Using Cannabis As a Sleep Aid: Here’s What You Should Know
If there’s one thing your body always craves, it’s a good night’s sleep. Getting that sleep, however, isn’t always easy.
According to the National Sleep Foundation, 50 to 70 million adults experience symptoms of a sleep disorder that keeps them up at night. About 30 to 40 percent of the population experiences insomnia at some point during their lives, and 10 to 15 percent encounter chronic insomnia.
With so many people confronting sleep disorders in some form, there’s been a dramatic rise in the use of cannabis to get a bit of shuteye. According to many experts in the medicinal cannabis community, using marijuana to fall asleep has no side effects, and it can even treat a wide variety of sleep disorders.
Whether you suffer from a sleep disorder or you’re simply having trouble getting some rest, cannabis can help when you need it most. Let’s take a closer look at why cannabis helps you sleep, and how you can integrate cannabis into your nightly routine.
Cannabis and Sleep
Any stoner will tell you that a proper high can induce a peaceful night of sleep. You’ll take a hit from your friend’s bong and turn on some Netflix, only to wake an hour later wondering what the heck you just watched.
But there’s more to cannabis and sleep than meets the eye. For starters, cannabis contains two primary cannabinoids that you should be aware of: CBD and THC.
CBD, or cannabidiol, possesses a number of health benefits and doesn’t contain psychoactive properties, meaning it won’t get you high. THC, or tetrahydrocannabinol, is the psychoactive compound found in cannabis responsible for the “high” feeling.
It was once assumed that THC could only get you stoned, but over time this outlook has changed. A 2004 study published in the Journal of Clinical Psychopharmacology found that THC can induce sleep, while CBD can help you feel alert. Similarly, a study published in 2008 showed that consuming strains of cannabis with high levels of THC can reduce the amount of REM sleep you receive. As a result, your body can spend more time in a state of deep sleep that’s restful and restorative.
Other research, however, has found that sleep is actually impaired by regular cannabis use. As a result, we can only say with certainty that cannabis changes sleep cycles. Your experience may differ from that of another user.
Sativa, Indica, and Hybrid
When you’ve finally made the decision to use cannabis for sleep, next you should consider the many strains that are available. From Gorilla Glue to Purple Kush, your options are plentiful. That being said, each strain you encounter will fall into one of three distinct categories.
Sativa: sativa strains make people feel energized, excited, and happy.
Indica: indica strains are more calming, soothing, and sedative.
Hybrid: hybrid strains are a combination of indica and sativa strains, but their effects will vary based on who grew the strain.
If you’re not sure which strain to use, speak with professional budtenders at your local dispensary for more information. As a general rule of thumb, indica strains that contain less than 20% THC are best-suited for sleep. These strains won’t make you feel groggy or sluggish the following morning, whereas a strain with a higher THC concentration might.
Consuming Cannabis for a Good Night’s Sleep
The easiest and quickest means of getting high is by smoking cannabis flower, plain and simple.
If you prefer not to smoke, options abound in the form of edibles, tinctures, vapes, or topicals. Each method of consumption is discrete and simplistic, thus ensuring you can enjoy the sleep-inducing effects of cannabis no matter where you may be. We only ask that you avoid consuming cannabis while operating heavy machinery or doing something that you obviously shouldn’t be stoned for.
When dosing, take things slow and work your way up. And if possible, don’t experiment with cannabis and sleep during the work week — you’d hate to find that cannabis makes you groggy as you suffer at your desk. If smoking or vaping, take just a few puffs and go from there. If consuming edibles or tinctures, follow the recommended serving allowance that’s clearly illustrated on the product’s packaging.
Cannabis Before Bedtime
Timing your cannabis consumption is crucial.
Get high too early and you may fall asleep, only to wake in the middle of the night. Get high too late and you might pull an all-nighter. For this reason it’s worth avoiding edibles if possible, as their activation time is rarely consistent. Sometimes it can take only an hour to get high, but other times it can take two to three hours.
Though our bodies will process cannabis differently, in general it’s best to consume cannabis an hour before bedtime. This is ideal simply because you’ll feel the effects for three to four hours and as a result, you’ll have the chance to fall asleep.
The Bottom Line
At the end of the day, remember that cannabis will affect everyone differently. The strain that makes your friend sleep like a rock could be the same strain that keeps you up for hours on end. Sleep aids in any form don’t work the same for everyone, and this includes cannabis.
Also recall that cannabis may cause anxiety or paranoia in certain people that use high-THC strains. If you’ve encountered these unsettling feelings before, remember to take things slow and find the products that work for you. Talk with the professionals at your local dispensary if you’re lost or confused. Once you’ve found the right stuff, you’ll be sleeping like a baby in no time at all.