If you have sleep apnea, it means you’re not getting enough sleep as this disorder continues to disturb you throughout the night. According to the National Sleep Foundation, at least 18 million Americans have sleep apnea. Disturbingly, up to 80% of moderate to severe cases remain undiagnosed. It can potentially lead to all manner of health problems but instead of reaching for prescription medication, perhaps you can choose CBD instead. Keep reading to learn more about sleep apnea, its side effects, the problems with traditional medication, and the CBD solution.
What is Sleep Apnea & How Does It Affect Me?
Sleep apnea is classified as a sleep disorder and it happens when your breathing gets interrupted when you sleep. You could have the condition and not even realize that you stop breathing hundreds of times during the night. It is a scary thought! Even more frightening is the fact that sleep apnea deprives your body and brain of oxygen. The condition falls into two categories:
- Central Sleep Apnea: Although your airway isn’t blocked, your brain doesn’t give your muscles the signal to breathe because of the respiratory control center’s instability.
- Obstructive Sleep Apnea: OSA is the most common form of sleep apnea and is caused by the blockage of your airway. It typically happens when the soft tissue at the back of your throat collapses when you sleep.
As it happens while you’re asleep, it is entirely possible that you won’t know it is happening and you will be unable to understand why you feel so fatigued all the time. The lack of sleep is only one problem that surrounds the condition. Failure to treat sleep apnea could cause serious health issues such as diabetes, depression, headaches, heart failure, heart attacks, and stroke. Sleep apnea also has a deleterious effect on physical and mental performance.
Symptoms of this condition include:
- Sleepiness when driving.
- Lack of energy throughout the day.
- Loud snoring.
- Waking up with a dry or sore throat almost every morning.
- Mood changes and a decreased libido.
- Headaches in the morning.
The following is a list of risk factors:
- Being an overweight male aged 40+.
- Having a large neck (over 16 inches in women and over 17 inches in men).
- Having a small jaw bone, or large tonsils or tongue.
- Nasal obstruction because of sinus issues, allergies, or a deviated septum.
- Gastroesophageal reflux (GERD)
- A family history of sleep apnea.
How is Sleep Apnea Usually Treated?
There are a few lifestyle changes you can make to reduce instances of sleep apnea. You can lose weight if necessary, quit smoking (if applicable), stay away from caffeine and heavy meals a few hours before bed, steer clear of alcohol or sedatives near bedtime, and try to stick to a regular sleep routine.
If you show sleep apnea symptoms, your physician may perform a Sleep Study. Otherwise, patients might have to wear a mask as part of their Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) treatment. The mask is connected to a machine which delivers air continuously into your nose. There are also special dental devices designed to keep the airway open while you sleep.
In rare cases, surgery may be necessary to correct sleep apnea. Although drugs are not the primary treatment for this condition, medications such as Provigil and Nuvigil are prescribed to help patients overcome daytime sleepiness. There is a big price to pay for these drugs with side effects such as anxiety, nausea, insomnia, and upper respiratory tract infection relatively common with prescription medication.
Rather than succumbing to surgery or relying on harmful drugs, you can treat sleep apnea with CBD, an all-natural, non-intoxicating cannabinoid found in the marijuana plant.
How Does CBD Help Sleep Apnea?
Research is ongoing but scientists continue to find evidence that CBD is capable of reducing pain and inflammation in the body. We also know it interacts with a variety of receptors, proteins and other chemicals in the brain. As a result of these interactions, our body and mind experience changes in hormonal and neurotransmitter activity. CBD affects a significant number of the body’s functions which include sleep-wake cycles among other things.
The human body produces cannabinoids naturally as part of the endocannabinoid system (ECS). The ECS is involved in the regulation of physiological processes such as pain perception, cognitive functions, mood, appetite, and much more. CBD interacts with the ECS and its receptors.
What Does the Science Say About CBD?
Most of the research to date involves the effects of the psychoactive compound in cannabis, THC, on sleep apnea. A large clinical trial used a drug called dronabinol, a synthetic version of THC, on 73 adults with moderate or severe sleep apnea. The patients were divided into three groups; one group received a low dose of the drug, a second group took a high dose, and the third group had a placebo. The study found that the patients who took the highest dosage had decreased signs of subjective sleepiness and a reduced level of sleep apnea.
Final Thoughts on CBD and Sleep Apnea
We were unable to uncover any human studies that analyzed the effect of CBD only on sleep apnea. The most important studies related to the effect of cannabis, primarily THC, on patients that suffer from this sleep disorder. The results to date are very positive, and it seems that the impact is dose-dependent. This means the more cannabis you consume, the better the effect when tackling sleep apnea.
It is a terrible shame that a synthetic version of THC, which is nowhere near as effective as the real thing, is allowed to be released while marijuana languishes as a Schedule I drug. As CBD is legal in the majority of states, we expect scientists to eventually reveal data from research on how CBD alone helps sleep apnea.
Until then, we have to rely on anecdotal evidence to show that cannabidiol is an excellent option if you’re suffering from sleep apnea. It won’t cause you to get high, but it will help reduce the effects of your sleep apnea, ensure you get enough sleep, and avoid the long-term health complications associated with the condition.