NOV 14, 2023 3:50 PM PST

Cannabis for Better Sleep: A Shift Away from Over-the-Counter and Prescription Medications

A recent study published in Exploration of Medicine examines how cannabis could be replacing prescription sleep aids, either partially or entirely. This study was conducted by two researchers at Washington State University (WSU) and holds the potential to help researchers and the public better understand the short- and long-term benefits of cannabis.

For the study, the researchers conducted a survey-based study with the help of Strainprint®, a medical technology company in Canada, with 1,255 participants who were at least 18 years of age, provided consent to use their data for research purposes, self-reported they experienced sleep issues, along with using cannabis to help with those sleep issues. The total participants were reduced to 1,216 after 39 self-reported that they did not use cannabis to help with their sleep issues.

Some of the findings included 81.8 percent reporting they have completely replaced over-the-counter (OTC) medications or prescription sleeps aid (PSA) with cannabis to alleviate sleep issues, with 53.2 and 60.6 percent reporting past use of PSA and OTC, respectively. Additionally, participants who reported using cannabis in combination with OTC or PSA were 4.4 and 7.9 percent, respectively.

“One of the findings that surprised me was the fact that people are seeking the terpene myrcene in cannabis to assist with sleep,” said Dr. Carrie Cuttler, who is an associate professor of psychology at WSU and second author of the study. “There is some evidence in the scientific literature to support that myrcene may help to promote sleep, so cannabis users seemed to have figured that out on their own.”

The researchers hope this study will help healthcare professionals better understand the benefits of using cannabis as an alternative to OTC and PSA for sleeps issues, and while the study favored using cannabis for sleep, Dr. Cuttler emphasized a strong selection bias for individuals already using cannabis since they deemed it to be beneficial.

What new discoveries will researchers make about how cannabis can be used to treat sleep issues in the coming years and decades? Only time will tell, and this is why we science!

As always, keep doing science & keep looking up!

Sources: Exploration of Medicine, EurekAlert!, WSU Insider

About the Author
Master's (MA/MS/Other)
Laurence Tognetti is a six-year USAF Veteran who earned both a BSc and MSc from the School of Earth and Space Exploration at Arizona State University. Laurence is extremely passionate about outer space and science communication, and is the author of “Outer Solar System Moons: Your Personal 3D Journey”.
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