There's a controversy rumbling through physician and research circles - does cannabis effectively treat sleep disorders, and particularly sleep apnea? One of the claims of pro-cannabis medicine experts is that using pot can definitely improve sleep for insomnia sufferers. But the American Academy of Sleep Medicine released its review of this question related to sleep apnea - and concluded that there is no evidence to date proving that weed helps with sleep apnea.
A couple decades ago I looked deeply into all aspects of sleep and sleep disorders, in my book and audio program Secrets Of A Good Night's Sleep, but my publisher (Dell) didn't want me to mention marijuana as a treatment for insomnia - because it was illegal. The general discussions in that book remain consistent with current research on sleep - but an update is certainly needed regarding marijuana.
What We Now Know
Toking up or taking a tincture or edible before going to bed is now a solid medical reason-prescription for using cannabis, although how pot actually impacts one's sleep patterns is a very complex question. Studies show that if you're depressed, marijuana definitely improves your sleep in most cases - you can let go and drift off.
Sometimes this is true for anxiety also - but results vary greatly from person to person, and situation to situation. The positive effects of pot for relieving pain are also important for improving sleep for many people.
In several studies, help with insomnia was more evident for occasional users than for regular users. You need to experiment for yourself, as millions of Americans have been doing recently.
But if you specifically have sleep apnea, does marijuana help?
I personally suffered with sleep apnea for over 30 years, although insomnia was never a problem outside of temporary stress situations. Definitely drinking alcohol before sleeping worsened my apnea condition (just ask my wife) but marijuana seemed to have little impact on the actual nasal-blockage symptoms.
The current statement by the AASM mentioned above (that pot is not effective for apnea sufferers) does seem valid, although all they're saying is that further research must be completed before we know for sure.
Because sleep apnea happens when we're deep asleep, the MindfullyHigh program can't directly impact this sleep disorder - because we can't use mindfulness to purposefully manage our sleep experience.
I refused for years to use a breathing machine and headgear (CPAC) before giving into the bothersome device - but I'm glad I finally did get one. Sometimes, surrendering to medical intervention is the wise move.
Without question, marijuana is not a cure-all for such conditions. But for a great many people suffering from chronic insomnia, PTSD, pain and unease, marijuana is a very helpful herb.