September 6, 2022 10:53 am ETEstimated Read Time: 5 Minutes
Can cannabis help with sleep? This is a very popular question that a lot of people ask. It is common knowledge that cannabis may have relaxing effects for some that consume it. Anecdotally there are claims that consuming cannabis may help promote a better night’s sleep—but what is actually known about cannabis and sleep?
Indica has a reputation for making people feel calm and mellow and helping to induce sleep. In reality, whether a cannabis strain (i.e., chemovar) is indica or sativa is not very important. Recent research has found that terpene and cannabinoid profiles are far more significant when trying to produce specific effects. Let’s take a deeper look at how cannabis might help you catch some much-needed z’s, and hear one patient’s perspective on chasing a good night’s sleep.
Reported Effects of Consuming Cannabis
Cannabis can do different things for different people. For some people, it picks them up and gives them the motivation, creativity, and gusto they need to get through the day. For other people, it’s the exact opposite. Cannabis helps them unwind and calm down. It helps them to relax while alleviating the stress of the day. Some people turn to cannabis to help them manage the symptoms of mild pain and inflammation. Others use cannabis to help manage chronic pain.
Some people choose to use cannabis to help increase their appetite and control nausea. There are many different reasons why people choose cannabis. One of the most popular reasons people choose cannabis is for sleep. Even those who use cannabis throughout the day often medicate right before they go to bed in order to help them sleep.
What Are the Different Types of Sleep?
When it comes to sleep, science and research have broken it down into four stages. The first three stages of sleep are classified as NREM (i.e., non-rapid eye movement) stages, followed by the fourth stage—REM sleep. In stage 1, an individual will have transitional periods between being asleep and awake that last an average of 5 to 10 minutes.
During stage 2, the body temperature begins to cool, and the heart rate starts to slow down. During this particular part of sleep, the brain starts producing sleep spindles. The second stage lasts about 20 minutes. During the third stage of sleep, muscles start to relax, and both the blood pressure rate and breathing rate drop. NREM 3 sleep is supposed to be when the deepest sleep occurs.
Last but not least, the 4th and final stage is REM sleep, where the brain becomes more alert and active. This is also the stage of sleep when dreaming normally occurs. When our bodies get tired, a message is sent throughout cells that trigger the production and release of melatonin. Melatonin is a natural hormone produced by our bodies that helps regulate the sleep process.
Can Cannabis Help You Sleep? Current Research and a Patient’s Perspective
Recent research has found that certain cannabinoids may help with sleep. In a systematic review published in 2017, researchers found that “Preliminary research into cannabis and insomnia suggests that cannabidiol (CBD) may have therapeutic potential for the treatment of insomnia. Delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) may decrease sleep latency (e.g., how fast you fall asleep) but could impair sleep quality long-term.” The review also found that synthetic cannabinoids such as nabilone may help reduce nightmares associated with PTSD and potentially improve sleep among patients with chronic pain.
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According to the CDC, there are many different factors that influence how cannabis affects an individual including:
Experience with cannabis
Terpene and cannabinoid profiles of the cannabis you are consuming will also impact the effects experienced. For example, strains rich in the terpene myrcene, such as Granddaddy Purple may help promote a good night’s sleep.
Research on sleep disorders and the potential therapeutic benefits of cannabinoids to help with these conditions remain in its infancy. Clinical trials and placebo-controlled studies are needed to confirm the findings found in this review.
A Patient’s Perspective
As a patient myself, I can personally contest to the fact that cannabis helps me sleep. Some nights my mind is very active and it’s difficult to sleep. Eating 50 mg of THC edibles before bed makes all the difference in whether I have a good night’s sleep or not. I normally consume large dosages when eating edibles. Anywhere between 250 to 500 mg at one time. I function just fine throughout the day on this.
When I eat that much before bed, it’s a different story. I wake up still feeling the effects of the edibles, which can leave me groggy. So, I started with what I consider very small doses of edibles to see what works best for me. I started with 25 mg edibles, which was ok but did not feel like enough. Then I increased the dosage to 50mg, which I found to be the perfect dosage for myself. Not only does cannabis have the ability to help people sleep better—as I’ve experienced personally—but it may also potentially help patients reduce their dependency on prescription or over-the-counter sleep medication.
One of the downsides of becoming dependent on THC for sleep is when you stop or don’t have access to it when sleeping. When you get used to having THC to sleep, and it is no longer there, your sleep patterns will be interrupted. Some people experience intensely vivid dreams well. Others just experience restlessness and insomnia-like feelings.
Consult with a licensed healthcare professional about your condition and discuss your symptoms and current treatment plan to determine if medical cannabis could be a possible solution.
Note: The content on this page is for informational purposes only and is not intended to be professional medical advice. Do not attempt to self-diagnose or prescribe treatment based on the information provided. Always consult a physician before making any decision on the treatment of a medical condition.
Ashley Priest is a patient, mother, entrepreneur, and activist that fights to end prohibition globally for a better future for all. Ashley has a passion for sharing education pertaining to the goddess plant known as cannabis. She believes that a single seed can tip the scales and that together through education we can end the stigma that is preventing cannabis from flowering to its full potential globally.
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