Cannabis and sleep
Sleep problems such as insomnia are very common and now we know more than ever that good sleep is a vital for preserving our psychological and physical health – and so people are asking – can weed help you sleep?
Poor sleep – including trouble falling asleep, staying asleep and not waking up too early – can affect physical and mental wellbeing adversely in ways such as depression, anxiety, obesity with all their ensuing complications.
And it’s a big problem and according to the National Sleep Foundation, 50 to 70 million U.S. grownups experience signs of a sleep condition. About 30 to 40 percent of the population will experience sleeping disorders at some time in their lives, and about 10 to 15 percent of grownups will handle chronic insomnia.
With many people experiencing sleeping disorders, there’s been a rise of interest in one questionable cure: cannabis
Many in the medical marijuana community describe marijuana as an efficient treatment, with little to no adverse effects, for a series of sleeping conditions.
” Marijuana is a reliable sleep aid due to the fact that it brings back an individual’s natural sleep cycle, which so often falls out of sync with our schedules in today’s modern way of life,” states Dr. Matt Roman, a medical cannabis physician.
Reduction in pain and anxiety
Whether you have a sleep condition or you’re having problem sleeping after a stressful day, marijuana or a cannabinoid such as CBD, CBN or a formulation may be a choice for you.
Due to anxiety and pain being two major factors which people complaining of difficulty sleeping mention – it is interesting to note that marijuana’s analgesic properties might be providing the pain relief required for easier sleep – or perhaps it is effects on the reducing the perception of stress, anxiety and worrying thoughts (as well as more serious conditions such as PTSD) that may be providing the support and relief needed for improved sleep.
The science of sleep by means of marijuana.
There are different stress of marijuana. Some are more stimulating, and some are relaxing and sedating depending on the balance of the various cannabinoids.
Initially, here’s a fast guide on the science behind cannabis. This herb works since it includes different cannabinoids, 2 of which you’ll see most often:
- Cannabidiol (CBD). CBD has a variety of health advantages, and is nonpsychoactive, implying it does not cause you to feel “high.”.
- Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). THC, a psychedelic cannabinoid, is primarily responsible for that “high” feeling.
THC Helps with Sleep?
When people ask, “Can cannabis help sleep?” – they often mean THC – the most abundant cannabinoid in the cannabis plant and the one famous for the high and euphoria. One of the well known side-effects of the THC molecule is “drowsiness” or “somnolence” – that is causing sleepiness. And indeed many users of cannabis do so specifically for the fact that they consider that weed can help with sleep. While there is no conclusive large trial in the general population proving that THC is a good sleep aid – we know of the general safety profile of cannabis (though we always recommend people with medical conditions in particular discuss their use with their physicians).
Additionally it is known that consuming marijuana strains with greater levels of THC normally minimize the quantity of REM sleep you get. Minimizing REM sleep implies lowering dreams– and for those who experience PTSD, it might suggest lowering nightmares – which may be a reason that many who suffer from PTSD use marijuana to help them sleep.
So the theory is that if you spend less time dreaming, you’ll spend more time in a “deep sleep” state. The deep sleep state is believed to be the most corrective, restful part of the sleep cycle.
Still, REM is important for healthy cognitive and immune performance, and cannabis with greater THC levels might hinder your sleep quality if taken long term. Some research studies have actually found that sleep can really be impaired by routine use of marijuana in some individuals. It’s clear that cannabis changes sleep cycles.
CBD – Cannabidiol
CBD seems to have take the world by storm in the past few years being the dominant compound in hemp, there is more cannabidiol than any other compound found in the flowering buds of the plant. And, being a cannabinoid, it has the unique and fascinating ability to support the endocannabinoid system’s role in maintaining homeostasis throughout the body.
Again – not unlike THC – CBD has been touted as a sleep, pain and anxiety aid. As the two molecules are similar and act through common receptors the fact that they have similar properties is not surprising – though each cannabinoid certainly appears to have different profiles in terms of positive and negative effects.
However – importantly CBD is not psychoactive – as in it does not get you high, it has low to no potential for addictiveness and has no physical withdrawal symptoms and is Federally legal across the US – so for many these benefits are overwhelmingly positive and make CBD a huge winner of the sleep aid market for those looking to treat their insomnia. (See below for formulas that include other sleep aids).
