What is insomnia?

Insomnia is a psychiatric condition that affects the patient’s sleep for consecutive nights. If it lasts for less than three months, it’s known as short-term insomnia. If it’s longer than that, it becomes long-term insomnia. Almost a quarter of people in the UK say that they have difficulty falling asleep to some extent. 

On average, humans need a certain amount of sleep each night:

  • For adults, 7 to 9 hours
  • For children, 9 to 13 hours
  • For toddlers and babies, 12 to 17 hours

If you’re getting less than that, that’s a sign of an unhealthy sleeping pattern and can be an early sign of insomnia.


What are the symptoms of insomnia?

Some symptoms of insomnia that might mean you have the condition include:

  • Consistently finding it hard to go to sleep
  • Waking up several times during the night
  • Lying awake at night
  • Waking up early and not being able to go back to sleep
  • Still feeling tired after waking up
  • Finding it hard to nap during the day even though you’re tired
  • Feeling tired and irritable during the day
  • Finding it difficult to concentrate during the day because you’re tired

All of these are signs that your body is not getting the amount of sleep it needs, which points to insomnia. Of course, this also depends on your own behaviour. If you are deliberately staying up late, then it might not be a medical condition. Instead, it might be a habitual one.


What causes insomnia?

Insomnia can be caused by several different things, depending on the individual. The most common causes are:

  • Stress, anxiety or depression
  • Noise or other distractions during sleeping hours
  • A room that’s too hot or cold
  • Uncomfortable beds
  • Alcohol, caffeine or nicotine
  • Recreational drugs, such as cocaine or ecstasy
  • Jet lag
  • Shift work

What treatment options are available for insomnia?

Many of the treatment options for insomnia are self-help focused. People suffering from insomnia can try a range of techniques themselves to help cure their insomnia. These include:

  • Going to bed and waking up in the same routine every day
  • Relaxing for at least one hour before bed, avoiding screens
  • Making sure your bedroom is dark and quiet, using curtains, blinds, an eye mask, or earplugs, if needed
  • Exercising regularly during the day
  • Making sure your mattress, pillows, and covers are comfortable
  • Avoiding smoking or drinking alcohol, tea, or coffee for at least six hours before going to bed
  • Avoiding eating a big meal late at night
  • Avoiding exercise for at least four hours before bed
  • Avoiding television or blue-light devices, like smartphones, before going to bed
  • Not napping during the day
  • Avoiding drive when you feel sleepy
  • Avoiding late mornings after a bad night’s sleep 

If those lifestyle and behavioural changes don’t work, there are further steps to pursue. Pharmacists can provide over-the-counter sleeping aids. Some contain natural ingredients, such as valerian, lavender or melatonin, while others contain antihistamines. These sleeping aids will induce drowsiness, helping you build up a healthier sleeping schedule in the short term and reducing the effects of insomnia overall.


How can medical cannabis help with insomnia?

In 2017, a study ‘Cannabis, Cannabinoids, and Sleep: a Review of the Literature’ by Kimberly A Babson, James Sottile, and Danielle Morabito, showed that there are therapeutic effects associated with using medical cannabis to treat insomnia. 

In particular, CBD is believed to help those suffering from interrupted REM sleep cycles and excessive daytime sleepiness. In addition, another element of medical cannabis, nabilone, may reduce nightmares associated with PTSD, improving quality of sleep and reducing anxiety in certain patients. Nabilone may also improve sleep among patients with chronic pain by reducing pain and discomfort. 

The Medical Cannabis Clinics’ team is dedicated to raising awareness about how medical cannabis can help with a range of psychiatric conditions, including insomnia. We offer personalised treatment plans and private care for patients through online video link consultations with our expert specialist doctors, who will guide you through the treatment options available from the clinic.

At The Medical Cannabis Clinics, your prescription can be tailored to suit your individual circumstances and needs, with ongoing support and adjustments made as necessary. Appointments start from just £70. Book a private consultation today and one of our expert specialist doctors will be able to offer you targeted advice and treatment plans, unique to your needs and symptoms.

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