Medicinal Marijuana vs Sleep Disorders

Even though everyone experiences his or her own unique dreams, the sleep cycle is the same process for everyone. The brain rotates through each of the four stages of the sleep cycle multiple times every night. Marijuana has minimal impact on the first two stages of sleep, but has dramatic impact on the third and fourth stages of sleep. Stage 3 is known as slow-wave sleep. The fourth stage is rapid eye movement (REM), which is the most active period for the brain during sleep and when people dream. 

Since marijuana has been shown to help people who suffer from insomnia and sleep apnea, the National Institute of Health (NIH) in 2013 awarded a researcher named Dr. David W. Carley a $5 million grant to further study how medical marijuana treats sleeping disorder. Interestingly, Carley serves on the board for Cortex Pharmaceuticals, which markets sleep apnea treatments. It is becoming clear that even big pharma companies are starting to take medical marijuana seriously.

Even research dating as far back as 1973 has shown that marijuana helps induce sleep. It's actually possible, however, for too large of a dose to be less effective if the effects of intoxication overshadow the desire to sleep. On the other hand, higher dosage can ultimately lead to longer sleep. With the proper dosage of THC, it's possible to reduce sleep interruptions and increase sleep time.
Research on medical marijuana was largely discontinued in the 1980s and 1990s but has accelerated in the new century. A 2010 study on synthetic THC found that the chemical was more effective at improving sleep quality that the antidepressant amitriptyline. Cannabis accelerates the time it takes people to go to sleep and extends stage 3 of the sleep cycle, while reducing the final REM stage. Stage 3 is when sleep disorders can have the most difficulty, yet cannabis appears to be a viable solution.

Sleeping pills can be effective, but they can also be fatal if taken incorrectly. Mixing alcohol with sleeping kills can be deadly, whereas cannabis does not present such dangers. While it's possible to build up a tolerance to medical marijuana, this isn't the same problem as building a tolerance for sleeping pills, leading to heavier dosage. High doses of sleeping pills can interfere with breathing during sleep, leading to death. Conventional sleeping pills require careful self-regulation, whereas overuse of cannabis usually results in better sleep. 

One of the problematic side effects of sleeping pills is that it can lead to drowsiness that extends into your workday. Another problem with sleeping pills is that overuse can lead to erratic or strange behavior. Yet medicinal marijuana treats sleeping disorder without such annoying side effects and has even shown to produce results that are more favorable.

Finally, one more problem with sleeping pills popped up in a 2012 study published by BMJ Open. The study found that people who used prescription sleeping pills were more likely to get cancer than those who did not. Cannabis, on the other hand, has been shown to reverse cancer in some patients.

via: Medicinal Marijuana Association

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