CBN – Cannabinol
Like CBD, its close relative – cannabinol has started to gain significant reputation as we are now discovering that there are plenty of other cannabinoids that occur in hemp that are also deserving of our attention due to their specific profile.
A minorly occurring cannabinoid, CBN is harder to extract from the hemp plant that CBD, but researchers are finding that its properties make it absolutely worth exploring. Additionally like CBD – CBN is also non-addictive, non-psychoactive
How CBN Works in the Body
CBN is a cannabinoid, just like CBD, and so generally, it’s used and processed by the body in the same manner. What this means is that like cannabidiol, cannabinol is used by the body’s endocannabinoid system that is tasked with regulating our body’s many complex functions that aid in overall health. What is interesting about cannabinol is that it doesn’t seem to have such a strong relationship with cannabinoid receptors, but rather promotes the production of cannabinoids by the body to promote equilibrium in a uniquely widespread manner.
Although there have been no specific studies on cannabinol and sleep, we do know that the compound has a high likelihood of promoting better sleep due to the fact that this is its most common use. The majority of people who take CBN regularly do so because they find that it helps them fall asleep faster, stay asleep during the night, and wake up at an appropriate time. This may come from the hormone-balancing potential of the cannabinoid which affects melatonin and serotonin levels, which are associated with sleep cycle.
Products with CBN are often found together with CBN and CBN containing vapes, tinctures and gummies are amongst the growing choice consumers have.
Cannabinoids with melatonin, chamomile etc
A new trend in the rapidly growing CBD business and THC to a degree are formulas that are designed for sleep using commonly used over the counter available products such as melatonin and chamomile. So for example there are formulations with CBD and melatonin or CBD with chamomile. Again there are many formulations available with oils, tablets and edibles.
In addition to asking – can weed help sleep – you need to ask what else you can do to help you. Again – while trying sleeping aids it is important to make sure that some basic best practices are maintained if you wish to improve your sleep and minimize your need for medications or cannabis to help insomnia. These things are important to keep in mind:
Sleep hygiene tips:
- Your room should be as dark and quiet as possible and a comfortable temperature. That said some may benefit from a white noise sound machine.
- Warm baths, showers or meditation prior to sleep can be helpful
- A regular sleep routine – try to go to sleep and wake up around the same time every day.
- Naps should be avoided if possible during the day as that will make it more difficult to fall and stay asleep.
- Even if cannabis can help sleep – alcohol and cigarettes worsen insomnia and adversely affect the sleep cycle as can some drugs (e.g cocaine) and medications (e.g. some antidepressants).
- Avoid caffeinated products too late in the day – for some that may be no later than noon. Caffeine is high in coffee, tea (both black and green) and many drinks such as Mountain Dew and Red Bull and cause insomnia in millions.
- Avoid the use of your phone and TV for as long as possible prior to bed (at least 30 minutes).
- Try to use your bed for sleep and sex only. This gets your mind used to your bed as a haven for sleep. The bed is not for watching TV, reading on your mobile or laptop and even books.
- If you don’t fall asleep quickly – get out of bed and come back when you feel more tired. Avoid bright lights and TV as these can arouse you again.
- It is preferable to exercise earlier in the day – rather than later – preferably before 2pm.
To answer the question, can weed help sleep, we need to look at the underlying causes of insomnia, and take a close look at other medications and therapies an individual is using.
For some insomnia IS the problem, while for others it can be induced by anxiety, depression, pain, or even other neurological conditions that cause restless leg syndrome or muscle spasms. In general, though, the answer is yes, yes it can. The details come down to the strains you select, whether it’s an Indica or a Sativa strain, because they can have opposite effects. Always talk to your healthcare providers and cannabis specialists when choosing a strain and consumption option. Go slow and test how you respond, noting the dosages, timing, and how long the effects have lasted.
Everyone’s insomnia is different and responds differently, and everyone needs sleep.
- Can You Use Cannabis to Restore Your Natural Sleep Cycle?
- Does Cannabis Help Insomnia?
- Cannabis, Cannabinoids, and Sleep: a Review of the Literature