cannabis seedling

Quality sleep of, preferably, eight hours a night has become one of the staples of a happy, healthy life. And knowing what we now know about the importance of sleep, this prevalent attitude is firmly lodged in facts supported by numerous studies and experiments.

Paradoxically, today’s modern society seems to have more trouble getting that necessary shut-eye than our predecessors. Stress, it would seem, is the leading cause of many sleep disorders. Which is another paradox as we have never lived better or more comfortably. The old “You can’t have your cake and eat it” adage comes to mind as all this luxury, obviously, comes with a price. 

The more we want in terms of material things we believe are a must to keep us happy, the more funds we need, which means we work more and push ourselves harder than ever. The consequences often include inadequate sleep, which can have a devastating impact on our health. 

The newest figures are not particularly positive as it emerges that some 40 million Americans suffer from sleep disorders, with the additional 20 million reporting occasional bouts of sleep problems. 

Considering we are (still) lucky enough to have numerous ways of dealing with sleep disorders, which range from natural remedies to various therapies, medication, and even some fairly advanced tech solutions, one would think this problem would be simple to fix. 

Yet, the reality is very much different and despite undertaking numerous approaches to dealing with sleep disorders, sufferers will often find that these solutions either offer partial results or just a short reprieve before the problems return. 

It is in human nature to then seek further and undertake an innovative approach to deal with the problems at hand. Cannabis seems to have emerged as the latest possible solution or remedy when it comes to tackling sleep problems.  

But how and why could cannabis help? 

Cannabis as the Multifaceted Medicinal Solution

While this may seem as one of the latest fads, which will come and go like last year’s snow, cannabis has actually been suggested (and used) as a solution for much longer

However, given the stigma and the bad name that often comes hand in hand with it, many shun away from it. And certainly, only a few will be unfamiliar with the best-known component of cannabis, THC, which is a psychoactive compound of marijuana and does induce the high sensation. 

However, there are other compounds that can be used, such as CBD, which has less than 0.3 percent of THC and can nowadays be found in the form of oil, extracts, gels, and supplements. And while both of these compounds do engage with our endocannabinoid system, the effects stand in stark contrast. 

THC vs. CBD

Interestingly enough, both these compounds share many of the properties, but with one notable difference – CBD will not cause the “high” or euphoric sensation that invariably comes with THC.  In fact, CBD, which is contained in Epidiolex (a medication used to treat severe forms of epilepsy) has been approved by the Food and Drug Administration. And indeed, CBD has been proven to help with various problems such as migraines, pain, inflammation, depression, anxiety, nausea, and seizures. THC can also help with most of these issues but has the mind-altering side effects. 

And then there is the claim that cannabis can help those suffering from various sleep disorders

Cannabis and a Good Night’s Sleep – a Match Made in Heaven?   

According to recent reports, the sleep aid market is worth some $41 billion per year, which is a clear indicator sleep disorders have seemingly grown to a behemoth size. Then there is a claim that cannabis, or more specifically CBD, can restore the natural sleep cycle. For millions around the world desperate to sleep, this sounds far too alluring not to try. More so since known and possible side effects include conditions such as dry mouth, low blood pressure, and sometimes drowsiness, which might not pose too big of a problem for those suffering from sleep-related issues.  Even more so when some of the more mainstream sleep medication is known to have more adverse side effects. 

How Does Cannabis Help with a Quality Shut-Eye?

It would seem that analgesic properties of cannabis aid those who suffer chronic pain on a daily basis such as Restless Leg Syndrome sufferers (who often have sleep problems) while relaxing properties contained in the cannabis plant help people unwind and, by analogy, take less time to fall asleep. 

In fact, the research has shown that cannabis shortens the REM sleep phase, hence people spend more time in a deep, restorative sleep phase. The issue here might be with THC, which, research shows, has more relaxing effects (as well as those mind-altering ones) and may induce sleep even faster. In fact, it would seem that THC could even help improve breathing during sleep, which could be especially beneficial to people suffering from sleep apnea. 

As previously mentioned, cannabis (THC especially) shortens the REM sleep cycle, which could be great news for people who suffer from PTSD as the REM phase usually means we are dreaming and, for PTSD sufferers, that often means having nightmares or some form of disturbing dreams. However, every sleep phase is there for a reason and tempering with those long-term could have negative effects. Hence, THC specifically to help with sleep problems might not be great as a long-term solution. 

This brings us back to CBD, which, seemingly, is a safer solution. Considering the fact that it can help with anxiety, depression, pain as well as combat bouts of sleepiness during daytime, CBD emerges as a remedy that has all the “goodness” but without the possible negative side effects that accompany its fraternal twin – THC. 

The Legal Status of Cannabis

Battles are still raging when it comes to the legal status of cannabis. The current state of affairs is that CBD is legal (since 2018) if it is derived from hemp (hemp and marijuana are two forms of the Cannabis sativa plant) and has less than 0.3 percent of THC. CBD that is derived from marijuana is still illegal. 

All this has to be taken into consideration before deciding to try cannabis as a possible solution for sleep disorders. Not to mention discussing this at length with your GP.  

Conclusion

“Information is power.” 

A proverb as old as the hills. The society we live in today has enabled all sorts of information to be just a click away and that should be used. But used responsibly. Before we reach for any sort of medication, research and thorough discussion with experts is necessary. 

Sleep disorders are crippling and have serious and long-lasting effects on the sufferer’s quality of life. However, self-medicating could make the condition worse. Therefore, before deciding to use cannabis or any other sleep medication, conduct research, talk to your physician, and make an informed decision that has the potential to help resolve your problem rather than exacerbate it.