Lack of quality sleep is one of the most prevalent health concerns facing Americans today. Yet sleep itself is essential to maintaining healthy levels mentally and physically.
It’s no wonder many of us will try anything we can think of to get a better nights rest.
Here’s some sleep statistics:
- 50 – 70 million people in the U.S. are suffering through some type of sleep disorder
- Nearly 40 million Americans deal with insomnia.
- 37.9% reported unintentionally falling asleep during the day at least once in the preceding month.
- Drowsy driving is responsible for 1,550 fatalities and 40,000 nonfatal injuries annually in the United States.
With the resurgence of medical cannabis and recreational cannabis, some have found that lighting up right before bed provides the relief they need to slide into a deep sleep.
What is cannabis and how does it work?
Cannabis is a term used to refer to a group of three plants with psychoactive properties known as Cannabis Sativa, Cannabis Indica and Cannabis ruderalis. When the flower of these plants is harvested and dried you get marijuana.
Cannabis is usually consumed for its relaxing and calming effects. However, it can also be prescribed to help with a range of medical conditions like chronic pain, glaucoma, poor appetite, and anxiety.
The two most popular components of Cannabis are CBD and THC.
CBD is a cannabinoid that is not intoxicating and non-euphoric. It is most used medicinally to help reduce inflammation, pain, nausea, migraines, seizures, and anxiety.
THC is the main psychoactive compound in cannabis and is responsible for giving the high effect that most people think of when they think of cannabis or weed. THC is also known to induce sleep.
You can find cannabis products that contain both CBD and THC separately or mixed.
There are different types of strains as well,
- Indica – The strain most known to deliver soothing and relaxing effects
- Sativa – The strain that produces more excited, energizing effects
- Hybrids – A combination of both indica and sativa and can differ greatly in the amount represented of each, depending on the manufacturer.
Best cannabis strain for getting a good night’s sleep
When you are looking for a product that will work best to help you overcome your sleeping disorder, look for an Indica strain with less than 20 percent THC.
Too much THC may leave you feeling paranoid and hung over the following morning.
For best results take your cannabis product within an hour before bedtime.
Most people will consume marijuana by smoking it in a joint or through a pipe or bong. However, due to recent advances in smoking methods, you can now vape your marijuana.
If you want to try and save your lungs and health as much as possible you can also purchase THC infused tinctures which come in the form of an oil or liquid that you drop little droplets of under the tongue.
Marijuana also comes in the form of edibles. Edibles are not recommended to help you fall asleep due to not know how long it will take to feel the effects. Edibles can also last much longer in the system which causes you to run the risk of still feeling its effects when you wake up.
How does cannabis help you sleep?
Our bodies produce endogenous cannabinoids that help trigger our neurons to induce sleep. Cannabis can increase how receptive our bodies are to these compounds.
Studies have linked cannabis and cannabinoids to:
- improved sleep quality
- fewer sleep disturbances
- decreased time to fall asleep.
A 2017 study found that around two-thirds of its 1,500 participants mentioned they had less of a need for their sleep medicine because of using medical cannabis.
“Marijuana is an effective sleep aid because it restores a person’s natural sleep cycle, which so often falls out of sync with our schedules in today’s modern lifestyle,” says Dr. Matt Roman, a medical marijuana physician.
Pain keeping you up at night?
Cannabis has analgesic properties which help to relieve symptoms of chronic pain which in turn can help you get comfortable enough to fall asleep and stay asleep without waking up from pain.
Can’t seem to shut your brain off or quiet the anxiety that plagues you enough to fall asleep?
Cannabis has properties that help sooth anxiety which in turn will ease your stress helping you to fall asleep faster.
Do you suffer from PTSD and have horrific nightmares when you sleep?
A study in 2008 found that some marijuana strains with higher THC levels reduces the amount of REM sleep you get. For patients suffering from PTSD, less REM sleep means less dreams which could also mean the opportunity to reduce nightmares.
On the flip side of that, a study showed that if you halt long-term cannabis use, you might experience REM Rebound where you end up having more dreams that feel very real.
Also, less time in REM, in theory, means more time in a deep sleep state which is the state of sleep that is most beneficial to our bodies.
Do you suffer from sleep apnea?
A study in 2002 showed that THC had the ability to restore respiratory stability by modulating serotonin signaling.
More studies need to be performed to truly understand how Marijuana can help people with sleep disorders. However, it is clear, at this point, that marijuana does create change in sleep cycles.
Side effects and warnings
Long term use of any sleep medicine is not recommended. However, there have been studies that have shown specific side effects of taking marijuana for sleep long term:
- If taken long term, marijuana could impair your overall intake of REM which is actually important for healthy cognitive and immune functioning.
- Long-term use of marijuana in general has shown to have changes in the amount of gray matter found in the brain.
You could also have:
- Shorter sleep time
- Less slow wave sleep
- Worse sleep efficiency
- Longer sleep onset
- Shorter REM cycles
- More overall sleep disruptions
Smoking of any kind is detrimental to one’s health. The risk of COPD is increased especially for those with asthma and other respiratory conditions.
Medicinal and Recreational marijuana is still illegal in many states. Check your local laws before you make any purchases.
As with any medicine, over the counter or not, you should always talk with your doctor first to find the best course of action given your specific circumstances.
If you’re struggling with insomnia, cannabis could be the answer you’ve been looking for.
As more and more states legalize medical marijuana for a variety of ailments, it is important to know that this drug can help people in many ways beyond relieving pain or stimulating appetite.
Cannabis has been shown to have beneficial effects on sleep quality by helping patients fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer. This means less tossing and turning at night which leads to feeling refreshed when you wake up in the morning!.