If there was one thing that most people would assume humans are at least universally skilled at, it would be breathing. This essential, literally life giving quality of human existence is something that we all do quite literally all the time.
However, despite how easy it should be, some people struggle with breathing when they sleep. This is commonly known as sleep apnea, and can actually be a really serious medical condition. What’s worse, there aren’t really many treatment options available for sufferers of sleep apnea.
So, how does CBD and sleep apnea work together, and what can you do to try and treat your condition?
What Is Sleep Apnea?
Sleep apnea is a medical condition wherein your breathing almost randomly stops and starts repeatedly while you sleep. While there are a variety of different types, the most common is obstructive sleep apnea, wherein your breathing pathways become obstructed during sleep.
While this might not sound super problematic, as you are asleep and thus shouldn’t notice, it can actually be pretty dangerous. You can suffer various problems due to not breathing adequately during your sleep, meaning that your body does not get enough oxygen.
Furthermore, it can actually seriously disrupt your healthy sleep routine. Many people find themselves waking up in the middle of the night and struggling with figuring out what woke them up. Maybe even worse are the consequences for your partner, as sleep apnea can induce horrendous snoring.
More fundamentally, sleep apnea can cause severe ramifications for your health throughout your day as well. This is because sleep apnea can result in you missing out on healthy sleep, meaning that you might end up hurting yourself or falling asleep without warning during the day.
So, what are the specific symptoms of sleep apnea? How will you know what to expect if you begin to suffer from this severe condition?
Sleep Apnea Symptoms
For starters, one of the most obvious signs of sleep apnea is that you find yourself waking up without warning. You might find yourself having a super dry throat on waking up, seemingly without reason.
This happens due to the fact that your airways try and open wider due to your blockages, meaning you end up sleeping with your mouth open. This dries your mouth out horrendously, which can leave you gasping and confused in the middle of the night.
You might also find yourself massively tired during the day, with your muscles and throat sore and painful. This can set on during driving, or when trying to do anything requiring any kind of serious effort.
Furthermore, you might end up with prominent headaches, as well as general mind fogginess and a lack of mental clarity.
Essentially, signs of sleep apnea are basically the same as any other sleep condition. This is what makes it so difficult to correctly realize that you are suffering from it, as it matches so many different situations.
But what about more specific definitions of sleep apnea? What are the different types of sleep apnea?
Types of Sleep Apnea
There are two primary types of sleep apnea: Obstructive sleep apnea and central sleep apnea.
Obstructive sleep apnea is easily the most common type and is typically described as frequent episodes of your breathing being disrupted. This means that the regular breathing pathways in your nose and the back of your throat actively block your efforts to breathe while you sleep.
This results in you getting less oxygen into your body and gives you something called a hypopnea. This is the primary type of sleep apnea that most people think of and is that typical experience of suddenly waking up in the middle of the night, choking and unable to breathe for no reason
This is the one that results in the majority of sleep apnea related sleepiness, as well as prolific snoring sufficient to drive your sleeping partner absolutely mad.
Central sleep apnea, however, is a bit different. While it is still a form of sleep apnea, it is much more severe. This always creates problems with breathing while you sleep, but it’s actually to do with your internal body mechanisms.
Normally, when you sleep, your body takes care of your automatic breathing response due to a series of feedback mechanisms. This all takes place behind the scenes, without requiring conscious effort or much work from the brain.
However, various things can disrupt it and result in adequate breathing control. This means that your breathing might completely shut off for up to thirty seconds at a time. It can occur randomly through your sleep, or in predictable patterns during your entire sleep cycle.
The exact causes of sleep apnea are really not clear, and it can actually be a symptom of broader neurological problems in the body.
Treatment for these kinds of conditions is pretty tricky to adequately provide for, as people experience sleep apnea in different ways and for a variety of reasons.
So what actually causes sleep apnea? Why do some people get it, and others do not?
Causes of Sleep Apnea
While it might sound a bit depressing to be continuously told this, the most common cause of sleep apnea is tied to your weight.
As you get unhealthier, your body struggles with maintaining proper bodily functions. One of the first things you will notice is the development of sleep apnea. This is because all the extra weight and soft tissue across your body can put pressure on your breathing pathways.
