The Use of Cannabinoids for Insomnia in Daily Life: Naturalistic Study

J Med Internet Res. 2021 Oct 27;23(10):e25730. doi: 10.2196/25730.


Background: Insomnia is a prevalent condition that presents itself at both the symptom and diagnostic levels. Although insomnia is one of the main reasons individuals seek medicinal cannabis, little is known about the profile of cannabinoid use or the perceived benefit of the use of cannabinoids in daily life.

Objective: We conducted a retrospective study of medicinal cannabis users to investigate the use profile and perceived efficacy of cannabinoids for the management of insomnia.

Methods: Data were collected using the Strainprint app, which allows medicinal cannabis users to log conditions and symptoms, track cannabis use, and monitor symptom severity pre- and postcannabis use. Our analyses examined 991 medicinal cannabis users with insomnia across 24,189 tracked cannabis use sessions. Sessions were analyzed, and both descriptive statistics and linear mixed-effects modeling were completed to examine use patterns and perceived efficacy.

Results: Overall, cannabinoids were perceived to be efficacious across all genders and ages, and no significant differences were found among product forms, ingestion methods, or gender groups. Although all strain categories were perceived as efficacious, predominant indica strains were found to reduce insomnia symptomology more than cannabidiol (CBD) strains (estimated mean difference 0.59, SE 0.11; 95% CI 0.36-0.81; adjusted P<.001) and predominant sativa strains (estimated mean difference 0.74, SE 0.16; 95% CI 0.43-1.06; adjusted P<.001). Indica hybrid strains also presented a greater reduction in insomnia symptomology than CBD strains (mean difference 0.52, SE 0.12; 95% CI 0.29-0.74; adjusted P<.001) and predominant sativa strains (mean difference 0.67, SE 0.16; 95% CI 0.34-1.00; adjusted P=.002).

Conclusions: Medicinal cannabis users perceive a significant improvement in insomnia with cannabinoid use, and this study suggests a possible advantage with the use of predominant indica strains compared with predominant sativa strains and exclusively CBD in this population. This study emphasizes the need for randomized placebo-controlled trials assessing the efficacy and safety profile of cannabinoids for the treatment of insomnia.

Keywords: insomnia; linear mixed-effects; medicinal cannabis; symptom management.

MeSH terms

  • Cannabidiol*
  • Cannabinoids* / therapeutic use
  • Cannabis*
  • Humans
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Sleep Initiation and Maintenance Disorders* / drug therapy


  • Cannabinoids
  • Cannabidiol