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Insomnia and Medical Marijuana

Insomnia and Medical Marijuana

Nearly 60 million Americans are affected by insomnia. It is an annoying disorder that can significantly impact overall health.

If allowed to persist, insomnia can cause accidents, mood disorders and constant tiredness. There are many treatments for insomnia, but many are habit forming or have risky side effects.

Marijuana provides a safe, non-habit forming way of treating insomnia. This article explains how marijuana and the non-psychoactive ingredient, CBD can help people get their much-needed rest.

What Is Insomnia

Insomnia is a sleep disorder that causes habitual sleeplessness. It’s the inability to fall asleep or stay asleep, even when the surroundings allow it. People who suffer from insomnia are often, or always, dissatisfied with their sleep and sleeping patterns. It’s often described as restlessness or wakefulness. Some people also suffer from chronic insomnia, which means it lasts a long time.

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What Causes Insomnia

There are many reasons why someone may suffer from insomnia. These are some of the most common causes of insomnia:

• Anxiety, Depression, Stress – These can lead to chronic insomnia, which tends to make the anxiety, depression, and stress even worse. Other psychological causes and emotions that can cause insomnia include worry, bipolar disorder, anger, grief, and trauma.

• Medical Illness or Issues – There are many different diseases and medical conditions that can cause insomnia. Some of these include cancer, acid reflux, Parkinson’s disease, asthma, kidney disease, hyperthyroidism, and allergies. Chronic pain is a very common cause of chronic insomnia.

• Medications – Various prescription drugs can make it difficult to sleep, such as high blood pressure medications, corticosteroids, antidepressants, some contraceptives, thyroid hormone and stimulants for ADHD. Some types of over-the-counter drugs can lead to insomnia, including diuretics, cold and flu medications that contain alcohol, slimming pills and pain relievers that contain caffeine (Excedrin, Midol)

• Sleep Disorders – Although insomnia is a sleep disorder itself, it can also be a symptom of other types of sleeping disorders, such as circadian rhythm disturbances tied to late-night shift work or jet lag, restless legs syndrome and sleep apnea.

• Daytime Habits – Some of the things that go on during the daytime, can lead to sleeplessness at bedtime, including, but not limited to, eating heavy meals or sugary foods too close to bedtime, napping, not exercising enough, drinking beverages containing caffeine late in the day and keeping irregular sleeping schedules. These habits can cause you to get a poor night’s sleep, making it harder to correct the habits, causing a cycle of continuous unrefreshing sleep.

• Overstimulating the Brain – If your brain is overstimulated during the day, it’s harder to clear your thoughts at night. Experts say overstress leads to insomnia, which can be caused by dealing with tasks that are repeatedly interrupted, like checking emails or texts or social networking. The brain can become pre-conditioned to seeking fresh stimulation constantly. So, when you’re ready to unwind and fall asleep at night, your brain is still seeking more stimulation.

• Bad Sleeping Environment – People who already suffer from insomnia need to change the way they fall asleep, in regards to the environment around them. Some ideas include uncomfortable pillow or mattress, bedroom with an uncomfortable temperature, light seeping in through a window and excessive noise.

Symptoms of Insomnia

There are three primary types of insomnia:

1. Acute Insomnia – Lasts less than a month. May impair physical performance and cognitive function. Usually caused by stress. Also called stress-related insomnia.
2. Transient (Temporary) Insomnia – Lasts no longer than a week. May be caused by stress, environmental changes, medical conditions or jet lag.
3. Chronic Insomnia – Lasts for longer than a month. May be caused by mental illness or neurological disorders. These sufferers tend to have abnormally high cortisol or abnormally low melatonin levels, according to research.

