Is Cannabis Effective Medicine To Treat Sleeping Disorders?
Cannabis' federally illegal, Schedule 1 drug classification makes legally and ethically studying the various potential applications, benefits, and ramifications of cannabis consumption incredibly difficult.
Health

Cannabis & Sleep: Is Marijuana An Effective Aid For A Good Night’s Rest?

Cannabis' federally illegal, Schedule 1 drug classification makes legally and ethically studying the various potential applications, benefits, and ramifications of cannabis consumption incredibly difficult.
Health

Cannabis & Sleep: Is Marijuana An Effective Aid For A Good Night’s Rest?

Author Contributing Writer
Published Nov 30, 2021
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There’s no stopping the Green Wave in 2021. Stigmas surrounding cannabis linger, but a significant percentage of Americans are open to legalizing cannabis, whether for widespread recreational use or medicinal purposes. Medical cannabis is accessible now more than ever before, though the qualifying conditions vary state-to-state. PTSD, for example, is listed as a qualifying condition in 29 states and Guam. Only two statewide medical programs in Alaska and South Dakota have yet to allow cannabinoid treatment.

The other condition that has been in the line of questioning over the years is sleep. Those who have tried cannabis to combat their insomnia or severe anxiety might be able to vouch for its effectiveness as a sleep aid, though there are many that remain skeptical. A study from the National Center of Biotechnology Information published in 2020 stated there is increasing evidence of the efficacy of cannabis in treating Restless Leg Syndrome. However, the question remains: is cannabis a practical aid for sleeping difficulties? Medical News Today broke down the facts in a recently published article, and the results remain ambiguous.

What Do Studies Say? 

  • In 2011, Rolando Tringale, MD, and Claudia Jensen, MD published a study conducted on 147 participants’ sleeping habits after consuming cannabis. The group consisted of individuals who did and did not suffer from sleep disorders, yet the results found that it took both of them significantly less time to fall asleep after consuming cannabis. However, the time average varied on the second time around.
  • Meanwhile, a 2014 study recognized the benefits of CBD for patients with anxiety, specifically PTSD, who reported troubles sleeping. It was approved as a qualifying condition, though the study noted that the long-term effects aren’t apparent.
  • A 2017 review on cannabis’ effects on sleeping disorders conducted by the University of Pennsylvania’s Medical School determined that there needs to be far more in-depth research into the subject to draw a conclusion.
  • A 2011 study published by the National Library of Medicine said that CBD induced deeper sleep in rats that suffered from anxiety. Another study indicated that humans are more alert after consuming CBD products. THC, on the other hand, served as a sedative.
  • A 2016 study indicated that chronic use of cannabis among young adults with no reported sleeping difficulties had adverse effects yet the researchers concluded that more studies need to dive deeper into the topic.

As you can tell, these results are contradictory, convoluted, and in need of extensive extrapolation. Cannabis’ federally illegal, Schedule 1 drug classification makes legally and ethically studying the various potential applications, benefits, and ramifications of cannabis consumption incredibly difficult. Though as the country begins to legalize little by little, research possibilities are beginning to appear within reach.

So, Should I Consume Cannabis Before Bed?

It’s no secret that in-depth research into cannabis and its therapeutic effects isn’t as thorough as it could be. The scarcity of these studies is to blame on the plant’s legal status and access that scientists had to the non-government-grown products. That will change with the infrastructure bill Joe Biden recently signed that includes a provision promoting cannabis research. Still, the string of research conducted on sleeping disorders has one thing in common: we need more studies.

However, there are some promising signs that a quick toke off of the bong before bed could relieve insomnia and other sleeping difficulties symptoms. The National Sleep Foundation said that cannabis does help with sleeping difficulties through the interaction of cannabinoids with the cannabinoid receptors in the brain. The adenosine levels that promote sleep increase upon consumption and help calm down the brain’s arousal system.

Many of these are short-term effects that could exasperate conditions even further in the future, though. The Sleep Foundation explained that excessive use of cannabis could lead to sporadically waking up at night, restrained time in a state of deep sleep, less overall sleep, and extended times to fall asleep. Meanwhile, other effects could include waking up fatigued or impaired memory.

Ultimately, it’s up to your doctor’s discretion. Some have found it incredibly useful, while scientists have suggested that it could lead to dependency. Those diagnosed with anxiety or mental health issues might even feel their conditions worsen over time. There are other ways to ensure a good night’s rest for those reluctant to rely on cannabis to aid sleeping difficulties, like creating a strict sleep schedule every day, exercising, creating a dark and quiet atmosphere at night, and avoiding caffeine. 

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