According to reports, 16 million UK adults are facing sleep management troubles, and 31% of them are suffering from insomnia. The report indicated some severe sleep deprivation where half of the nation’s adults do not get quality sleep.
In addition, the Mental Health Foundation, UK, published another report with the aim to raise awareness of the importance of sleep for physical and mental well-being. Online responses of over 6,700 people showed that insomnia patients had relationship difficulties in comparison to good sleepers. Also 75% of them experienced poor concentration. The report further recommends treating insomnia by using non-drug and psychological therapies. On that account, the scope of natural treatments to help insomnia patients sleep is broad enough.
Cannabis as a Sleep Therapy
Speaking of nonpharmacological treatment, one common herbal therapy for insomnia is Cannabis. People dealing with severe sleeping disorders can find relief with the sedative compounds found in this green flower. Consumption of it leads to a state of relaxation and drowsiness. Let’s understand the science of sleep through cannabis.
Cannabis produces over 100 chemical compounds known as the cannabinoids. The two most dominant among these 100 are THC or tetrahydrocannabinol and CBD or cannabidiol.
THC: responsible for the psychoactive effect or the feeling of high
CBD: It is non-psychoactive and has several health benefits
According to a study, cannabis strains having high levels of THC helps decrease the amount of REM (rapid eye movement) sleep. Furthermore, when the THC ages over time, it starts converting into another chemical compound known as cannabinol (CBN). CBN sedative properties are five times higher than THC, making it an effective sleep aid therapy. It has the ability to provide relaxation to the body, and for those suffering from PTSD, it can reduce nightmares.
However, some other study claims that CBD has better therapeutic potential to treat insomnia. Also, it is the indica dominant strains like Northern Lights and Granddaddy Purple that produce soothing effects. We can say that both THC and CBD work significantly as natural sleep therapy. To start off, you can try a 1:1 ratio of THC to CBD strain, or a high CBD and low THC cannabis oil.
Causes of Insomnia and How Can Medical Cannabis Help
Finding the root causes of insomnia is the first step towards relief. The reasons may be exhaustion, mineral deficiency, improper diet, stress, anxiety, excessive stimulation, etc. Other causes can be an imbalance in testosterone and estrogen levels that create stress causing sleep deficiency. Among these, the most common ones are stress and anxiety. A study on 11,000 subjects reported a 50% decrease in depression and a 58% decrease in stress and anxiety after cannabis use. It can restore the natural sleep cycle.
Cannabis is also in use for centuries to treat neurological disorders. The endocannabinoid system (ECS) of the human body consists of certain neuroreceptors which are found through the central nervous system. Cannabis compounds bind with these receptors to support the enhanced functioning of the ECS. The three cannabis strains Sativa, indica, and hybrids contribute in their own way to reduce sleep disorders.
• Sativa enhances cognitive functioning beneficial for Alzheimer patients
• Indica helps patients with neurological disorder gain appetite stimulation and better sleep
• Hybrids include properties of both the above
Insomnia patients can use medical cannabis to treat the following symptoms:
Reduce hypersomnia: Although weed causes sleepiness and relaxation, certain Sativa strains will energize you and remove daytime sleepiness.
Increase concentration: The herb is a natural treatment for increasing concentration, which is a major problem caused by insomnia.
Reduce headaches: Lack of sleep can cause headaches, which can hamper our daily lives. Studies show medical cannabis can help reduce headaches.
Treat anxiety: Insomnia can cause anxiety disorders. Studies support cannabis as a natural therapy for treating anxiety and depression.
Cannabis Laws in the UK
The UK is witnessing an increasing surge of cannabis usage because of its calming effect on the body to get a peaceful sleep. But it is not yet legal to possess, grow, distribute, or sell cannabis in the United Kingdom. Nevertheless, medical cannabis is available on prescription in the nation from November 2018. This announcement has allowed doctors across the UK to prescribe cannabis products to patients for various ailments.
The Populus Polls and VolteFace survey revealed that 61% of the British public supports this legalization and hopes for its legitimate presence to go beyond medical use.
How to use Medical Cannabis to Treat Insomnia
There different ways to consume cannabis. You can inhale, eat, and topically apply on the skin. Cannabis edibles are a better option to help stay asleep longer. These can last longer than inhaling. Smoking or vaping will get you high sooner but will wear off equally. Edibles take 30 minutes to 2 hours to create impact and last from 4 to 12 hours depending on the individual metabolism. Remember to take only light doses of high THC cannabis strains, as larger doses can lead to anxiety issues. Whatever your sensitivity or metabolism is, always consult a general physician before indulging in such practice.
If you are suffering from severe pain contributing to insomnia, smoking or vaping can be a viable option for quick relief.
Is it Safe?
Effect of medical cannabis in improving sleep is noteworthy. But you need to familiarize with its potential side effects. There might be some mild effects but are not long-lasting. You might experience dry mouth, red eyes, increased hunger after using cannabis.
A good sleep results in both mental and physical welfare. Besides choosing a natural treatment, avoid practices that are affecting your sleep. Incorporate a healthy lifestyle to amplify the effects of cannabis. Prolonged insomnia can lead to other medical issues. So, do not ignore your sleep disorders and seek medical help, preferably a natural treatment, to treat these issues.
Jessica is a cannabis and health industry consultant who frequently writes about the latest trends in the industry. She has been writing for a long time now. Through her writing, she hopes to influence as many people as possible to help maintain better health and lifestyle.