Insomnia is a sleep disorder that can affect a person’s ability to fall asleep or to stay asleep. It is a common condition that can be caused by a number of factors.

On average, adults require 7-9 hours of sleep a night in order to function in a healthy capacity. Unfortunately, insomnia can often alter this and result in long-term health effects and a lower quality of life.

Medical cannabis has been shown to be extremely effective in treating the symptoms of insomnia. We spoke with Lead Psychiatrist, Dr Anup Mathew, to find out everything you need to know about insomnia and how medical cannabis can help.

What is insomnia?

Insomnia is a chronic condition that affects one in every three people in the UK. It is a sleep disorder that can dramatically affect the amount of sleep a person gets. This can range from struggling to stay asleep, to not being able to sleep at all.

There are two types of insomnia:

  • Short term insomnia - This can last a few days or weeks and can often be triggered by external factors such as stress.
  • Long term insomnia - This is when the symptoms of insomnia become chronic and continue over the course of a number of months.

Dr Anup states that there are many causes for insomnia such as:

  • Working schedules that can disrupt the body’s circadian rhythms.
  • Poor dietary habits which include caffeine, nicotine and alcohol.
  • Poor sleep hygiene such as taking naps during the day and blue light exposure. For example; using your phone or watching television.
  • Side effects from medication you may be taking.

Insomnia can often cause long term health issues like diabetes, hypertension and weight gain. Not to mention make it difficult to carry out everyday tasks.

What are the symptoms of insomnia?

Those suffering with insomnia can often experience some, if not all of the following symptoms:

  • ​​Finding it difficult to get to sleep
  • Waking up several times during the night
  • Laying awake at night
  • Waking up early and being unable to go back to sleep
  • Still feeling tired when you wake up 
  • Difficulty having a nap during the day even if you are tired
  • Feeling irritable and tired throughout the day

Having difficulty sleeping can impact your quality of life as well as your long-term health and wellbeing. As a result of these symptoms, many people suffering from Insomnia can experience knock-on effects to their physical and mental health such as chronic fatigue and difficulty concentrating or remembering things.

Recent studies have shown that there is a link between insomnia and cognitive impairment later on in life.

The study reviewed people who experience insomnia when they were younger and then experience issues with their cognitive health in their later years. The study concluded that the people most likely to have thinking and memory problems were those who stated their main symptom was trouble falling asleep. 

How can you treat insomnia?

There are a number of ways that you can help treat insomnia, some of the main ways are, cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT-I) and medicinal cannabis.

Cognitive behavioural therapy can help control or eliminate thoughts and actions that can cause people to stay awake and is often recommended as the first line of treatment for those suffering with insomnia.

Practices for Cognitive Behavioural include:

  • Stimulus control therapy. This is the process of removing factors that condition your mind to resist sleep. This could be ensuring you set a consistent bedtime and wake time.
  • Relaxation techniques. Working on techniques like breathing can help to induce relaxation before bedtime.

Medical Cannabis has been shown to be effective in managing symptoms of insomnia. Dr Anup states that “Insomnia has been characterised as one of the primary reasons individuals seek medicinal cannabis. Cannabinoid receptors, along with numerous other functions are crucial for pain relief, sleep, immunity and mood.”

How can medical cannabis help with symptoms of insomnia?

A new study published in the Journal of Sleep Research found that short-term use of cannabis extracts is effective for patients diagnosed with insomnia. The introduction of the study also discusses the potential for cannabis to help relieve sleep dysfunction in addition to the impact of individual cannabinoids on sleep. 

Dr Anup states that “The review of the effect of CBD on sleep cycle suggests that medium-low doses decreased REM sleep latency and can improve insomnia.”

Dr Anup suggests that another alternative is that THC and CBD can be used as a combination if CBD alone is not effective, as this has been shown to improve sleep duration. These forms of treatment can be taken as an oil under the tongue of vaped via a vaporiser as directed by a specialist.

If you or someone you know is struggling with insomnia, reach out to Cantourage Clinic to speak with one of our specialists about how medical cannabis could help.

For more support, visit The Sleep Charity for more information and guidance.

Cantourage Clinic offer specialist consultations for the following conditions.

- Pain

- Psychiatry

- Neurology

- Gastroenterological

- Oncology

- Palliative Care


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