Cannabis Sleep Aid: 4 Reasons to Try Weed for Insomnia
Insomnia affects an estimated 70 million people in the United States. And with so many people smoking weed, some have asked, “Where can I get a cannabis sleep aid?” Well, if you’re looking for a natural way to get better sleep you may find it at your local dispensary.
A common question that is asked on a daily basis for those who suffer from sleep deprivation is – Can cannabis help you get to sleep?
With so many states now allowing medical marijuana, people have found that one of the most popular ways weed can support their health is as a natural sleep aid. One of the main active components in medical marijuana called THC, or (Tetrahydrocannabinol) is being utilized to help improve sleep. The relaxing properties of indica dominant strains of marijuana are said to help aid in inducing sleep, increasing depth of sleep, and have also been used to treat cases of insomnia, nightmares, and sleep apnea.
While you sleep, your body is doing much more than you may think. As you are off in dreamland, your body works hard in all areas to replenish hormones lost during the day, and repair damage caused to healthy tissues. Since sleep also helps our brain restore itself, it is vital to have a regular sleep schedule. Sleep deprivation can significantly harm your overall health, and cognitive performance.
Using cannabis as a sleep aid can help you get the sleep you need, and the rest your body requires to keep going strong another day. And all without the dangers of dependency, or accidental overdose commonly associated with the use of pharmaceutical sleeping pills! It’s a big win for your health.
Still not convinced that a cannabis sleep aid can help you get the rest you need? Here are just 4 reasons to try weed for insomnia:
- Decreases Sleep Onset Latency
Often we experience difficulty falling asleep if we have too much on our minds or our bodies are suffering from some sort of physical pain. Due to cannabis’s ability to reduce stress, and relieve pain, it is possible that a user of medical marijuana sleeping aids can greatly reduce the time it takes them to fall asleep. This inability to get to sleep is also commonly known as sleep onset latency, or SOL – the length of time that it takes to accomplish the transition from full wakefulness to sleep. The body knows it is time to sleep when the pineal gland in the brain releases melatonin. This creates that drowsy feeling you experience right before entering sleep. Getting to know your body and how it responds to consuming cannabis sleep aids at night is critical in ensuring the right dose is taken at the right time. It is not uncommon to have the opposite effect if too high of a dose is taken too close to your desired bedtime or a sativa dominant strain is taken. So, ask your parmacist at your favorite local dispensary what works best for your needs.
- Increased Deep Sleep Time
In addition to helping you fall asleep faster, a cannabis sleep aid is known to induce longer times spent in deep sleep, also known as slow wave sleep (SWS). This deep sleep is renowned for its highly regenerative properties, and a mode of sleep that is defined by its production of delta brain waves. Here’s how medical cannabis sleep aids work to support this deeper resting phase: as THC binds in the brain with cannabinoid receptors, neuronal communication is disrupted. This makes brain chemicals (neurons) unresponsive and less reactive. This change in brain activity leads to the increased periods of SWS sleep the cannabis user experiences.
- Decreases REM Sleep
Rapid Eye Movement, or REM sleep is the final stage of sleep, and is very important as it is when dreaming occurs. For those using cannabis as a sleep aid, it may also be something to fear. Medical marijuana users have reported that using a cannabis sleep aid helps to reduce the occurrence of dreams, possibly because marijuana tends to dull the brain’s response to the neurotransmitter dopamine. Dopamine also plays a critical part in the dreaming process in terms of the creation and awareness of them. For cannabis sleep aid users, this often results in less anxiety about sleeping and a more foggy feeling upon waking since the dream process is reduced. Those who terminate usage of cannabis as a sleep aid often report the recurrence of intense dreams followed by periods of restlessness. It is for this reason that cannabis sleep aids may help people with recurring nightmares achieve a restful night’s sleep.(4)
- Sleep Apnea
Cannabis sleep aids may also help those who experience sleep apnea, or pauses in breathing during sleep, to help stabilize their respiration. In sleep apnea, airflow is decreased due to a narrowing in the airway during sleep resulting in loud gasps for oxygen. Since REM sleep is the stage when apnea generally takes place, the reduction of REM sleep from THC also helps to reduce risk of this breathing complication. Rather than using a cumbersome CPAP (Continuous Positive Airway Pressure) machine or getting invasive surgery, medical marijuana patients are now noticing a significant reduction in sleep apnea symptoms. This can be also attributed to the way cannabis sleep aids act on nerve cells in the brain that activate muscles in the upper airway region.
It is important, if using cannabis as a sleep aid, to be aware that your body may react in different ways than explained here. So, always check with your doctor and talk about the specific symptoms of sleepless you have. This way, you can get the right strain in the right dosage for your particular sleep problems. Ready to try a cannabis sleep aid? Give it a try!
- Insufficient Sleep Is a Public Health Problem. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Data & Statistics.
- Feinberg I, Jones R. Effects of marijuana extract and tetrahydrocannabinol on electroencephalographic sleep patterns. Clin Pharmacol Ther. 1976 Jun;19(6):782-94.
- Paula Alhola, Päivi Polo-Kantola. Sleep deprivation: Impact on cognitive performance. Neuropsychiatr Dis Treat. 2007 Oct; 3(5): 553–567.
- Michael A. P. Bloomfield, Abhishekh H. Ashok. The effects of Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol on the dopamine system. Nature International weekly journal of science.