Thinking About Using Cannabis For Sleep? Here Are Some Things To Know
I’ve had a lot of patients and others of you ask me about using cannabis for sleep. I thought I’d take some time to go over some information that may be helpful in understanding how cannabis can affect sleep and sleep-related issues, and whether cannabis is something to consider for your sleep problems, in consultation with your physician.
Cannabis helps insomnia and other sleep problems
The cannabis plant has been used for centuries as a sleep aid. Contemporary scientific research has measured what people have known and experienced since ancient times: cannabis has relaxing and sedative effects. In particular, cannabis makes falling asleep easier. One recent study found that cannabis shortens the time it takes to fall asleep , both for people with sleep problems and people who fall asleep without trouble. Among people with active difficulty falling asleep, cannabis use resulted in an average of 30 minutes less time in falling asleep. The study also included a group of people who were able to fall asleep without difficulty. Among this group of strong sleepers, cannabis helped them fall asleep even faster, by 15 minutes.
This research falls aligns with other studies that show cannabis use reduces the time it takes to fall asleep , and lengthens time spent in deep, slow wave sleep. Cannabis also appears to shorten time spent in REM sleep, likely as a result of one of its primary active ingredients, THC (more on this important component of cannabis in a minute.)
Cannabis contains many different natural chemicals that affect sleep
Cannabis has dozens of different natural chemical compounds that have effects on sleep, and sleep cycles. There are two main components to cannabis I’ll focus on today that are important to sleep: cannabinoids and terpenes .
Scientists have identified more than 100 cannabinoids in the cannabis plant . Many are being studied for their benefits for sleep and other health conditions, including psychological conditions like depression and anxiety, neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s, seizure disorders, different forms of cancer, and chronic pain.
Three of the best-known cannabinoids all have effects on sleep.
Cannabidiol, or CBD, is a non-mind-altering cannabinoid that promotes relaxation.
Last week, I talked about the latest scientific evidence illustrating many of the benefits of CBD , including for sleep. (I’ve written about CBD before: you can read about it here , and here .) CBD has no psychoactive effects—that means there’s no “high” associated with this compound. Scientists think instead that CBD works to balance or counteract the high that’s delivered from another cannabinoid, THC.
CBD has gained a lot of attention for its ability to reduce anxiety, relieve pain, promote mental focus and clarity. CBD also has the ability to reduce daytime sleepiness and promote alertness. Studies of CBD show that it reduces anxiety without affecting sleep-wake cycles.
Cannabinol, or CBN, is a less well-known cannabinoid than CBD. It appears to have powerful sedative effects, which may be enhanced when its combined with THC. CBN also has pain-relieving, anti-inflammatory properties. Studies suggest CBN stimulates appetite. (CBD, on the other hand, appears to suppress appetite.) CBN is found in aged cannabis, when, over time, THC converts naturally to CBN.
I’ve written recently about the emerging research about how CBN helps sleep and pain .
Tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, is the main psychoactive cannabinoid in cannabis. THC is what gives the high that’s associated with cannabis use. THC can provide pain relief, and is also useful in reducing nausea. Research shows THC has sedative effects , and can make it easier to fall asleep. There’s also emerging evidence suggesting that THC may improve breathing during sleep , which makes THC a potential therapy in the treatment of obstructive sleep apnea .
THC appears to alter time spent in stages of sleep. Specifically, THC has been found to reduce time spent in REM sleep and increase time spent in slow-wave sleep.
Because of this diminished time in REM, THC reduces dreaming . That can be helpful to people who have conditions such as PTSD that involve frequent, disturbing dreams and nightmares. People may experience fewer dreams when using cannabis regularly. After stopping, its common to experience a burst of dreaming. That’s part of what’s known as REM rebound—an increase in REM that happens after REM has been suppressed.
Changes to sleep cycles are one factor to consider when evaluating whether, and how long, to use cannabis. All sleep cycles are important for healthy rest and functioning. Alterations to our nightly sleep architecture, especially over the long-term, can deprive us of the full restorative effects a night of sleep is biologically designed to provide.
Cannabinoids have gotten a lot of attention for their potential benefits for sleep, mood and pain, as well as other health issues. But terpenes also appear to play a pretty significant role in the effects of cannabis, including its ability to affect sleep. We’re still learning about how terpenes affect the body and mind. But scientists think they may work to enhance the effects of different cannabinoids, as well as affecting the body directly in a range of ways.
