Marijuana For Sleep Apnea


Sleep apnea is a medical condition where one breathes in irregular patterns during their sleep1. This is usually as a result of the throat muscles relaxing or the brain’s failure to send proper signals to the muscles that control breathing. When caused by the throat muscles, the condition is called obstructive sleep apnea. Central sleep apnea is when the brain plays a part in the patient’s irregular breathing cycle. Most people living with this disease are usually fatigued even after a full night’s sleep. They are also likely to snore very loudly. Other symptoms include choking, gasping or snorting during sleep, insomnia, forgetfulness, moodiness, and morning headaches. People with this disease may also experience fitful sleep and can feel out of breath when they wake up. The disease could be the gateway to other conditions such as hypertension or stroke.

Conventional treatments for sleep apnea

Commonly, patients are usually tasked with reducing the symptoms of the disease themselves. They can cope better with sleep apnea by taking on lifestyle changes such as losing weight and maintaining regular sleep hours. Doctors also advise them to quit smoking, alcohol and high levels of caffeine intake within two hours of bedtime. Throat exercises and sleeping on the side have also been shown to reduce disease symptoms.

If the condition’s effects are excessive, the doctor may suggest surgery. The operation takes place in the mouth and throat and is called maxillomandibular advancement (MMA). This procedure has low risks and has seen a 95 percent success rate on patients.

How does cannabis treat sleep apnea?

Although the studies on marijuana’s effects on sleep apnea are few, some have reported successful results.

A 2002 study conducted at the University of Illinois investigated the effects of cannabinoids on mice. Specifically, they did research on THC and oleamide. Their results showed that both cannabinoids were effective in stabilizing the breathing patterns in the mice throughout their sleep cycle. The effects of THC and oleamide reduced the apnea index during the NREM stage by 42 percent. The apnea index in the REM stage decreased by 58 percent. In the investigations, the researchers found that these reductions were dose-dependent. That means the mice would have received more relief from sleep apnea symptoms through higher doses of cannabis.

In 2013, the first human trial of medical marijuana’s effects was conducted by Dr. David Carley. His research was exclusively on the effect of dronabinol (THC) on sleep apnea. In his study, 17 patients living with sleep apnea were administered with 2.5, 5 and 10 mg doses of THC before going to sleep. The dosages were administered over a period of three weeks. Through the medication, sleep apnea indexes were reduced to 32 percent . The scientists who published the findings also noted that both patients suffering from mild or moderate cases of sleep apnea could find relief through the use of cannabinoids. This study was also dose-dependent.

Currently, dronabinol is available on the market as a registered medication for the treatment of nausea and vomiting as a result of chemotherapy. Through the results above, it has also been concluded that the medicine is effective for sleep apnea.

Always consult your doctor before beginning treatment through medical marijuana. Visit us for more information on strain options.