Marijuana Use For Sleep Disorders: Short Term Benefit with Long Term Problems
If you read my recent post on marijuana use I hope you got my main point which is there is a lot of unknowns in terms of safety and effectiveness of using marijuana for health concerns. Sleep disorders are one reason people are turning to marijuana use. The general idea is smoking marijuana provides a calming of sorts which can help people get to sleep. The issue is this idea has not been tested properly in the research, until now.
A recent study published January 20, 2020 in the British Medical Journal looked at what benefit medical marijuana use may have on sleep. The authors looked at 128 people with chronic pain who had disrupted sleep patterns. 66 of these people where medical marijuana users and 62 were not. Investigators found whole-plant medical cannabis use was associated with fewer problems with respect to waking up at night, but they also found that frequent medical marijuana use was associated with more problems initiating and maintaining sleep. Basically the longer or more frequently people use medical marijuana they start to develop a tolerance to it’s affects including any sleep benefit.
Estimates suggest chronic pain affects up to 37% of adults in the developed world. Individuals who suffer chronic pain often experience insomnia, which includes difficulty initiating sleep, sleep disruption, and early morning wakening. For its part, medical marijuana to treat chronic pain symptoms and manage sleep problems has been widely reported as a prime motivation for medical cannabis use. Previous studies have concluded that the metabolism of marijuana plays a role in sleep regulation, including sleep promotion and maintenance. Nevertheless, some research has also concluded that chronic administration of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) may result in tolerance to the sleep-enhancing effects of marijuana.
If you are considering using marijuana for it’s potential health benefits, I hope you understand that marijuana has not been properly tested to ensure that it will help with anything. If this study from today tells me anything it is that the potential benefits might lessen over time due to people building up a tolerance to it’s affect. So any benefit might not be long lasting the longer or more frequently you use marijuana. I am concerned that people will turn to marijuana like they turn to prescription medications, the quick fix to a complicated problem. There are ways to help get better sleep that don’t require drug use. Come to our sleep disorders presentation to learn more.