DEC 04, 2019 2:09 PM PST

Is Cannabis Helping America Sleep?

WRITTEN BY: Julia Travers

Researchers find cannabis used as a sleep-aid in Colorado.

We all instinctively know the value of a good night's sleep, and insufficient sleep has been shown to increase our risk for various health issues. Unfortunately, many people struggle with lack of rest and sleep disturbances. In 2014, about 35 percent of American adults experienced short sleep durations. Between 50 and 70 million U.S. adults have a sleep disorder of some kind.

A recent study found the presence of cannabis dispensaries in Colorado correlated with a reduction in over-the-counter (OTC) sleep aid purchases, suggesting people trade out these drugs for marijuana use at night. The study was conducted between December of 2013 and 2014.

Using data from grocery store scanners and accounting for “store-level demand shifts in OTC medication markets and seasonality,” researchers determined cannabis access was having a statistically significant effect on sleep-aid sales, a study abstract states. Cannabis dispensary access was defined in the study by store existence, count and sale levels.

“Colorado county-level data show OTC sleep aid sales decline with recreational cannabis access, especially for diphenhydramine and doxylamine,” the authors from the University of New Mexico and California Polytechnic State University state. Benadryl is an example of diphenhydramine and Unisom is a doxylamine-based sleep aid. Herbal supplements like melatonin were not included in this study.

Compared to the overall OTC market, sleep aid market shares were growing before recreational cannabis became available. The authors discovered that this trend reversed when dispensaries opened. And, it was more evident as more dispensaries entered a county and when cannabis sales rose within a county. Multiple studies have also uncovered an association between cannabis availability and a reduction in the use of some types of prescription meds, like opioids and benzodiazepines.

“Investigations designed to measure the relative effectiveness and side effect profiles of conventional OTC sleep aids and cannabis-based products are urgently needed to improve treatment of sleep disturbances while minimizing potentially serious negative side effects,” the abstract concludes.

“Adult-Use Cannabis Access Associated with Decreased Sales of OTC Sleep Aids” was published in December 2019 in Complimentary Therapies in Medicine.


Article sources:

Science Direct

NORML

 

 
About the Author
  • Julia Travers is a writer, artist and teacher. She frequently covers science, tech, conservation and the arts. She enjoys solutions journalism. Find more of her work at jtravers.journoportfolio.com.
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