Weed for sleep?

The use of marijuana for trouble sleeping is one of the more common reasons.

With over 100 cannabinoids weed has many potential chemicals some of which may have more or less sleep inducing properties. That said one of the classic side effects of marijuana is well known to be drowsiness and sleepiness so it’s use as a sleep aid is not a big surprise.

However we will look a bit more closely at specific cannabinoids such as THC, CBD, Delta 8 THC and CBN amongst other cannabinoids in relation to their effects on sleep.

Insomnia

The medical terms of sleep issues is insomnia which as defined by Mayo Clinic is “a common sleep disorder that can make it hard to fall asleep, hard to stay asleep, or cause you to wake up too early and not be able to get back to sleep. You may still feel tired when you wake up. Insomnia can sap not only your energy level and mood but also your health, work performance and quality of life.

medical marijuana for sleep disorders and insomnia

Cannabinoids for Sleep

When smoking a regular joint or cannabis flower though you have probably heard of the major cannabinoids THC and CBD – other cannabinoids though not found in cannabis at levels as high as THC and CBD – certain cannabinoids are considered to have more ‘sleep potential’ or benefits that others.

  1. THC – tetrahydrocannabinol is the main cannabinoid in quantity and the major cause of the psychoactive effects of marijuana, and THC by itself is known to cause drowsiness and somnolence. In fact pure man made THC (e.g. Marinol) has been approved by the FDA for use e.g. in the treatment of cancer/chemotherapy symptoms for nausea and vomiting. One of the known side-effects is drowsiness. In some cases the THC may also help people fall asleep due to properties associated with pain relief and/or anxiety which themselves serve as major potential causes of insomnia.
  2. CBD – cannabinol is the main non-psychoactive component of cannabis and hemp – and is also touted for its ability to help users sleep. Again some of the sleep benefit – like in the case of THC may be associated with its effects on pain and anxiety. Additionally some formulations of CBD include other ingredients which themselves may have sleep inducing properties such as melatonin, chamomile or CBN.
  3. CBN – cannabinol is a less prevalent/minor cannabinoid which has been studied more recently and is showing promise for its sleep inducing properties. It is being increasingly used for helping people sleep. CBD:CBN formulations are particularly sought after.
  4. Delta 8 THC – an isomer of the better known THC (Delta 9) is also increasingly being used for its reported abilities to help people fall asleep and stay asleep better – leading to a better nights sleep and less drowsiness the next day. Given the similar chemical structure it is not surprising that Delta 8 may cause somnolence like THC – but with the added benefits that Delta 8 is considered to be less likely to cause panic or anxiety that some THC users experience and this anxiety reduction may be further beneficial in leading to healthier sleep.

medical marijuana prescription for sleep disorders, insomnia

How do I use marijuana for a good night’s rest?

Many people ingest marijuana by smoking cigarettes it as a joint or with a pipe. If you do not like smoking cigarettes, prefer to protect your lungs, or just dislike marijuana’s signature smell, try vaping devices or THC-rich casts, which are dropped under the tongue. Both methods work when using marijuana for sleep.

How much marijuana to take?

It might take some experimentation to get the dose that’s right for you– so don’t attempt this throughout a work week! If smoking or vaping, you’ll wish to start with simply a few puffs. In some instances you may increase your energy, so pay attention to strains, and select ones that are appropriate for insomnia.

Tishler notes that a little goes a long way. As discussed before, exaggerating it can result in grogginess the next morning. “If you need to re-dose in the middle of the night, that’s [OKAY] too,” Tishler states. “But you should prevent re-dosing if you awaken within four hours of when you require to be up.”

Bear in mind of how you feel after you smoke. Feeling “high” can vary from feeling slight ecstasy, to a slowed sense of time, to enhanced feelings such as cotton mouth.

It’s important to discuss your needs with your doctor and your dispensary to ensure you get the right strain of cannabis for your insomnia.

Timing your consumption for bedtime

Timing is necessary when it concerns using marijuana, specifically for sleep. This is also why Tishler seldom advises edibles, explaining that, “They are unreliable about when they’ll start. Sometimes it’s about one hour, other times it can be more like 2 to 3 hours.”

It can also affect us for longer than intended and cause grogginess in the morning. “Because of the method cannabis is processed from our gut to our liver, the duration of action can be a lot longer, like 8 to 12 hours.” Taking any product for insomnia can have unintended side effects, so be alert and discuss the concerns with your healthcare provider.

While everyone’s physiology is different, it’s generally better to take the marijuana at least an hour before bedtime. According to Tishler, an hour before bedtime is ideal due to the fact that the cannabis will work for about three to 4 hours, assisting you to fall asleep. “That way, people don’t feel the impacts right as they are going to sleep, which can cause excitability and prevent sleep.”

Prior to you sleep, keep this in mind

Of course, not all sleep products work for everyone the same method. In some cases the products can have the opposite affect, increasing insomnia in this case. Cannabis is no different. “People with recent cardiac arrest or poor cardiovascular health should avoid marijuana usage due to increased occurrence of myocardial infarction,” warns Roman.

Likewise, while cannabis is often used to minimize anxiety, some individuals discover that high-THC pressures make them more nervous or paranoid. If you’re one of these people, try out different strains or blends, or let your dispensary know when you’re selecting your strains. You may find that a different mixture can cause sleep without heightening your stress and anxiety.

Things to consider….

Before taking marijuana for sleep disorders and insomnia you should know that,

  • Marijuana is still prohibited in many states and is considered Federally illegal.
  • Speak with your doctor about your trouble sleeping and your sleep cycles. There may be long-term health consequences with interrupted REM, because much of the immune function repair happens in deep sleep.
  • Long-term use of any sleep aid isn’t advised.
  • Cannabis should be used responsibly and using cannabis while pregnant or breastfeeding isn’t suggested unless discussed with your physician
  • Early/teen/long-lasting cannabis usage of cannabis has actually been revealed to have changes on the amount of grey matter in the brain. For teens, cannabis seems to have a lot more profound long-lasting and long lasting effects on the brain and isn’t advised.
  • Marijuana usage isn’t suggested for anyone under 21 years of age due to the fact that of the long-lasting effects on learning and recall.

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