Marijuana and Sleep
Sleep is one of those things you would think human beings naturally excel at since it’s an essential factor in good health, but millions of adults (according to the American Sleep Association, upwards of 70 million, in fact) will experience sleep disorders like insomnia at least once in their life. There are dozens of sleep aids on the market, YouTube videos teaching do-it-yourself breathing techniques or guided hypnosis, even clinics dedicated to rooting out the causes and instituting better sleep hygiene. With its rich history of “chilling people out”, it should come as no surprise that marijuana has been tossed into the proverbial ring,
Why Marijuana Works as a Sleep Aid
Marijuana has been making the rounds for decades in the medical community – a potent analgesic, it’s currently in the running to replace certain opioid medications. Cancer patients have been using cannabis since the 80s to help cope with symptoms like nausea and appetite loss brought on by chemotherapy treatments. Elderly patients with glaucoma are using marijuana to reduce the pressure in their eyes. The list of clinical applications for marijuana continues, but we’re here to talk about how it can help you get to sleep.
Research suggests that marijuana is such an effective sleep aid because it can help restore a person’s natural sleep cycle (not to mention providing relief from nighttime aches and pains, or anxiety that might keep your mind from settling into a peaceful state).
THC vs CBD: A Bedtime Battle
Although there are literally dozens of chemicals in marijuana that produce positive effects when the plant is consumed, the two active compounds –Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and Cannabidiol (CBD) – are responsible for promoting better sleep habits. THC is well-known both in and out of marijuana circles: it’s a potent hallucinogenic, bringing about the lion’s share of stereotypical cannabis side effects like seeing things, the giggles, the munchies, and more. CBD is associated with a host of beneficial effects but it’s the lack of psychoactivity that makes this chemical so popular among physicians.
Of the two, THC is better at inducing sleepiness. Where a 2006 study noted that non-intoxicating CBD increased alertness in animal subjects with the lights on, there were no noticeable effects with the lights off, a 2008 study suggested that strains with higher levels of THC reduce the amount of rapid eye movement (REM) sleep a person experiences, which means fewer dreams. This is an important factor for patients suffering from nightmares resulting from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The less time you spend sleeping, the more time you spend in the more restorative “deep sleep” part of your sleep cycle.
Indica Marijuana for Better Sleep
There are hundreds of different cannabis strains, but of these there are only three varieties: cannabis sativa, cannabis indica, and cannabis ruderalis. Sativa and indica are used for human consumption, while ruderalis is only bred into a strain to take advantage of its autoflowering capabilities.
Where sativa cannabis is often uplifting, energizing, and euphoric (good for boosting creativity and banishing fatigue), indicas are known to be uniquely sedating, delivery a full-body “couch lock” that can help relieve tension, reduce pain, and soothe tired muscles and joints. Pure indica strains or indica-dominant hybrids are most often recommended for evening and nighttime use, or when you don’t have anything planned.
No one knows quite why indica strains are so good at inducing relaxation and sleepiness, although some theorize that it has to do with the terpene content. (Not unique to marijuana, terpenes are aromatic compounds produced and excreted by resin glands on the leaves and buds of the plant and contribute to the unique aroma and flavor of each strain.)
The Older the Better
Here’s a little factoid you might not know about preserved marijuana: even if conditions are ideal for long-term preservation, as dried and cured cannabis sits, it degrades, and over time, THC will convert to a more sedating chemical known as cannabinol (CBN). CBN is five times more sedating than THC (though it takes a relatively long time to form).
Best Ways to Consume Cannabis at Bedtime
Are you looking to pass out fast? Or just ease into a restful sleep? With marijuana, both situations are within the realm of reason – there’s more than one way to skin a cat! (Although we’re not sure why you would want to…) Cannabis has a diverse fan base, and not all of them want to toke on the reefer, though that remains one of the most popular methods of consumption across the board. In addition to joints, you can vape weed, eat weed, take pills, or even rub it on for localized relief. Which one is right for you?
To fall asleep quickly, you probably want to go with smoking, vaping, or taking a tincture sublingually, as these methods deliver near immediate results – within minutes of inhaling you will start to experience the effects of cannabis (THC has a direct pathway to the brain via the bloodstream). To enjoy a nice relaxing evening that peters out into a deep relaxation, snacking on a marijuana-infused edible will be your ingestion method of choice. This method takes longer as pot has to go through the process of digestion before THC can be broken down by the liver and converted into another, more potent (and longer lasting) chemical called 11-hydroxy-THC, which delivers a more potent and full-body effect.
The Right Dose
New to marijuana? Taking too much can lead to feeling uncomfortable or “greening out”. Start with a little and give yourself some time (anywhere between half an hour to an hour, depending on your consumption method of choice) before trying a little more. Microdosing is also a great way to take advantage of the powerful effects of THC without experiencing its psychoactive properties.
A Couple of Bedtime Cannabis Cons
As you can see, we aren’t just blowing smoke when we say there are quite a few benefits associated with using cannabis for a better sleep. That doesn’t mean there aren’t a few downsides to using your favorite herbal nightcap before tucking yourself in.
Grogginess is a common concern reported by patients using marijuana to get to sleep. Cannabis can cause a mild “hangover”, including feeling “foggy”, dehydrated, lethargic, dry-eyed, and congested. To avoid these uncomfortable side effects first thing, always ingest clean cannabis (like the kind you grow yourself from high-quality cannabis seeds!), stay hydrated by drinking lots of water, maintain a healthy diet, and try to keep from overindulging in the sticky icky.
We mentioned earlier in the article that cannabis has proven beneficial for patients suffering from PTSD-induced nightmares because THC inhibits REM sleep and dreaming. Dreaming occurs during the final stage of your sleep cycle – REM sleep – and this stage is important for healthy cognitive and immune functioning. Partaking in strains that have higher THC levels could do more harm than good if taken long-term (another reason the practice of microdosing is popular).
A better night’s sleep is just around the corner when you include cannabis into your nighttime routine, especially when you’ve cultivated it yourself. Peruse our selection of top quality marijuana seed strains – don’t sleep on it, place your order now!