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Can Cannabis Help Treat Sleep Disorders?

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The more scientists find out about cannabis, the more the claims of some advocates are validated. It’s no secret that cannabis research has been stifled due to its illegality. Despite a lack of conclusive evidence on cannabis as an effective treatment for sleep disorders, many people swear that cannabis helps them sleep better than anything else.

Currently, cannabis can be prescribed to treat sleep disorders in 7 different states. Sleep disorders can describe one or more of the following:

  • Insomnia – persistent, sometimes chronic inability to fall or stay asleep
  • Sleep Apnea – disruption of breathing during sleep
  • Restless Leg Syndrome – tingling or burning sensation in the legs
  • Narcolepsy – overwhelming daytime drowsiness, sometimes to the point of irresistible bouts of sleep that can occur anywhere  
  • Parasomnia – abnormal or unusual behavior of the nervous system during sleep including sleepwalking, talking during sleep, grinding teeth, night terrors, head banging, etc.

Studies have shown that cannabis can help treat sleep disorders. Here are the ways:

  • Reduce the amount of time it takes to fall asleep
  • Help experience fewer times waking up at night
  • Help people suffering with PTSD to have fewer nightmares
  • Can increase stage 3 sleep

Currently, doctors do not recommend medical marijuana for treating narcolepsy. Even though some strains that are high in cannabidiol (CBD) can help increase alertness, cannabis can cause narcoleptic symptoms to worsen in some cases.

When we sleep, our bodies cycle through four main stages – NREM (non REM) Stages 1, 2, 3 and REM sleep. Stages NREM 1 and NREM 2 are considered light sleep, while NREM Stage 3 is considered deep sleep. The cycle that comes after is called REM (rapid eye movement). REM sleep is the stage in which mammals dream the most, but the stage in which we seem to understand the least.

The good news is, research shows that THC increases deep sleep stages. The bad news could be that research shows THC decreases REM (rapid eye movement) sleep. If you are a heavy cannabis user, this is probably the reason you don’t remember most of your dreams.

In a study on young adults, researchers determined that THC is a sedative, while CBD has “alerting properties”. When participants took the same amount of THC and CBD together, it actually decreased their stage 3 sleep. THC by itself did lead to an increase in sleepiness.

As with any other drug or medical treatment though, cannabis for sleep disorders isn’t for everyone. There are several other ways to get some better shuteye. Getting more exercise, getting more sunlight and eating a better diet can help with insomnia. Natural sleep aids like melatonin and valerian can help with some cases of insomnia as well.

While we love talking about the science of medical cannabis here at the Marijuana Times, we are not doctors and do not give medical advice. This article is for educational and conversational purposes only.

What are your thoughts about marijuana and sleep? Does consuming cannabis help you sleep or does it keep you awake?

9 COMMENTS

  1. I have a bad back, neck & insomnia. A bit of my green med at night is such a blessing!
    I only use cannabis at night to sleep. If my condition worsens, I’ll need more. But so far so good!

    medMUser

  2. In experimenting with different strains and cannabinoids for chronic insomnia, I’ve found that High THC in a tincture or oil from a syringe is the best delivery method for inducing sleep. To sleep more than 5 hours, though, just before settling in to sleep I take 25-35 mg of a THC edible. I would love to find a good one without sugar, wheat or dairy, but just being able to sleep 7-8 hours most nights makes it worthwhile just as they are.

  3. I use it for Restless Legs Syndrome (RLS). The effect (regardless if indica or sativa) is biphasic: 30min to 1hr worsening RLS then they shut up and I go to sleep. If I take myself really baked with an indica then I go to sleep straight away but wake up groggy the next morning.

  4. I don’t take any medications for my narcolepsy yet. But I do take caffeine pills regularly. I’ve recently been trying Charlotte’s Web Hemp Oil (CBD) and totally notice a difference. I feel like it makes me alert and takes away the aches and pains, how I assume most people feel when they drink coffee. I took some late in the day yesterday and was up until 3am! That never happens! Today I just took some with breakfast and have felt good all day and could feel it wear off. I won’t be taking it late in the day again though. I’ve been so excited that I found something natural that is extremely effective, at least for me. Thought I’d share with you and see if you had any stories.

  5. I take roughly 60mg of matoride a day and smoke weed everyday I’m 19 male. I don’t just find it helps make you sleep abit better at night like everyone says, but to me it’s like in the day my tiredness will creep up on me . but when I smoke weed Evan tho it’s not a stimulant it still stimulates my brain enough to make me feel less narcoleptic tired. my friends all ways help and know sometimes I just need to smoke abit of weed to top me up every now and then to stimulate me.

  6. I use the vaporized CBD and the BioCBDplus topical oil. They made a difference in my sleeping and reduction in my RLS symptoms. I have only been using for a short period, so far so good. – AJ

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