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Is Cannabis Taking Over the Sleep Medication Market? Here's What You Need to Know

A lack of sleep can affect memory, alertness, problem-solving and judgment, and could increase the risk of a work-place incident—WebMD notes that sleep deprivation has been a factor in some of the biggest industrial disasters. We know sleep is essential to function properly, and yet, so many of us are unable to visit dreamland without the use of a sleep aid.

Harvard Health reports that “millions of Americans” rely on the use of prescription medication to sleep. But, could cannabis sleep aids offer an alternative to standard over-the-counter medications? According to Forbes, a growing number of individuals feel that they are. The publication notes that Brightfield Group analyst Bethany Gomez has revealed that in older adults (age 45 and over), 31 percent who use cannabis are using it to treat their insomnia-related issues, which the publication notes, makes it “the fourth-most common medical condition this demographic treats with cannabis.”

Medical News Today points out that research involving cannabis’ effect on sleep dates back to the 1970s, but because the drug has not been legal, there are few high-quality studies available.
Legalization is, of course, happening in some states. In recent years, cannabis-infused products have been gaining popularity, with BBC noting that it has become a billion-dollar industry. The publication states that users claim Cannabidiol (or CBD, as it’s more commonly referred to) can help with a number of health issues, including muscle aches and pain, and treatment of disorders such as anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder.

With regards to sleep, there have been several studies conducted, but perhaps the most notable is the research published in the Journal of Psychoactive Drugs (via Science Daily). The study looked at 1,000 individuals who are using legalized marijuana in an American state and found that of the 74 percent using the product to sleep, 84 percent of this group felt that it had helped them. And, interestingly, 83 percent state they were able to reduce their over-the-counter medication and prescription sleep aids.

However, Medical News Today does warn of drawbacks, noting that long-term solutions to sleep problems should involve natural methods and that individuals should consult their doctor about the various options available to them if they wish to use cannabis medicinally. They also state that “much of the current support for cannabis as an aid to sleep is anecdotal,” and thus, more research is required.

[Image via Shutterstock]

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