Sleep Apnea answer in a synthetic cannabis pill?

Getting a good night’s sleep hasn’t been easy for Lisa Smith. Each night is the same.

“I’m wide awake, tossing and turning,” Smith said.

She was diagnosed with sleep apnea last year after her daughter overheard her trying to sleep.

“She said, ‘You sound like somebody is in that room starting motorcycles in your room. You snore real loud and sometimes you’re not coming back,” Smith explained.

Doctors prescribed a CPAP machine to help her restless nights.

“The CPAP, although it helps me sleep, I get these marks and I’ve got to wait all day and try to pump my face back up, because I have marks all over my face,” explained Smith.

But now, researchers are studying a new pill that could change that.

“This would be the first of its kind for sleep apnea,” said Roneil Malkani, MD, Neurologist of Sleep Medicine at Northwestern Medicine in Chicago.

Known as Dronabinol, Malkani says if approved, the synthetic form of cannabis would be taken once at nighttime.

“It is a medication that we think acts on nerve cells in the brain that activate the muscles in the upper airway,” Malkani explained.

Helping keep them open for more restful sleep, something Smith longs for.

“If it will put me to sleep, I will do it,” she said.

The drug has been used to help cancer patients gain weight and control nausea. The dosage for sleep apnea  is much smaller and researchers are hopeful the only side effect patients will experience is a good night’s sleep.