Insomnia is one of the most underestimated, and overlooked health problems that people shrug off. But with over 150 million people encountering this problem, might it be a bigger challenge than many believe it to be?
In fact, an estimated $63 billion USD is lost in work performance annually due to insomnia.
With both acute and chronic insomnia caused by major life stressors, it has become one of the hardest conditions to deal with. Depression, anxiety, grieving, job loss, and medications can all contribute to lack of sleep. The result? Fatigue, loss of interest, declined productivity, migraine, frequent mood swings and a weakened immune system.
The American Sleep Association has reported that 50 to 70 million adults in the US alone suffer from the inability to sleep. About 30 percent of the US adult population is foreseen to suffer from lack of sleep at some point in their lives.
While treatments such as behavioral therapy, prescription drugs, herbal teas, and exercises are available, they might not always work. This has led many people to turn to cannabis to help them sleep.
In fact, THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), a compound found in cannabis, is not just famous for euphoric effects. A degradation of THC leads to it becoming a sedative known as cannabinol (CBN).
This CBN compound is known to be five times more effective than THC itself at helping you get a good night’s rest.
To understand how the CBN compound helps people fight insomnia directly, we spoke with Lydia.
Lydia is working as a belly dancer and has practiced tai-chi along with other internal martial arts for over 20 years. Despite her enthusiasm for kinesthetics, Lydia has been struggling with chronic health issues for the past 16 years. She believes that these illnesses are likely caused by ongoing developmental trauma in her youth.
''I've also been diagnosed with dysautonomia, fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome, osteoarthritis, mast cell activation syndrome (a very allergic type of condition), IBS, GERD, hypothyroidism, headaches including migraine, occipital neuralgia, cluster and idiopathic intracranial hypertension, recurrent UTI's and Interstitial Cystitis, depression, anxiety and complex PTSD.''
Lydia explained to us what convinced her to use cannabis:
''Chronic Insomnia and pain were the main reasons I wanted to try it. However, it wasn't those things that lead me to it initially. I had been having Parkinson's-like tics and tremors either as a medication side effect or interaction between meds, except the prescribing doctor didn't believe it was the medication causing the symptoms.
During that time, a friend sent me the link to CNN's Weed. Up to that point, I was pretty anti-drug myself. I figured if it had been made illegal in the past there must have been a good reason.
That was the first thing that made me realize that I didn't have to smoke it which is important to me having asthma. It also helped me realize I don't necessarily need to get high either and those two things began to help change my opinion and start thinking, ‘maybe this really could work for me.’”
Lydia's health has been ever evolving with a number of alarming symptoms and drawbacks.
When asked about how prescription medicine has impacted her health, Lydia told us how she struggled getting a good night's sleep.
'''Most of my illnesses have had little success with prescription drugs but the insomnia was the most obvious and worst as I'd get tolerant to every prescription sleep med I tried in two weeks. I kept having to rotate sleep meds. I still get an occasional poor night's sleep.
I have PTSD and I think that affects it but now a poor night's sleep means I may have only slept 6 hours and need to make up the rest by napping later as I feel best getting at least 8 but that's a huge improvement from before where when I couldn't sleep prior to cannabis that meant I could be awake as long as 48 hours straight.''
We were stunned as to how she was able to handle all of the complications she has been braving for decades.We then asked if she could tell us how CBD has helped her turn her life around.
''The hypothyroidism and bladder problems have vanished entirely...
The improvements in my sleep finally gave me enough energy to start exercising regularly rather than sporadically as it was often hard to find energy when insomnia would keep me awake for 24 to 48 hours. This has further improved my health, pain levels and my overall outlook is a lot more positive now.''
''My emotional issues still hang around but don't cause problems quite as often as they used to and overall I'm a lot happier than I used to be. Cannabis' impact on my life has been rather profound. It has improved my cognitive function a great deal. I had been on 20 prescription medications and I could only get through reading a book and a half per year and I really do like to read but I couldn't concentrate very well. About a year into using cannabis, when I had weaned half of my meds, I read 6 books in four months and have been reading everything I can ever since.''
''Most of these things are remarkably improved. I had no idea cannabis stabilizes mast cells but I learned that after I realized I had finally stopped itching all the time so I went looking for reasons why. There is actually quite a lot of research suggesting cannabis stabilizes mast cells. I was on half a dozen anti-histamines trying to manage the mcas, and this finally stopped the itching well enough I don't need them anymore. Headaches are very infrequent and if I do get one it's mild and short-lived.
This is pretty significant to me because my headaches were so bad I'd lie in the dark and cry. I couldn't deal with light at all. I slept during the day and stayed awake at night because of how irritating the sun was. I was also intolerant to heat but cannabis got me comfortable enough to exercise more regularly again. After a year of sticking with that, I can handle the heat a lot better again.''
Lydia is optimistic as to how cannabis can help her even more to live a healthier life, and gladly shares her story in her published journal here.
Do you have major health issues and has cannabis helped you turn your life around?
Send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org to have your story shared.