Cannabis & Sleep
As more and more countries (including India) are beginning to understand the benefits of cannabis medicine, it is becoming a popular alternative for treating sleep disorders, traditionally managed through a variety of medicines from sleeping pills to melatonin.
We live in a very busy time with constant distractions and the capability to stay connected to one another 24/7. While this connected lifestyle has many advantages, it does not often promote healthy sleeping habits, causing many of us to fall short on both sleep duration and quality. Research on the subject indicates that nearly 50% of individuals living in the United States suffer from some form of sleep disturbance.
SYMPTOMS, CAUSES, AND PREDISPOSITIONS
Sleep disturbance can come in many forms ranging from poor sleep latency due to ‘mind-chatter’, to a formal diagnosis of chronic insomnia. While severity does vary, common symptoms and risk factors associated with sleep disturbance can include:
The quality of our sleep is deeply interconnecting with nearly every other aspect of our health, and can be substantially influenced by our sleeping environment. Individuals hoping to treat sleep disturbance should begin by identifying any relevant factors and predispositions that may be contributing to a poor night’s sleep. These can include:
TRADITIONAL TREATMENT OPTIONS
Sleep disturbance is often the result of other underlying medical conditions and as such the focus of treatment should first be on these conditions. There are many traditional ways to treat sleep disturbance and improve overall sleep quality, but there is no one-size-fits-all solution and many find themselves searching for alternatives. Common treatment options for sleep disturbance can include:
CANNABIS MEDICINE TREATMENT
In parts of the world where people have access to cannabis, sleep disturbance is one of the most commonly cited reasons for seeking cannabinoid treatment. Data suggests that individuals using cannabis medicine to help treat the effects of sleep disturbance also commonly report reductions in the use of traditional sleep medications.
Cannabis medicine is hardly a newly discovered treatment option, as many cultures have a history of utilizing cannabis for its medicinal potentials, such as improving sleep quality. Through constant innovation and regulatory changes, today’s cannabis medicine has been carefully developed using modern cultivation methods and technologies, as well as precise product formulating to allow for a more targeted treatment approach. Due to evolving legal frameworks around the world and the creation of new product formats, cannabis medicine has steadily grown in popularity as a trusted treatment option for sleep disturbance.
Cannabinoids interact with the body’s endocannabinoid system (ECS), which helps in maintaining equilibrium within many of the different functions and systems of the human body, including the regulation of sleep cycles. Research suggests that an endocannabinoid deficiency might be an underlying factor contributing to a variety of chronic conditions, an issue that can potentially be addressed through cannabinoid treatment.
Research has shown that the use of cannabis medicine is associated with significant improvements in perceived insomnia, and that delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabinol (CBN) can have sedating effects and can decrease sleep latency. Anandamide, an endocannabinoid that shares structural similarities with THC, can affect sleep patterns. Due to the similar effects of THC and anandamide on the body, THC can be sedating at certain doses. However, there is the potential for long-term impairment of sleep quality from prolonged use of THC.
Cannabidiol (CBD) has been shown to have the potential to improve REM sleep. Research also suggests that CBD may be beneficial in cases where sleep disturbance is linked to anxiety-related disorders. Additionally, CBD may be able to modulate wakefulness through activating regions of the brain involved in triggering alertness. This has potentials in improving symptoms of drowsiness and fatigue following a poor night sleep.
Research also suggests the potential for cannabis medicine to be beneficial in the treatment of conditions related to sleep disturbance. Evidences has shown that cannabis medicine can reduce symptoms of chronic pain and associated poor sleep quality. Studies also indicate that cannabinoid treatment can be beneficial for patients suffering from obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) through improved respiratory stability. Patients suffering from post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) may also benefit from cannabis medicine through a reduction in trauma related dreams, and reduced dream recall.
The overall effect of cannabis medicine on sleep can be dependent on factors such as cannabinoids used, dosage, and delivery method. Terpenes found in cannabis can also play a role in sedating potentials. Products that are dominant in the terpene myrcene have been shown to have a greater potential for sedating effects.
While the current body of evidence suggests a great deal of potential benefits, additional research is still needed to fully understand the therapeutic potentials and possible side effects of cannabis medicine as a treatment for sleep disturbance, insomnia, and other chronic conditions that contribute to reduced quality and duration of sleep.
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Research regarding cannabis and sleep:
- Cannabis, Cannabinoids, and Sleep: a Review of the Literature https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%252Fs11920-017-0775-9
- The role of the CB1 receptor in the regulation of sleep https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/18514375/
- Endocannabinoid Signaling Regulates Sleep Stability https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/27031992/
- Medical cannabis use in the United States: a retrospective database study https://jcannabisresearch.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s42238-020-00038-w
- The effects of nabilone on sleep in fibromyalgia: results of a randomized controlled trial https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/20007734/
- Cannabis species and cannabinoid concentration preference among sleep-disturbed medicinal cannabis users https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26151582/
- Cannabis Affects Cerebellar Volume and Sleep Differently in Men and Women https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyt.2021.643193/full
- Recent legalization of cannabis use: effects on sleep, health, and workplace safety https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5656354/
- Therapeutic Uses of Cannabis on Sleep Disorders and Related Conditions https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31895189/
- Cannabis, Cannabinoids, and Sleep: a Review of the Literature https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28349316/
- Acute effect of vaporized Cannabis on sleep and electrocortical activity https://doi.org/10.1016/j.pbb.2019.02.012
- Use of Cannabis to Relieve Pain and Promote Sleep by Customers at an Adult Use Dispensary https://doi.org/10.1080/02791072.2019.1626953
- Cannabis Expectancies for Sleep https://doi.org/10.1080/02791072.2019.1643053
- Cannabis, Pain, and Sleep: Lessons from Therapeutic Clinical Trials of Sativex®, a Cannabis-Based Medicine https://doi.org/10.1002/cbdv.200790150
- Using cannabis to help you sleep: Heightened frequency of medical cannabis use among those with PTSD https://doi.org/10.1016/j.drugalcdep.2013.12.008
- Medical Cannabis and the Treatment of Obstructive Sleep Apnea: An American Academy of Sleep Medicine Position Statement https://doi.org/10.5664/jcsm.7070
- Cannabis use and sleep: Expectations, outcomes, and the role of age https://doi.org/10.1016/j.addbeh.2020.106642
- Effects of Cannabis Consumption on Sleep https://link.springer.com/chapter/10.1007/978-3-030-61663-2_11
- Substitution of medical cannabis for pharmaceutical agents for pain, anxiety, and sleep https://doi.org/10.1177/0269881117699616
- Recent cannabis use and nightly sleep duration in adults: a population analysis of the NHANES from 2005 to 2018 https://rapm.bmj.com/content/47/2/100.abstract
- Cannabidiol, a constituent of Cannabis sativa, modulates sleep in rats https://doi.org/10.1016/j.febslet.2006.04.102
- Preliminary assessment of the efficacy, tolerability and safety of a cannabis-based medicine (Sativex) in the treatment of pain caused by rheumatoid arthritis https://doi.org/10.1093/rheumatology/kei183
- Using recreational cannabis to treat insomnia: Evidence from over-the-counter sleep aid sales in Colorado https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ctim.2019.102207
- Clinical Endocannabinoid Deficiency Reconsidered: Current Research Supports the Theory in Migraine, Fibromyalgia, Irritable Bowel, and Other Treatment-Resistant Syndromes https://www.liebertpub.com/doi/full/10.1089/can.2016.0009
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