There are many sleep aids available for people who suffer from sleep disorders such as insomnia. One solution that has been gaining popularity over the decades is medical marijuana. This substance is preferred over other sleep medication for a variety of reasons.
Many states in the US have legalized cannabis for medical use over the years. This change has made it much easier to be prescribed this natural substance for treating various conditions. So if the big question on your mind is “can you get medical marijuana for insomnia”, the answer can vary depending on the state you live in.
Before looking at marijuana and how it can be used for insomnia, lets learn a bit about the condition itself.
What is insomnia?
Insomnia is a common sleep disorder that affects a large percentage of the population. People who suffer from this condition have trouble falling asleep at night and/or maintaining their sleep state.
Everyone has restless nights now and then. For most people, a bout of sleeplessness usually passes within a night or two. However, some people suffer from a type of insomnia that impedes their slumber for multiple nights in a week. If this condition persists for three or more months, it is termed “chronic” insomnia (https://www.sleepfoundation.org/insomnia/what-insomnia/different-types-insomnia).
Chronic insomnia that is left untreated can lead to long term sleep loss, which can be damaging to both your physical and mental health. Studies have found that people with long term sleep loss experience depressed mood, and difficulty concentrating. They may also develop hypertension, obesity, and/or diabetes (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK19961).
How is insomnia treated?
Insomnia can be treated with the help of behavioral therapy. This is a structured program that helps people with insomnia identify thoughts and habits that are impeding their sleep. The goal of this treatment is to replace unhealthy habits with more sleep-friendly ones.
There are also many medications and supplements that can help you get a good night’s rest. Prescription medications such as zolpidem tartrate (Ambien) and emazepam (Restoril) can help you fall asleep at night.
Over-the-counter sleep aids such as diphenhydramine (Benadryl) and doxylamine succinate (Unisom sleep tabs) can also be used for their sedative effects. Some people prefer to use natural sleep aids such as valerian root and chamomile to induce drowsiness at night.
Many of the aforementioned sleep aids carry risks when they are used in the long term (https://www.sleephealthsolutionsohio.com/blog/health-effects-long-term-sleeping-pill-use/). Due to this reason, more and more people are turning to medical marijuana for their insomnia.
Why you should try medical marijuana for insomnia
Marijuana (or cannabis) is derived from a natural plant. It offers many therapeutic benefits, such as relaxing tense muscles (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK224382/) and providing relief for chronic pain (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK546424/). Many types of cannabis are also effective at helping you sleep (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6326553/).
You should consider trying medical marijuana if you are interested in using a natural sleep aid for your insomnia. The cannabis flowers or “bud” that are provided to medical marijuana patients undergo little to no processing, which makes it a great option for people who want to avoid lab-manufactured sleeping pills or sleep aids.
Some of the side effects associated with prescription medication can be severe and lead to serious health problems if they are used long term. In addition to this, many sleeping pills can be addictive and create dependence.
Using medical cannabis for insomnia may be safer compared to certain sleep medications. While this substance can be habit forming, it is far more difficult to consume a fatal quantity of cannabis compared to sleeping pills (http://druglibrary.org/schaffer/library/mj_overdose.htm). However, the long-term effects of consuming cannabis are still being studied.
How does medical marijuana work for insomnia
Certain types of medical cannabis produce a calming and sedating effect when they are consumed. The combination of these effects can help you sleep at night. The therapeutic properties of cannabis can be attributed to the active compounds in this substance.
The two primary active compounds in medical marijuana are cannabidiol (CBD) and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC).
Cannabidiol is a compound that is used to help with a variety of health problems, including sleep disorders. It is believed that CBD is responsible for medical marijuana’s anxiety calming and pain relieving properties. The combination of these effects can help insomnia patients fall asleep at night and maintain a sleep state (https://www.consumerreports.org/cbd/can-cbd-help-you-sleep/).
