouth, nausea, fatigue, and diarrhoea in small portion of the patients. However, more studies assessing CBD side effects following chronic administration are needed, as well as studies researching CBD effect on other drugs in the case of coadministration. [3] [4] 




This content is intended only for educational purpose only, and by no means replace for professional medical advice or treatment. Always consult with a medical professional if you are seeking medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Particularly if you are taking other drugs to rule out unwanted interactions and side effects.



  1. Suraev, A., Grunstein, R. R., Marshall, N. S., D’Rozario, A. L., Gordon, C. J., Bartlett, D. J., Wong, K., Yee, B. J., Vandrey, R., Irwin, C., Arnold, J. C., McGregor, I. S., & Hoyos, C. M. Cannabidiol (CBD) and Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) for chronic insomnia disorder (‘CANSLEEP’ trial): protocol for a randomised, placebo-controlled, double-blinded, proof-of-concept trial. BMJ Open, (2020). 10(5): e034421.


  1. Wheeler, M., Merten, J. W., Gordon, B. T., & Hamadi, H. CBD (Cannabidiol) Product Attitudes, Knowledge, and Use Among Young Adults. Substance Use & Misuse, (2020). 55(7): 1138–1145.


  1. Moltke, J., & Hindocha, C. Reasons for cannabidiol use: a cross-sectional study of CBD users, focusing on self-perceived stress, anxiety, and sleep problems. Journal of Cannabis Research, (2021). 3(1).


  1. Iffland, K., & Grotenhermen, F. An Update on Safety and Side Effects of Cannabidiol: A Review of Clinical Data and Relevant Animal Studies. Cannabis and Cannabinoid Research, (2017). 2(1): 139–154.


  1. Corroon, J., & Phillips, J. A. A Cross-Sectional Study of Cannabidiol Users. Cannabis and Cannabinoid Research, (2018). 3(1): 152–161.


  1. Fietze, I., Laharnar, N., Koellner, V., & Penzel, T. The Different Faces of Insomnia. Frontiers in Psychiatry, (2021). 12: 1-15


  1. Lu, H. C., & Mackie, K. Review of the Endocannabinoid System. Biological Psychiatry: Cognitive Neuroscience and Neuroimaging, (2021). 6(6): 607–615.


  1. Murillo-Rodríguez, E. The Endocannabinoid System as Prognostic Biomarker of the Obstructive Sleep Apnea Morbidity in COVID-19-Recovered Individuals. Sleep and Vigilance, (2021). 5(2): 205–211.


  1. Murillo-Rodríguez, E., Machado, S., Rocha, N. B., Budde, H., Yuan, T. F., & Arias-Carrión, O. Revealing the role of the endocannabinoid system modulators, SR141716A, URB597 and VDM-11, in sleep homeostasis. Neuroscience, (2016). 339: 433–449.


  1. Pava, M. J., Makriyannis, A., & Lovinger, D. M. Endocannabinoid Signaling Regulates Sleep Stability. PLOS ONE, (2016). 11(3): e0152473.


  1. Shannon, S. (2019). Cannabidiol in Anxiety and Sleep: A Large Case Series. The Permanente Journal, 23: 18-41


  1. Walsh, J. H., Maddison, K. J., Rankin, T., Murray, K., McArdle, N., Ree, M. J., Hillman, D. R., & Eastwood, P. R. Treating insomnia symptoms with medicinal cannabis: a randomized, crossover trial of the efficacy of a cannabinoid medicine compared with placebo. Sleep, (2021). 44(11): 1-8

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