The following information is presented for educational purposes only.
Medical Marijuana Inc. provides this information to provide an understanding
of the potential applications of cannabidiol. Links to third party websites
do not constitute an endorsement of these organizations by Medical Marijuana
Inc. and none should be inferred.
Sleep disorders are a group of conditions that disrupt proper sleeping
habits and thereby adversely affect health. Studies have shown cannabis
improves the quality and duration of sleep and helps manage various sleep
Overview of Sleep Disorders
Sleep disorders are disruptions in normal sleeping patterns. Among the most
common types of sleep disorders is insomnia, which is the difficulty of
falling or staying asleep. Other common types include sleep apnea, which is
characterized by breathing interruptions while sleeping, restless legs
syndrome, which is the tingling or prickly sensation in the legs, and
narcolepsy, which are sudden and irresistible bouts of sleep during the day.
Parasomnias, which include nightmares, sleepwalking, sleep talking, wetting
the bed, grinding the teeth, night terrors and head banging, can also
disrupt proper sleep.
Sleep disorders can adversely affect one’s health and safety. Sleep
deprivation decreases physical performance and alertness and impairs memory
and cognitive abilities. This can increase the risk of occupational and
automobile injuries and prevent participation in activities that require
sustained attention. In addition, sleep deprivation and night disruptions
can lead to relationship problems.
The method for treating sleeping disorders depends on the type. For some
sleeping disorders, simply incorporating regular sleep habits can be
effective. Making lifestyle changes, like adjusting one’s exposure to
daylight, strategically scheduling naps, and sticking to a set sleeping
schedule and routine, often help. For disorders that are caused by a
disruption in circadian rhythm, a common treatment method is bright light
therapy, which helps to synchronize the body’s clock by exposing the eyes to
safe levels of intense light for brief durations throughout the day.
Medications and melatonin treatments can help encourage quality sleep and
assist in maintaining a proper sleep-wake cycle.
Findings: Effects of Cannabis on Sleep Disorders
Studies have shown that cannabis can improve the quality and duration of
sleep and help treat various sleeping disorders. A major cannabinoid found
in cannabis, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), effectively reduces the amount of
time it takes those with insomnia to fall asleep (Cousens & DiMascio, 1973).
One study found that regular consumers of oral THC fell asleep faster and
without difficulty compared to non-consumers (Gorelick, et al., 2013).
Another study found that cannabis, when administered acutely, eased the
falling asleep process and increased the duration of stage 4 sleep (Schierenbeck,
Riemann, Berger & Hornyak, 2008).
THC has also been shown to decrease the number of awakenings throughout the
night (Cousens & DiMascio, 1973). An animal trial found that a synthetic
cannabinoid similar to THC was affective at attenuating seratonin-induced
apnea by relaxing a muscle in the chin and tongue that has been implicated
in the cause of the disorder (Calik, Radulovacki & Carley, 2014). Studies
have also found that cannabinoids are effective for treating nightmares in
military personnel with PTSD (Jetley, Heber, Fraser & Boisvert, 2015)
A cannabis-based medication, containing both THC and another major
cannabinoid found in cannabis, cannabidiol (CBD), demonstrated in numerous
studies to have positive effects on sleep (Russo, Guy & Robson, 2007). One
study found that acute CBD treatments were effective in increasing total
sleep time (Chagras, et al., 2013).
Most studies, however, have found that CBD possesses alerting properties
(Murillo-Rodriguez, et al., 2014) (Nicholson, Turner, Stone & Robson, 2004)
(Murillo-Rodriguez, et al., 2011). One study found that CBD, when consumed
while the lights were on, effectively increased wakefulness
(Murillo-Rodriguez, et al., 2006). As a result, cannabis high in CBD could
potentially help in the management of sleep deprivation and excessive
Medical cannabis patients commonly use cannabis specifically for treating
sleep disorders. One study found that nearly half of the adults purchasing
medical cannabis at a cannabis dispensary were doing so to help manage
insomnia. Most of those individuals reportedly preferred strains of cannabis
with significantly higher concentrations of CBD (Belendiuk, Babson, Vandrey
& Bonn-Miller, 2015).
States That Have Approved Medical Marijuana for Sleep Disorders
Currently, no states have approved medical marijuana for the treatment of
early morning disorder. However, in Washington
D.C., any condition can be approved for medical marijuana as long as a
DC-licensed physician recommends the treatment. In addition, a number of
other states will consider allowing medical marijuana to be used for the
treatment of early morning disorder with the recommendation from a
physician. These states include: California (any
debilitating illness where the medical use of marijuana has been recommended
by a physician), Connecticut (other
medical conditions may be approved by the Department of Consumer
Protection), Massachusetts (other
conditions as determined in writing by a qualifying patient’s physician), Nevada (other
conditions subject to approval), Oregon (other
conditions subject to approval), Rhode
Island (other conditions
subject to approval), and Washington (any
“terminal or debilitating condition”).
