Cannabis is widely used for a variety of ailments and symptoms. One of the most popular uses of cannabis is to fight insomnia and help individuals fall asleep, and stay asleep. Even individuals with the most stubborn insomnia can usually find relief with a nice sedating Indica strain. However, there is a lot more to cannabis and sleep than just that!
Get the facts on cannabis and sleep today and learn how this powerful plant can help YOU.
CBD Works Differently Than THC
Most cannabis users are well versed on the variety of options available, from Indica to Sativa strains as well as high THC to high CBD options. Sleep studies going as far back as 1970 have focused on THC and found it to be an effective sleep aid, particularly when taken at levels of 20% or less THC. On the other hand, research into CBD and sleep actually concluded that this cannabinoid is best used for excessive daytime sleepiness or somnolence as opposed to insomnia as the effects are more alerting than drowsy.
Most recently, a 2015 review of cannabis research found that, for best results, hybrid strains or tinctures with equal parts THC and CBD are ideal for treating sleep disorders.
Indica Still Reigns Supreme
If you are unable to find a balanced THC:CBD strain or oil, the next best option to help fight insomnia and ease you into dreamland are pure Indica or Indica-dominant hybrid strains. Indica strains are bred to induce more physical effects, as opposed to cerebral, and tend to result in heavier body relaxation and sedation versus Sativa strains. While it is unclear exactly why Indica strains are more sedating than Sativa ones, it is theorized that it has to do with the terpene content of these strains. Terpenes are found throughout nature and serve many purposes – they give lavender their scent and calming effectives, provide eucalyptus the relaxing and healing factors and are found in countless other flowers and plants, including cannabis. When it comes to cannabis, terpenes work in conjunction with the various cannabinoids to produce desired strain effects.
Benefits of Aged Flower
One particular fact about cannabis and sleep that you might not know about is that aged cannabis actually makes you sleepier! Over time THC will degrade and is converted to a different cannabinoid known as cannabinol (or CBN). CBN has been found to be five times more sedating than THC, but takes a long time to form – in fact, cannabis buds that contain 20% THC andare is left to age for 3 years will typically produces 3-5% CBN.
Due to the long process to produce CBN, it can be hard to find on the traditional cannabis market but as research surfaces on this powerful cannabinoid, you may see it becoming increasingly common!
Cannabis Helps Your Fall Asleep Faster
One of the major perks for cannabis use against insomnia is that cannabis has been proven to help individuals fall asleep faster, which is a dream come true for many insomnia patients. Even doses as low as 15 mg of THC were associated with reduced sleep latency (time to fall asleep) and increased sleepiness. When using cannabis for sleep, it is best to keep your doses to a moderate level by choosing strains with 20% or less, or dosing 10-15 mg of THC in the evening.
If you dose too much at night, you may find yourself with a weed “hangover” in the morning, resulting in dehydration, dry eyes, lethargy or mild brain fog. As each individual is different, it may require trial and error to find your perfect sleep strain.
Cannabis and Dreams
Another interesting fact surrounding cannabis and sleep is that cannabis use can inhibit REM sleep and reduce or eliminate dreams. While this may be a downside to some individuals, this is particularly beneficial to individuals who cannot sleep due to PTSD. While cannabis use reduces REM sleep, it has been found to facilitate falling asleep faster (as mentioned above) as well as increasing Stage 4 sleep. Stage 4 sleep occurs right before REM sleep and is a state of very deep sleep whereby the brain almost exclusively produces slow brain waves known as delta waves; when woken from this sleep stage people often feel disoriented. So, while cannabis reduces REM sleep it does not alter an individual’s ability to sleep soundly and deeply.
Promotes Better Breathing
Some individuals may find their insomnia to be caused by sleep apnea. While these individuals can fall asleep easily, this condition affects their ability to stay asleep, which is vital for proper rest. Individuals with sleep apnea are often woken many times throughout the night due to being unable to breathe properly. Fortunately, cannabis may be able to assist with this as explored in a 2002 study that found THC can restore respiratory signaling as well as in a 2013 study that concluded sleep apnea was improved by a drug that mimics THC.
Use With Natural Remedies for Best Results
Lastly, while cannabis can do wonders for assisting with insomnia caused by PTSD, anxiety and pain, pairing cannabis with other natural remedies can further maximize its effects. As mentioned earlier, cannabinoids work with terpenes in bud for full-spectrum effects. Pairing your THC with essential oils (ie: terpenes), such as taking a bath in lavender epsom salts or using eucalyptus essential oils or just sitting down with a cup of chamomile tea, can improve success and help you put your insomnia to rest.
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