Effects of Cannabinoids on Sleep and their Therapeutic Potential for Sleep Disorders

Malvika Kaul, Phyllis C. Zee, Ashima S. Sahni*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

44 Scopus citations


The recent trend for legalization of medicinal cannabis and cannabinoid-containing products, together with their soporific effects, has led to a surge of interest of their potential therapeutic role in the management of some common sleep disorders, such as insomnia, sleep disordered breathing, and restless legs syndrome, and less common disorders such as narcolepsy and parasomnias. Although much of the pre-clinical and clinical data were derived from studies with relatively small sample sizes and limited by biases in assessment, and in clinical trials lack of allocation concealment, as a whole, the results indicate a potential therapeutic role for cannabinoids in the management of some sleep disorders. Clinical trials are underway for insomnia and obstructive sleep apnea management, but there remains a substantial need for rigorous large multi-center studies to assess the dose, efficacy, and safety of the various types of cannabinoids on sleep disorders. This review aims to summarize the modulatory effects of cannabinoids on sleep physiology and provide a critical evaluation of the research on their potential therapeutic benefit in various sleep disorders.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)217-227
Number of pages11
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2021


  • Cannabinoids
  • Cannabis
  • Hypnogram
  • Insomnia
  • Marijuana
  • Narcolepsy
  • Nightmares
  • Parasomnia
  • Restless leg syndrome
  • Sleep
  • Sleep apnea
  • Sleep disordered breathing

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology
  • Pharmacology (medical)
  • Pharmacology


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