Is cannabis the Sandman’s pest or pal? Cannabis may help you fall asleep, or it may keep you up. The Worse scenario is that it disturbs the sleep you have. If cannabis is helping or harming your sleep patterns, you should know how it influences sleep before you invest and use it.
First, you should understand that healthy sleep depends on many factors, only tangentially related to cannabis.
If you experience sleep apnea because of your obesity or other reason, cannabis is neither a cure nor therapy.
If you use cannabis and stimulants like cigarette smoking, alcohol, or hard drugs, you cannot attribute your sleep problems to cannabis use.
If you are ill with fever, respiratory cough, asthmatic issues, and more, cannabis is not a solution to those medical problems.
If your insomnia is linked to PTSD or other traumatic experience, cannabis may help as one part of a strategic therapeutic plan.
If poor sleep relates to medical conditions like chronic pain, spasticity, migraines, and autoimmune syndromes, cannabis may help as part of an integrated treatment regimen recommended by your physician or specialist.
So, using cannabis to enable a good night’s sleep does not depend solely on strain selection or budtenders’ advice.
No decisive information
The U.S. FDA restriction on cannabis research has led to a lack of decisive information. One article, published in Sleep Medicine Reviews (2014) studied 39 manuscripts only to dismiss the investigation as carrying a substantial risk of bias, “typically by failing to control for other substance use, using measures without psychometric validation and, in the case of many clinical trials, failing to blind participants.”
Nonetheless, some consistency ran through the studies indicating “the evidence indicates that following cannabis use there may be a decrease in slow-wave sleep (SWS) times and a corresponding increase in time spent in stage 2 sleep.” Moreover, where medical conditions impact sleep, a reduction in the sleep disturbance appears “to improve quality of sleep without impacting on total sleep time.”
Still, there is reason to think …
There is, however, some reason to believe there is a connection worth exploring.
Cannabis shortens the time it takes to fall asleep. That’s among the reasons it is not wise to use and drive. However, the sleep may not be quality rest. You may awake tired and dry-eyed. Users should try strains that promote a mild euphoria and clarified focus. High euphoria can exhaust neuro energy.
THC will affect the nervous system by binding to neurotransmitters. That mechanism of action can agitate the neurology or restore its proper transmission. Agitation and excitement are not likely to encourage quality sleep. Highly potent THC strains also risk pushing users toward a paranoia that exhausts any attempt to sleep.
Some research shows an increase in the REM (Rapid Eye Movement) of apparently sleeping test subjects. REM sleep is the period where dreaming occurs, so the increased REM may reflect psychoactive experiences. However, other studies report a reduction in REM, which may or may not be helpful. People living with PTSD, for instance, are prone to disturbing dreams, so they should select their cannabis strain carefully.
THC may restore or modulate the flow of electric signals along with the nervous system. As it does, it reduces tension, anxiety, depression, and stress, inviting rest. This balance may increase sleep duration, increasing the slow-wave sleep considered “deep sleep.”
CBD has a different mechanism of action than THC. It runs interference with the body’s assault on the nervous system. CBD triggers an “entourage effect” that enables sleep by blocking negative issues like spasticity, pain, neuropathy, and more. Potent CBD strains produce couchlock sedation that may or may not be fully restful.
Using cannabis with alcohol, tobacco, medications, or hard drugs only crosses purpose and effect. While the cannabis may shorten the time to sleep, the other influences will battle the brain and body to tax systems instead of resting and restoring capabilities.
So, what’s it to you?
If you want a recreational drug experience, perhaps sleep is not a primary concern. After all, if you drink enough alcohol on a bender, you will sleep a long time later without any real rest. That may not bother you because you enjoyed the trip and don’t expect to repeat it with any regularity. Likewise, if you use cannabis to reach some new psychoactive experience, sleep is not a significant concern.
However, if you experience insomnia or a “sleep” damaged by chronic pain, involuntary muscle spasms, or effects of scores of autoimmune syndromes, you may want an experience that soothes, reduces, or eliminates those effects.
The ratio of THC to CBD plays a critical role. Some strains have a crucial balance between these two influencers. Shoppers must experiment with enough options to find the one that benefits them the most.
Tahoe OG Kush has a high THC content at 25%. However, this strain is comforting. It lifts the spirits, leaving you happy and hungry. It will soon have you drifting off into a deep sleep.
God’s Gift is another Kush with an outstanding 27% THC that will hit fast and hard before bedtime. Insomnia presents no challenge to this happy and long-lasting couchlock. You should not use it if you are not near your bed.
Northern Lights is a therapeutic legend. With THC high in the moderate range, it has been used by millions for pleasure and pain. It hits early with a cerebral event that fades into a feel-good comfort. It is excellent for early evening use leading into bedtime hours.
Remedy has only a trace of THC. But its CBD dominance will push aside the anxiety, stress, and pain that fuel insomnia and restless sleep.
Harlequin holds as much as 18% CBD from its Sativa ancestors. It will relax you first, inviting sleep as it deepens. If you are looking to beat insomnia, this may be “a gold standard.”
Any list is too short for your needs. It takes some trial and error, some research, and some smart shopping. A pure CBD may not eliminate the “ghosts” that haunt your sleep, but a potent THC may only aggravate existing problems.
You should remember is that Charlotte’s Web has proven to be a reliable therapy for recalcitrant pediatric epilepsy in a clear sign that certain cannabis strains have a direct and immediate effect on the risks to restful sleep. It is a powerful testimony to cannabis’ potential.
You should focus on trying strains that seem balanced towards the CBD content before introducing more THC. You must consider how cannabis may interact with prescription medications, and you should avoid use with alcohol.