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The various symptoms of insomnia include, but are not limited to:
• Increase in accidents or errors
• Depression, anxiety, irritability
• Not feeling refreshed after a night’s sleep
• Waking up during the night
• Continuously worrying about sleep
• Difficulty remembering or focusing
• Daytime sleepiness or tiredness
• Waking up too early
• Difficulty falling asleep at night

Current Treatments for Insomnia

Sleeping pills are the common choice for temporary relief from insomnia. Some of the medications used to treat insomnia include:

• Prescription sleeping aids are generally the first choice drugs for insomnia, such as zaleplon, ramelteon, eszopiclone, and zolpidem (Ambien).
• Orexin receptor antagonists, like suvorexant, are sleeping meds that block brain chemicals that keep you from falling asleep or staying sleep.
• Benzodiazepines, such as quazepam, lorazepam or diazepam (Valium) are prescription drugs that promote sleep and help you stay sleep longer.
• Antidepressants tend to have a sedative or calming effect. This can help put the brain to rest at night so you can get some sleep.
• Antihistamines are generally used for treating allergies. But, they have also been known to provide short-term relief for insomnia.
• Over-the-Counter sleeping aids can help at first, but most people develop a tolerance for them. So, they no longer work over time. They also cause many users to suffer from drowsiness and sleepiness the nest day.

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Doctors recommend only taking sleeping aids here and there, and only for short periods of time. You can become immune to their effects over time, making them ineffective. Many prescription sleeping aids and over-the-counter sleep drugs can lead to addiction. Sleeping pills can cause nausea, anxiety and low blood pressure.

CBD and Insomnia

Cannabidiol (CBD) has shown effectiveness in treating insomnia. That’s because it has a way of treating other symptoms of the disorder that can cause it to become chronic over time, such as:

• Reduced Stress – Research shows that CBD helps stimulate alpha waves, which are visible when a person is heavily relaxed. This helps to alleviate stress, which can make you sleep better.
• Reduced Anxiety – Chronic anxiety leads to chronic insomnia. Cannabidiol helped reduce cortisol levels in the 11 volunteers who participated in one CBD insomnia study. High cortisol levels have been linked to both stress and anxiety.
• Relieves Inflammation Pain – Chronic pain will keep you awake. CBD treats arthritis, fibromyalgia and other such conditions triggered by inflammation. Less pain means more sleep.
• Calms the Mind – Cannabidiol helps to calm the parts of the brain that are overactive at bedtime. This promotes relaxation and sleep.

Medical Research on Medical Marijuana and Insomnia

Studies show that cannabis can help to improve the quality of your sleep and the duration as well, for those with insomnia and other sleep disorders. Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is one of the major cannabinoids found in marijuana. Research has found that THC is effective at reducing how long it take you to fall asleep at night.

In one study, those who consumed oral THC had no difficulty falling asleep and did so faster than those who did not consume THC orally. Another study shows that medical marijuana, when acutely (for a short duration) administered, help to ease the process of falling asleep. The duration of stage 4 sleep increased as well for the medical marijuana users.

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THC has also been found to help decrease how many times you wake up during the night. In an animal trial, researchers found that a synthetic cannabinoid (which acts much like THC) effectively reducing the effects of serotonin-induced apnea. This is done by relaxing the tongue and chin muscles, which may be the causes of this particular disorder. Cannabinoids have also been found to work for treating PTSD nightmares in military personnel, which leads to insomnia.

Another study shows that almost half of the adults who buy medical marijuana from a dispensary did so to help them manage insomnia or some other type of sleep disorder. Most reported that the strains that help them sleep better are those with high CBD concentrations.

Medical Research on CBD and Insomnia

In a study conducted on rats, researchers examined the effects of the acute systematic administration of Cannabidiol on sleeping patterns, specifically the cannabis strain known as sativa. The study was published by the US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health (NCBI). It reports that CBD’s wide spectrum of action includes its ability to positively affect the sleep-wake cycle.

Scientists concluded that administering CBD in a systematic fashion appeared to increase the total sleep time of the rats. This process also increased sleep onset latency, which is the amount of time it takes you to transition from being completely awake to a light non-REM sleeping stage.

