Cannabis species and cannabinoid concentration preference among sleep-disturbed medicinal cannabis users

Addict Behav. 2015 Nov;50:178-81. doi: 10.1016/j.addbeh.2015.06.032. Epub 2015 Jun 23.


Introduction: Individuals report using cannabis for the promotion of sleep, and the effects of cannabis on sleep may vary by cannabis species. Little research has documented preferences for particular cannabis types or cannabinoid concentrations as a function of use for sleep disturbances.

Methods: 163 adults purchasing medical cannabis for a physical or mental health condition at a cannabis dispensary were recruited. They provided self-report of (a) whether cannabis use was intended to help with sleep problems (e.g. insomnia, nightmares), (b) sleep quality (PSQI), (c) cannabis use (including preferred type), and (d) symptoms of DSM-5 cannabis dependence.

Results: 81 participants reported using cannabis for the management of insomnia and 14 participants reported using cannabis to reduce nightmares. Individuals using cannabis to manage nightmares preferred sativa to indica strains (Fisher's exact test (2) = 6.83, p < 0.05), and sativa users were less likely to endorse DSM-5 cannabis dependence compared with those who preferred indica strains (χ(2)(2) = 4.09, p < 0.05). Individuals with current insomnia (t(9) = 3.30, p < 0.01) and greater sleep latency (F(3,6) = 46.7, p < 0.001) were more likely to report using strains of cannabis with significantly higher concentrations of CBD. Individuals who reported at least weekly use of hypnotic medications used cannabis with lower THC concentrations compared to those who used sleep medications less frequently than weekly (t(17) = 2.40, p < 0.05).

Conclusions: Associations between sleep characteristics and the type of cannabis used were observed in this convenience sample of individuals using cannabis for the management of sleep disturbances. Controlled prospective studies are needed to better characterize the impact that specific components of cannabis have on sleep.

Keywords: Cannabis; Insomnia; Marijuana; Medical marijuana; Sleep.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • California / epidemiology
  • Cannabinoids / administration & dosage*
  • Cannabis*
  • Comorbidity
  • Dreams / drug effects
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hypnotics and Sedatives / administration & dosage
  • Male
  • Marijuana Abuse / epidemiology*
  • Medical Marijuana / administration & dosage*
  • Middle Aged
  • Sleep / drug effects*
  • Sleep Initiation and Maintenance Disorders / epidemiology*
  • Young Adult


  • Cannabinoids
  • Hypnotics and Sedatives
  • Medical Marijuana