Ah, snoring – the gurgling, brash, chortling noises that are music to no one’s ears! It comes in all calibers – from the subtle snoring that’s difficult to hear to the type that sounds like a freight train is barreling through your living room. For some people, it’s an obvious problem. For others, they don’t even know that they snore (after all, they sleep through every episode).
There are signs, however, that something is affecting your slumber. And they include:
- Sleepiness during the day
- Headaches when you awake in the morning
- Problems concentrating
- Gasping or choking for air
- Tossing and turning during sleep
- A sore throat
Of course, one of the most obvious signs is hearing that you snore from others. If your spouse starts fantasizing about your death, you probably snore...loudly.
The Causes of Snoring
Snoring has a variety of causes – some people don’t snore unless they’re congested with a cold. Others only snore (or snore much worse) when they’ve consumed alcohol. Those with allergies, who smoke, who are overweight, and who use muscle relaxants (especially sedatives) are more likely to snore than others.
Sleep apnea is sometimes the underlying factor, but only a percentage of people who snore have been diagnosed with apnea. This is a disorder that causes breathing pauses while you sleep. Those affected may stop breathing hundreds of time each night.
Obstructive sleep apnea is the most common (and the one often linked to snoring). This is when some sort of obstruction causes the pauses in breathing. It’s more common in people who are overweight with large neck circumferences.
While snoring itself isn’t dangerous, if Obstructive Sleep Apnea is the cause, health implications are common. This can cause direct harm (by increasing, for example, the risk of cardiovascular disease) and indirect harm (by making you tired and increasing the odds of a workplace accident, for instance).
When Obstructive Sleep Apnea is the cause, people are instructed to lose weight (if indicated), quit smoking, and refrain from using alcohol or sleeping pills. Getting into a consistent sleep routine and avoiding caffeine can help too. So can regular exercise. CPAP machines are often used in extreme cases – these provide positive airways throughout the night. Still, even when the machines are prescribed, most people have a hard time sticking with them – it can be annoying to sleep with a mask on. Unless you’re Darth Vader. Then you’re just too bad ass to care.
Other people snore for reasons that have nothing to do with sleep apnea. It doesn’t always bother them (no everyone experiences lethargy or restlessness from a night of snoring), but it can bother others. And so they look for a solution.
Marijuana is where they may find one.
Cannabis and Snoring
Cannabis, particularly indicas, are well known for being conducive to a good snooze. But whether or not marijuana can help those who snore is something that hasn’t been widely studied.
Some research does exist – a 2002 study from the University of Illinois looked into how THC and oleamide (two of the cannabinoids in cannabis) impacted respiratory patterns in mice. They found that the chemicals were able to stabilize respiration during the full sleep cycle. This was a dose dependent finding – the more of these cannabinoids given, the more breathing stabilized.
Still, this was mice and curing mice of sleep apnea isn’t high on anyone’s list. So, the study’s lead researcher conducted a similar trial in humans. The study was small (only seventeen people), but it did distribute a reduction in sleep apnea symptoms – the overall decrease was 32%. Just like with the mice, the human trial also found a dose dependency: those given higher levels of THC (10 mgs versus 5 mgs and 2.5 mgs) experienced the greatest benefit.
The medication used in the above study is Dronabinol, a cannabis medication that is marketed for vomiting and nausea in patients going through cancer treatment. Additionally, it has been used to prime that appetite in those affected by AIDS. If further research is conducted, it may someday be marketed as a sleep medication.