One of the most popular uses of cannabis is as a sleep aid. Whether you enjoy a bedtime bowl at the end of a long day or you use a CBD tincture nightly, if you are among the many people who use cannabis for sleep, you probably swear by it. While the link between cannabis and better sleep has been established by research (and all the anecdotes you hear from your fellow cannabis enthusiasts), most don’t truly understand the nuances of that relationship. If you’d like to take full advantage of what cannabis can do for your sleep quality, read on.
CBD and THC Have Different Effects
You are likely familiar with the difference between a high-THC strain and a high-CBD strain. Generally, if you are looking for a psychoactive effect, it’s best to try a high-THC, low-CBD strain, while a high-CBD, low-THC strain does not get you as buzzed.
The difference between CBD and THC does not stop there: they also appear to have different impacts on sleep. In a 2006 study, animal subjects were given doses of CBD in both lights-on and lights-off environments. The results showed that in the lights-on environment, the CBD actually increased alertness, and had no effect in the lights-off environment. This suggests that CBD may be beneficial not to help you fall asleep, but to help with daytime sleepiness.
Choose Your Strain Wisely
If you read our previous article about the difference between indica and sativa, you probably surmised that an indica strain would be best before bed. After all, an indica is more likely to keep you glued to the couch while a sativa may pair perfectly with an afternoon hike. It is often true that indicas are a good bedtime strain, but this shouldn’t be the sole measure.
How a strain impacts you as an individual is more important than whether it is indica or sativa. Some trial and error is best. Keep tabs on the strains you consume before bed and how they affected you. Did you doze off easily with a high-CBD strain or did you toss and turn? What about its terpene profile? By paying mind to these factors, you can make an educated choice about strains you would like in the future.
Cannabis May Help Sleep Apnea
Sleep apnea is a sleep condition that causes obstruction of breath when you sleep. This can occur for a few seconds or a few minutes at a time. This means that an individual with sleep apnea will wake up periodically throughout the night, which makes days full of symptoms like moodiness, fatigue, headaches, difficulty focusing, and other health concerns.
Early research shows the promise of cannabis for improving sleep apnea. One 2013 study found that 15 out of 17 study participants with sleep apnea benefited from the use of dronabinol, a man-made drug that mimics THC. At Home Grow Community we believe that natural forms of THC, and other cannabinoids, are always better than manufactured chemicals (see below). Other research suggests that THC may be able to aid in respiratory stability through helping with serotonin signaling.
Consider the Age of Your Cannabis
Here’s an interesting phenomenon: the older your cannabis, the sleepier it will make you. This is because over time, THC degrades and converts to CBN. This cannabis compound has a significant sedating effect, but it is slow to form, so it is difficult to collect in large doses. So before you toss that old stash you found in your closet, consider using it as a sleep aid.
Natural Remedies Aid Cannabis for Sleep
Cannabis by itself is a great sleep aid, but you can enhance its effects with other natural remedies. The sedating cannabinoid listed above, CBN, works well with other terpenoids, even those from other plants. Adding an herbal such as chamomile, lavender, or hops to your bedtime routine with a sleepy cannabis strain can take its sedating properties to the next level. This means that pairing your CBN-heavy strain with a lavender salt bath and a cup of chamomile tea may be exactly what you need to ease into dreamland. Try infusing local honey with your favorite strain and add the honey to that cup of tea!
Cannabis May Help You Fall Asleep Faster
Insomnia can manifest in a variety of ways. Some people struggle to fall asleep, while others cannot stay asleep. If you are an insomnia sufferer whose mind races at night, preventing you from dozing off, cannabis may be your solution. This is particularly true if your insomnia is a symptom of a condition such as PTSD, pain, or multiple sclerosis, as cannabis also works to help with other symptoms that may interfere with sleep. Some people choose cannabis edibles for a sleep aid, because while they take longer to kick in, they are also effective for longer, which may help you stay asleep.
You May Feel Groggy the Next Day
You may have noticed that after partaking in some before-bed bud, you wake up a little hazy. While this is hardly the same as a hangover after a night of drinking, many people experience a bit of haziness when they wake up after their cannabis nightcap. You may feel dehydrated, tired, dry-eyed, congested, or simply out of it.
As with anything, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, so make sure that the cannabis you consume is high-quality, that you are staying hydrated, and that you are not consuming too much. If you are feeling groggy the morning after, you can treat it much in the same way that you would treat a hangover.
Cannabis Inhibits Dreaming
If you like to unwind with some green before bed, you may have noticed that you haven’t been dreaming. There is a reason for this: cannabis inhibits rapid eye movement (REM) sleep, which is the final stage of sleep when dreams occur. Research shows that using cannabis before bed reduces how much time you spend in REM. This means that you may dream less when you consume cannabis before bed.
Quitting Cannabis Can Impact Sleep
If you’re a long-time cannabis consumer, discontinuing your use can have an impact on your sleep. Whether you’re on a “tolerance break” or you have decided to stop indulging altogether, you can anticipate some difficulty with sleep for a period of time. Many report having trouble falling asleep, waking up frequently, and feeling groggy the next day after quitting cannabis.
Ultimately, the key to using cannabis as a sleep aid is curiosity and research. By experimenting with different strains and taking note of what works most effectively for you, cannabis can act as an effective way to get to sleep faster and stay asleep longer for many individuals.