Key Points:

  • Sleep apnoea is a common sleep disorder that occurs when a person repeatedly stops and starts breathing during sleep. If left untreated, it can contribute to the risk of developing a number of health issues, including hypertension, heart failure or stroke over time.
  • Medical cannabis is believed to show promise as a sleep aid, enriching a person’s ability to cope with sleep disorders like sleep apnoea. The naturally relaxing effects associated with various types of the plant are thought to help with sleep improvement.
  • There are quite a few different cannabis strains prescribed by health professionals for treating common symptoms of sleep apnoea, such as Indica, Sativa and Hybrid. It is extremely important to consult with a cannabis specialist about your sleep problems before you consider medical cannabis strains as a remedy. 

What Is Sleep Apnoea? 

Sleep apnoea is a sleep problem characterised by abnormal breathing patterns during sleep. When the muscles that hold the soft tissues in the back of your throat suddenly relax while you sleep, your airway becomes narrowed, causing your breathing to stop momentarily.  

People of all genders and age groups may encounter sleep apnoea at some point in their lifetime, but reports suggest that symptoms are often experienced by middle-aged and elderly men who are overweight. Today, almost 4 million adults in the UK suffer from moderate or severe symptoms of this sleeping disorder. What’s more alarming is that about 85% remain undiagnosed and, therefore, untreated. 

What happens when symptoms become severe and occur more often? Your heart rate tends to slow down when your body is deprived of oxygen due to frequent interruptions in breathing. In some cases, you may find yourself jerking awake after a certain period of not breathing, as it’s your body’s instinctive way of saving itself from paused breathing during sleep. These involuntary reflexes, known as “hypnic jerks”, may also cause your heart rate to speed up and your blood pressure to rise. So when left untreated, severe sleep apnoea symptoms can result in serious heart problems in the long run.

Symptoms of sleep apnoea mostly occur while you are asleep. And for that reason, you may never notice them at all, making it hard to tell whether you have this syndrome or not. To confirm that, it will help to have someone stay beside you during sleep and watch for the following symptoms:

  • Loud snoring
  • Episodes of interrupted breathing 
  • Gasping for air or choking
  • Frequent awakenings
  • Excessive sweating 

How To Treat Sleep Apnoea

Traditional sleep therapies and lifestyle changes, such as getting into fitness and avoiding too much alcohol, are often the first-line treatments for patients with mild symptoms of sleep apnoea. In fact, losing just about 10% of weight can help reduce periods of apneic events during sleep. 

In worse cases of sleep apnoea, sleep doctors typically recommend new interventions that may help address the condition. These include various surgical procedures and breathing devices like CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) machines. Basically, a CPAP device uses a mask that is worn over the nose and mouth to deliver a stream of oxygenated air into the airways, allowing the patient to breathe in a fairly steady manner. Not everyone, however, may find it easy to go through and get used to such treatments, causing some patients to seek alternative medicines. 

Just in the nick of time, medical cannabis has gained popularity in the health and wellness arena as a natural remedy for sleep apnoea. Although there’s still much more to figure out when it comes to its long-term effects on the body, several reports have shown intriguing results on the potential ability of cannabis compounds to improve sleep and ease common sleep problems like sleep apnoea.

The Best Cannabis Strains For Sleep 

Medical cannabis is an umbrella term for all cannabis-infused products prescribed for treating or managing different health situations, including chronic pain, anxiety and inflammation. There are also reports suggesting that medical cannabis could be a potentially beneficial sleep aid due to its active compounds, Cannabidiol (CBD) and Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), which may help improve sleep in their own individual ways. 

CBD is believed to offer relaxing properties to the body when taken in correct and sensible doses. Much of this premise boils down to its unique ability to influence the endocannabinoid system (ESC), a regulatory network of cannabinoid receptors that help stabilise many of our most important physiological activities, such as sleeping and emotional processing. THC, on the other hand, is thought to bind with the cannabinoid receptors in the brain, hence why there has been much debate surrounding its mind-altering effects. Even so, many studies argue that taking moderate amounts of THC (including in the form of cannabis) might influence the brain’s response to the upper airway muscles, promoting an enhanced breathing pattern during sleep.

There are three popular cannabis strains that can be used to address sleep problems:

  • Sativa: Typically holds higher amounts of THC than CBD, Sativa is known to provide some energising effects that may help ease stress. While stress does not contribute directly to the development of sleep apnea, too much tension in the body can exacerbate some of its symptoms.
  • Indica: Unlike Sativa, Indica is often abundant in CBD. That explains why it deems to promote varying degrees of calm and sedation, which usually inspires the body to fall and stay asleep more easily.
  • Hybrid: This strain has mixed properties of Indica and Sativa. Some people look for cannabis strains that allow them to experience balanced effects that can be both calming and uplifting. This has inspired many producers to develop hybrid cannabis strains and create a more desirable product.

If you’re considering trying CBD for sleep apnoea and other sleep-related issues, we recommend speaking to a doctor and obtaining a prescription for medical cannabis to ensure that you can obtain and use this substance without breaking the law in the UK.

Closing Thoughts

If you are experiencing frequent episodes of sleep apnoea, it’s time to start your journey to more restful nights of sleep TODAY! Let our sleep experts at The Medical Cannabis Clinics help you examine your symptoms and discuss the necessary treatments you may need. We provide professional, convenient and personalised treatment plans with the right form and dose of medical cannabis tailored to your health condition and personal requirements. 

Frequently-Asked Questions (FAQs)

Can you put CBD oil in a CPAP machine?

CBD has shown promise as a natural sleep aid that might just help address some common symptoms of sleep apnoea, but more studies must be performed before we can confirm this. We do not recommend using CBD oil in a CPAP device, but it’s best to sit with one of our medical cannabis specialists and discuss whether CBD is the best mode of treatment for you.

Does CBD help the respiratory system?

Studies on CBD’s potential effects on the lungs are still preliminary. However, some reports have already shown promising results on how it may help to promote relaxation, which can be valuable in addressing shortness of breath.

Can THC help with sleep apnea?

According to one anecdotal report, taking moderate amounts of THC before bed has shown to outperform a placebo effect in improving symptoms of sleep apnoea. Despite its promising benefits on sleep, THC must be used with caution as the psychoactive compound is not without its downsides.

Resources

https://www.sleepfoundation.org/sleep-apnea/weight-loss-and-sleep-apnea
https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/sleep-apnoea/
https://www.sleepfoundation.org/sleep-apnea/weight-loss-and-sleep-apnea
https://sleep-apnoea-trust.org/research/