If you’re reading this after a restful, rejuvenating night of sleep, count your blessings. For nearly 35% of American adults, high-quality sleep is hard to come by. The problem with sleep has become so bad, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) have even declared lack of sleep a national epidemic.
The things that can keep you up at night can include:
- Breathing issues
- Night terrors
- Chronic pain
But there’s some good news: Cannabis is a natural way to treat these issues and has been proven effective at easing sleeplessness.
Here are five sleep disorders along with five cannabis products that can help treat them.
1. Cannabis Plus Melatonin Can Help Ease Insomnia
It’s 3 a.m., and you’re still awake. Finally, you fade into sleep, only to wake up two hours later. If this sounds familiar, chances are you’re suffering from insomnia. Here’s a shocking statistic: One in four Americans develops insomnia each year.
Insomnia can encapsulate a range of symptoms like:
- Having trouble falling and staying asleep
- Frequent sleeplessness at least three times per week for a month
- Lack of sleep due to stress
- Bad sleep quality
In 2011, a study in The Journal of Cannabis in Clinical Practice looked at 116 participants with sleep disorders. Of those interviewed in the study, 79% reported better sleep quality thanks to the help of medical marijuana.
Cannabis, specifically indica-based products, helps ease insomnia by promoting muscle relaxation and imparting anti-anxiety and pain-relieving properties. It also seems to reduce the amount of REM sleep and increase the amount of deep sleep, which is the most restorative phase of sleep.
If you have trouble falling and staying asleep, a product to try is the aptly named Sensi Chew Insomnia. This is a high-potency indica taffy that will ease you into a deep sleep and keep you there for up to six hours.
Indica marijuana strains are already known to be more sedative and better equipped to help with sleep than sativas are. But Sensi Chew Insomnia has the added bonus of melatonin, another natural sleep aid.
2. Some Cannabis Is a Bronchodilator, so Can Help Treat Sleep Apnea
Sleep apnea is an incredibly common condition that can be very scary for those living with it. It’s a chronic condition that causes pauses in breathing during sleep or breathing so shallow that a person doesn’t inhale enough oxygen.
The lack of oxygen, which can last for just a few seconds or more than minute, wakes the person suffering from apnea with a start and disrupts their sleep throughout the night. Beyond just disrupting sleep, this disorder can lead to other undesirable health conditions like heart trouble and high blood pressure.
A 2002 study from the University of Illinois looked at animals with sleep apnea to test whether tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) or oleamide—another cannabinoid naturally found in cannabis—could help. Researchers found that cannabis was effective in stabilizing breathing and respiration during sleep.
It’s still unclear exactly how the relationship between cannabis and breathing works, but there’s at least one study that can help illuminate the answer. Although it’s admittedly dated and the test pool small, a 1973 study published in the New England Journal of Medicine concluded that cannabis can actually act as a bronchodilator, increasing the activity in the central respiratory system and opening up air passages.
If you’re interested in treating sleep apnea with cannabis, try a Dosist Sleep vaporizer pen. This disposable pen is a good one to keep in the drawer of your beside table, so you can easily access it at bedtime. This CBD-rich pen will help calm and relax the mind to help get you ready for sleep. And the THC can help act as a bronchodilator to expand the airways and increase air flow while you sleep.
Pinene, a terpene found in many cannabis strains, has also been proven to be a bronchodilator. So, any cannabis products that contain pinene could also be a good choice for sleep apnea sufferers.
3. Let Marijuana Relax You so That You Can Stop Grinding Your Teeth
Bruxism is a fancy way of describing incessant teeth grinding. If you routinely wake up with a sore jaw, your dentist notices damage to your teeth, and/or you often feel headaches starting in the temples, you may be grinding your teeth in your sleep.
This odd-sounding habit isn’t all that odd. It affects many Americans, causing symptoms like:
- Extremely sensitive teeth
- Soreness throughout the jaw muscles
- Pain similar to an earache
- Tooth wear
- Damage to teeth or dental restorations like crowns.
The main cause of bruxism is stress. When we experience intense stress in our daily lives, our minds can encourage our bodies to deal with it in very weird ways, like grinding teeth throughout the night. The good news is that cannabis can help ease stress and the pain it can create.
If you’re dealing with bruxism, try including Wildflower CBD+ Relief tincture in your evening/nighttime routine. This CBD product will help provide pain relief, manage stress and anxiety, and relax the muscles while you sleep, without any psychoactive effects. And since it’s made with hemp-derived cannabidiol (CBD), it can be bought and shipped anywhere in the United States.
4. CBD Can Keep You Awake at the Right Times to Get Narcolepsy Under Control
According to the Narcolepsy Network, an estimated one in 2,000 Americans suffer from this sleep disorder. Narcolepsy is different than the other conditions on this list, because it’s known to cause excessive sleepiness, not a lack of sleep. The issue is that this drowsiness often comes during the day, which can cause unusual patterns in REM sleep when going to bed at night.
An individual suffering from narcolepsy can be overcome with sleepiness while driving a car, at work or any other activity that requires being alert. And battling sleepiness during the day with a lot of caffeine can worsen the issue.
Luckily, there’s a better alternative.
While it may sound funny since this article suggests cannabis products can help people fall and stay asleep, CBD can actually help you stay awake, too. At lower doses, CBD can be the energizing boost you need to get through your day.
If you’re looking to marijuana to try to stabilize your sleep patterns, try a Pure Ratios CBD vape cartridge to help you stay alert and awake throughout the day. Since there’s very little THC in this product, you can use this during the day without ever feeling the typical THC high. Just be sure to stick to one or two puffs. Dosing more than that can lead to sedation and relaxation.
5. Keep PTSD-Induced Night Terrors at Bay With Indica-Dominant Cannabis
Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) can be caused by all sorts of things, from a car accident to being in a war zone. PTSD can manifest itself in many ways, including night terrors that keep sufferers from getting the good night’s sleep they need. Cannabis can help treat PTSD with its anti-anxiety and anti-depressant properties, but it can also have a very specific benefit when it comes to nightmares.
The same 1973 study about cannabinoids and sleep mentioned earlier discovered that THC (and a synthetic version of THC called synhexl) has a very interesting effect on sleep patterns. When we sleep, we move through five sleep stages. After consuming cannabis, Stage 4 (deep sleep, which is known to be the most restorative) increases and REM sleep (where the majority, but not all, dreaming occurs) decreases.
To be clear, REM sleep is important. Some doctors believe it’s when much-needed oxygen is sent to the cornea of the eye, and many see dreams as a way to emotionally process trauma and/or grief. But for those suffering from extreme PTSD struggling with night terrors for days on end with no sleep, cannabis can be a necessary respite from those nightmares.
If PTSD-induced night terrors are affecting your sleep, try Bloom Farms Nighttime vape cartridge before bed to help get a restful and hopefully dreamless night’s sleep. This vape cartridge is packed with a powerful indica blend that will help you relax into sleep and melt away the anxiety and stress of the day.
Photo credit: Brina Blum
If you’re new to cannabis and want to learn more, take a look at our Cannabis 101 index of articles. HelloMD can help you get your medical marijuana recommendation; it's easy, private and 100% online.