Walking around the house in the middle of the night because you can’t sleep was once a romantic notion but not anymore. Unfortunately, insomnia is more common than you would think.
Just in the United States, 50-70 million adults experience the symptoms of one or another kind of sleep disorder. Every year, about 10-15 percent of adults end up dealing with chronic insomnia. That’s about 40 million people.
A lot of governments are changing their mind about using marijuana for medical purposes and in some states for recreational reasons too. And cannabis does have a whole lot of therapeutic uses.
It helps with some types of pain and anxiety too. But can medicinal marijuana for insomnia solve the problem? Yes, it does. Let’s find out how.
What Is Insomnia?
But before we get into that, let’s understand what insomnia is and how to treat it effectively using this ancient plant of medicine. We know that insomnia is the inability to fall asleep or the struggle to stay asleep. You might experience some symptoms of this problem or have a clinical disorder that keeps you up at night.
But not everyone who experiences sleeplessness to any degree has a sleeping disorder. It can be tricky to figure out where you are on the disorder spectrum.
But meanwhile, you are not getting enough or any sleep and that makes it difficult to function normally in your day-to-day life.
The frequency and severity of the symptoms is one way to determine if you are noticing symptoms or you have the disorder.
You should also pay attention to the level of disruption this is causing in your everyday life.
I mean, you don’t want to reenact the movie Fight Club in your everyday life, right? No, you don’t because you can’t control whether you will be the destructive Tyler Durden or you know, Edward Norton’s nameless character.
And insomnia is not just about being zombied. Those of you who have skipped more than a night’s sleep and had to go through a heavy work day know that it is hard to function no matter how many coffees you consume. So, if your symptoms are intensely disruptive, you might have a disorder.
So, what are these symptoms?
- Obviously, you have trouble falling asleep or difficulty staying asleep. This means you wake up a few times at night or for a long period of time.
- Waking up and not feeling fresh even after a long nap.
- Waking up really early.
This causes what is referred to as daytime impairment, which looks like:
- Having trouble concentrating
- Memory problems
- Low attention span
- Mood disturbances
- Decrease in energy levels
- No motivation or lack of initiative
- No capacity or interest in socializing
- Physical discomfort or pain, like headaches and muscle tension
- Gastrointestinal problems
- Anxiety about the troubled sleeping pattern
Now, you don’t have to have all the symptoms to have an insomnia disorder. But if you notice any or all of these symptoms for a long period of time, you might want to visit a specialist and get it checked out.
It also doesn’t take too long for a sleeping disorder to get worse before you can fix it. So, you have a good reason to act on it as soon as possible. Mild insomnia often lasts for as little a period of time as a night and can go on for a few weeks.
If you experience it for more than three nights a week for a period of three months then it can be considered chronic insomnia.
And when it comes to daytime impairment, experiencing any of the symptoms for a short period of time can be considered to be a problem. Now, how does marijuana help? Let’s see.
The Connection between Marijuana and Insomnia: Does It Work?
Cannabis can help with drowsiness and relaxation. This can lead to sleepiness. That’s the very first thing to know about it. Studies have shown that the effect it has on sleep dates back to the 1970s.
But because of its status as a drug, there are no high-quality studies. The changes in this legal status might be of great help in advancing research so that we learn more about the uses of medicinal marijuana for insomnia.
Now, as you might already know, marijuana has a few different strains. Some give you more energy while some others have a sedating effect on the body. This end result depends on the elements present in the compound you consume.
Cannabis has a few different components.
CBD or cannabidiol is a non-psychoactive item, which means it will not get you ‘high’. That is why it is used commonly for medicinal purposes and it actually does have many proven health benefits.
Then there is THC or tetrahydrocannabinol which is a psychoactive component. This can give you a high and can often not be procured without a prescription. But this is also the compound that induces sleep.
Strains of marijuana that have more THC can even help you reach REM sleep. This is a stage of sleep where you will have dreams. And in individuals who have PTSD or post-traumatic stress disorder, this might help reduce nightmares.
But if you don’t dream, you might be in a state of deep and restorative sleep which is also very good. REM sleep is important because it helps improve immune functions and also healthy cognitive functioning.
But if you take marijuana with too much THC in it, it might disturb the sleep quality. So, the quantity is the one to watch out for.
Regular use of marijuana can also mess with your sleep quality. This means not all marijuana smokers get a good deal of sleep.
The Bottom Line
So, what we know for sure is that cannabis in some forms can help you sleep better, especially if you have insomnia. But first, you need to determine that it is insomnia and you must do so quickly before it turns into a problem that is hard to solve.
You must also identify the symptoms of insomnia and register for how long they have been present to be able to help yourself better. Finally, don’t make it a habit because long-term usage will disturb your sleep cycle.