Medical Cannabis – Can it help with your insomnia?

By Published On: September 26th, 2023Categories: Cannabis, Health

As part of World Sleep Day on the 14th March, we thought we’d dedicate this blog to Insomnia. Something that nearly all of us has experienced in our lifetime.

The cannabis plant has been used for centuries to help individuals fall asleep quicker and get a better quality of sleep during the night. Today, more and more studies are showing how medical cannabis for those with chronic conditions who are suffering with sleep related issues are being given the gift of a better nights sleep due to the properties found within medical grade cannabis.

In a survey completed by Formulate Health (1), conducted on 1,000 UK adults in 2021, found that 35% of UK adults struggle to get to sleep on a weekly basis and almost 1 in 5 have trouble falling asleep every night.

For those with chronic conditions such as chronic pain, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and multiple sclerosis to name just a few, medical cannabis has been shown to help with falling asleep faster, waking up less during the night and enjoy a better quality of sleep overall.

Along with these chronic conditions, the pandemic has only increased reports of disturbed sleep due to the side effects of long COVID and the result of increased anxiety and depression brought on during this time due to loved ones being lost and the isolation so many people experienced. This study looked at the effects COVID-19 and sleep (7) and what impact it had on mental health.

But most importantly, sleep deprivation is widely acknowledged for increasing the likelihood of a series of health related problems ranging from minor short-term issues such as fatigue and a lack of concentration to longer term issues such as depression and diabetes.

The Sleep Foundation suggests (5) that decreased sleep is a risk factor for increased blood sugar levels. Even partial sleep deprivation over one night can increase insulin resistance, which can in turn increase blood sugar levels.

Many people turn to over the counter cures, sleeping aids and even illegally sourced cannabis to ease their sleeping issues. But what can medical cannabis do for those who really need it?

What do the studies tell us?

There are numerous studies out there on the positive benefits on medical cannabis for insomnia and sleep related issues for those with chronic conditions.

To name just a few, in a study completed in 2018 on 409 participants (2) it was found that many participants reported relief from their insomnia and anxiety when medical cannabis was used. 1056 medical cannabis administration sessions were completed using educational software where ratings of severity, side effects and method were recorded. Participants showed an average symptom severity reduction of -4.5 points on a 0⁻10 point visual analogue scale (SD = 2.7, d = 2.10, p < 0.001).

In another study completed by the Sapphire Medical Group (4) 24 participants between 25-70 with chronic insomnia were tested and monitored whilst using medical cannabis. 100% of the participants said that they had an improvement in sleep quality whilst taking medical cannabis.

Integro Clinics pain consultant Dr Anthony Ordman, in interview, has discussed the issues with sleep in relation to Fibromyalgia and how medical cannabis can help (6),

“As I am now seeing, cannabis medicines can offer effective treatment for fibromyalgia, as they seem to re-balance and regulate the human body’s endocannabinoid system, to reduce pain and spasms, and restore a more normal sleep pattern. The same can be said for a range of long-term medical conditions in which you see the same pattern and side effects occurring.”

How does medical cannabis help with sleep?

As specified by the Sleep Foundation (3) it is believed that medical cannabis promotes sleep due to their interactions with cannabinoid receptors in the brain. When cannabinoids bind to these receptors, they send messages to increase the levels of sleep-promoting adenosine and suppress the brain’s arousal system which may help users feel sleepier and more sedated. A side effect well known with cannabis.

Medical cannabis has also been found to achieve balance and regulate normal bodily functions as stated by Adam Grossman, the founder and executive chairman of Papa and Barkley (8).

Another study has found that medical cannabis can shorten the time it takes to fall asleep on average by 30 minutes. (9).

Some of these studies are truly fascinating and it’s incredibly positive to see so many more studies taking place on the positive effects of medical cannabis for insomnia for those suffering with chronic conditions.

If you are sitting there wondering whether medical cannabis could be something for you, why not use our directory to find a clinic or specialist doctor that can advise you and help you on your way to a peaceful night’s sleep?

References

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