Medicinal Cannabis and Sleep

Sleep is vital to your overall and wellbeing and there are many reasons why your sleep may not be optimal. For some of our patients, their sleep difficulty is linked to health issues, such as anxiety or pain, which impairs their ability to rest. This lack of sleep can then make these symptoms even worse, and the cycle is never-ending.

We understand how disruptive to your life this is. From seeing hundreds of patients across the country, we have seen extreme cases of sleep dysfunction improve with the use of medicinal cannabis.

How Can the Cannabis Clinic Help Me?

CBD oil has sleep-promoting properties, and we have seen good results with its use with sleep difficulty. For some patients, CBD oil is not sufficient and they require the introduction of small amounts of THC to help ease the process. This is done very gradually and in small quantity such that there are no psychoactive side effects or impairment in functioning the following day.

Can Cannabis Help Insomnia?

Insomnia is a sleep disorder that causes difficulty in falling asleep. This condition can be caused by stress, anxiety, emotional worries, jet lag, night shift work schedules, among many other factors. Insomnia can be acute or chronic and is generally defined as chronic when it occurs at least three times per week for over three months.
Symptoms of insomnia include:

  • Lying awake for several hours unable to fall asleep

  • Feeling tired throughout the day

  • Waking up in the middle of the night

  • Not feeling well-rested when you wake up

Several treatment options are available for insomnia such as medication, cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), supplements, and lifestyle changes (e.g reducing caffeine intake after 12 pm).

medicinal cannabis sleep nz

Medical Studies On Cannabis And Insomnia

Cannabis undoubtedly affects sleep. Since ancient times, people have used cannabis as a sleep aid. There are countless anecdotes of cannabis causing sleepiness and also multiple studies indicating the potential of both THC and CBD to help induce sleep and therefore combat insomnia.

  • In one study, researchers looked into the effects of CBD on a range of neuropsychiatric disorders. The results showed that CBD was able to reduce the anxiety scores of 79% of patients and improve sleep scores by 66%.

  • In one 2018 survey of 1,000 adults using cannabis, 74% of survey participants stated that they use cannabis for sleep, with 84% of them reporting that it helps.

  • One study on healthy insomniacs showed that THC significantly decreased the time it takes for them to fall asleep over a six week period. THC was also shown to help decrease the number of times participants woke up throughout the night.

  • In a 2017 review of the available scientific literature, CBD was reported to potentially be helpful for treating REM sleep behaviour disorder and excessive daytime sleepiness.

How Does Cannabis Help With Insomnia?

The endocannabinoid system is a system of cannabinoids, receptors and enzymes which regulate functions such as appetite, pain, mood, and sleep. Consuming cannabis influences the endocannabinoid system and can cause changes to the bodily functions it modulates.

With regards to insomnia, activating the endocannabinoid system’s cannabinoid receptors could help improve symptoms of insomnia since the endocannabinoid system regulates some aspects of sleep. For example, research has shown that CB1 receptors induce sleep. This means that these receptors are a potential therapeutic target of cannabis, and when activated, they may cause sleepiness and therefore alleviate symptoms of insomnia.

Side Effects Of Medicinal Cannabis

CBD has few to no adverse effects in people with insomnia. Cannabis containing THC is also well-tolerated and safe to use. That being said, certain people — namely those with mental health conditions such as schizophrenia, major depression, and substance abuse disorder — should avoid using cannabis containing THC. Using cannabis if you have one or more of the aforementioned conditions may exacerbate and worsen symptoms.

Conclusion

Medicinal cannabis can be a great treatment for insomnia. For some people, CBD oil alone is sufficient to aid in helping get to sleep, sleeping deeply and staying asleep. For others, a little night time THC can be more effective. When taken with the CBD, there is little risk of developing a dependence and having side effects.

If you haven’t been responding well to conventional insomnia treatments, then please fill out a consultation form for more information about how we can help you start the journey to treating insomnia.