Another paper published by NCBI studies the effects of cannabidiol on dopamine levels and sleep. Murillo-Rodriguez found that giving CBD to rats during the daytime, promoted wakefulness. The study also showed that providing CBD after the rats had been deprived of sleep helped prevent REM rebound the following night.

Basically, the rats that administered CBD under the above circumstances slept normally the night after being sleep deprived. They didn’t appear to feel the need to nap to make up for a poor night’s sleep. Many humans who use CBD products for insomnia say they do not generally suffer from sleep rebound because they tend to get enough sleep.

CBD vs. THC

THC is an active component of cannabis, which causes a euphoric type of high. This turns some people off for various reasons. However, CBD has been known to counteract the high-causing effects of THC. So, users reap the medical, psychological and emotional benefits of medical marijuana, without the euphoria.

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There are numerous different strains of medical marijuana. Those high in THC and low in CBD get users high. Strains that are high in CBD and low in THC generally don’t, especially if there’s no THC at all in the medical cannabis.

In a 2006 study on high-CBD strains and sleep, animal models were tested in environments with both the lights on and the lights off. They found that in lights-on environments, medical marijuana helped to increase alertness. Therefore, CBD could be an effective treatment for those with excessive daytime sleepiness or somnolence, from night getting a good night’s sleep.

How to Take Medical Marijuana for Insomnia

People who take medical marijuana for insomnia usually smoke it. This is done by rolling it up in cigars or cigarette papers. Other medical cannabis smokers do what’s called vaping. Marijuana vaporizers emit vapors that are about 95% smoke-free.

For those who don’t want to smoke weed, there are marijuana edibles, such as pastries, candies and more. There are also raw cannabis juices, which also help increase your daily calorie intake while adding nutrients to your body.

Cannabis oils are also considered edibles. They allow you to experience the insomnia benefits of medical marijuana, with the side effects caused by sleep aids and sleeping pills.

CBD Oil for Insomnia

Cannabidiol oil is a very effective, natural remedy for insomnia. Because it contains CBD, it comes with proven psychological and physical benefits. However, CBD oil does not contain THC. So, there are no psycho-active properties and mind-altering effects.

Less side effects also mean there’s no “hangover” feeling that can come with smoking weed. There is no “morning after” when consuming CBD oil. THC is also the specific compound that causes marijuana users to “fail” drug tests. Since there is none in cannabis oil, the user is virtually drug-free.

CBD oil is also easy to use for people with insomnia. It can be easily stored in a bedside nightstand. Then, simply place a couple drops in your mouth for insomnia relief. Users can also put cannabis oil in foods and drinks as well.

Growing Your Own Insomnia Medication

When you grow your own medical marijuana for insomnia, you provide yourself with the convenience that comes from having your natural sleep aid available when you need it. Growing your own medical cannabis also means controlling the potency and quality of the cannabis you consume to treat it.

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Medical marijuana connoisseurs who understand how it affects sleep say that indica strains tend to act better as sleeping aids. Popular opinion throughout the medical marijuana community is that sativa strains tend to give users an energizing, uplifting feeling. Indica strains, on the other hand, tend to induce sleepy, heavier effects.

For a natural way to treat insomnia, you want a medical marijuana strain that belongs to the indica family. It allows you to comfortably and slowly lower yourself off to sleep. Order your medical marijuana seeds today.

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Comment Section

3 thoughts on “Insomnia and Medical Marijuana


By Brian on 12 July 2017

I've been using the CBD products in the evenings about an hour before bed and have been having great sleep. Usually I wake up every couple of hours (or more) and with the CBD products, I sleep at least 6 hours in a stretch and wake up refreshed. I'm looking forward to seeing how it works long term. - Brian


By john stone on 11 October 2017

iam currently using harlequin strain for pain & it works, but when i take it in the morning, i suffer from insomnia in the evening. can caffine be the blame. any help would be greatly appreciated.


By Stacy ILGM on 13 October 2017

Hi John,

Caffeine stimulates the brain which does play a huge roll when trying to fall asleep.

- Stacy

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