The short-term use of cannabis extracts has been found to improve sleep quality in patients with insomnia.
Plant-derived cannabis extracts were safe and effective for use in patients with chronic insomnia, according to a small placebo-controlled study.
Researchers assessed the use of a sublingual cannabis extract product (ZTL-101, produced by the Australian-based company Zerila Therapeutics) compared to a placebo in 23 subjects with chronic insomnia.
Extracts contained percentages of plant-derived THC, CBD, and CBN as well as various terpenes.
The placebo contained the same terpenes, but no cannabinoids, extracted from the same cannabis plant, to match ZTL-101 as closely as possible.
Subjects administered between 0.5ml and 1ml of the product, one hour before going to bed for a period of two weeks.
Those consuming the cannabis extracts reported “significantly lower” Insomnia Severity Index (ISI) scores than the placebo controlled group.
Participants receiving the extracts said that they fell asleep faster, slept longer, and experienced improved sleep quality. No serious adverse events were reported.
Authors concluded: “This study has demonstrated that ZTL-101, a novel cannabinoid therapy, is well tolerated and improves insomnia symptoms and sleep quality in individuals with chronic insomnia symptoms.
“These improvements, observed over a two-week dosing period, are encouraging and support further investigation of ZTL-101 for the treatment of insomnia in studies with larger sample sizes.”
World Sleep Day: Hope at last for those suffering chronic insomnia?
On World Sleep Day, Sapphire Medical Clinics, explores medical cannabis for chronic insomnia.
On World Sleep Day, Dr Mark Weatherall of Sapphire Medical Clinics, explores whether medical cannabis could provide some hope for those suffering from chronic insomnia.
World Sleep Day (18th March) is the annual celebration of healthy sleeping patterns and the awareness day for sleep disorders.
It comes amid recognition that struggling to fall asleep or lying awake in the middle of the night is a feeling many Brits know all too well – with up to a third of us suffering from insomnia or sleep related issues at some point in our lives.
And the pandemic has only increased these reports of disturbed sleep, which is not surprising. Whether it’s a side effect of long covid, or the result of on-going anxiety and/or grief we’ve been living with, many of our sleep schedules have been off balance.
It’s widely known that lack of sleep can increase the likelihood of a series of health problems – from short term issues like fatigue and lack of concentration, to chronic issues such as depression or diabetes.
And while you may have felt you’ve tried everything in the book, Neurologist and sleep expert Dr Mark Weatherall at Sapphire Clinics gives his top tips and sheds light on a breakthrough treatment you may not have considered before.
Dr Weatherall says: “There’s usually a journey that people suffering with insomnia go through. In the first instance, we turn to a pharmacist and try over-the-counter medication as a ‘quick fix’. If that doesn’t help, patients usually start taking more notice of their ‘sleep hygiene patterns’ which is a really important and positive step.”
Sleep hygiene refers to anything that helps us unwind and relax ahead of getting our heads down. This includes setting a regular routine like having a warm bath before bed, going to bed at the same time every night, not looking at your phone or a screen two hours before and avoiding caffeine or high sugar foods after 4pm.
“Often people will struggle to fall asleep as they are still wound up from the day, thinking about work, the traffic on the way home, or the kids, so giving yourself an hour or so to wind down before you get into bed will create a sense of calm and tranquillity. Going to bed when our cortisol levels are still high will not result in a restful night and lying awake in our beds often makes insomnia worse as we tend to get more stressed out as we toss and turn in frustration,” Dr Weatherall continues.
“If you have tried the above with no success, it’s then time to visit your GP who can help explore what may be causing the lack of sleep. It’s important to remember that while some people do suffer with insomnia that isn’t caused by anything, insomnia cases can be caused by an underlying health condition – the most common being chronic pain and anxiety and we need to treat that rather than dishing our sleeping pills.”
“There’s many treatment options available to treat these conditions, from different medications to talking therapy but if you’ve tried both of these with no success you may want to consider medical cannabis.”
Medical cannabis was legalised in the UK in 2018, and can only be initiated by a specialist doctor. Family doctors can refer patients to a specialist doctor or patients can self-refer to a specialist clinic such as Sapphire Clinics. Cannabis-based medicinal products (CBMPs) can be started by specialists if licensed treatments have been tried without providing adequate symptom relief.
