It's estimated that 50-55% of adults suffer from insomnia. For many, insomnia means difficulty falling asleep, but some people also experience frequent waking during the night. A lot of people use sleeping pills to help them get to sleep and stay asleep all night, but these can have side effects. Sleeping pill side effects can be dangerous, which makes them a less-than-ideal option for many people.
Cannabis has been used for hundreds of years as a sleep aid. Originally used in Indian medicine, Western society adopted marijuana as a treatment for insomnia in the 1800s. In recent years, scientists have discovered that the body's own endocannabinoid system has a role in regulating sleep. Medical marijuana could replicate this effect, providing help for people who have trouble getting to sleep or staying asleep through the night.
Research suggests that both THC and CBD cannabinoids can regulate the endocannabinoid system, therefore helping to treat insomnia. In particular, CBD appears to have a modulating effect on this system, helping patients to establish regular sleeping patterns. CBD may also have fewer side effects than THC. For example, studies show that CBD is not psychoactive and has no effects on the gastrointestinal system.
According to a 2011 report, published in O'Shaughnessy's: The Journal of Cannabis in Clinical Practice by Rolando Tringale, MD and Claudia Jensen, MD, patients often report that they are able to fall asleep much more quickly since they started taking medical marijuana. Data collected at Dr. Jensen's clinics in 2005 showed that medical marijuana users are able to fall asleep roughly 30-45 minutes faster since they started taking the cannabis. 79 percent of the 116 patients questioned in the study also reported that their sleep quality improved while taking medical marijuana.
Medical marijuana could be a promising treatment for insomnia. With studies showing a reduction in the time taken to fall asleep among people taking medical marijuana, accompanied by a long history of the use of cannabis as a sleep aid, there is hope that marijuana could be a safe and effective treatment for insomnia.