Terpenes are tiny, aromatic molecules in cannabis that create its smell and taste. Terpenes aren’t only found in cannabis—they’re found in many natural plants, fruits and flowers. There are more than 150 different terpenes that have been identified. Different combinations of terpenes in different strains of cannabis create distinctive tastes and smells. They also contribute to different strains having different effects when we consume them.
Science shows terpenes have effects on energy, mood, sleepiness and alertness. Some of the most common terpenes identified as helpful to sleep are:
Myrcene . Commonly occurring in cannabis, this terpene is also found in a lot of fruits and herbs, including mangoes, basil, thyme, and lemongrass, as well as in the sleep-promoting plants hops and ylang ylang. Myrcene has been shown to have sedative effects . It also functions as an anti-inflammatory.
Caryophyllene . This is a stress, anxiety and pain-relieving terpene that may also promote sleep, thanks to these relaxing, anxiolytic and analgesic properties. This terpene has a peppery, spicy scent, and is also found in cloves and black pepper.
Limonene . This citrus-flavored terpene, which is found in citrus peels as well as in cannabis and other plants, has been shown to reduce anxiety and stress , according to research. Limonene may also have anti-depressant effects . And research shows it may reduce OCD behaviors. Scientists think its calming, mood-lifting effects come from limonene’s ability to elevate serotonin levels in the brain . That may also make this terpene a sleep-promoter. Studies have shown that limonene may help reduce insomnia symptoms .
Terpineol. This terpene has relaxing, pain-relieving, and sedative effects. In addition to being found in some strains of cannabis, terpineol is also found in lilac, pine, and eucalyptus.
Linalool . This lavender-scented terpene is found in hundreds of plants, including cannabis. You probably know about the benefits of lavender for sleep, which I wrote about here . Studies show linalool lowers anxiety and depression symptoms , as well as help g uard the immune system against damage from stress . Particularly important for sleep: linalool increases adenosine , a sedating hormone that helps us fall asleep.
Different types of cannabis have different types and amounts of cannabinoids and terpenes
Always consult your doctor before you begin taking a supplement or make any changes to your existing medication and supplement routine. This is not medical advice , but it is information you can use as a conversation-starter with your physician at your next appointment.
For people considering using cannabis, it can be a little intimidating and confusing to figure out what type of cannabis is best. There are many different strains of cannabis available. How do you know which one to choose?
Working with a knowledgeable medical provider and dispensary is essential. You can also use this basic knowledge of these natural cannabis compounds to identify the strain of cannabis that’s right for you.
Here are a few key things to know:
The most common cannabis strains are Indica and Sativa. There are also hybrid strains that combine the two. Indica is generally considered to be relaxing and sleep promoting. Sativa is generally regarded as more energizing and invigorating.
However, some scientists who study cannabis say that these generalizations of indica and sativa aren’t particularly accurate or useful. More important, they say, is the composition of cannabinoids and terpenes. When considering using cannabis for sleep (or other health conditions), these scientific experts say we’re better served by using an understanding of the effects of cannabinoids and terpenes to choose the particular strain that’s most suited to our individual needs.
When it comes to sleep, generally that means identifying a strain that contains relaxing terpenes, and a balance of CBD and a not-too-high concentration of THC. In addition to increasing the euphoric and mind-altering effects, higher concentrations of THC can make you feel sluggish the next day .
Don’t be shy about asking a lot of questions, and working with your physician and dispensary to make an informed choice you’re comfortable with.
Know potential side effects of cannabis for sleep use
Cannabis can be helpful in bringing about sleep. It does have side effects that you should know. They include:
- Next-day grogginess, especially with overuse and/or a high-THC strain.
- Overuse and high-THC strains can also produce dry mouth, euphoria, and increased appetite after ingestion
- After extended use, possible withdrawal symptoms that may include changes to mood (feelings of anxiety or depression) and changes to sleep (trouble falling asleep, vivid dreams)
Where you live affects how you can use cannabis
The state laws governing cannabis for medical and recreational use are changing often these days. As of this month, 10 states have now legalized cannabis for recreational use. (Michigan became the latest to legalize cannabis in our most recent election.) In 33 states, medical cannabis is currently legal.
Even if you live in a state where cannabis is legal without a prescription, I recommend talking with your doctor, as you would before using any sleep aid or supplement.
