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Medical Marijuana and Sleep Apnea

What Is Sleep Apnea?

Medical marijuana is gaining attention as a treatment for sleep disorders such as sleep apnea. It can help individuals with chronic pain find relief and rest. A study conducted on individuals with PTSD showed that medical marijuana can decrease the number of nightmares a person with PTSD experiences. There is centuries worth of anecdotal evidence and research that shows medical marijuana can help with insomnia. In short, marijuana is showing a great deal of promise in sleep medicine. Sleep apnea sufferers are at increased risk of several dangerous conditions. Therefore, new and effective medications can be life altering for sufferers.
Sleep apnea is a sleeping disorder that affects breathing. It is characterized by breathing pauses while sleeping. The sufferer will stop breathing at least once during the night, though he or she may stop breathing dozens of times in a single hour. Breathing may resume after just a few seconds. However, a sleep apnea sufferer can stop breathing for several minutes at a time. When the person begins breathing again, a snore or snorting noise typically signals that the person is breathing again.
Sleep apnea itself is usually harmless, despite being alarming to those sleeping with sufferers. However, the complications can interfere with every day life and overall health. When a person stops breathing, his or her sleep is interrupted. There may be no waking period, but sleep becomes lighter regardless. This leads to sleep that is not restful and tiredness during waking hours. It can also affect heart conditions such as heart failure and arrhythmia or make one more likely to have them.

Medical marijuana is gaining attention as a treatment for sleep disorders such as sleep apnea. It can help individuals with chronic pain find relief and rest. A study conducted on individuals with PTSD showed that medical marijuana can decrease the number of nightmares a person with PTSD experiences. There is centuries worth of anecdotal evidence and research that shows medical marijuana can help with insomnia. In short, marijuana is showing a great deal of promise in sleep medicine. Sleep apnea sufferers are at increased risk of several dangerous conditions. Therefore, new and effective medications can be life altering for sufferers.

Sleep apnea is a sleeping disorder that affects breathing. It is characterized by breathing pauses while sleeping. The sufferer will stop breathing at least once during the night, though he or she may stop breathing dozens of times in a single hour. Breathing may resume after just a few seconds. However, a sleep apnea sufferer can stop breathing for several minutes at a time. When the person begins breathing again, a snore or snorting noise typically signals that the person is breathing again.

Sleep apnea itself is usually harmless, despite being alarming to those sleeping with sufferers. However, the complications can interfere with every day life and overall health. When a person stops breathing, his or her sleep is interrupted. There may be no waking period, but sleep becomes lighter regardless. This leads to sleep that is not restful and tiredness during waking hours. It can also affect heart conditions such as heart failure and arrhythmia or make one more likely to have them.

Medical Marijuana and Sleep Apnea

Medical Marijuana to Normalize Breathing during Sleep
A 2002 study on rats with sleep apnea showed that delta 9 THC and oleamide, both types of medical marijuana, promoted normal breathing during sleep in the 11 rats used for the study. The study was based on observations that serotonin worsens sleep apnea and that medical marijuana can limit the effect of serotonin on cells in the inferior ganglion of the vagus nerve, which plays a role in breathing sensations. Both of the drugs displayed the anticipated effect during every stage of sleep. This means that relief was found from serotonin induced breathing disorders the entire time the rats¬¬ were sleeping.
Oftentimes sleep apnea is caused by airway obstruction. The airway may temporarily collapse while sleeping. Alternatively, there may be something such as enlarged tonsils blocking the airway. In these cases, the obstruction is the problem. Treatment with medical marijuana may not be able to stabilize breathing without lifestyle changes or medical treatment for the obstruction. Overweight individuals are most likely to have this problem. Losing weight may help with the sleep apnea, though it can be a combination of obstructed airways and the abovementioned issues with serotonin causing abnormal breathing patterns. In these cases, weight loss can help the former while medical marijuana can help the latter; leading to sleep that is more restful.
Medical Marijuana and Improving Sleep Quality
Unfortunately, research on sleep apnea and medical marijuana is still in preclinical stages. However, physicians tend to have more access to experimental medication literature than the general public. Therefore, a sleep apnea sufferer's physician is the best person to determine whether medical marijuana is adequate sleep apnea treatment for that particular patient. Nonetheless, medical marijuana research does support using it as treatment for other aspects of sleep apnea apart from breathing disruption. It is important to remember that breathing disruption is an important symptom to treat. If the marijuana is not stopping the disruption, it may have to be used in conjunction with another treatment that stops the disruption.
As mentioned above, sleep apnea can have a mild to severe impact on quality of sleep. Medical marijuana can help some individuals with sleep disruption, difficulty falling asleep and difficulty falling back to sleep get sleep and stay asleep for as long as their bodies need it. In this way, medical marijuana can improve quality of life for sleep apnea sufferers. Those who respond well are likely to find that they are suffering less fatigue during the day because their sleep quality has improved. Because medical marijuana has these added benefits, it can be used for all three types of sleep apnea -- that caused by obstruction, that caused by brain function and that caused by both.

Medical Marijuana to Normalize Breathing during Sleep

A 2002 study on rats with sleep apnea showed that delta 9 THC and oleamide, both types of medical marijuana, promoted normal breathing during sleep in the 11 rats used for the study. The study was based on observations that serotonin worsens sleep apnea and that medical marijuana can limit the effect of serotonin on cells in the inferior ganglion of the vagus nerve, which plays a role in breathing sensations. Both of the drugs displayed the anticipated effect during every stage of sleep. This means that relief was found from serotonin induced breathing disorders the entire time the rats¬¬ were sleeping.

Oftentimes sleep apnea is caused by airway obstruction. The airway may temporarily collapse while sleeping. Alternatively, there may be something such as enlarged tonsils blocking the airway. In these cases, the obstruction is the problem. Treatment with medical marijuana may not be able to stabilize breathing without lifestyle changes or medical treatment for the obstruction. Overweight individuals are most likely to have this problem. Losing weight may help with the sleep apnea, though it can be a combination of obstructed airways and the abovementioned issues with serotonin causing abnormal breathing patterns. In these cases, weight loss can help the former while medical marijuana can help the latter; leading to sleep that is more restful.

Medical Marijuana and Improving Sleep Quality

Unfortunately, research on sleep apnea and medical marijuana is still in preclinical stages. However, physicians tend to have more access to experimental medication literature than the general public. Therefore, a sleep apnea sufferer's physician is the best person to determine whether medical marijuana is adequate sleep apnea treatment for that particular patient. Nonetheless, medical marijuana research does support using it as treatment for other aspects of sleep apnea apart from breathing disruption. It is important to remember that breathing disruption is an important symptom to treat. If the marijuana is not stopping the disruption, it may have to be used in conjunction with another treatment that stops the disruption.

As mentioned above, sleep apnea can have a mild to severe impact on quality of sleep. Medical marijuana can help some individuals with sleep disruption, difficulty falling asleep and difficulty falling back to sleep get sleep and stay asleep for as long as their bodies need it. In this way, medical marijuana can improve quality of life for sleep apnea sufferers. Those who respond well are likely to find that they are suffering less fatigue during the day because their sleep quality has improved. Because medical marijuana has these added benefits, it can be used for all three types of sleep apnea -- that caused by obstruction, that caused by brain function and that caused by both.

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