What Does Cannabis Have to Offer For Restorative Sleep?


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Over the years, many people have come forward about using cannabis for better sleep. However, when one tries to find out what the impact is on sleep when you smoke cannabis, you’ll find many answers that end with ‘insufficient research’ or ‘inconsistency in strains’. Despite that, there are still states which are approving medical cannabis for sleep-related problems. Sleep is vital to the maintenance of mental and physical health, yet there are many adults whose sleep escapes them. As the number of sleep-deprived adults increases, one must find methods, preferably non-pharmaceutical, to assist. Although there is a lack of research concerning the impact of cannabis and sleep, there are still certain impacts that we can be certain of, from the little research that there is. 

Doctors Often Have Differing Views But Will Mostly Agree on This

One doctor will argue that cannabis is an effective sleep aid because it restores a persons’ natural sleep cycle. While another doctor will argue using cannabis for sleep means that you are robbing yourself of your N3 (the deepest stage of sleep before you go into REM) sleep, lessening the quality of that sleep. However, both will often agree that due to the vast variety in strains, strengths, and quantity of cannabinoids in cannabis plants, there is no way to be certain of how using your cannabis will impact you as in individual. They also agree that there will certainly be an impact on your sleep from using cannabis as an aid, whether it’s your preferred impact or not. Some people sleep well and deep while others wake up throughout the night and are tired in the morning (perhaps this is from the disturbance in N3 sleep). Other people may have lucid dreams while others don’t dream at all. 

However, if your lack of sleep is due to anxiety or pain, cannabis is the perfect solution for your sleeplessness. Cannabis will take care of the cause of the problem and enable you to get the full night’s rest that you deserve without a surge of anxiety or pain. Let’s have a look at the impact of sleep quality and dreams after you’ve consumed cannabis for better sleep. 

Impact on Sleep Quality:

Most of your immune function repair takes place during deep sleep. Prolonged use of cannabis for sleep can be more harmful than helpful if it is reducing the quality of your deep sleep. Therefore, you should consult with your doctor if you need a long-term solution/aid. 

Impact on Dreams:

According to a 2008 study, ingesting cannabis strains with higher levels of THC typically reduces the quality of REM sleep you get. Reduced quality of REM sleep can lead to the reduction of dreams and it can mean the end of nightmares, especially for people who experience night terrors as a result of PTSD.

The theory remains that if you spend less time dreaming, you’ll spend more time in a “deep sleep” state. The deep sleep state is thought to be the most restorative, restful part of the sleep cycle. However, REM is important for healthy cognitive and immune functioning, and cannabis products with higher THC levels could impair your sleep quality if taken long term. Therefore, we can conclude that cannabis consumption to aid sleep will be beneficial if it is not being used for long periods of time. 

Things to Consider Before Using Cannabis as a Sleep Aid

  • Due to the vast variety of strains, one must remember that some are more energizing while some are more calming.  Consider an Indica dominant strain for sleep as this strain is notorious for having terpenes that create calming, couch-locking and sedating effects.
  • Cannabis as a sleep aid is only a short-term solution. Otherwise, you may be doing more harm than good. 
  • Timing is important when you are using cannabis for sleep. Edibles might not be useful as a sleep aid unless taken at least 2 hours beforehand because their ‘kick in’ time is unpredictable. It is recommended that you should consume other cannabis products at least 1 hour before bed.
  • A study, by Nicholson et al in 2004, shows that Tetrahydrocannabidiol (THC) acts as a sedative when taking in a higher quantity or quality. All the volunteers taking controlled doses of cannabis reported an increase in sleepiness when they had cannabinoid quantities of 15mg and over. 
  • Considering combining your sleep aid with better and improved healthy sleep practices such as a ‘going to bed’ stretch or meditation. 

Remember, cannabis does not work the same way for everyone. You’ll need to find the strain, dosage, and method of consumption that works best for you. This can be achieved through experimentation. Despite the lack of research, you can be certain of two effects: desirable and undesirable. If you try using cannabis as an aid to sleep but wake up feeling groggy, tired or you get tired faster during the day, listen to your body.

Speak with a healthcare professional before using cannabis. If you are interested in finding out how cannabis can help you with sleep, contact Veriheal for a personalized consultation with a cannabis doctor. They can target the right cannabinoids and terpenes for your individual needs!


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Chane Leigh

Chane, aka The Bud Fairy, is a South African cannabis advocate and enthusiast with a firey personality and a thirst for travel. She loves to educate people and to question the norms.

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