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2023 Study: Cannabinoids Modulate Sleep

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Cannabinoids Modulate Sleep Study

A September 2023 study entitled "Cannabinoids: Emerging Sleep Modulator" that was published in the journal Biomedicine & Pharmacotherapy analyzed "the role of cannabinoids to determine its potential effects on the sleep-wake cycle and to provide direction for future studies and clinical trials in exploring the use of cannabinoid therapies for sleep disorders and diseases of other aetiologies."


Sleep is an "essential determinant of health" and has a major influence over emotions, metabolism, performance, memory, learning, and healing.

The study's authors explained that sleep is an "essential determinant of health" and has a major influence over emotions, metabolism, performance, memory, learning, and healing. They reported that insufficient sleep may cause a variety of negative health consequences, including cardiovascular disease, diabetes, hypertension, and obesity.

A baby sleeping.
Do cannabinoids help sleep?

Endocannabinoid Role in Sleep

The study reported that endocannabinoids (primarily anandamide and 2-AG) play a significant role in sleep. It noted that endocannabinoids activate the CB1 and CB2 microscopic cellular receptors in the endocannabinoid system (ECS).


"The study reported that endocannabinoids (primarily anandamide and 2-AG) play a significant role in sleep."

It explained that the CB1 receptor (located most densely in the brain and central nervous system) "mediates most of the psychotropic effects...which is not considered optimal for therapeutic effects." The CB2 receptor, on the contrary (located mostly in the "peripheral zone," outside of the brain), "is coupled with non-psychotropic effects."


The researchers reported that anandamide (AEA) displays a "high affinity" for the ECS CB1 receptor, but is inactive at CB2. The other major endocannabinoid, 2-AG, binds with both CB1 and CB2 receptors with low to moderate affinity. It should be noted that the 2-AG receptor appears, in low densities, in the brain and central nervous system. Likewise, CB1 is found outside of the brain, but in low densities where it is vastly outnumbered by the CB2 receptor.

A green bed.
Some studies show benefits.

Cannabinoids Modulate Sleep Study Results

Cannabinoids Modulate Sleep. The scientists found that the ECS "has potential therapeutic effects on different medical conditions that are related to the sleep-wake cycle," but that "legislative factors and the existing stigma surrounding cannabis" has resulted in a lack of research on this topic.


"Even though some of the current studies concluded that cannabis decrease sleep latency and prolongs sleep, the results of some other studies do not reflect this result," reported the study. It explained that the therapeutic benefits of cannabinoids extends beyond patients who suffer sleep disorders and includes those with disorders and conditions that secondarily result in sleep problems, including cancer-related pain, fibromyalgia, and diabetic neuropathic pain.

A dog sleeps outside.
More research is needed.

Cannabinoids Modulate Sleep Study Conclusions

Cannabinoids Modulate Sleep. The scientists made the following conclusions based on their data and analysis:


"In conclusion, the results of different articles analyzed in this literature review are not conclusive on the role of cannabinoids on sleep and wakefulness, as some of them have shown mixed outcomes. "Many of the studies have limitations, such as small sample sizes, unverified subjective or objective measurements, as well as having sleep as a secondary research outcome.


"The results of...this literature review are not conclusive on the role of cannabinoids on sleep and wakefulness, as some of them have shown mixed outcomes."

"Therefore, more high-quality research involving the mechanisms of the role of the endocannabinoid system in sleep and its related physiological and pharmacological actions is needed to investigate the safety and efficacy of cannabinoid therapies to have concrete evidence for the commencement of clinical trials."


View the original study.

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