Latest News & Information on Medical Marijuana & CBD for Insomnia Treatment
- 5 min read
- Updated 333 days ago
Plenty of insomnia treatments line the shelves of your local drug store. But if you have insomnia, these products may not help you establish a normal sleep pattern.
For those medications that work at first, we develop a tolerance, and so we bump up the dosage. Ultimately, we may resign and give them up entirely, only to suffer the agony of withdrawal—on top of more insomnia.
Cannabis-based products, like cannabidiol (CBD) and the THC from medical marijuana (MMJ), have made headlines in recent years, as scientists rediscover the secret treasures of the cannabis plant for treating many medical maladies, including insomnia.
The information in this article is not intended to provide a medical diagnosis and does not replace seeing a mental health professional. If you think you are suffering from this disease, consult with a health professional immediately. To find a health professional in the Highbrow network, click here.
CAUSES OF INSOMNIA?
To effectively treat insomnia, it helps to know what causes it. Although stress lies at the root of many cases of chronic insomnia, several causes can be prompting your sleep disorder. According to Mayo Clinic, these can include:
- Erratic work or travel schedules
- Stress or traumatic events
- Eating late in the evening
- Poor sleep habits
- Mental health disorders (anxiety, PTSD, etc.)
- Prescription drugs (antidepressants, for example)
- Some medical conditions (cancer, diabetes, asthma, for example)
- Sleep disorders, like restless leg and sleep apnea
- Alcohol, nicotine, and caffeine
CBD and MMJ as Treatments for Insomnia and Sleep Disorders
MMJ comes from the marijuana plant, and its main active ingredient is THC, which is psychoactive. CBD is in both marijuana and hemp, but the hemp derivative of CBD contains minute amounts of THC, which strips it of the “high” effect you would get from MMJ.
This key difference accounts for how CBD and MMJ can impact various medical conditions differently. Different strains of plants are also grown to vary their levels of CBD and THC to suit specific end needs.
As you begin on your quest for knowledge about cannabis as an insomnia treatment, you need to keep in mind that scientists are just starting to ramp up their research on cannabis as a pharmacologic substance. Certain laws have changed that are now opening the doors to additional research. Stay tuned to the Highbrow Group for the most recent news relating their findings.
For now, let’s review what we know about CBD and MMJ with regard to their ability to treat insomnia and sleep disorders.
"Cannabis has been used medically for thousands of years, for many, many ailment - one of which is, apparently, insomnia. "
What Science Says About Cannabis for Insomnia
If we’re going to talk about what scientists and medical professionals say about cannabis as a sleep aid, we might as well start at the beginning. An ancient Chinese medical text dating back to 1200 A.D. describes using cannabis to induce sleep.
We just wanted to dispel any ideas you might have about cannabis being a new, untested remedy—or something born of the hippie movement in the 60s. Cannabis has been used medically for thousands of years, for many, many ailments—one of which is, apparently, insomnia.
Fast forward to present day, and you can find people from all walks of life jumping on the CBD bandwagon to help with their insomnia. Consumer Reports conducted a survey and found that 10 percent of American CBD users reported that they use this cannabis treatment to help with sleep problems. More exciting still is that the majority of these respondents say the CBD solved the problem.
The Permanente Journal published a large case series on CBD in anxiety and sleep. The resulting report talked about growing evidence supporting the calming effect that CBD imposes on a person’s central nervous system. The authors conducted a study of 72 patients who suffered from anxiety and poor sleep. Within the first month after beginning to take CBD, sleep scores improved for nearly 67 percent of the subjects.
Current Psychiatry Reports reviewed research reports written about cannabis and cannabinoids as treatment for sleep and insomnia. The journal reports that CBD shows potential as an insomnia treatment by interacting with brain receptors that modulate your body’s sleep and wake cycles.
On the other hand, according to the report, MMJ could cut down on the amount of time it takes you to go to sleep, but it might hurt your sleep quality in the long-term. It’s another distinction you can chalk up to the inherent differences between THC and CBD.
Other highlights from the study include the following findings:
- Nabilone and dronabinol (synthetic cannabinoids) may benefit sleep apnea
- CBD shows potential for rapid-eye movement (REM) behavior disorder
- CBD may also help symptoms of sleepiness during the day
- Nabilone shows potential for cutting down on PTSD-related nightmares
- Nabilone might improve sleep for chronic pain sufferers
We should also consider the list of insomnia causes above and address whether CBD and/or MMJ have been shown to help relieve any of those catalysts. If your insomnia stems from stress, anxiety, cancer, or pain, you will find pages on our site that will tell you more about how these cannabis products work to help with those conditions.
There are many ways you can ingest CBD, from capsules, gummies, oils, extracts, and vaporized liquids. But Mitch Earleywine, Ph.D., who is a professor of psychology at the University at Albany, State University of New York, says that vaping CBD could offer the quickest relief from your insomnia.
Earleywine also adds that if sleeping longer is your primary concern, you might want to opt for edibles, like gummy bears, or oils or pills, due to their slow release of the CBD. In any of these forms, Earleywine recommends you try taking the CBD around one hour before you go to bed for the night.
Also consider the fact that the research that has been done on CBD dosing suggests that higher dosages work better than lower ones, according to Consumer Reports.
Addressing the Usual Concerns About CBD
One final word on CBD, for those who might be concerned about developing an addictive habit: the World Health Organization (WHO) confirmed in 2018 that CBD “is safe, poses no health risks, and is non-addictive.”
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