Keep in mind, there are different ways to ingest cannabis besides smoking, which obviously carries health risks. If you’re considering cannabis for sleep, I recommend using a tincture or vaping, so you don’t expose yourself to the health hazards associated with smoking.
And remember, you can use many of the natural compounds found in cannabis on their own, in isolated form or combined with other natural ingredients. Many of the sleep-encouraging terpenes found in cannabis are also present in sleep-promoting essential oils and natural supplements, including hops, ylang ylang, and lavender.
CBD is fast-growing in its popularity as a therapy for sleep, anxiety, and cognitive performance. The benefits of CBD are so promising, I included CBD in my own sleep formula, Aktive Sleep Booster, along with other natural sleep-boosting ingredients including valerian and hops.
I hope this has been a helpful primer on some of the basics of cannabis and its influence over sleep. There’s lots of emerging scientific evidence about cannabis and its potent natural chemical compounds. I’ll be sure to update you as we learn more about how cannabis works and what it may be able to do for our sleep and health.Thinking About Using Cannabis For Sleep? Here Are Some Things To Know I’ve had a lot of patients and others of you ask me about using cannabis for sleep. I thought I’d take some time to go over
Best Edibles for Sleep – Using Indica Edibles for Sleep
Sleep plays an important role in maintaining the optimum health of both body and mind, yet a large population suffers from sleep disorders. According to a study, more than 40% of people in the US suffer from Insomnia, while 10-15% are diagnosed with chronic insomnia. Indica cannabis is a controversial medication that aids sleep and does not result in any form of side effects usually associated with allopathy.
When we talk of weed for medical use, edibles are agreed to be the best way to consume cannabis. Best edibles for sleepare made from the Indica strains of cannabis due to their unique property of encouraging sleep and relaxation.
Role of THC and CBD in Sleep
THC and CBD are two of the most sought cannabis compounds. THC brings psychoactive properties whereas CBD is a non-psychoactive compound. Different types of weed incite different high. Some weed provides soothing and sedating effects while others can make you creative and energetic. Therefore, before considering the best edibles for sleep, identifying the right cannabis is the key. What is the role of THC and CBD in helping with sleep?
- THC or Tetrahydrocannabinol – can make you high depending on the amount of the compound in the cannabis. It’s also responsible for the sedating effect and supporting sleep.
- CBD or Cannabidiol – a non-intoxicating and no-high compound, the CBD has a wide range of medical use.
When selecting the best edibles to aid in sleep, it’s necessary that you select the strain with a high THC concentration than CBD.
Indica Cannabis for Sleep
The humble weed plant has two broad classification – the Indica and Sativa. Indica strain of cannabis is known for its heavy, sedating, and relaxing effects which assist in falling asleep. On the other hand, the Sativa strain is quite the opposite of Indica providing head high with clarity and focus, it is also known for its energizing effects. Therefore, when selecting a cannabis strain for sleep or sleep disorders, it’s the Indica that you should choose.
You can find Indica edibles in all shapes and sizes from cookies to brownies. When it comes to weed edibles, there is no recipe that can go wrong. People mix weed in just about anything. Weed extracts such as tincture and oils have made it much easier to include weed in the diet. Simply add a few drops of tincture or oil to your recipe and you have tasty sleepy delight.
Weed in the appropriate dosage is a great sleep remedy reducing the time it takes for the user to fall asleep and maintain sleep. Compared to modern medicine, cannabis is a natural remedy with little to no side effects. Experts suggest that weed edibles can effectively deliver patients with insomnia to sleep. While some studies even claiming long-term benefits of consuming weed.
However, in excessive dosage weed may make the situation worse for patients with insomnia. The question you might ask is how many mg of edibles should I eat? A medical professional is the best person that considers the potency, your general condition, and the effects of the ingredients to suggest the appropriate dosage. Regardless, your body is the best place to look for signs of the right dosage. An excessive dosage will lead to weed hangovers and distortions after you wake.
Using your indica kief will be one of the most effective ways to get a good sleep if you do not have indica edibles. Check out 10 things you can do with your kief
General Guidelines on Dosage
- Purpose of Usage
When looking for the sleep-inducing effects, you would want to consume the cannabis edible right before heading to bed. A moderately potent weed edible is sufficient to provide you the relaxing effect and deliver you to sleep. These edibles usually contain 2.5 to 5 mg of THC.
