The occasional sleepless night is normal. Most people go through periods of poor sleep at some point in their lives. But some folks experience sleep disorders that negatively affect their health and well-being. And sleep apnea is one of the most common of these disorders.
Unlike insomnia, where a person is unable to sleep, a person who has sleep apnea has a hard time breathing while asleep. As you can imagine, this not only affects their quality of sleep, causing them to be fatigued the next day, but it also increases their risk of high blood pressure and heart problems if left untreated.
Several interventions to help improve sleep apnea that are commonly prescribed include:
- Breathing devices like continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machines
- Lifestyle improvements like losing weight
The typical interventions may not work for everyone, though. And people may find it hard to stick with these treatments. For example, researchers estimate that only just over 34% of people prescribed to sleep with their CPAP machines nightly actually do so.
Over the past few years, there’s been much debate in the medical community as to how cannabis could help with sleep apnea. While there’s still much more research to do, several studies have shown promising results that particular marijuana cannabinoids can ease sleep apnea symptoms.
Who’s Afflicted With Sleep Apnea?
The literal meaning of apnea is “without breath.” Approximately 5.4 million Canadians suffer from sleep disorders and are at risk for obstructive sleep apnea (OSA).
Pauses in breathing vary from person to person. However, this can last from a few seconds to minutes at most. To make things worse, these pauses can occur more than 30 times an hour with normal breathing then resuming with a choking or snorting sound.
Sleep apnea mostly strikes people who:
- Have hypertension
- Are obese
- Drink and smoke frequently
- Have a family history of OSA
How Can Cannabis Help With Sleep Apnea?
If you’ve tried cannabis previously, you may have also experienced improved quality of sleep. Certain marijuana strains high in tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) have been shown to increase the consumer’s amount of deep sleep compared with non-cannabis consumers.
This deeper quality of sleep means that you’re less likely to wake from disruptions and that you’ll generally be able to get back to sleep quicker if you do wake.
The anti-anxiety effects associated with different types of cannabis also provide psychological benefits to improving quality of sleep. They do this by reducing worry about having a bad night's sleep, and subsequently sleeping poorly because of the worry.
But THC also seems to treat the root of the sleep apnea problem: the brain. In a recent joint study out of Chicago, a synthetic version of THC appeared to improve the messages from the brain to the upper airway muscles, improving breathing during sleep.
Participants were broken up into three groups:
- One group, which received a low dose of synthetic THC nightly
- Another, which got a high dose of synthetic THC
- A third, which was given a placebo
At the end of the trial, the group, which received the highest doses of the THC drug (10 mg a night), reported improved sleep and fewer incidences of shallow breathing and breathing stoppages.
So, now we understand what sleep apnea is and how cannabis may be able to help reduce the symptoms of this disorder. Let’s take a look at which strains may work the best to relieve symptoms of sleep apnea.
1. Blackberry Kush’s High THC Content Can Help Ease Sleep Apnea
Blackberry Kush is one of the most effective strains when it comes to dealing with sleep apnea. This is a hybrid strain, but leans more towards typical indica properties.
Blackberry Kush is very potent as it contains 20% THC, so consumers will feel psychoactive effects along with a sedating, full-body high. It’s bound to relax you and help you ease into sleep in no time. It also has anti-inflammatory properties, perfect for helping relax and calm muscles and airways.
2. Indica-Dominant OG Kush Will Quiet Your Mind Enough to Help You Fall Asleep
OG Kush is a hybrid strain that’s 90% indica and 10% sativa. If you get anxious about whether you’ll get a good night’s sleep, then look no further than OG Kush as it will let you relax and chill out enough to fall asleep comfortably.
This strain is also high in THC, sometimes clocking in at around 26%. So, it has plenty of the cannabinoid researchers think may help improve sleep apnea from the inside out.
3. Grape Ape Relaxes Muscles, Which Could Help Keep Airways Open at Night
Grape Ape is one of the most popular strains used to deal with a variety of health conditions including chronic pain, arthritis, migraines and sleep apnea, too. It’ll relax your muscles, which will help keep airways open and put you in deep sleep, so you’ll feel truly rested come morning.
4. Northern Lights Helps You Sleep & Boosts Your Mood
Then there’s Northern Lights, which is one of the oldest cannabis strains around. A descendant of the Afghani strain, its THC levels can reach 26%, so consumers will feel a sometimes strong-hitting psychoactive high.
But the high from Northern Lights is generally relaxing and uplifting. It will help you sleep and can also improve mood if the lack of quality zzz’s due to sleep apnea is getting you down.
5. Granddaddy Purple Calms & Relaxes You Into Deep Sleep
Granddaddy Purple is a cross between Big Bud and Purple Urkle. It’s a pure California 100% indica strain that’ll give you a strong sense of relaxation. It soothes your mind and body, and imparts a euphoric feeling of relaxing bliss.
Sleep apnea sufferers can rely on Granddaddy Purple for a good dose of THC, and a way to relax and ease tired muscles.
Hopefully, these five cannabis strains, along with a healthy lifestyle, will help you ease the symptoms of sleep apnea. Once your sleep apnea is under control, there’s no doubt that you’re going to be more productive during the day, you’ll also be happier and healthier, too.