Does Cannabis help you sleep?
For the unfortunate ones, this question will roll through your mind at 3am as you stare at the ceiling in a forlorn attempt to sleep.
It's like running in a dream, but also not. The harder you try to chase it the more difficult it becomes.
Sleep has always been something I prioritize but it still seems at the most crucial times in my life this skill has somehow went from autonomic to impossible.
Cannabis is a safer natural alternative to many pharmaceutical products, but can it help you sleep?
Cannabis is the name of a delivery system for hundreds of natural chemical compounds.
If you'd like a breakdown of the cannabasics check out this article
The primary cannabinoids that are readily available on the market are THC and CBD. As more research comes out on other cannabinoids these become more targeted and easier to access, two up-and-coming cannabinoids are CBN and CBG.
Cannabinoids act on your endocannabinoid receptors to induce an effect.
Due to a globally coordinated attack on cannabis for social and financial reasons research on cannabis is still in it's infancy.
That being said, research has confirmed that cannabis can help assist with sleep and anecdotal evidence (observation) would indicate that people do use it successfully as a sleep aid.
This is where things get a little tricky.
Cannabis is a complex plant made of many chemicals and humans are complex organisms.
No drug is a panacea and cannabis falls under this rule.
What works for someone may not work for someone else. Our needs and reaction to input is unique.
Someone who is using cannabis to reduce pre-bed anxiety to relax enough to fall asleep will have different needs than someone who has issues waking up multiple times through out the night.
This means that there is no "best cannabis product for sleep" as some products are better at different things and sleep is a complicated mechanism.
CBD does not have traditional psychoactive properties, the "high" you experience is predominately caused by THC.
CBD is commonly used for its anxiolytic properties, this means that it may be effective at reducing pre-sleep anxiety or stress that some may get.
The endocannabinoid system is largely responsible for regulating a state of homeostasis within your body, CBD has been shown to be effective a adapting to changing circadian rhythms (sleep wake cycles) within the endocannabinoid system.
The medical research is still very early on CBD and its relationship to the endocannabinoid system, but there are many reports of it's positive affect on sleep.
THC has psychoactive properties and does cause a euphoric high, this can be a positive or negative depending on who you ask.
As for if THC it certainly can help induce sleep - personally I didn't need a study to confirm this.
But the success does also come down to dose.
While THC can help you sleep there is evidence that it may disrupt deep cycle REM sleep.
For those suffering from PTSD, treatment resistant nightmares, or night terrors, deep cycle REM sleep is where much of your dreaming occurs it may be desired to reduce this.
CBN is also known as the sleep cannabinoid.
I know I know... the only reason I left it until now is that it's less commonly found, may be more difficult to track down, and CBD & THC are viable ways to treat many sleep issues.
You can read up more on CBN here.
CBN has recently been gaining a reputation as the most potent sleep cannabinoid.
CNB may assist with falling asleep and maintaining restful REM.
As such many more CBN products are hitting the shelves marketed towards assisting with sleep.
Very rarely are things in nature distilled or isolated; rather they appear as bouquet of complex interactions.
The entourage effect is the term used for different cannabinoids and terpenes interacting together to produce a more balanced effect - You can read up on this interaction here.
Combining different cannabinoids and terpenes together can often result in more balanced and targeted effects.
The most common forms of consumption of cannabis products for sleep are inhaling (smoke or vapor) and ingesting.
The important things to note before choosing what is best for you is that the time to onset of effects and duration of effects is very different for both methods. This means that your preferred method will be based on your unique needs.
Actually, I'll classify this under inhaling, which includes smoking (bongs, pipes, joints, apples, cans) and vaping.
When you inhale cannabis the primary route of absorption is through the lungs. Gas exchange occurs rapidly in the lungs and results in very bioavailable cannabinoids that can be rapidly transported to receptors.
Onset to effects can happen almost immediately with inhaling cannabis.
Because the cannabinoids are rapidly bioavailable they are also metabolized faster and out of your system sooner.
Effects from inhaling cannabis can last 1-3 hrs - From my experience this duration depends largely on the product you're consuming.
Ingesting cannabis can be edibles, beverages, oils, or capsules - anything that you eat, drink, or swallow.
When you ingest cannabis it must be processed by first pass metabolism prior to becoming bioavailable, this means that uptake can take significantly longer.
Edible onset to effects can take from 30-60 minutes.
Effects from ingesting cannabis can last up to 6-8 hrs.
You are a magnificent, sleepless, individual and my recommendation is to pay attention to what your body is telling you when exploring with cannabis and sleep.
For those of you that grew weary and skipped to the bottom here are my tips.
Make sure to pick the right product and right method of consumption for your needs, you can find out how by skipping back up to the middle of this page.
I wish you all of the success with your cannabis curiosity. If there are any questions I can answer make sure to drop them in the comments.
Have you found success with cannabis for sleep? Drop a comment and provide your perspective to the community so they can better navigate the complex world of cannabis.