FAQ Sleep and Cannabis

Will cannabis help me get a good night’s sleep?

Will cannabis help me get a good night’s sleep?

It seems so easy: Just put your head on the pillow, close your eyes and snooze. But about 40 million Americans have some sort of sleep issues. Research clearly indicates that cannabis can help those with sleep disorders.

Studies have shown that cannabis can improve the duration and quality of sleep. Cannabis, in all its forms — edibles, vapor and smoking the plant — relaxes users. A 1973 study suggests that THC reduces the amount of time it takes those with insomnia to fall asleep. Another study found that those that regularly used THC fell asleep faster.

“Marijuana is an effective sleep aid because it restores a person’s natural sleep cycle, which so often falls out of sync with our schedules in today’s modern lifestyle,” says Dr. Matt Roman, a medical marijuana physician.

In a study published in January 2018, ‘having trouble getting, and staying, asleep,” is among the chief reasons given by those seeking certification/prescription for medical marijuana use.

What is it about cannabis that gets me sleepy?

The science of why cannabis promotes sleep is not entirely clear, but most as more research is conducted, there are a few explanations.

  • CBD-THC: There are literally more than 100 cannabinoids in cannabis, the two most prominent being cannabidiol (CBD) and tetrahydrocannabinol THC. CBD has calming, anti-anxiety, and anti-psychotic effects. It also provides a longer sleep time and improves insomnia, according to research. THC appears to be the more effective cannabinoid for sleep. Cannabis containing increased levels of THC make it easy to fall asleep quicker and will help modulate breathing. (NOTE: While CBD and THC garner most of the attention, researchers now believe another endocannabinoid – cannabinol (CBN) – may be a helpful “sleep molecule.” CBN is most commonly associated with cannabis that has aged or exposed to oxygen, releases the sedative properties of THC when these two cannabinoids are used together.)
  • Indica-Sativa: Generally speaking, indica and sativa are the two major cannabis types. Nearly all cannabis sold today is a combination or “hybrid” of the two. Indica strains tend to promote relaxation and a “body” high and is commonly used to treat insomnia. Sativas produce a “head” high that can calm an anxious mind. When it comes to sleep aid, most experts suggest indica-dominant cannabis.
  • Terpene Profile: Terpenes are the aromatic compounds in all plants – including cannabis – and they interact with your body in many ways. Terpenes found in lavender and chamomile, for example, both promote sleep. Researchers are discovering that the terpenes in cannabis may help promote sleep. Sedating terpenes include: limonene, linalool, myrcene, pinene and terpinolene.
Does cannabis help with sleep apnea?

Generally speaking, sleep apnea is a condition that makes it more difficult to stay asleep. For those with the condition, muscles in the airway relax during sleep. This can lead to difficulty breathing that can bring the affected out of deep sleep or wake them entirely. It is a medical condition that requires a medical diagnosis.

The medical marijuana community has long held that the substance can be used to treat the condition. But because it is illegal on the federal level, no substantive scientific research has been done. However, a study funded by the National Institutes of Health recently showed that a type of synthetic cannabis was an effective treatment.

Marijuana may also help with specific conditions like sleep apnea, where a person’s breathing is interrupted during sleep. People suffering from this condition often stop breathing during the night.

THC has been shown to help calm or stabilize this type of sleep-disordered breathing.
In a 2013 study, researchers administered synthetic THC to sleep apnea patients, and found that their nighttime breathing and symptoms improved in a dose-dependent manner.

How long before bedtime should I medicate?

Like all medications, timing is key when it comes to cannabis as a sleep aid. And since there are many ways to consume cannabis, answering this question is complicated.

Inhalation (smoking or vaping) is the most common consumption method. If you prefer this way to ingest your cannabis, give yourself 30 to 60 minutes before going to bed. You should feel relaxed and find it easier to fall asleep.

Edibles, beverages, tinctures and capsules can take hours before you feel the effects, but these methods are much longer lasting. Edibles require patience – and some trial and error –before figuring out the maximum benefit. Because edible cannabis needs to be processed through the digestive system, the medicinal benefits can last eight to 12 hours.

Dosing is just as important – if not more so – than timing. Research has shown that cannabis consumers experience improved sleep with smaller doses, especially when treating something in addition to sleep disturbances, such as pain, spasticity, PTSD. Greenlight Approved always recommends the “start low and go slow” method. When it comes to sleep, a little can go a long way.

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