Sleep. This is the final frontier for many Fibromyalgia patients, since quality of sleep can be the difference between a good day and a bad day.
I received a Fitbit device for Christmas, and it’s been interesting to watch the data my FitBit has collected over the last few weeks. One of the features that FitBit offers is tracking sleep. The pedometer feature in this device has been calibrated to track movement during sleep, and its algorithms decide if you’re awake, or simply restless during sleep.
While it is certainly not as reliable as a polysomnography (sleep study), my experience with it has been that it is pretty accurate. When I wake up feeling like I haven’t slept very well, I usually see several points in time during the night when my device has measured me as being awake or restless.
At my doctor’s advice, I have made some slight changes to my Medical Cannabis dosing to achieve better pain control. Specifically, she recommend that I use a dosing method that results in sustained-release (edibles), and therefore pain control that lasts longer (6-8 hours, versus 2-4 with a vaporizer). Here are the results of that, in relation to sleep.
On December 28th, I went without a medical edible before bedtime. I used my vaporizer before bed, with about 10mg (by weight) of medical cannabis loaded into it. I woke up 5 times during the night, with an overall sleep efficiency (as rated by FitBit) of 99%. Not bad.
Now, a random night’s sleep while eating a 25mg medical edible one hour before bedtime, plus the 10mg in a vaporizer as I was getting into bed:
On Jan 22nd, I was not only able to fall asleep much EARLIER (12:35am vs 3:51am on Dec 28th), but I also woke up less frequently throughout the night. Although it took me a few minutes longer to fall asleep on Jan 22nd, I stayed asleep for a longer period of time. The “blip” around 6am was most likely me getting up to let the dogs outside. As you can see, I was able to fall right back to sleep.
In comparison, this is the sleep my FitBit logged for last night. I went to bed last night without an edible, but with about 25-30mg medical cannabis delivered into my body via smoking (combustion):
As you can see, I didn’t sleep very well last night at all. I have felt sluggish, tired, and generally not well today. Although it only took me 5 minutes to fall asleep last night, I woke up throughout the night. This tells me two things: 1) my body does not do well with smoking cannabis as compared to vaporizing, and 2) that edible makes a big difference. I did go to bed last night with a moderate degree of anxiety, in relation to planning a wedding. I’m sure that was another factor in why I slept so poorly.
I realize that this data is only pseudo-scientific. It should not be treated as scientific data. This is not measuring alpha, beta, delta, or REM stages of sleep. At best, this is merely anecdotal evidence. However, my experiences as detailed above have been pretty consistent. I do believe medical cannabis has helped with my struggle with insomnia and poor sleep, and until I see signs indicating otherwise (or develop a condition that would not be favorable with this therapy, like pregnancy), I will continue to use it at night. I have not seen this much positive impact on my sleep from any prescription or OTC drug in the 14 years that I have struggled with insomnia.
Unfortunately, there are other factors that may influence this data, like a specific strain of medical cannabis (some are not good to use before bedtime), and I did not log which strains I used on a particular day. Other factors that may affect these results include: general fatigue levels at bedtime, anxiety, vivid dreams or nightmares, and hormonal fluctuations. While I do think that this data is indicative of overall trends for me, your mileage may vary. Like every other treatment for Fibromyalgia, your treatment may look different from mine. Any specific questions you may have regarding this therapy and your body should be directed to your doctor. If you need general information about medical cannabis and why it can be helpful, please visit our page on medical cannabis at: www.azfibro.com/medical-cannabis.