When these pathways get blocked, this is when you start to experience an inability to breathe correctly and sleep adequately.
It isn’t just weight, though; it can also be genetically caused. Sleep apnea in children tends to happen as a result of either a predisposed, genetic predilection to the condition, or again as a result of weight or other neurological deformities. This condition can be especially damaging for children, as their bodies are not prepared to deal with the consequences of inadequate breathing.
This disorder, known as pediatric obstructive sleep apnea, is harder to pinpoint, as it isn’t usually related to the child’s weight. It can actually be related to hormonal imbalances as well, including swelling of the tonsils or the adenoids.
The other primary type of sleep apnea, central sleep apnea, can actually be a result of a myriad of neurological conditions, such as Arnold-Chiari malformation.
Ultimately, though, sleep apnea seems to come about almost without warning. While you can undoubtedly watch your weight to try and mitigate the likelihood of developing it, you could also develop it just because of your genetics, or due to any other condition.
So if you do end up developing sleep apnea, what can you do to treat it?
Sleep Apnea Treatment
The primary way of treating sleep apnea is the use of a strange device known as a CPAP. This device, a continuous positive airway pressure, treats sleep apnea by putting constant pressure on your airways. It essentially forces your airways open by pumping fresh air at a gentle pressure.
For those that struggle with more severe forms of sleep apnea, you can actually wear it as a full face mask that pumps constant air pressure into both your mouth and nose, encouraging your airways to remain open no matter what your body wants to do.
The critical thing to remember is that sleep apnea is most certainly a treatable condition. There are a whole host of natural remedies for sleep apnea, though finding the best treatment for the condition is the real challenge.
However, despite the whole host of different treatment options available, there is still frightfully little that works properly. While CPAP machines and other herbal remedies indeed work, they are bulky and irritating.
There are a few other options available that might not be so annoying, such as CBD oil. But how does CBD oil for sleep apnea actually work? Can CBD oil be an effective treatment for this condition?
CBD for Sleep Apnea
Using CBD for sleep apnea is likely something that most people would consider to be a pretty strange idea. However, people have been using cannabinoids (and CBD in particular) to treat sleep problems for generations.
While other treatment options are available, almost all of them are primarily focused on mitigating sleep obstruction and the physical effects. The very best treatment options would be if you could treat the cause of the problem, to begin with.
CBD oil and sleep has always been inextricably linked. Thanks to the myriad ways with which CBD oil works with the body’s health system, CBD oil can help soothe and encourage sleep in a variety of different ways.
For one thing, CBD oil is able to help reduce hypertension, thanks to its effects on the body’s circulatory system. This can help encourage relaxation and general wellbeing during your sleep.
Various studies, such as this study by Shannon S. for the Permanente Journal, have shown that CBD oil is not only useful for helping you get to sleep, but also for overall improving the quality of your sleep.
However, fundamentally speaking, there is as yet insufficient scientific evidence or adequate studies about CBD oil and its effect on sleep apnea. While it can certainly be used to help improve general sleep wellness, we don’t 100% know for sure if it can help treat sleep apnea. There is plenty of anecdotal evidence that points towards CBD oil, but without further research, it is almost impossible to say for sure adequately.
Regardless, if you are struggling with sleep apnea and are looking for a way to treat it, CBD oil could be the answer you are looking for. At the very least, you would get to enjoy its myriad other benefits as well.
Final Thoughts on CBD for Sleep Apnea
CBD for sleep apnea is still, sadly, an unproven fact. While CBD oil does have a variety of incredibly potent and helpful uses, and there is plenty of anecdotal evidence for CBD oil and sleep apnea having some functional interactions, we simply do not know enough yet.
While people will continue to use marijuana to treat sleep apnea and, indeed, CBD oil, we lack the extra years of knowledge that more scientific inquiry would provide.
Until that point, however, sleep apnea will continue to be treated using conventional, if highly irritating, methods. And who knows? Maybe more studies will take place or are already taking place that will demonstrate once and for all that CBD oil is a helpful tool in fighting sleep apnea.