Insomnia is a sleep disorder characterized by inability to sleep or sleeping less time than desired. The endocannabinoid system plays a role in sleep processes and medical cannabis users already reported benefits of cannabis use to sleep. More research on the molecular mechanism of cannabinoids in sleep processes could uncover their potential on treating sleep disorders.
In a model of maternal separation, sleep reduction has been related to the endocannabinoid system through the expression of CB1 in the prefrontal cortex and hypothalamus while oleamide improved sleep in adult rats (Reyes Prieto et al., 2012).
The administration of 2-AG restores sleep in the same model of maternal separation but not in wild type rats, proving the role of the endocannabinoid system in sleep processes (Pérez-Morales et al., 2014).
Anandamide may interact with oleamide processes to induce sleep.
In a EEG experiment with rats, administration of a synthetic CB1 antagonist showed arousal-enhancing properties, suggesting again a role of the endocannabinoid system in sleep (Santucci et al., 1996).
Administration of a synthetic inhibitor of Anandamide uptake showed increased sleep in rats and enhanced c-Fos expression in sleep related brain areas (Murillo-Rodríguez et al., 2008).
In a different study, administration of smoked cannabis containing THC also showed benefits to fall asleep and increased stage 4 sleep (Schierenbeck et al., 2008).
Medical cannabis users have reported use of cannabis to treat multiple medical symptoms.
In a study focusing on sleep disorders and cannabis use, 81 participants reported use of cannabis to treat Insomnia and 14 participants reported use of cannabis to reduce nightmares (Belendiuk et al., 2015).
For more information, please read a review on the topic by Gates et al. (2014).
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