If you’re like 25% of the population you probably suffer from insomnia or some other sleep-related condition. If you’ve ever had trouble falling and staying asleep even with the assistance of sleep aids like prescription drugs or melatonin supplements, you may be looking at other options. Fortunately, cannabis is an amazing natural remedy that can help improve the way you fall asleep and make it easier to stay asleep. Here’s everything you need to know about using cannabis for sleep.
Cannabis and Insomnia
Insomnia is a common condition that affects 30 to 40% of the population at some point in their lives. According to the national sleep foundation, 15% of adults will suffer from chronic insomnia while 50 to 70 million adults will suffer from the effects of other sleep disorders.
Acute insomnia can be caused by poor sleep habits, clinical depression, anxiety disorders, lack of exercise or activity, chronic illness, and certain medications. Symptoms include difficulty falling and staying asleep and not waking up feeling refreshed and well-rested.
While insomnia is a common condition, many people don’t achieve a good night’s rest with lifestyle changes or prescription medications. Many people have made the switch to cannabis to help manage insomnia and difficulty sleeping. Hundreds of personal experiences and anecdotal evidence suggest that cannabis is a great choice for falling and staying asleep.
How Cannabis Helps you Fall and Stay Asleep
Before we dive into the meat and potatoes of cannabis and sleep science, we should brush up on cannabinoids and marijuana science.
Each marijuana strain offers a variety of effects. Some tend to be more energizing while others tend to be sedative and relaxing, and the effects depend entirely on the balance of cannabinoids and terpenes found within the strain.
THC is the psychoactive cannabinoid found in marijuana that is responsible for the high feeling and cerebral effect. However, it’s also great for inducing sleep. THC reduces the time you spend in REM sleep, which reduces dreams (and nightmares if you suffer from PTSD) and makes for better sleep.
On the other hand, you have CBD which is the non-psychoactive cannabinoid found in cannabis. It helps your body achieve equilibrium by affecting the body in a ton of different ways. CBD is technically on the stimulating side, so it isn’t the best choice when it comes to using cannabis to get to sleep. However, when it’s taken daily as a supplement, it can affect your natural sleeping and waking patterns and provide you with more restful sleep in the long term.
Last, you have terpenes. Terpenes are essential oils produced by all plants, including cannabis. Like cannabinoids, they also offer their own benefits and effects. Sedative terpenes like Myrcene, Limonene, and Caryophylleneare found in higher concentrations in indica strains and can boost the sedative effects of THC in a phenomenon known as the entourage effect.
As a general rule of thumb, keep this in mind:
- THC strains are usually more effective for sleep, as long as it doesn’t cause you any anxiety.
- If anxiety keeps you up, a daily CBD supplement or strains high in CBD may be better for you.
- Strains high in relaxing and sedative terpenes like Myrcene, Caryophyllene, and Limonene can help you fall asleep more effectively.
- CBN is also said to have sedative effects when combined with THC.
- Indica strains with high concentrations of THC and CBN and sedative terpenes are your best options for getting a good night's rest.
- Tahoe OG, Granddaddy Purple, Northern Lights, 9 lb Hammer, and Purple Kush are the best strains for insomnia because they fit these conditions.
How to Fight Insomnia with Cannabis
While there are many strains available that fit the bill for successful sleeping, studies have shown that edibles tend to be more effective than smoking alone.
In 2013, a study was published in The American Journal of Addiction that looked at the sleep patterns of chronic cannabis smokers. Each of the participants took 20mg of cannabis edibles around the clock for 7 days, eating anywhere between 40mg to 120mg of THC per day. The results of the study showed that higher concentrations of THC in the evening resulted in shorter sleep latency and an easier time falling asleep.
Cannabis smokers who enjoy flower tend to have a more variant experience with using cannabis to get to sleep. Each strains differing levels of cannabinoids and terpenes make it difficult to accurately dose for a good night’s sleep. On the other hand, edibles are made with refined forms of THC that are easier to dose and won’t throw you for a loop with other cannabinoids and terpenes. They also tend to last much longer, allowing you to fall asleep and stay asleep.
When you eat a marijuana edible, you digest and metabolize the THC through your liver and into your blood. Through this process, your body and mind are altered by the signals to your brain from your liver. Since metabolization is a slow process, you won’t normally feel the effects of an edible for 45 minutes to an hour on average. It may be more, it may be less. However, unlike smoking cannabis flowers, which effects peak after about 15 minutes, edibles can last up to eight hours, which is the perfect amount of time for a full sleep cycle. While inhaled cannabis kicks in faster, edibles last way longer and can help you sleep more soundly without waking up.
How Long Does it Take to Fall Asleep with Cannabis?
Results from using cannabis for insomnia is different for everyone. For some people, cannabis edibles kick in between 45 minutes to an hour. However, it’ll take more time for some and less time for others. Additionally, every metabolism works at a different speed. Some people may need to eat 100mgs of THC to fall and stay asleep while others will only need 10mgs. If you’re just getting started with edibles, make sure you start at a low dose and slowly work your way up until you find what feels good. Always wait an hour before eating more edibles.
Smoking cannabis to get to sleep can also be effective when you find the perfect strain for your needs. With a high enough dose, you can fall asleep in as little as 15 minutes, though your quality of sleep may suffer as the effects wear off, unlike edibles.
If you're interested in learning more about cannabis edibles and which products may be best for sleep, be sure to check out all of the different and mindful cannabis products found through Vana.