Sleep is one of the most critical factors in maintaining good physical and mental health. The study conducted by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare shows that about 48% of Australian adults suffer from at least 2 sleep-related health issues, including insomnia. Conventional treatment options include Cognitive Behavioural Therapy and Pharmacological therapies. Alternative treatment options such as Medical cannabis may also be helpful in reducing the symptoms of many sleep-related health problems.
Causes and Symptoms of insomnia
More than half of cases of insomnia occur due to stress, anxiety, and depression. Insomnia is a sleep disorder that makes it hard for the person to sleep, and the patient feels tired and less energetic after waking up. It affects mood and works performance, and quality of life as well. Symptoms of insomnia include:
Difficulty falling asleep at night
Waking up during the night
Waking up too early
Daytime tiredness or sleepiness
Irritability, depression, or anxiety
Conventional therapy for insomnia
Conventionally, cognitive behavioural therapies (CBT) like relaxation techniques, sleep restriction, light therapy, and stimulus control therapy are considered the first line of treatment for insomnia. The Evidence for conventional pharmacotherapy for insomnia is very limited. Conventional pharmacotherapies include medicines such as zopiclone, lorazepam, melatonin and promethazine. Since these drugs carry a high risk of dependency and addiction, they are not recommended for long-term use.
How does Medicinal cannabis help with insomnia?
Medicinal cannabis is found to be effective because it may help in restoring the circadian sleep cycle, which falls out of order due to underlying health conditions or lifestyle options.
The two most important chemical compounds of cannabis are THC and CBD. THC is the main active compound that is psychoactive and is also responsible for the euphoric effects of the drug, as CBD, is a safe variant with no psychoactive properties. Both these compounds are an essential part of cannabinoid therapy which can help in the redundancy of the symptoms of insomnia. In a study carried out by the University of Western Australia in 2020, the researchers concluded that medical cannabis could be used as a novel treatment option for patients suffering from chronic insomnia. Research has shown that THC or Tetrahydrocannabinol is more effective in promoting restfulness and sleep. Since it possesses the ability to interact directly with the receptors of the endocannabinoid system, it contributes to the production of naturally occurring sleep-enhancing compounds. Both CBD and THC can work synergistically to improve the sleep cycle of the patient.
In some cases, sleep problems occur due to other health conditions like inflammation, pain, anxiety, and PTSD. Medical cannabis can help with the symptoms of these issues, and when the level of discomfort goes down, you will experience a better sleep pattern.
Cannabinoids are also like other supplements and drugs and their effects are dose-dependent. In fact, there is no right or wrong or one-size-fits-all dose. You will have to work closely with your healthcare practitioner to find out the right dose that works for you.
Side effects of cannabis
A higher quantity of THC is associated with health risks like impairing memory, attention, and decision-making skills. It may also be associated with side effects like dependence, addiction, dry mouth, and anxiety. Undeniably there is health and safety risk for different consumption methods of marijuana, and there is not enough evidence to prove that one consumption method could be safer than another.
Insomnia is a very debilitating condition with affects almost 48% of the adult Australian population. Treatment options include Cognitive Behavioural Therapies, Conventional pharmacological therapies and cannabinoid-based therapies. It is very important that you discuss your treatment options with a qualified medical professional to explore the treatment options that are available to your unique situation.
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Cynthia Sheppard, S., & Solomon, G. D. (2019). Deciphering Medical Marijuana.
Park, J. Y., & Wu, L. T. (2017). Prevalence, reasons, perceived effects, and correlates of medical marijuana use: a review. Drug and alcohol dependence, 177, 1-13.