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Improving Sleep with the Help of Medical Marijuana

Lack of proper sleep is one of the most common problems people have to deal with on a daily basis. According to statistics, 3 out of 10 adults in the US suffer from insomnia. Other common sleep disorders include severe sleep apnea (which affects 1 out of 15 people), and restless leg syndrome (which affects 1 out of 10 people). These are just the top three problems on the list; there are several more kinds of sleep-related problems that some people have to deal with on a nightly basis.

While there are already different types of medication for sleep disorders, those options are not entirely a great solution. In fact, conventional insomnia medicine has been linked to several serious side effects such as irregular heartbeat, chronic fatigue, and even development of addiction to the drugs. It's a good thing that patients suffering from sleep disorders can look forward to a better alternative: medical marijuana.

Although mostly viewed as a recreational substance, medical marijuana is actually a versatile drug. Reports from numerous scientific studies have revealed the medical benefits of marijuana, which in turn, made it possible to legalize the substance in many states. More importantly, many of these studies helped reveal how marijuana can help people struggling with sleep disorders.

The secret behind medical marijuana's effectiveness as an alternative to conventional sleep disorder medicine are the cannabinoids – special chemical compounds found exclusively in marijuana plants. There are several types of cannabinoids, but 2 stand out in particular: tetrohydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD). THC is known for its psychoactive effects, although it can cause a calming effect if the right amount is consumed. On the other hand, CBD dampens the psychoactive effects of THC and also relaxes the muscles and vascular tissues.

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Stress and anxiety are often linked to insomnia. By targeting the receptors in the body responsible for triggering responses to stress such as heavy breathing, tensed muscles, and increased heart rate, the cannabinoids found in marijuana can reduce or eliminate the symptoms of stress, increasing a person's level of comfort and making conditions more conducive to a proper rest.

Pain can also be a major source of discomfort. Whether it's menstrual cramps, chronic muscle pain, or swelling caused by injury, pain can be bad enough to keep a person from falling asleep. People suffering from pain-related insomnia will be glad to know that marijuana can help get rid of chronic pain. In fact, one of the first uses of medical marijuana is to provide pain relief for migraines and muscle pain.

Sleep apnea is characterized by shallow or irregular breathing, often caused by an obstruction of the airway. Since breathing is severely hampered, the body can end up having an insufficient supply of oxygen to the brain and the rest of the body. CBD's relaxing effect on muscles and other tissues can help open up the airway and allow sleeping patients to breathe easier.

While most sleep disorders are often addressed by using solutions that calm down or release tension, there are some disorders that require the exact opposite -- such as narcolepsy. Having trouble staying awake can be a major problem during work hours or when driving. Studies have discovered that CBD can have an energizing effect on the body, making it easier to wake up and stay up.

Just being able to counteract the effects of sleep disorders is not enough to make medical marijuana stand out as an alternative to conventional drugs. It's how marijuana actually differs from conventional sleep disorder medication that makes it such an attractive alternative to what is currently available to most patients.

The biggest advantage of medical marijuana over conventional medicine is its relatively safe nature. With conventional sleep disorder medicine, going over the recommended dosage can lead to serious health complications and put a strain on the liver and kidneys. On the other hand, overdosing on marijuana often results in nothing more than a stronger-than-usual psychoactive effect.

Addiction is another serious side effect caused by certain types of conventional medicine, especially opioids. Continuous dependence on a drug can cause the body to develop a tolerance for it, which means switching to more expensive dosage or switching to a more potent medicine in the future (not to mention the serious withdrawal symptoms). Addiction is a very rare problem among marijuana users and withdrawal symptoms are minor (if there are even any). Furthermore, studies even suggest that frequent marijuana users tend to become less dependent on conventional medicine, making them less likely to get addicted.

While scientific research still needs to be done before medical marijuana can completely replace risky conventional medications, there's no denying that the versatile drug is already working as a great alternative for some patients suffering from sleep disorders. With enough support from both the government and the medical field, it's only a matter of time before medical marijuana becomes the first choice of medication for people looking for something that can help them get some proper rest.

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