Cannabinoids, Endocannabinoids and Sleep


Sleep is a vital function of the nervous system that contributes to brain and bodily homeostasis, energy levels, cognitive ability, and other key functions of a variety of organisms. Dysfunctional sleep induces neural problems and is a key part of almost all human psychiatric disorders including substance abuse disorders. The hypnotic effects of cannabis have long been known and there is increasing use of phytocannabinoids and other formulations as sleep aids. Thus, it is crucial to gain a better understanding of the neurobiological basis of cannabis drug effects on sleep, as well as the role of the endogenous cannabinoid system in sleep physiology. In this review article, we summarize the current state of knowledge concerning sleep-related endogenous cannabinoid function derived from research on humans and rodent models. We also review information on acute and chronic cannabinoid drug effects on sleep in these organisms, and molecular mechanisms that may contribute to these effects. We point out the potential benefits of acute cannabinoids for sleep improvement, but also the potential sleep-disruptive effects of withdrawal following chronic cannabinoid drug use. Prescriptions for future research in this burgeoning field are also provided.

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Kesner, A. J., & Lovinger, D. M. (2020). Cannabinoids, Endocannabinoids and Sleep. Frontiers in molecular neuroscience13, 125.

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