There is an extensive, ever-growing body of peer-reviewed medical research which attest to the efficacy of cannabis in aiding restful sleep for patients of all ages.
Chronic insomnia and other sleep disorders are extremely common in the United States, affecting an estimated 50 to 70 million adults. While some are able to find relief in conventional medications, such as Lunesta and Ambien, pharmaceutical sleeping aids are not effective for every patient. Moreover, prescription sleep medication can have bothersome side effects, have dangerous interactions with other medications, lead to physical dependence, and even pose a risk of overdose.
If conventional medications have failed to improve the duration and quality of your sleep, you may want to consider talking to your physician about using medical marijuana or cannabis. There is an extensive, ever-growing body of peer-reviewed medical research — all supported by countless patient reports — which attest to the efficacy of cannabis in aiding restful sleep for patients of all ages.
How Medical Marijuana Can Improve The Length And Quality Of Your Sleep
Many people underestimate the importance of regular sleep, but the long-term consequences of chronic insomnia go far beyond just feeling tired. Over time, sleep deprivation can put you at increased risk for developing high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, and stroke. In the short-term, insomnia can also lower your energy, make it dangerous to perform certain activities, cloud your memory, negatively affect your mood, and put a strain on your professional, personal, and romantic relationships.
Because of the long-term and immediate risks insomnia can pose, it’s important to find an effective treatment as soon as possible. Though every patient responds to treatment regimens differently, this often turns out to be a blend of both conventional medication and medical cannabis, which has repeatedly proven effective not only in improving sleep, but also in alleviating the mental and emotional components which often lie behind insomnia, such as anxiety, depression, and stress. While prescription medications may be effective in treating the physiological causes of insomnia, they simply cannot provide wellness, the holistic benefit to both body and mind.
These benefits go far beyond extending the duration of sleep, which is merely one component of feeling well-rested. They include:
- Improved sleep hygiene. Sleep hygiene refers to your quality of sleep (and the habits which contribute toward it, such as avoiding caffeine). Many users of medical marijuana report experiencing deeper, more satisfying sleep with fewer interruptions from waking in the middle of the night.
- Decreased sleep latency. Sleep onset latency (SOL) is how long it takes for a person to fall asleep from a state of total wakefulness. Marijuana can decrease SOL so that you fall asleep in a matter of minutes rather than hours.
- Lack of “hangover” or impaired memory. Many insomnia sufferers have experimented with alcoholic “nightcaps” before bed in an effort to fall asleep faster. However, this often proves counter-productive, as drinking before bed can cause you to wake feeling groggy, disoriented, headache-y, and poorly-rested. Similarly, many who use conventional sleep aids, have found themselves subject to morning fuzzy-headedness and even loss of short-term memory. Marijuana does not produce unpleasant hangover effects, though patients are advised to stay well-hydrated.
Studies And Research On Cannabis For Insomnia Relief
When a patient is well-informed, he or she is better able to actively participate in his or her own care plan. If you have never used cannabis and lack familiarity with its medical applications, you may be feeling somewhat doubtful about its purported benefits as a sleep aid. It is perfectly alright to express skepticism, and in fact, we encourage my patients to ask tough questions.
Jordan Tishler, M.D. is a physician, cannabis specialist, and faculty at Harvard Medical School. He is also the president of the Association of Cannabis Specialists, and CEO of InhaleMD — a private institute of cannabis medicine. He has spent years assisting patients with cannabis. For more information, or to set up a consultation with the team at InhaleMD, call (617) 861-8519.