Sleep disorders affect a large percentage of the global population. Therefore, many people are affected by at least one form of sleep-related disorder. According to statistics provided by the Parliament of Australia, it is estimated that 1 in 5 Australians suffer from at least one major sleep condition.
The Sleep Disorders Landscape
While most of us are familiar with a bad night’s sleep, for millions of people worldwide, a lousy night’s sleep has become expected due to various sleep disorders. The most common sleep disorders diagnosed globally include but are not limited to insomnia, sleep apnea, Restless Legs Syndrome, narcolepsy, circadian rhythm disorder, and idiopathic hypersomnia. The underlying cause of sleep disorders can drastically vary from patient to patient. In general, sleep disorders are typically caused by underlying physical, mental, or environmental issues.
Signs of Sleep Disorders
Each sleep disorder comes with its own unique set of symptoms and complications. However, some of the most common signs of sleep disorders experienced by patients include the following:
- • Daytime fatigue
- • Irritability
- • Lack of concentration
- • Difficulty staying or falling asleep
- • Depression
- • Weight gain
- • Impaired performance at work or school
- • Strong urge to nap during the day
- • Unusual breathing and/or movement patterns while sleeping
When Should You Seek Help for Sleep Disorders?
If you regularly experience issues falling or staying asleep or feel extremely fatigued after receiving a solid 7 hours or more of sleep on a regular basis, it is vital that you seek out help. Additionally, if your lack of ability to sleep begins to affect your ability to perform your regular day-to-day activities, it is time to see a medical professional. Sleep disorders, when left undiagnosed and untreated, can result in a plethora of complications and may be a sign of a more severe underlying medical condition.
How Are Sleep Disorders Diagnosed?
While some sleep disorders can be diagnosed through a patient/doctor conversation or a simple overnight sleep study at home, other more severe cases may require evaluation in a sleep laboratory for proper diagnosis. Some of the tests commonly performed in order to diagnose sleep disorders include polysomnography (PSG), Multiple Sleep Latency Tests (MSLTs), and electroencephalograms (EEGs).
The Endocannabinoid System & Sleep Disorders
Plant therapies are believed to help regulate the body’s endocannabinoid system. This, in return, may result in viable treatment options for a plethora of diseases, including various sleep disorders. In a study published in 2020 titled “Cannabinoids, Endocannabinoids, and Sleep,” researchers concluded that the impact of cannabinoid-based products on sleep disorders provides great hope for plant-based therapies for sleep issues.
“It is becoming increasingly evident that endocannabinoids play a prominent role in sleep and sleep neurophysiology, and cannabinoid drugs alter these processes.” Researchers in the study pointed out that there is a distinct overlap between the body’s endocannabinoid system and sleep-wake circuitry, as well as a clear need for extensive research in this vital area.
Traditional Treatments for Sleep Disorders
Seeing how many sleep disorders are caused by an underlying mental or physical condition, it is essential that treatment is provided to address those ailments. Additionally, some of the most common treatments for sleep disorders include pharmaceutical and over-the-counter sleep aids, natural melatonin supplements, breathing devices (in the case of sleep apnea), lifestyle adjustments, and diet changes.
Plant Therapies for Sleep Disorders – Clinical Trial Synopsis
The stories of plant therapies providing relief from a wide variety of different sleep disorders are abundant on the internet today as more places have embraced these natural therapies. Additionally, the research we have available to date is also quite promising regarding plant therapies and sleep conditions. Currently, there are several ongoing trials in Australia researching the efficiency of plant therapies for the treatment of sleep disorders.
Swinburne University is conducting an interventional, randomised, placebo-controlled pilot trial with eligible patients with insomnia using medicinal cannabis treatments. Participants are eligible for the study if they are between the ages of 18 and 45, and have an Insomnia Severity Index (ISI) score of 15 or more, have self-reported difficulties falling or staying asleep, are dissatisfied with their current sleep patterns, or experience sleep issues that interfere with their daily lives. Learn more about this registered trial here.
To see if you are eligible for plant-based therapies, you can book a telehealth appointment with one of our specialist doctors through Cannatrek Access.