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Medical Marijuana and Sleep Disorders


Do you have trouble sleeping? Approximately 50-70 million Americans suffer from one of the over 100 different sleep disorders, according to research by the American Sleep Association (ASA). Each sleep disorder has varied symptoms, which could include restless legs, insomnia, paralysis, hallucinations, night terrors, sleep walking, teeth grinding as well as difficulty falling asleep, staying asleep, or waking up. Medical marijuana may not be the answer for every sleep disorder, but it has shown promising results for some patients, especially when their sleep issues are connected with pain, anxiety, and stress. Because of regulations in our country, there have been limitations in gathering data and conducting studies, but as more states are accepting medical marijuana, there will be a greater understanding. Not all strains of marijuana are the same, so ideally each sleep disorder should be paired with the right strain. At DocMJ, we are committed to helping our patients experience relief and get much needed rest. If you are considering medical marijuana as an option to combat your sleep issues, you can explore the basics in this blog and contact us for a consultation to see if you have a qualifying condition.

·        Try to Determine the Cause of Your Sleep Issues and Symptoms—Before choosing to try medical marijuana as a sleep aid, you need to document what type of sleep issues you are having and you need to be diagnosed by a licensed healthcare practitioner. If you suffer from PTSD, medical marijuana may help alleviate your stress-related nightmares. When a patient struggles with depression or anxiety, they will often complain about poor sleep quality or bad dreams, which could even be connected to their traditional medicine. Medical marijuana could help encourage sleep and reduce the chance of nightmares.

·        Understand That Medical Marijuana as a Sleep Aid is Not New—Although the medicinal use of marijuana still seems new in some states, marijuana was actually used medicinally in our country in the 19th century to treat insomnia and even further back in world history. Marijuana is actually the oldest known remedy used for sleep disorders. A natural side effect of marijuana use is sleepiness, which can be helpful for an insomniac trying to get to sleep and potentially fall back asleep. Unfortunately, there are not any time-released options for medical marijuana at this time to last a full 8 hours of sleep. Because medical marijuana’s effects do not necessarily last for 8 hours, patients suffering from restless legs, narcolepsy, and sleep walking may not have all night relief. Some patients have reported the sedative qualities of marijuana to last longer than their night of sleep and causing them to feel groggy during the day. Every person has a different response to medical marijuana use and there are limited clinical studies to help explain the varied experiences with it. As medical marijuana continues to gain acceptance throughout our country, we expect that there will be even more research further confirming the value of medical marijuana as a way to manage insomnia and many other sleep issues.

·        Be Aware that New Information is Coming Each Day—There are some studies which have suggested that medical marijuana could have a negative impact on REM sleep, which obviously is important for our overall health and well-being. At this time, not enough research has been conducted to fully determine the impact on REM sleep. Regardless of the risk of impacting REM sleep, some patients could still benefit if their existing sleep condition already limits their sleep. Basically, if someone is already struggling to get REM sleep without medication, using medical marijuana would be a worthwhile attempt to remedy the other sleep disorder symptoms. Different strains of medical marijuana may be more effective at dealing with your sleep symptoms, so reach out to a medical professional before you assume that medical marijuana is a one-size-fits-all solution for your sleep problems. Some strains of medical marijuana can make you feel more alert, which would accomplish the exact opposite of what you need for sleep.

Sleep is essential for your overall well-being and health. If you are suffering from a sleep disorder that has been diagnosed by a licensed medical practitioner, reach out to DocMJ to see if your condition qualifies you for a medical marijuana card and to learn more about how medical marijuana may be able to help you get back to counting sheep.