“A study recently published the clinical outcomes of patients within the UK Medical Cannabis Registry, demonstrating CBMPs to be associated with positive changes following treatment. This included sleep-specific and anxiety outcome data. Furthermore, a recent randomised clinical trial of CBMPs for the treatment of chronic insomnia over a 2-week period demonstrated improvement in insomnia symptoms and sleep-quality and we look forward to seeing further research into this area in the near future.”
For more information on medical cannabis or to enquire about a consultation please visit: www.sapphireclinics.com/
London hotel launches CBD sleep experience
The packages are designed to help guests who may be experiencing sleep issues such as insomnia or jet lag.
The Rosewood Hotel in London has launched two exclusive CBD sleep packages, aimed at delivering complete restoration and renewal.
The hotel has partnered with CBD brands, Votary and Dreem Distillery to offer a CBD-themed stay entitled ‘the alchemy of sleep‘. The packages include CBD treatments such as facials and massages along with yoga. Guest will also receive a sleep box that contains pillow sprays, bed balms and super sleep supplements.
The first package, Sleep Transformation, offers a two-night stay in a Rosewood suite where guests can experience the Votary Antidote Sleep Journey with facials and massages.
The antidote sleep journey is described as a ‘totally immersive and nurturing’ sleep journey for those who may be experiencing insomnia, jet lag or stress. It includes shiatsu, chakra-balancing massage, reflexology, guided breathing and sound therapy. Guests can add on a warm bath infused with oil prior to their treatment along with yoga or pranayama breathing.
The second option, Dreamscape, includes a one-night stay with a selection of Dreem Distillery products as part of the turndown service. The products include bed balm and night drops which may help guests to experience better sleep and soothe any tired muscles.
The packages are part of a series of retreats designed by the hotel for anyone seeking ‘profound change’ in the new year.
Speaking with Cannabis Health, Lorelei Rocher, communications coordinator for the Rosewood Hotel, London, said: “CBD is quite popular now as people want to take care of themselves. More people are researching and looking for ways to get better sleep. Rosewood Hotels have already partnered with Votary and also Dreem Distillery so we have their products in our suites. It was a natural choice for us.
“We chose Votary for the transformative retreat because it is based on CBD massage. For the second retreat, we chose Dream Distillery. It offers a turndown service with CBD products such as a bed balm, from a butler.”
Guests can also take a sleep box away with them as they check out.
Michael Bonsor, managing director at Rosewood London, said: “At a time when our guests are prioritising sleep and wellbeing more than ever, we are delighted to begin the new year with the launch of Alchemy of Sleep Retreats. In partnership with Votary and Dreem Distillery, these immersive experiences offer our guests a unique, experiential stay, combining treatments, activities and amenities. Both Votary and Dreem Distillery are perfectly aligned with Rosewood London’s commitment to enhancing our guests’ state of rest.”
CBD and Sleep
But does it work?
Some studies show CBD may help with improving sleep quality.
Another examined if CBD could help to improve sleep quality while reducing anxiety. The study involved 72 participants, with 47 experiencing anxiety of which a further 25 had poor quality sleep. Each participant was given a daily dose of 25mg of CBD then asked to self-report how they felt afterwards. The researchers recorded that 79.2 per cent recorded reduced anxiety while 66.7 per cent said their sleep had improved after the first month.
Restless legs syndrome: “I would be woken up by my own legs kicking”
Natalie Meredith shares her experience of living with restless legs syndrome and how CBD turned things around.
Natalie Meredith turned to CBD after developing restless leg syndrome (RLS). Speaking with Cannabis Health, she explains how it helped her to fall asleep and feel less anxious.
Restless legs syndrome is a condition of the nervous system that causes an overwhelming irresistible urge to move the legs. It causes a crawling sensation in the feet, calves, thighs and occasionally arms. While it can happen during the day, it often gets worse at night preventing sleep.
It is not known what causes RSL but doctors suspect it may be associated with how the body processes dopamine. Dopamine is a chemical produced in the brain that is associated with muscle movement. It is also thought to be potentially caused by kidney issues or low iron levels.
Natalie left Australia to move to England before noticing she was experiencing bursts of energy in her legs. She is not a huge fan of going to her GP because of her previous experiences with misdiagnoses and medication so tried to cope as best she could.
Natalie said: “I would try to go to sleep but I would get this energy in my legs. I tried to ignore it but it would get worse until I couldn’t sleep or rest. I couldn’t watch anything on my laptop without being really disturbed. It was frustrating because I couldn’t sleep. I would try so many things before I researched what was happening.”