Recent Studies on Cannabis’ Effect on Sleep Disorders
Cannabinoid significantly reduced nightmares in military personnel with
efficacy of nabilone, a synthetic cannabinoid, in the treatment of
PTSD-associated nightmares: A preliminary randomized, double-blind,
placebo-controlled cross-over design study.
Synthetic cannabinoid similar to THC found to potentially treat
obstructive sleep apnea.Intranodose
ganglion injections of dronabinol attenuate serotonin-induced apnea in
THC shown to have sedative properties. CBD found to have alerting
properties and effective at counteracting sleepiness.Effect
of Delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol and cannabidiol on nocturnal sleep and
early-morning behavior in young adults.(http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15118485)
Cannabis effective at improving mood, pain, muscle spasms, and sleep.A
survey of cannabis (marijuana) use and self-reported benefit in men with
chronic prostatitis/chronic pelvic pain syndrome. (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4277530/)
Belendiuk, K.A., Babson, K.A., Vandrey, R., and Bonn-Miller, M.O. (2015,
November). Cannabis species and cannabinoid concentration preference among
sleep-disturbed medicinal cannabis users. Addictive
Behaviors, 50, 178-81.
Calik, M.W., Radulovacki, M., and Carley, D.W. (2014, January 1).
Intranodose ganglion injections of dronabinol attenuate serotonin-induced
apnea in Sprague-Dawley rat. Respiratory
Physiology & Neurobiology, 190, 20-24.
Chagras, M.H., Crippa, J.A., Zuardi, A.W., Hallak, J.E., Machado-de-Sousa,
J.P., Hirotsu, C., Maia, L., Tufik, S., and Andersen, M.L. (2013, March).
Effects of acute systemic administration of cannabidiol on sleep-wake cycle
in rats. Journal
of Psychopharmacology, 27(3), 312-6.
Cousens, K., and DiMascio, A. (1973). (−)δ9 THC as an hypnotic. Psychopharmacologia,
Fraser, G.A. (2009). The use of a synthetic cannabinoid in the management of
treatment-resistant nightmares in posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). CNS
Neuroscience & Therapeutics, 15, 84-88.
Gorelick, D.A., Goodwin, R.S., Schwilke, E., Schroeder, J.R., Schwope, D.M.,
Kelly, D.L., Ortemann-Renon, C., Bonnett, D., and Huestis, M.A. (2013,
September-October). Around-the-clock oral THC effects on sleep in male
chronic daily cannabis smokers. The
American Journal on Addictions, 22(5), 510-514.
Jetley, R., Heber, A., Fraser, G., and Boisvert, D. (2015, January). The
efficacy of nabilone, a synthetic cannabinoid, in the treatment of PTSD-associated
nightmares: A preliminary randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled
cross-over design study. Psychoneuroendocrinology,
Murillo-Rodriguez, E., Millan-Aldaco, D., Palomero-Rivero, M., Mechoulam,
R., and Drucker-Colin, R. (2006, August 7). Cannabidiol, a constituent of
Cannabis sativa, modulates sleep in rats. FEBS
Letters, 580(18), 4337-45.
Murillo-Rodriguez, E., Palomero-Rivero, M., Millan-Aldaco, D., Mechoulam,
R., and Drucker-Colin, R. (2011, March 14). Effects on sleep and dopamine
levels of microdialysis perfusion of cannabidiol into the lateral
hypothalamus of rats. Life
Sciences, 88(11-12), 504-11.
Murillo-Rodríguez, E., Sarro-Ramírez, A., Sánchez, D., Mijangos-Moreno, S.,
Tejeda-Padrón, A., Poot-Aké, A., Guzman, K., Pacheco-Pantoja, E., and Arias-Carrión,
O. (2014). Potential Effects of Cannabidiol as a Wake-Promoting Agent. Current
Nicholson, A.N., Turner, C., Stone, B.M., and Robson, P.J. (2004, June).
Effect of Delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol and cannabidiol on nocturnal sleep
and early-morning behavior in young adults. Journal
of Clinical Psychopharmacology, 24(3), 305-13.
Russo, E.B., Guy, G.W., and Robson, P.J. (2007, August). Cannabis, pain, and
sleep: lessons from therapeutic clinical trials of Sativex, a cannabis-based
& Biodiversity, 4(8), 1729-43.
Schierenbeck, T., Riemann, D., Berger, M., Hornyak, M. (2008, October).
Effect of illicit recreational drugs upon sleep: cocaine, ecstasy and
Medicine Reviews, 12(5), 381-9.
Sleep Disorders. (2015, December 16). MedlinePlus.
Retrieved from https://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/sleepdisorders.html.
Sleep Disorders. (n.d.). National
Sleep Foundation. Retrieved from https://sleepfoundation.org/sleep-disorders-problems.
Sleep disorders. (2014, February 7). Mayo
Clinic. Retrieved from
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