Insomnia and Medical Marijuana

Insomnia is one type of sleep disorder in which a person has difficulty to fall asleep or staying asleep, even when the person has the opportunity to do so. Even when you do sleep, you get little sleep or a poor-quality sleep and feel tired when you wake up.

The symptoms of insomnia usually are:

  • Sleeping only for short periods
  • Being awake most part of your night
  • Fatigue
  • Low energy
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Mood disturbances
  • Waking up to early
  • Lie awake for a long period before falling asleep
  • Feeling like you had no sleep

There are different types of insomnia, acute (short-term) or chronic (ongoing). Acute is the most common type of insomnia and usually happens when the person is under pressure at home, at work, or it can appear after a traumatic event. This type of insomnia occurs for some days or weeks, however chronic insomnia lasts for months or longer.

The cause of chronic insomnia is usually a consequence of other problems, such as medical conditions or substance abuse like alcohol, tobacco and coffee. Even though normally chronic insomnia is usually a secondary problem, there is also primary insomnia and the causes are not well known.

Insomnia can affect everyone, but women are more likely to suffer from insomnia than men are. Older adults also have more chance to get insomnia.

The substance THC is known for helping with insomnia and sleep disturbances related to medical conditions, such as PTSD, sleep apnea, and chronic pain. A study done in 2013 showed that THC promotes somnolence in animals and that marijuana users had better sleep, taking less time to fall asleep and had more daytime sleep the next day. In small doses, THC tends to be a sedative but if you exaggerate, you will probably get the opposite effect and stay hyperactive.

Most of the studies about how cannabis interacts with your sleep were conducted in 1970s. Low doses of THC (4 to 20mg) mildly decreased REM (rapid eye movement) sleep that is the stage of sleep where dreams occur. While the stage REM reduced, deep sleep increased when initially using cannabis. What happened is that after a while, this effects on deep sleep disappeared.

Deep sleep is the stage of sleep that a person experiences during their slumber. Experts says that when you lack slow-wave sleep (deep sleep), you can suffer serious consequences such as high blood pressure in older men. This stage of sleep is believed to be the stage in which you have most of your restoration process.

Although marijuana helps with a better sleep if used occasionally, studies also pointed out that heavy use of marijuana can make the user have a poorer sleep. However, the study did not mention if the people that used marijuana more than one time a day had insomnia because of marijuana or if this problem already existed before using cannabis daily. So, less is more when it comes to using marijuana to help you get a better sleep.