Medicinal cannabis as a short-term insomnia treatment
Around 60% of people describe problems with their sleep at some point in their lives, and insomnia can have a significant impact on your energy, mood, and your health, work and quality of life. You may have trouble falling asleep, find it hard to stay asleep, or wake too early and not be able to go back to sleep. Insomnia can be acute (short-term, lasting for less than a month) or chronic (long-term, for longer than a month). You may sleep at night, but wake feeling unrefreshed. This may be your key concern, or it may be the result of other stressors or medical conditions you are dealing with.
The need for sleep varies between individuals and changes as we grow older, but the average adult needs 7 to 8 hours of sleep a night.
Medical conditions such as narcolepsy, sleep apnoea syndrome, restless leg syndrome, depression and bladder issues can all chronically disturb sleep. Your doctor will order further investigations, and perhaps a sleep study if they suspect a more complex cause.
The use of medicinal cannabis for insomnia is encouraging for short-term use and may be suitable in your situation if other options are not helping. It is important that a doctor prescribes your cannabinoid treatment and monitors your response.
Studies show that cannabis shortens the time it takes to fall asleep, and lengthens the time spent in deep, slow wave sleep. Medicinal cannabis contains two principal cannabinoids, THC (tetrahydrocannabidiol) and CBD (cannabidiol), which have different effects on sleep. The use of THC medications can help with falling asleep but potentially impair the quality of sleep with chronic use. CBD is helpful for chronic pain and anxiety and shows evidence of benefit in insomnia but needs to be prescribed carefully so as not to reduce important REM sleep.
Working closely with your doctor, paying close attention to self-care and promoting good sleep habits, you should find a combination of therapies that delivers good outcomes and improved sleep.
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