Treating Insomnia and Sleep Disorders with Medical Marijuana

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Chronic insomnia and other sleep disorders are extremely common in the United States, affecting an estimated 50 to 70 million adults.  While some are able to find relief in conventional medications, such as Lunesta and Ambien, pharmaceutical sleeping aids are not effective for every patient.  Moreover, prescription sleep medication can have bothersome side effects, have dangerous interactions with other medications, lead to physical dependence, and even pose a risk of overdose.

If conventional medications have failed to improve the duration and quality of your sleep, you may want to consider talking to your physician about using medical marijuana, or Cannabis.  In 2012, Massachusetts passed an initiative which legalized Cannabis for the treatment of chronic insomnia and other sleep disorders.  There is an extensive, ever-growing body of peer-reviewed medical research – all supported by countless patient reports – which attest to the efficacy of Cannabis in aiding restful sleep for patients of all ages.   

Improved sleep hygiene. Sleep hygiene refers to your quality of sleep (and the habits which contribute toward it, such as avoiding caffeine).  Many users of medical marijuana report experiencing deeper, more satisfying sleep with fewer interruptions from waking in the middle of the night. Decreased sleep latency.  Sleep onset latency (SOL) is how long it takes for a person to fall asleep from a state of total wakefulness.  Marijuana can decrease SOL so that you fall asleep in a matter of minutes rather than hours.   Lack of “hangover” or impaired memory.  Many insomnia sufferers have experimented with alcoholic “nightcaps” before bed in an effort to fall asleep faster.  However, this often proves counter-productive, as drinking before bed can cause you to wake feeling groggy, disoriented, headache-y, and poorly-rested.  Similarly, many who use conventional sleep aids, have found themselves subject to morning fuzzy-headedness and even loss of short-term memory.  Marijuana does not produce unpleasant hangover effects, though patients are advised to stay well-hydrated. Journal of Drug Policy Analysis–“Applicants most frequently reported using medical marijuana for pain relief (82.6%), improved sleep (70.6%), and relaxation (55.6%).  The next most frequently reported benefits included relief of muscle spasms (41.3%), headache (40.8%), relief of anxiety (38.1%), improved appetite (38.0%), relief of nausea and vomiting (27.7%), and relief of depression (26.1%).” Clinical Gastroenterology and Hepatology–“Subjects [with Crohn’s Disease] receiving Cannabis reported improved appetite and sleep, with no significant side effects.” Dialogues in Clinical Neuroscience –“Many effects of marijuana may be applicable to the management of ALS.  These include analgesia, muscle relaxation… and sleep induction.” British Journal of Pharmacology–“β-Myrcene is another common monoterpenoid in Cannabis… Myrcene is a recognized sedative [which is] employed to aid sleep in Germany.” U.S National Library of Medicine –“The potential benefits of medicinal Cannabis… include… pain relief, and improved sleep.” Chronic back pain * Are you a Patient of Partners Healthcare (MGH, BWH, DFCI, etc.)?* Yes This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged. <span class="x-boilerpipe-mark1">This iframe contains the logic required to handle Ajax powered Gravity Forms.</span>

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