Medical Marijuana and Insomnia


Are you one of the millions of Americans that is suffering from sleeplessness or insomnia?  It is estimated that one-third of all adults have insomnia at some point in their lives.  Some people have difficulty falling asleep, some have difficulty staying asleep, and some have both.  Not  having a good night’s sleep can make you feel  tired all  day, and this can have an adverse effect on how  you work, exercise, eat, drive and interact with others.  There are a number of prescription medications on the market used to promote sleep:  Rozerem, Sonata, Martazapine, Temazepam, Zolpidem tartrate (Ambien) and Eszopiclone (Lunesta).

Medical marijuana patients usually find that sleep is a wonderful benefit of cannabis.  Many chronic pain patients experience insomnia due to their pain.  Many find immediate relief when they (smoke) cannabis.  If you suffer from lack of sleep and it is affecting your life negatively, you should talk with your regular physician to see if you suffer from insomnia.  If you want a natural treatment that has very few if any side effects, you might consider using cannabis.  Taken 1 ½-2 hours before bedtime you can choose to use a vaporizer, the tinctures, or edibles (2 hours before bedtime).

And there is little doubt that poor sleep patterns can have a negative effect on your life as a whole; not only does it lead to poor health and many minor ailments (which when experienced all at the same time can have the same effect as a major medical condition), but it also leads to poor productivity and time lost from work.  Lack of sleep can be fatal, in that poor concentration when driving or operating machinery, can lead to operator mistakes.

There are various over the counter (OTC) medications that will help you to fall asleep;  usually these medicines have been formulated  for other symptoms such as antihistamines for treating allergies.  In general, it is not a good idea to take a treatment for a condition you do not have – especially if you are already taking other medications.

Sleeping pills that are obtainable with a prescription often have unpleasant side effects.  The listed side effects of Ambien (zolpiderm tartrate) are rather scary:

  • depressed mood, thoughts of hurting yourself
  • unusual thoughts, risk taking behavior, decreased inhibitions (no fear of danger)
  • anxiety, aggression, feelings of restlessness or agitation
  • hallucinations, confusion, changes in personality
  • daytime drowsiness, dizziness, weakness, feeling “drugged” or light-headed
  • lack of coordination
  • amnesia, forgetfulness
  • vivid or abnormal dreams
  • nausea, constipation
  • stuffy nose, sore throat
  • headache, muscle pain
  • blurred vision

The treatment is much worse than the medical condition!

How Can Marijuana Help With Insomnia?

A recent study, undertaken at Alberta University in Canada was designed to investigate the effects of THC on appetite, specifically on the appetite of cancer patients.  An unexpected finding of the study, however, was that the patients receiving THC also slept better than the control group.  The published study headline read, “Pot Helps Cancer Patients Sleep and Enjoy Food”.


Insomnia, or chronic sleeplessness, can be effectively treated with marijuana, and clinical research has verified the usefulness of marijuana in some cases.  One study determined that CBD, rather than delta-9 THC, helped some insomniacs sleep better.  Human studies show that cannabinoid-induced sleep does not differ much from sleep induced by conventional hypnotics.  In contrast to one of America’s favorite drugs, Valium, which, along with having a strong addictive potential, is also known to suppress the stages of sleep conducive to dreaming?  The Institute of Medicine recommended further study of cannabinoid sedation in its Marijuana and Medicine report of 1999.

A small percentage of research subjects have reported unwelcome “hangover” effects following the use of cannabis as an anti-insomniac.

1. Hollister, “Health aspects of marijuana”.  Pharmacological Review, Vol. 38, No.1, 1986
2. Institute of Medicine, Marijuana and Medicine:  Assessing the Science Base.  Washington, DC:  National Academy Press, 1999 

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