Aside from medical use, people also use cannabis for recreation during social gatherings and during work shifts. Edibles are suitable as they provide a slow THC release which keeps the user high enough to enjoy the situation but not sedated, which can disable the physical capacity of the user.
While the Indica strain is great for sleep, it might not be ideal for social events. For recreation when you have the day’s work ahead, the Sativa strain is recommended. So, depending on your intention, different cannabis edible should be chosen.
- The Potency of the Weed Edible
As the THC content varies across strains of cannabis, potency is crucial when considering the weed edible. If you eat an edible with 1000mg THC, you would either be running around in all directions, hallucinating, vomiting or knocked-out for days.
In edibles, the potency of the cannabis is measured in milligrams. A weed capsule is 2.7 milligram and sufficient to provide the adequate high required to relaxed your body and keep your mind focused. A chocolate bar can have 100 mg diving in 10 equal cubes. Hence, consuming a single cube can deliver high amounts of THC.
Consume Weed Edibles in Full Stomach and Stay Close to Home
When consuming any form of weed, stay close to home. If you take it during the day, stay at home and away from physical activities such as lifting, driving, workouts, and related activities. However, the best time to consume weed edibles is during the night when you can relax and fall asleep peacefully.
Absolutely stay away from driving when under the influence of weed. Even when the effects of weed are not apparent stay away from driving. As edibles can take anywhere from 30 minutes to 3 hours to reveal its effects, users might be tempted to run an errand at the local grocery store. Do not do it or you might be severely injured in the best case scenario and even lose your life. Accidental fatalities when under the influence of weed is very high in the US and Canada.
Eating weed in an empty stomach is also discouraged. You would experience a more balanced and consistent high when you consume the edible on a full stomach. If you observe weed edibles available in the market, they come mostly in the form of sweet delights because they are meant to be consumed as dessert after a meal.
Eating Edibles While Pregnant
Due to the lack of research and case evidence, consuming weed edibles when you are pregnant is discouraged. The THC in the weed can pass to the developing baby through the blood that you share with the baby and when breastfeeding through the milk. So, nursing and pregnant women should abstain from consuming weed edible when pregnant.
Top 5 Indica Strains of Edibles for Sleep
We have selected the best Indica strains that are known for their sleep-inducing effects. Here goes the list.
- Northern Lights
A perennial favorite, the northern lights is one of the most famous Indica strains of cannabis. The effects of this strain will have you sleeping like a baby with no worries of the world. As the high of the strain starts to revel, you can feel a strong body buzz that engulfs the entire body from head to toe relaxing muscles and pacifying the mind in dreamy euphoria. The laziness induced by the stain makes it comfortable to sink in the couch and doze in sleep. Aside from aiding sleep, the stain is great for depression, stress, and anxiety.
- Big Bud
A strain that gained popularity in the US while its genetics is from the Netherlands. The Big Bud is big on its effects that can make the user lethargic, hungry, and sleepy. A couch-lock strain, the Big Bud is a nighttime strain that will have you sleeping in no time. As with most Indica, the Big Bud also provides complete body relaxation that relieves pain, fatigue, and stress allowing you to sleep comfortably.
- Tahoe OG Kush
A variety of the renowned Kush, the Tahoe OG Kush is recommended for insomnia, pain, and lack of appetite. As the high of the strain hits, you feel a body numbing effect that relieves pain and encourages eating. Once you satisfy the large appetite it incites, the eyelids become too heavy to keep open and you doze off in a sleep that can last hours on end.
- Granddaddy Purple
With one of its parents as the Big Bud, the Granddaddy Purple packs a punch of THC making it one of the best edibles for sleep. This strain provides a physical relaxation while delivering the mind a dreamy buzz. The strain would make you lethargic with no desire to move. Hence, best to be taken when on the bed, watching a movie, and ready to sleep.
- God’s Gift
Another American favorite, God’s Bud is known for its effects that make you feel like a god. After delivering a dreamy and blissful effect, the strain puts you in a deep sleep. A great all-round strain, you can use it for recreation as well as insomnia.
Cannabis with an Indica profile has a wide range of benefits for the body. In the form of edibles, it provides a comfortable sleep, reduces anxiety and stress, soothes the muscles, reduces pain and inflammation, and decreases seizures. With little to no side effects, cannabis edible is the right medication for all types of sleep disorders.Using indica edibles to help you fall asleep can be a great decision but finding the best edibles may take some time – unless you read out thorough guide to choosing indica edibles! ]]>