Everything you always wanted to know about using cannabis to sleep
Sleep. It’s so important to health and wellbeing, but so many of us struggle with it.
A good night’s sleep isn’t as easy as you think, at least for a large part of the population. If you are between 18 and 64 years old, you need 7 to 9 hours of good sleep every night. Surprisingly, 35.2% of American adults sleep less than 7 hours a night, while 10-30% of adults report dealing with chronic insomnia.
A night of deep sleep is important to feeling good the next day, and it also helps prevent a variety of health problems across the board. It’s critical to helping the body repair internally, preventing disease, maintaining the immune system, preventing weight gain … the list goes on.
Because so many people find good sleep elusive, we’ve seen an increase in over-the-counter drugs that target sleep. Yet so many of them don’t work, leaving people extremely dazed the next day. And this is where cannabis comes in.
Why cannabis works so well as a sleep aid
Cannabis has been a well-known sedative for centuries due to its relaxing properties. There are numerous studies to support this point. Additionally, a 2019 survey of 1,000 people asked that three-quarters of them used cannabis to help them sleep and said it was helpful.
But for anyone starting out in the world of cannabis and for those who dearly want it to help them sleep, read on so that you can better search the pharmacies for the right product.
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There are hundreds of naturally occurring chemicals in the cannabis plant that affect sleep. The two main compounds are broken down into cannabinoids and terpenes. There are three main cannabinoids:
THC: Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is the primary psychoactive compound in the plant that will get you high. It’s famous for its pain relieving and anti-nausea properties, but it also has powerful sedative effects and can help you fall asleep faster. THC has also been found to shorten your time in REM sleep, which, to laypeople, means you have fewer dreams. This is especially helpful if you are prone to nightmares that can wake you up in the middle of the night and make it difficult to fall asleep.
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CBD: Cannabidiol (CBD) is a therapeutic compound that won’t get you high. The relaxing properties are well known and are already widely used to treat anxiety, pain, and depression. Studies have shown that it is also beneficial for promoting alertness and reducing drowsiness during the day.
CBN: Cannabinol (CBN) is a lesser-known compound, although it has potent sedating properties that have been found to be enhanced when ingested with THC. CBN also has valuable medicinal benefits such as the ability to fight pain and inflammation, and stimulate appetite.
Then there are terpenes. Terpenes have received more attention lately because recent studies have shown that they hold promise for improving the medicinal properties of cannabis. These invisible molecules are also found in other plants and are responsible for giving cannabis strains their unique smell and taste. More importantly, terpenes also have medicinal properties, and certain terpenes are helpful as sleep aids:
Tips on using cannabis as a sleep aid
There are certain ways you can get the most out of cannabis to ensure a good night’s sleep:
Timed coordination: The timing of your intake plays a huge role in using cannabis to sleep. This is especially true if you are using groceries. Edibles take a while to turn on, although they are more effective in helping you sleep longer. However, it can take anywhere from 30 minutes to two hours for it to set in. Once this is the case, the duration can be 8-12 hours. To be safe, take medication at least an hour before bedtime.
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Tribes: When it comes to the plant’s calming and relaxing properties, probably more people buy indica strains than sativas. However, studies have shown that there are few differences between the two strains and that the same strain can make one person sleepy while the other is aroused. Instead of buying cannabis based on indica or sativa, look for products that have been laboratory tested so you have a good idea of the chemical makeup. Many pharmacies these days sell products that provide detailed information about the effects of a strain.
Experiment: Different cannabis products affect people differently. There is no single solution. While CBD is widely recognized as a sedative tranquilizer that works well for many people, there are also those where either a low or a high dose of THC is best for sleep. You can also buy cannabis products made specifically for sleep. It doesn’t hurt to experiment and see what works for you.
Photo from Shopify via Burst
Of course, it also helps to follow other known sleep habits that help improve sleep. Don’t rely on cannabis as a one-time solution. Here are some tried and tested tips for cannabis:
- Reduce exposure to bright light before bed (this includes limiting time on tablets, smartphones, and TVs).
- Limit caffeine consumption later in the day. Try to get your last cup at noon. Better yet, replace coffee with green tea
- Stop taking naps during the day
- Go to bed at the same time every night
- Don’t consume too much alcohol before bed
If you are taking any medication, especially prescription drugs, always consult your doctor before using cannabis.
This article originally appeared on Cannabis.net and was republished with permission.
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