Cannabis May Relieve Insomnia- New study Reveals

Liz Filmer
21 Jul 2022

Many people with depression and anxiety believe that cannabis helps them sleep, according to new research published in BMC Psychiatry. The study concludes that the findings emphasise the need for placebo-controlled trials to examine whether cannabinoids can help relieve insomnia.

Insomnia is a common symptom of mental illness and can be very distressing. Sleep disruption can exacerbate symptoms of depression, leaving people in a cycle that is hard to escape. 

Previous research has varied on whether cannabis helps to improve sleep and anxiety. This study aimed to test if cannabis provides sleep relief for people with depression or anxiety.

Data was examined from 100 participants with depression, 463 participants with anxiety, and 114 participants with both. Participants were tracked for three years and used an app to record their insomnia symptoms, and their cannabis use, including specifics of what they used in what form and dosage. They would also rate their symptoms again after use.

CBD-dominant and indica strains were used most commonly to manage insomnia in those with depression. Indica and indica hybrid strains were most frequently used by those with anxiety or depression and anxiety. Dried flower cannabis was the most popular form used.

Cannabis seemed to help participants with depression under 45 years old significantly. For participants suffering from anxiety, cannabis use appeared to satisfy all ages. The 35-44 age group reported more positive results than those in the 25-34 group. In those suffering from anxiety and depression, cannabis was beneficial for all age groups.

But the study does have some restrictions. Firstly, the data involved was self-reported depression, anxiety, or both diagnoses. This means that the participants may not meet the medical threshold o being diagnosed with a mental illness. Additionally, symptoms, usage, and benefits were all self-reported, which lends itself to potentially not gathering accurate information. It is also possible that the findings result from a "placebo impact."

"Despite its limitations, this study is strengthened by its large, naturalistic sample. Individuals were also prompted to record cannabis use in their daily environments, maximising the ecological validity of the study. As such, large mobile health studies of this sort are considerably more convenient and provide real-time information," stated researchers.

In real life, many people commonly report using cannabis to combat depression, anxiety and sleep. However, this area of research is still relatively scarce. Therefore, a naturalistic study can better understand cannabis usage profiles for insomnia. At the same time providing valuable information for future trials that will focus on the efficacy and safety of cannabis for therapeutic purposes.


Liz Filmer