If you or a loved one suffers from sleep apnea, you know how exhausting and frustrating it can be. This common sleep disturbance affects roughly 22 million people in the U.S., making it difficult to achieve restful sleep and stay awake and productive during the day. Because of this, sleep apnea can have a devastating effect on quality of life for sufferers.
Fortunately, cannabis is a promising treatment for sleep apnea sufferers. Let’s take a look at how cannabis works to alleviate the troublesome symptoms of sleep apnea, and find out if it’s the right sleep apnea treatment option for you.
What Is Sleep Apnea?
Sleep apnea is a sleep disorder that involves periodic disruptions in breathing while sleeping. This can amount to up to 30 disruptions within an hour, which prevents a sleep apnea sufferer from attaining the deep sleep necessary for complete restfulness and recovery.
During the rapid-eye-movement cycle of sleep, or REM sleep, your body has an opportunity to repair and heal your body and mind, leading to a refreshed, rejuvenated feeling in the morning. Because sleep apnea prevents your body from getting into a full REM cycle, it can cause fatigue and drowsiness throughout the day.
There are two types of sleep apnea:
- Obstructive sleep apnea is the most common form of sleep apnea and results from a blocked airway. The airway may temporarily collapse or may have a blockage, which produces loud snoring or snorting.
- Central sleep apnea is a result of failed communication between the muscles responsible for breathing and the area of the brain that controls breathing and other involuntary bodily processes. This is usually secondary to a medical condition or medications that impact the brain stem.
Patients may be affected by both obstructive and central sleep apnea, which can make treatment more challenging. Certain individuals are more prone to sleep apnea as well, such as men, older individuals, children and infants and those with diabetes or heart conditions.
Symptoms of sleep apnea include:
- Daytime drowsiness.
- Restlessness during sleep.
- Poor cognition.
- Mood problems.
- Dry mouth.
- Swallowing problems.
- Voice changes.
- Shortness of breath.
Cannabis for Sleep Apnea
The most common treatment for sleep apnea is a breathing device known as a continuous positive airway pressure machine (CPAP), though some patients choose to undergo surgery or make certain lifestyle changes to manage the symptoms. CPAP is effective, though it comes with unpleasant side effects, such as dry mouth, headaches, bloating and dry sinuses.
Fortunately, cannabis has shown promise in treating the symptoms of sleep apnea with minimal side effects. In a 2002 study of rates with sleep apnea, two types of cannabis promoted normal breathing patterns during sleep in all test subjects. The observations in this study were believed to be a result of cannabis’ effect on regulating serotonin levels. Serotonin acts on the peripheral nervous system and plays a role in breathing patterns, so inadequate levels can exacerbate the symptoms of sleep apnea.
Another study was conducted on humans, which showed a symptom reduction of 32 percent with different doses of cannabis given to each sleep apnea patient. More research is needed, but at this time, cannabis may be the answer to sleep apnea treatment for many patients.
In addition, cannabis can be a treatment for some of the other aspects of sleep apnea, such as restless sleep and fatigue. Its ability to promote deep, restful sleep, despite sleep disruption, can improve quality of life. It can also reduce moodiness and depression that’s often seen in sleep apnea patients.
Learn More at Euphoria Wellness
If you’re considering cannabis for sleep apnea treatment, Euphoria Wellness can help. Our highly trained staff will be happy to discuss your medical needs and recommend a few options that work best for you. Just stop by today with your Maryland medical marijuana and check out our menu!