When you ask people why they use cannabis, many will start with recreational reasons but cite health matters as additional motivations. However, it is rare that physicians play a role in advising cannabis users on how weed may benefit or harm their health. Cannabis for sleep is a great example of this. While many people light up to help them get to sleep, not many doctors recommend cannabis for sleep. Likewise, few cannabis users consult their physicians about using cannabis for sleep.

A recent clinical trial (NCT03224468) investigated the potential benefits of medical cannabis for insomnia, pain, and anxiety or depressive symptoms. Trial participants using medical cannabis self-reported better sleep quality on days that they used. Long-term sleep improvements coincided with increasing cannabis use for most participants. However, improvements for pain or depressive symptoms were not observed in this clinical trial.

It is important to keep in mind that this clinical trial was very small, with only 181 participants. It also relied on self-reporting and surveys. Still, this trial does provide some insights into the validity of using medical cannabis for insomnia. Many pharmaceutical sleep medications like Ambien can have adverse effects and overly potent effects for those who suffer from occasional sleeplessness. While doctors regularly recommend pharmaceuticals or natural sleep aids like melatonin, trials like this one demonstrate that cannabis is also earning its place in medicine as a sleep aid.


Tervo-Clemmens, B., Schmitt, W., Wheeler, G., Cooke, M., Schuster, R. M., Hickey, S., … & Gilman, J. (2022). Cannabis Use and Sleep Quality in Daily Life: an Electronic Daily Diary Study of Adults Starting Cannabis for Health Concerns. Drug and Alcohol Dependence, 109760.


Sabine Downer
Author: Sabine Downer