The Insomnia Landscape and Plant Therapy-Based Clinical Trials


Insomnia is a condition that many people are familiar with. This condition, which is characterized by the inability to fall asleep and/or stay asleep, affects millions of people around the globe. According to statistics from a 2019 report commissioned by the Sleep Health Foundation, 14.8% of Australians “have symptoms which could result in a diagnosis of clinical insomnia.” Globally, it is estimated that 10-30% of adults have insomnia, while other reports show that number to be higher in the 40-60% range.

The Insomnia Landscape 

While many people are familiar with insomnia, many are not aware that there are actually several different types of insomnia. Each varying type of insomnia has a different onset time, duration of existence, symptoms, causes, and side effects. The most commonly diagnosed forms of insomnia are acute insomnia, chronic insomnia, onset insomnia, maintenance insomnia, and behavioral insomnia of childhood.

Signs and Symptoms of Insomnia

The most common signs and symptoms of insomnia are difficulty falling asleep, awakening frequently throughout the night, waking up too early with an inability to go back to sleep, and sleeping undisturbed yet feeling fatigued upon waking. This lack of sleep and inability to stay asleep can lead to many symptoms throughout the day. These include but are not limited to the following.

  • Headaches
  • Fatigue
  • Poor Memory and Concentration
  • Irritability
  • Impulsive Behavior
  • Lack of Interest
  • Inability to Stay Awake Through Daily Activities
  • Lack of Motivation

When Should You Seek Help for Insomnia Symptoms? 

While it can be common to have a restless night, if you experience trouble sleeping or staying asleep for a prolonged period of time, it is vital that you see a medical professional. If you are having difficulty sleeping and this affects your ability to function throughout the day, it is recommended that you seek medical help to get your insomnia diagnosed and under control.

How Is Insomnia Diagnosed?

To diagnose insomnia, a doctor will typically perform a physical exam as well as review your medical history to see if there are signs of any other underlying conditions that might be causing your sleep issues. You may also be asked to track your sleep patterns and symptoms or be referred to a sleep study to check for other sleep disorders before being diagnosed with insomnia.

The Endocannabinoid System & Insomnia 

Plant therapies such as cannabis have been known to help individuals that have issues sleeping. Cannabis is particularly known for being a very relaxing substance and for its sedative effects. A study published in Frontiers in Molecular Neuroscience in 2020 concluded that when cannabis compounds such as THC and CBD are consumed, it activates the production of the body’s natural endocannabinoids such as anandamide and 2-AG.

These natural endocannabinoids have been shown to help balance the body’s circadian rhythm, in return helping to regulate sleep. In addition to cannabinoids, cannabis naturally contains terpenes such as myrcene, limonene, and linalool, which have been shown to help relieve insomnia through many different studies. 

Traditional Treatments for Insomnia

Traditional treatments for insomnia include over-the-counter or prescription-strength sleep aids, cognitive behavioral therapies, and additional medications to address any underlying symptoms that may be leading to insomnia. In many cases, changes in day-to-day lifestyle activities may be recommended as well as various other therapies depending on the specific type of insomnia being treated.

Plant Therapies for Insomnia Clinical Trial Synopsis 

The Swinburne University of Technology is currently recruiting participants for a 3-week randomized placebo-controlled clinical trial researching the efficacy of CBD for the treatment of insomnia. To participate in the study, you must be between the ages of 18 and 45 years old, have an insomnia Severity Index Score of 15 or higher, experience difficulties falling or staying asleep, have dissatisfaction with your current sleep patterns, and have sleep problems that are interfering with your daily life.

If you currently are unable to speak or read English, work as a shift worker, have a history of severe neurological gastrointestinal or endocrine issues or major psychiatric disorders including severe depression or anxiety, or if you are currently pregnant or lactating, you are unable to participate in this study. For a full list of inclusion as well as exclusion criteria or to register for eligibility, check out the official details of the study at the Australian New Zealand Clinical Trials Registry.

To see if you are eligible for plant-based therapies, you can book a telehealth appointment with one of our specialist doctors through Cannatrek Access.