A DROP of cannabis oil before bed might help chronic insomniacs finally get a good night’s sleep.
In a world-first, University of Western Australia researchers will test if the sedating effect of medicinal cannabis works on the one-in-three Australians who regularly have difficulty falling or staying asleep.
Lead researcher Peter Eastwood said insomnia cost the nation more than $66 billion a year, including lost productivity and health problems.
Current treatments for insomnia include cognitive behavioural therapy, which is “very effective” but time consuming and expensive, and the psychiatric drugs benzodiazepine, which are addictive and come with numerous side effects, Professor Eastwood told AAP on Monday.
“It’s a huge market,” he said.
Medicinal cannabis has previously been tested for its effectiveness in controlling epilepsy and chronic pain.
Test subjects reported side-effects including feelings of sleepiness, which led Perth-based pharmaceutical company Zelda Therapeutics to develop a cannabinoid formula to investigate its use in insomnia.
The double blind, randomised trial involves 24 volunteers who will place either a single drop of cannabis oil or a placebo under their tongue an hour before bed for two weeks.
They will then cross-over and test either the oil or the placebo for another two weeks.
A wrist-based activity monitor will let researchers track the quality of sleep for subjects at home, while further tests will be be conducted during three sleepovers at UWA’s Centre for Sleep Science.
Results from the trial are expected by the end of the year.