Medicinal Cannabis and Sleeplessness: An Herbal Lullaby

If you’re having trouble falling asleep or getting a good night’s sleep because of restlessness from a medical condition, or due to almost any sleep disorder, you may find there’s help in medicinal cannabis. Cannabis has been a useful aid in treating insomnia and sleep disorders going back as far as the 19th century in the U.S., before cannabis was categorized as an illegal drug. That’s because sleepiness is a well-known side effect of cannabis.

Sleep disorders that are fairly common and can benefit from medicinal cannabis are:

  • Insomnia – which can be diagnosed as a stand-alone disorder or connected to other conditions as a symptom. Insomnia patients suffer from an inability to fall asleep, remain asleep, or get a restful sleep. It can affect day-to-day routines and impact both mood and health.
  • Sleep apnea – can happen if there’s a blockage in your airways while you sleep. If the airways should collapse or are obstructed by enlarged tonsils, sleep apnea can occur affecting sleep quality that can lead to chronic daytime fatigue.
  • Restless leg syndrome/Whitmaack-Ekbom’s syndrome – this is a condition that can affect patients throughout the day, but is especially troublesome at night. Restless legs can be a serious detriment to getting a good night’s sleep.
  • Nightmares – a side effect of medications for anxiety or taking narcotics are disturbing dreams, or nightmares. They happen every now and then, but can seriously interfere with sleep quality.

To use medicinal cannabis to treat symptoms related to sleep infirmities, symptoms need to be singled out to identify which ones cannabis can relieve. One of the other considerations is to know which strain of cannabis is best to use to treat the sleep disorder a patient is experiencing.

 

THC and CBD: The Sleep Difference

The compounds in cannabis, CBD and THC, have different effects on sleep. They’re responsible in their different combinations for the degree of euphoria a patient will feel after taking the drug. A strain of cannabis that’s a high-THC, low-CBD strain will produce a greater euphoric feeling, while a high-CBD, low THC strain won’t produce any high.

If the strain has close to equivalent amounts of THC and CBD, the “high” will be at a minimum. For most studies of sleep disorders, higher THC strains were used to obtain results.

CBD strains by comparison, held more potential for treating patients with conditions tied to daytime sleepiness that resulted from a non-restful night’s rest.

For producing a more intense, deeper sleep, indica strains appear to have greater benefit. The benefit appears to have to do with the terpene that’s found in indica, which are fragrant compounds that play a part in the strain’s unique potency. This may explain its ability to work as a calming agent more than sativa strains of cannabis.

 

You’re Getting Sleepier…

Did you know that as cannabis ages (as in deteriorates), the THC compound in it transforms into cannabinol (CBN), a sedative chemical that is over five times greater when it comes to enhancing sleepiness than the original strength of the THC compound.

 

Natural Sleep Boosters  

When combined with other natural herb sleep enhancers, medical cannabis has a greater effect on a patient’s ability to get a more restful sleep experience. According to Rev. Dr. Kymron deCesare of Steep Hill Labs, there are terpenoids that are highly compatible with cannabinol (or CBN), which has the effect of a sedative. Herbal ingredients like hops, chamomile or lavender have similar terpenes which can be found in cannabis, but are important because they’re of a higher concentration.  

Continuing studies are demonstrating and proving that for patients with sleep disorders, the quality, longevity and ability to fall asleep without a lot of difficulty with the use of cannabis is worth giving more widespread consideration, and there are states where medicinal cannabis has been approved to help people with sleep disorders. The future looks brighter for greater acceptance!

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