Research has also found that the CBD affects the body’s sleep cycles, which could help you fall asleep faster at night (https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28349316/).
THC is the main active compound in marijuana. It is responsible for the psychoactive effects that are normally associated with cannabis. Studies have found that this compound may help you fall asleep faster, but it could worsen your sleep quality if used long term (https://doi.org/10.1007/s11920-017-0775-9).
Medical marijuana patients who want to treat their insomnia often opt for cannabis strains with high concentrations of CBD and low concentrations of THC. This allows them to benefit from the pain relief and sleep inducing effects of CBD without experiencing the strong psychoactive “high” caused by THC.
How can I get a medical marijuana prescription?
Medical cannabis is currently legal in the 33 states and DC (https://medicalmarijuana.procon.org/legal-medical-marijuana-states-and-dc/). If you live in a state where medical marijuana is legal, you may be able to get a medical marijuana prescription from a doctor.
However, not every doctor is willing to prescribe their patients medical cannabis for insomnia. States have strict requirements around which patient conditions qualify for medical marijuana treatment. Unfortunately, insomnia is not on this list of conditions (https://www.leafly.com/news/health/qualifying-conditions-for-medical-marijuana-by-state).
However, you may be able to get a medical marijuana prescription in certain states if you suffer from conditions such as chronic pain or sleep apnea. If you are prescribed cannabis for one of these conditions, it may be able to help with your insomnia.
Other ways to get marijuana for insomnia
If you live in a state where recreational cannabis is legal, you won’t need a doctor’s prescription to purchase marijuana. As long as you are of legal age in your state, you should be able to acquire cannabis legally and use it to help with your insomnia. However, many of the cannabis strains sold by dispensaries and online stores in your state may not be suitable for treating insomnia.
You may need to try several different strains that have high concentrations of CBD and low concentrations of THC before finding one that helps with your insomnia. However, this trial and error process may not be enjoyable for everyone. You may experience the unwanted side effects of using cannabis such as anxiety and coordination problems when you try certain strains.
If you live in a state where both medical and recreational cannabis are illegal, you may still be able to purchase hemp-derived products that help you sleep. Many online stores sell CBD oil products that contain no THC. These oils are made by extracting the active compounds in hemp and isolating the CBD separately.
CBD isolate products are federally legal to sell and use because they contain virtually no THC (i.e.: the compound that makes cannabis illegal). This allows you to benefit from the sleep-inducing qualities of cannabis without breaking the law. It should be noted that some states still have restrictions on possessing CBD products without a prescription (https://www.pbs.org/newshour/science/is-cbd-legal-heres-what-you-need-to-know-according-to-science)
The following video explains some of the benefits of using CBD oil: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kptr6yrH37E
Frequently Asked Questions
Here are some frequently asked questions about medical cannabis.
Q: Where can I get marijuana for my sleep disorder?
A: If you live in a state where medical cannabis is legal, you may be able to get a medical marijuana prescription from a doctor. However, your insomnia may not necessarily qualify you as a medical marijuana patient. If you live in a state where recreational cannabis is legal, you can purchase it from a dispensary without requiring a prescription.
Q: Is marijuana effective in curing insomnia
A: Marijuana may not necessarily “cure” your insomnia, but studies have found that it can help you fall asleep faster. Cannabis strains high in CBD and low in THC may be suitable for this purpose. However, long term cannabis use may reduce your sleep quality.
Medical cannabis may be helpful for treating insomnia. It offers some advantages over prescription medications and over-the-counter sleep aids. If you live in a state where medical cannabis is legal, you may be able to get a prescription from a doctor.
However, you may have trouble qualifying for a medical cannabis prescription for your insomnia. If you live in a state where recreational cannabis is legal, you can purchase it without a prescription. People living in states where it is illegal may still be able to purchase CBD oil products that offer the calming and sedating effects of marijuana.
Leave a comment if you have any questions, or share your experience using cannabis as a sleep aid for insomnia