If your deep sleep sounds like a midnight lawnmower, chances are you barely even notice it. It probably doesn’t consciously bother you all that much. You go to bed and wake up like nothing happened.
Your partner, however, may have a somewhat different opinion…
So, for the sake of your significant other and your own health (we’ll get to that), please read on.
We’ve got some good news for you.
What Is Snoring and Sleep Apnea, Anyway?
Snoring is often a manifestation of a condition known as sleep apnea, in which breathing becomes interrupted or even completely stops during sleep. A person may gasp, make disturbing choking sounds, or even completely wake up. This disrupts the sleep cycle, which, in turn, disrupts all the restorative biological processes that occur during sleep. Most of the time a person has no idea they snore at all, oblivious to how much their sleep cycle is actually disturbed.
There are two kinds of sleep apnea, central, which has a neurological basis, and obstructive. Obstructive apnea is the kind we are concerned with here. This is where snoring comes from.
In obstructive apnea, the soft muscles in the back of the throat become completely relaxed, eventually collapsing and closing off the throat. The suction of the breath attempts to suck in the air, but the throat tissue constrictions the flow, turning the esophagus into some sort of demented whoopee cushion.
Why Does It Matter?
Maybe you don’t have a partner. Or maybe you are blessed with one who sleeps so deeply they don’t mind sleeping with a chainsaw. Why should you care?
Because it’s more than just the sound. Sleep apnea and snoring disrupt the sleep cycle. You may not be conscious of it, but when your breath becomes obstructed, you are bouncing yourself out of the natural deep sleep states that are essential to well-being. This disrupts all the restorative biological processes that occur during sleep.
This can lead to poor concentration, persistent tiredness despite “sleeping” a full night, moodiness, irritability, weight gain, or even more serious complications like cardiovascular problems, stroke, and even heart failure.
It’s not just the noise.
Cannabis to the Rescue!
So where does the green come in?
It’s well known that heavy indica strains of cannabis can improve deep sleep and help with insomnia. In the last 10 years, a number of studies have come out looking at how different cannabinoids may affect obstructive sleep apnea. The first ever sleep apnea and cannabis human trial in 2002 found that THC improved the sleep apnea index by 32%. Pretty impressive results for the first trial.
A more recent study in 2013 included giving cannabis pills to 17 patients—100% of them found improvement in their conditions. Promising results! In addition, a researcher investigating these effects found that THC increases the muscle tone in the upper airway during sleep by blocking a serotonin-mediated pathway that triggers the loss of muscle tone in the first place. Stop the collapse of the esophageal tissue, no blocked air passages, and thus no more snoring or choking or interrupted sleep.
Sounds like a good plan for you or that wonderful person who may or may not be highly irritated at sleeping next to a war movie soundtrack.