Updated on January 30, 2019. Medical content reviewed by Dr. Joseph Rosado, MD, M.B.A, Chief Medical Officer
Although it may not seem like a serious medical condition, insomnia can severely impact every aspect of a person’s life — their personal relationships, job performance and even their health. This sleep disorder affects most adults some time in their lives. However, if insomnia lasts longer than a month, it’s considered chronic. The condition can be caused by many different lifestyle habits, old age or even by an underlying medical condition.
Using sleeping pills to treat insomnia is not recommended as a long-term solution because this can lead to dependency. Patients all over the world use marijuana to give them a deep sense of relaxation and help them fall asleep. Not only is it non-habit forming, but it also combats some of the underlying causes of insomnia — pain, depression, anxiety and others.
In patients where a medical condition is not the cause of their insomnia, the initial phase of falling asleep is the most difficult aspect of the disorder to overcome. Because of anecdotal evidence suggesting cannabis could be used as a sleep aid, researchers out of Napa State Hospital in California and Boston State Hospital in Massachusetts sought to explore the validity of this in a 1973 study.
Their experiment, which they published in an international journal titled Psychopharmacology, was performed to confirm if THC could be used to aid the sleep of those with chronic insomnia. They attempted three different doses, and the results showed several beneficial outcomes. Patients experienced:
These results show that cannabis, especially those with a decent amount of THC, could be used to improve the quality and duration of sleep in those with insomnia.
A UK-based research study was conducted in 2007 to explore cannabis’ effect on the sleep of those with painful medical conditions. Because of the symptoms associated with disorders such as multiple sclerosis, cancer and rheumatoid arthritis, insomnia often results as an additional complication to these patients’ lives. This study, published in Chemistry and Biodiversity, reported that patients with these kinds of conditions could greatly benefit from cannabis.
After seeking to determine which component of marijuana brings about the most beneficial results to aiding sleep — CBD or THC — the scientists found that THC-dominant strains have more sedating effects. Unlike other sleep aids, cannabis also had the following benefits:
The researchers determined a cannabis-based sleep aid could greatly improve the quality of life for those with chronic and debilitating conditions.
Because of the need for safe yet effective insomnia treatments, a 2011 research analysis explored cannabis’ effect on sleep. They collected data from 166 patients in southern California from two different cannabis clinics. A total of 116 patients reported using marijuana to help aid sleep, while 31 patients had no difficulty falling asleep.
The goal of this study was to find out how quickly patients fall asleep when using cannabis and whether marijuana medications could be used to improve sleep latency. In both groups, patients reported marijuana reduced the amount of time it takes to fall asleep.
Based on these findings, the researchers concluded their report with the desire to perform larger, double-blind studies to explore the efficacy of cannabis-based sleep aids.
As this and other research suggests, cannabis could be the most effective insomnia medication out there. Not only is it non-addictive, but it also can aid other conditions that may be causing insomnia. If you think marijuana could contribute to healthier sleep habits, make an appointment with a marijuana doctor in your state. If you qualify, they can advise you about local regulations and help you get a medical marijuana card.