The results of a cross-sectional survey delving into the prevalence and patterns of using cannabis as a sleep aid in Canadian cancer survivors revealed some interesting results.
Sleep issues are common among cancer patients, and this can extend well beyond the treatment period with significant negative impacts on a patient’s quality of life and overall health.
In the study carried out by researchers from Canada’s Memorial University and the Beatrice Hunter Cancer Institute, 1,464 cancer survivors were recruited via the Angus Reid Institute. Participants completed an online, cross-sectional survey including the Insomnia Severity Index and questions about using cannabis to address sleep issues. On average, participants received their cancer diagnosis 12.5 years prior and the average age of respondents was 61.1 years.
The survey revealed:
- 23.5% currently use cannabis as a sleep aid.
- 68.3% first started using cannabis for sleep after their cancer diagnosis.
- 36.3% use cannabis as a sleep aid daily.
- Among those currently using cannabis, the most common other reasons for consumption were pain (31.4%), recreational use (24.4%), and anxiety (12.5%).
Reported benefits of cannabis use included relaxation, a reduction in the time it takes to fall asleep, fewer awakenings through the night and improved sleep quality.
Commenting on the outcomes, the researchers stated:
“Given the prevalence and potential impact, research is needed to examine the actual efficacy of cannabis as a sleep aid … It is important that cancer survivors have information on methods to help their sleep to avoid impairments to quality of life and health.”
Results from the study were published in the Journal of Cancer Survivorship in October 2023.
Back in September, we reported on a USA study involving 1,258 cancer patients that found 31% of respondents reporting using cannabis after diagnosis. The most commonly reported reason for doing so was to address sleeping difficulties (48%).
On a related note, another Canadian study published this year suggested medical cannabis has the potential to alleviate pain safely and effectively in cancer patients as well as helping to reduce the number of medications patients require; including opioids.