She added: “I tried drinking wine every night to put me to sleep. I don’t use cannabis so that wasn’t an option for me. I finally looked it up on the NHS website and that’s what told me exactly what it was. I had every symptom and I found out I had it worse than most people.”
Natalie was not just experiencing restless leg syndrome (RLS) at night when she was trying to sleep but also when she was trying to go about her daily life. She would experience it on public transport or planes when travelling.
However, the lack of sleep was one of the more difficult symptoms she experienced.
“I would not have any sleep or a minimal amount then I would go to bed that night knowing that I am not going to get any rest. It weighed on my mental health so I was irritated. I was mad at everything but nothing could fix it. I was exhausted and my focus was down so I couldn’t concentrate on work or the littlest thing would set me off.”
She added: “It led me to go out of my way to find things to do at night so I wasn’t just sitting there. Oddly enough, even though I was irritable, I started socialising and drinking more. That lifestyle just continued and it was really bad. I’m not a typically big drinker yet this was causing me to have wine every night. Not only that but sleep deprivation gives me sleep paralysis so it was a horrible vicious cycle.”
Sleep paralysis is when a person cannot move or speak as they are waking up or falling asleep. It can be distressing or cause anxiety.
Natalie continued: “My mind was going to sleep then I would be woken up by my own legs kicking. I didn’t understand why I was doing this to myself. There was no outside thing causing this that wasn’t letting me sleep. It was almost like self-sabotage.”
Natalie began to research alternative methods to see if there was any way she could control her symptoms as her GP’s suggested more pharmaceutical options as dopamine replacements.
She was very aware that this was not sustainable as the available treatments left her unable to function.
She explained: “There is ongoing research into what causes restless leg syndrome but so far they have no confirmation. They think it may be how dopamine gets distributed throughout the body. So those with RLS are missing something or it goes elsewhere or doesn’t do its job properly.”
Restless leg syndrome and CBD
As Natalie was aware of the growing cannabis and CBD movement, she decided that she had nothing to lose.
“I tried CBD and it worked so quickly. I got a CBD vape which was quite strong with different terpenes and I can’t explain the relief that I had. I couldn’t believe this had never been suggested before and I literally had to guess. The vape kicks in quickly so I don’t have to sit there and wait for half an hour but it also doesn’t last long.”
Natalie kept increasing the strength of the vape as she needed faster results and to fall asleep more easily. However, she started to notice different things in her life improving such as her anxiety levels. As well as her anxiety, she noticed that her emotions were more balanced along with her temper. She felt it gave her the space to process the emotions rather than being reactionary.
Although Natalie noticed that the CBD she was taking had a very definite effect on her RLS. It was the anxiety relief she noticed that tipped her into becoming a business owner. As an Australian woman, during COVID, with a family on the other side of the world, CBD provided her relief from anxiety especially as she lived alone.
“It started to help with my anxiety. If I feel anxious or fearful and I’m on my own then my family is in the opposite timezone. If I was having an anxious day or teetering on the edge of a panic attack and I want to call my parents then its 4am where they are. I couldn’t do that so I would need to deal with it by myself.”
Developing a CBD brand
Natalie began to research how she could develop her own CBD brand which she named Empwr Botanics. She began with oils but plans to branch out into skincare in 2022 starting with bath salts. She is aware of the effect that skin problems can have on mental health.
“I’m not a fan of make-up and don’t wear it if I can get away with it. If you use CBD as oil and are naturally less stressed that shows in your skin. It’s the first place you see it.”
When Natalie announced to her family that she was moving into the CBD industry, there was a difference in opinion. While she was surprised at how receptive they were, she chose her words carefully.
“My dad was very receptive towards it. He is very abreast of what is happening in the world and he could see what was happening in the US with legalisation. CBD was available everywhere so he said go for it. He could see what a massive industry it would be.”
She added: “My mum is Jamaican but she didn’t want to know about it at first. It was only after she saw an article in the newspaper one day that mentioned how CBD helps anxiety that she got really excited.”
Natalie’s brother, a footballer, was already interested in CBD for muscle recovery following training or matches.
“My older brother is a footballer and when I told him, he started taking it more regularly. He swears by it for inflammation. He is now 34 which means he doesn’t recover the same way. Another brother has arthritis and he uses it for pain. It’s cool to see everyone you are connected to who has some form of issue using it and it just works.”
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