The Endocannabinoid System May Modulate Sleep Disorders in Aging

Curr Neuropharmacol. 2020;18(2):97-108. doi: 10.2174/1570159X17666190801155922.


Aging is an inevitable process that involves changes across life in multiple neurochemical, neuroanatomical, hormonal systems, and many others. In addition, these biological modifications lead to an increase in age-related sickness such as cardiovascular diseases, osteoporosis, neurodegenerative disorders, and sleep disturbances, among others that affect activities of daily life. Demographic projections have demonstrated that aging will increase its worldwide rate in the coming years. The research on chronic diseases of the elderly is important to gain insights into this growing global burden. Novel therapeutic approaches aimed for treatment of age-related pathologies have included the endocannabinoid system as an effective tool since this biological system shows beneficial effects in preclinical models. However, and despite these advances, little has been addressed in the arena of the endocannabinoid system as an option for treating sleep disorders in aging since experimental evidence suggests that some elements of the endocannabinoid system modulate the sleep-wake cycle. This article addresses this less-studied field, focusing on the likely perspective of the implication of the endocannabinoid system in the regulation of sleep problems reported in the aged. We conclude that beneficial effects regarding the putative efficacy of the endocannabinoid system as therapeutic tools in aging is either inconclusive or still missing.

Keywords: Aging; Cannabidiol; childhood; pharmacology; rapid eye movement sleep; sleep..

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aging
  • Circadian Rhythm
  • Endocannabinoids / pharmacology*
  • Endocannabinoids / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Receptors, Cannabinoid
  • Sleep
  • Sleep Wake Disorders / drug therapy*
  • Sleep Wake Disorders / physiopathology*


  • Endocannabinoids
  • Receptors, Cannabinoid