Around 30% of Americans have insomnia. A serious problem, researchers have found that cannabis products may be able to help people with the condition get better sleep.
Although anecdotal evidence and mouse models have previously pointed towards cannabis being able to improve sleep quality, until recently, more concrete studies had not been conducted. Now however, researchers from the University of Western Australia have conducted the first ever double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial that has demonstrated the link.
For their study, the researchers recruited 23 patients with chronic insomnia in 2018. The patients were then given either a dose of cannabis or a placebo for two weeks. They could choose to either take single or double doses based on preference and symptom severity. The cannabis product used was a proprietary cannabinoid blend known as ZTL-101, containing both THC and CBD.
Over the course of two weeks, the researchers measured the participants' sleep quality via digital sleep trackers, subjective responses and the Insomnia Severity Index (ISI), a commonly-used clinical tool to register symptoms of insomnia.
In the end, the researchers found that ISI scores were 26% lower for those taking cannabis products than those on the placebo. The scores were even lower for those on a double dose. Those treated with cannabis also had more hours of sleep, fell asleep quicker, and could fall asleep again faster after being woken up than those in the placebo group. They also reported being less tired and less stressed alongside other significant improvements in the quality of life.
“This study represents the most rigorous clinical trial ever undertaken to assess the therapeutic potential of medicinal cannabis to treat the symptoms of chronic insomnia,” says lead researcher Peter Eastwood. “The fact that ZLT-101 treatment achieved statistically significant, dose-responsive improvements across a broad range of key insomnia indices is impressive, particularly given the relatively short two-week dosing window.”