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Medical Marijuana and Nightmares

What Is Nightmares?

It’s rare to find someone who has never experienced a nightmare. Unfortunately, some people are plagued by them. Although children are more likely to suffer from nightmares, estimates are that up to eight percent of the adult population also suffers from recurrent nightmares. What sets a nightmare apart from a simple dream is the level of anxiety and/or fear the dream causes. While an ordinary dream may not necessarily have a happy theme to it, a nightmare causes the dreamer to fear that he or she is in imminent harm. Common nightmare themes include being chased, injured, lost or threatened; however, nightmares are highly personal and may have anything as a theme as long as it causes terror in the dreamer. Where other dreams tend to be vague, hence the term “dreamlike”, a nightmare is generally extremely vivid and causes the dreamer to feel as though it is real. In most cases, a nightmare is so realistic, and the threat of harm feels so feel, that the dreamer is jolted awake from a deep sleep as a result and may need a few minutes, or longer, to calm down and realize it was a dream. The majority of dreams take place during the phase of sleep known as rapid eye movement, or REM, sleep. Most people experience numerous periods of REM sleep during the night with the duration of each REM period increasing throughout the night. As a result, nightmares are more likely to occur later in the night or toward the morning.   Nightmares can be caused, or triggered, by a number of factors. Certain medications, such as anti-depressants or narcotic based pain relievers are known to be associated with nightmares as are some blood pressure medications. Sleep deprivation or insomnia has also been linked to nightmares. Certain psychological disorders can also lead to nightmares such as post traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD, anxiety and depression. Conventional treatment for nightmares includes cognitive behavior therapy and the use of medications such as Topamax, Minipress, Serzone, Desyrel, and Neurontin or Gabarone. It’s rare to find someone who has never experienced a nightmare. Unfortunately, some people are plagued by them. Although children are more likely to suffer from nightmares, estimates are that up to eight percent of the adult population also suffers from recurrent nightmares. What sets a nightmare apart from a simple dream is the level of anxiety and/or fear the dream causes. While an ordinary dream may not necessarily have a happy theme to it, a nightmare causes the dreamer to fear that he or she is in imminent harm. Common nightmare themes include being chased, injured, lost or threatened; however, nightmares are highly personal and may have anything as a theme as long as it causes terror in the dreamer. Where other dreams tend to be vague, hence the term “dreamlike”, a nightmare is generally extremely vivid and causes the dreamer to feel as though it is real. In most cases, a nightmare is so realistic, and the threat of harm feels so feel, that the dreamer is jolted awake from a deep sleep as a result and may need a few minutes, or longer, to calm down and realize it was a dream. The majority of dreams take place during the phase of sleep known as rapid eye movement, or REM, sleep. Most people experience numerous periods of REM sleep during the night with the duration of each REM period increasing throughout the night. As a result, nightmares are more likely to occur later in the night or toward the morning. Nightmares can be caused, or triggered, by a number of factors. Certain medications, such as anti-depressants or narcotic based pain relievers are known to be associated with nightmares as are some blood pressure medications. Sleep deprivation or insomnia has also been linked to nightmares. Certain psychological disorders can also lead to nightmares such as post traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD, anxiety and depression. Conventional treatment for nightmares includes cognitive behavior therapy and the use of medications such as Topamax, Minipress, Serzone, Desyrel, and Neurontin or Gabarone.

Medical Marijuana and Nightmares

Medical Marijuana and Nightmares

Although cognitive behavior therapy has shown promise as a treatment for nightmares, it can take a considerably long time to see results and its success may depend on the underlying cause of the nightmares. Most of the medications that are used to treat nightmares come with their own long list of potentially negative side-effects. Medical marijuana is a safer, potentially more effective alternative. Medical marijuana may work to reduce anxiety, alleviate depression and decrease insomnia. In addition, when the underlying cause of nightmares is anti-anxiety or narcotic based pain medication, medical marijuana may provide an alternative, which in turn removes the cause of the nightmares.

Medical Marijuana and Nightmares: Clinical Evidence
Medical marijuana has been relied on, and used, for centuries to reduce stress, tension and anxiety. Recent studies that have been done an patients suffering from anxiety or stress have confirmed what numerous cultures have known for centuries -- that many patients do report a decrease in anxiety levels with the use of medical marijuana. Conversely, some patients show an increase in anxiety when using medical marijuana. Individual body chemistry may be the key to why some patients actually report an increase in anxiety. For those who experience a decrease in anxiety, medical marijuana may be an alternative to conventional anti-anxiety or anti-depressant medications that are at the root of the patient’s nightmares. When the THC found in marijuana reacts with a brain substance known as anandamide it has been shown to produce a calming effect throughout the body, thereby reducing anxiety.
Nightmare sufferers who also suffer from insomnia or sleep deprivation may be able to get relief from medical marijuana as well. Because the chemical properties found in marijuana create a calming effect throughout the body, patients may find that sleep comes easier is interrupted less often by nightmares.
For nightmare sufferers who suspect that narcotic based medications may be contributing to their nightmares, medical marijuana may allow them to reduce the amount of opiate based medications they are taking. A recent study showed that patients taking opiate based pain medications were able to reduce their opiate based medication by augmenting their medication with medical marijuana while still experiencing the same degree of pain relief.

Medical Marijuana and Nightmares

Although cognitive behavior therapy has shown promise as a treatment for nightmares, it can take a considerably long time to see results and its success may depend on the underlying cause of the nightmares. Most of the medications that are used to treat nightmares come with their own long list of potentially negative side-effects. Medical marijuana is a safer, potentially more effective alternative. Medical marijuana may work to reduce anxiety, alleviate depression and decrease insomnia. In addition, when the underlying cause of nightmares is anti-anxiety or narcotic based pain medication, medical marijuana may provide an alternative, which in turn removes the cause of the nightmares.

Medical Marijuana and Nightmares: Clinical Evidence

Medical marijuana has been relied on, and used, for centuries to reduce stress, tension and anxiety. Recent studies that have been done an patients suffering from anxiety or stress have confirmed what numerous cultures have known for centuries -- that many patients do report a decrease in anxiety levels with the use of medical marijuana. Conversely, some patients show an increase in anxiety when using medical marijuana. Individual body chemistry may be the key to why some patients actually report an increase in anxiety. For those who experience a decrease in anxiety, medical marijuana may be an alternative to conventional anti-anxiety or anti-depressant medications that are at the root of the patient’s nightmares. When the THC found in marijuana reacts with a brain substance known as anandamide it has been shown to produce a calming effect throughout the body, thereby reducing anxiety.

Nightmare sufferers who also suffer from insomnia or sleep deprivation may be able to get relief from medical marijuana as well. Because the chemical properties found in marijuana create a calming effect throughout the body, patients may find that sleep comes easier is interrupted less often by nightmares.For nightmare sufferers who suspect that narcotic based medications may be contributing to their nightmares, medical marijuana may allow them to reduce the amount of opiate based medications they are taking. A recent study showed that patients taking opiate based pain medications were able to reduce their opiate based medication by augmenting their medication with medical marijuana while still experiencing the same degree of pain relief.

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