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Medical Marijuana and Sleep Disorders

Sleep Disorders and Medical Marijuana Use 

Sleep disorder symptoms are many and varied. They can involve movement, such as teeth grinding, sleepwalking and restless legs. They can involve trouble falling asleep, staying asleep or waking up from sleep. Sleep disorders may present as paralysis upon waking or falling asleep coupled with hallucinations. They can also involve no problems with sleep apart from socially acceptable sleep times, in which case medical marijuana is unlikely to be of significant help. 

Because there is such a wide range of sleep disorders and symptoms, marijuana may not be categorized as potential treatment for sleep disorders in general, though it may help with certain sleep disorders and specific symptoms caused by them. Medical marijuana is used in treatment of some sleep disorder symptoms while research is insubstantial for medical marijuana use for other symptoms. Furthermore, medical marijuana treatment for some sleep disorders, such as night terrors, is unlikely to become commonplace, given that they mostly affect children. 

Medial Marijuana and Sleep Disorder Symptoms 

In order to treat sleep disorders with medical marijuana it is necessary to isolate which symptoms it is able to alleviate. An outpatient study done at the Canadian Forces Health Services Operational Trauma and Stress Support Centre in Ottawa indicated that marijuana could alleviate stress-related nightmares in individuals with PTSD. This suggests that medical marijuana can help with other stress-related sleep disorders, though more research is necessary. 

As far back as the 19th century, marijuana has been used to treat insomnia in the U.S., though its use for insomnia dates much further back in world history. Of course, with marijuana prohibition and the controversy surrounding medical marijuana, this use is not widespread in the medical field today. Nonetheless, one of the side effects of marijuana is sleepiness. This suggests that it could help insomniacs fall asleep or fall back to sleep if they wake up too early. Its usefulness in this area is well known and has been for some time. 

As far as treatment for somnambulism (sleepwalking), restless leg syndrome and narcolepsy, there is not enough research to say whether marijuana can be helpful on a large scale for the symptoms of these conditions. The effects of marijuana typically do not last eight hours, which is roughly the amount of time a person should be asleep. Unless medical marijuana is taken in a slow release pill form, it is unlikely to help with these symptoms throughout the night, even if it was shown to be able to help while in the system. Therefore, self-medication with marijuana for these symptoms is likely to be futile. If medical marijuana is to be used for these conditions, it should be done so under the supervision of a medical professional so the efficacy of the treatment can be gauged. 

Sleep Disorder Research and Medical Marijuana 

Marijuana is one of the oldest known treatments for sleep disorders. As such, there is evidence of its benefits dating back to before the widespread marijuana prohibition. Some studies for medical marijuana use and pain have shown that sufferers who are using medical marijuana to treat their pain have also reported better quality sleep. Therefore, it should be noted that sleep disorders with underlying causes such as chronic pain or illness might be treated with medical marijuana, particularly if medical marijuana has shown promising results on the underlying condition.

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