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According to a recently released poll of people in Colorado buying cannabis at adult retail shops, the two most common reasons that people turn to this popular plant are for pain management and sleep issues. Roughly 65% reported using it for pain, while 74%, some of which overlapped obviously, wanted it for help with sleep.
The majority of people who use it for those purposes feel that the plant does help. In fact, four out of five people using it for pain were pleased with results, and many even stopped using other pain medication as a result.
Cannabis helps with pain management in a different manner than most other analgesic medicines. Instead of blocking pain receptors or affecting the same parts of your brain that narcotic painkillers effect, cannabis primarily stops the sensation of pain by distracting users mentally from the physical sensation. Because of that unique mechanism for pain control, cannabis does not pose the same degree of addiction risk that more direct analgesic medicine typically does. It could also be used in conjunction with a variety of other medications to improve their pain-relieving effects.
When it comes to sleep improvement, the information and research are less conclusive. Some research indicates that cannabis users tend to experience more fatigue during the day and occasionally difficulty sleeping restfully through the night. Increased cannabis use has been associated with sleep disturbances in some studies.
However, the majority of people who use cannabis for sleep aid report that it serves its purpose well. While the brain on cannabis may not sleep in the same way that a brain without cannabinoids will, that may be the reason why many people find it to be so effective. Cannabis can reduce the REM sleep cycle, which has a number of effects on cannabis users.
One may be an increased sense of overall tiredness, as the body relies on REM sleep to recharge the brain. However, the other consequence may be a positive one. Cannabis users may find that they either have less dream activity or greater difficulty remembering their dreams. That is because dreaming happens during REM sleep. Less REM sleep means fewer dreams.
The final result of dream suppression is particularly beneficial for those who experience routine night terrors or repetitive nightmares, including nightmares related to a traumatic history. Ironically, medical cannabis programs typically do not recognize insomnia or issues with sleep, such as recurring or trauma-related nightmares, as qualifying conditions for medical cannabis use. However, given the importance of sleep and the way that it helps many individuals with traumatic backgrounds, perhaps it is time to consider adding sleep issues to the list of conditions in states with cannabis programs.
For previous Ladybud articles about cannabis for sleep, click here.