INVESTIGATOR: Sean Drummond, Ph.D.
STUDY LOCATION: University of California, San Diego
PROJECT TITLE: Sleep and Medicinal Cannabis
PROJECT TYPE: Clinical Study, Sub-Study
Recently, there has been renewed scientific interest in examining the medical efficacy of cannabis in specific patient populations. For, example, both the Institute of Medicine and the NIH recently reported medicinal cannabis might be useful in the treatment of pain in HIV+ patients. HIV+ patients experience a number of clinical sequelae to the infection, even when they are otherwise considered clinically "asymptomatic." Perhaps one of the earliest sequelae is sleep abnormality. It is estimated that 73% to 90% of HIV+ patients experience significantly disrupted sleep and sleep quality has been shown to predict long-term outcome in HIV+ patients. This study examines the effects of daytime medicinal cannabis administration on subsequent nocturnal subjective and objective measures of sleep in patients with HIV-associated DSPN. We will recruit 15 patients who are enrolled in a study currently funded by the CMCR (PI: Dr. Ellis; Award # C00-SD-104). Dr. Ellis' study examines the efficacy of medicinal cannabis vs. placebo in treating pain in patients with HIV-associated DSPN. Here, subjective sleep will be measured for three 1-week periods: a wash-in week, a week of cannabis administration, and a week of placebo administration. Objective sleep will be studied for two consecutive nights under both cannabis administration and placebo conditions. We hypothesize that, compared to placebo, cannabis will increase slow wave sleep and sleep efficiency and decrease REM sleep. Subjectively, patients will report increased global sleep quality, decreased sleep latency, and increased total sleep time with cannabis administration. If these hypotheses are borne out, it will provide evidence that cannabis has positive medicinal qualities beyond those formally suggested. Improved sleep may directly affect prognosis in these patients and may have several indirect benefits as well. Regardless, this study should provide pilot data for subsequent grant applications focusing on the direct effects of medicinal cannabis on sleep in patient populations.