Sleep apnea is a common disorder that causes your breathing to stop or get very shallow. Breathing pauses can last from a few seconds to minutes. They may occur 30 times or more an hour.

The most common type is obstructive sleep apnea. It causes your airway to collapse or become blocked during sleep. Normal breathing starts again with a snort or choking sound. People with sleep apnea often snore loudly. However, not everyone who snores has sleep apnea.

You are more at risk for sleep apnea if you are overweight, male, or have a family history or small airways. Children with enlarged tonsils may also get it.

Doctors diagnose sleep apnea based on medical and family histories, a physical exam, and sleep study results.

When your sleep is interrupted throughout the night, you can be drowsy during the day. People with sleep apnea are at higher risk for car crashes, work-related accidents, and other medical problems. If you have it, it is important to get treatment. Lifestyle changes, mouthpieces, surgery, and breathing devices can treat sleep apnea in many people.

Medical Marijuana Efficiency

A limited number of pre-clinical studies assess the role of cannabinoids on sleep-related apnea.

Writing in the June 2002 issue of the journal of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, researchers at the University of Illinois (Chicago) Department of Medicine reported “potent suppression” of sleep-related apnea in rats administered either endogenous or exogenous cannabinoids.

An investigation reported doses of delta-9-THC and the endocannabinoid oleamide each stabilized respiration during sleep and blocked serotonin-induced exacerbation of sleep apnea in a significant manner statistically.

A more recent trial conducted on animals reported that synthetic THC injected doses mitigates apnea and augments upper airway muscles in rats.

In a clinical trial setting, the administration of synthetic THC/Marinol has similarly been shown mitigate apnea in adults. Writing in the journal Frontiers in Psychiatry in 2013, investigators concluded that THC administration significantly mitigated symptoms of the disorder in patients with Obstructive Sleep Apnea over a three-week period. “Dronabinol treatment may be a viable alternative or adjunctive therapy in selected patients with OSA,” authors concluded.