A Detailed Guide on Using Cannabis for Insomnia - December 13, 2021

Cannabis has been known to be a potential agent in managing symptoms of an assortment of medical conditions. One of the top on the list is Insomnia. Though the pharma industry has achieved quite success in treating the disorder, people are now looking for more safer and natural ways to treat the same.

Marijuana and its different cannabinoids such as CBD and THC have been in talks for providing a wide range of therapeutic properties, helping treat different health conditions including chronic pain, anxiety, insomnia, cancer, and what-not! With the growing use of cannabis and its cannabinoids, more minds are curious to know how the plant actually works to relieve insomnia and whether it’s effective or just a hyped subject catching eyeballs.

If you wish to know more about cannabis and its relationship with insomnia, read our full guide where we have discussed the concepts that will give you a more clear picture of how marijuana works in influencing sleep.

Introduction Insomnia and Cannabis

Insomnia can actually hamper your quality of life. It’s the most common sleep disorder, affecting a major chunk of the worldwide population. It not only saps on your energy levels but also your mood and overall health. Different studies and customer reviews suggest that marijuana can help get a better sleep cycle when consumed in moderation following a tight schedule.

As per the American Sleep Association, around 40 million US residents experience insomnia every year and around 70 % of young adults use cannabis to help them sleep.Even people who use marijuana for medical reasons such as chronic pain relief and anxiety report that they experienced quality sleep within a few weeks of the treatment.

Though the subject is interesting, medical research on cannabis and insomnia is still in its infancy stage. A lot of research is yet required to advance the understanding of marijuana’s long-term role in managing insomnia.

Did You Know?
Around 70 million Americans are affected by sleep disorders.

How Does Cannabis Help Treat Insomnia?

The commendable potential of cannabis has piqued interest in the medical community so as to know how cannabis helps treat insomnia. What is the science behind this subject? Well, marijuana contains hundreds of cannabinoids which play a major role in the treatment of various concerns including medical. The two of the most prevalent and popular cannabinoids are:

  • CBD: CBD stands for cannabidiol and is also known as the magical cannabinoid carrying a wide range of therapeutic properties. From chronic pain relief to cancer, people actively use CBD products nowadays.
  • THC: THC or delta-9 THC (Tetrahydrocannabinol) is the psychoactive component found in cannabis plants. THC is known for its euphoric effects that make a person ‘high’.

As mentioned earlier, these cannabinoids contain therapeutic ingredients, making them a perfect substitute even for insomnia. While THC can be sedative for beginners, CBD promotes alertness in low doses, and sleepiness at higher doses. Experts suggest that marijuana restores a person’s natural sleep cycle, which most of the time falls out of sync due to the changing modern lifestyle. CBD and THC contain sleep-promoting effects which happen to be a result of their interaction with the cannabinoid receptors in the brain.

When these cannabinoids interact with the receptors, they send signals to increase levels of sleep-inducing adenosine levels by suppressing the brain’s arousal system. This is how marijuana can help a person feel sleepy.

Did You Know?
42% of CBD users in America use CBD for insomnia.

Cannabis for Insomnia Best Strains for Beginners

If you wish to take cannabis for insomnia, it’s now time for you to pick a strain. Different cannabis strains induce different effects on the human body. Also, what works for a particular person might not work for others or vice-versa. This is why it’s crucial beginners must try trial and error methods with marijuana and see what suits them the best. Here are the different cannabis strains one can try:

Cannabis Indica: Indicas are known for their relaxing and soothing effects. Indica strains produce large amounts of THC, making them popular for relief.

Cannabis Sativa: These strains are popular for providing the feeling of excitement and happiness.

Hybrid strains are also in talks for providing relief from weak sleep patterns. The effects of hybrid strains depend on how much sativa-dominant and indica-dominant the elements are.

Cannabis experts suggest that strains containing less than 20 percent of the THC should be consumed for insomnia. Indicas are generally preferred to promote a better sleep cycle. Below are some of the other marijuana strains that can help people improve their sleep.

  • Harlequin
  • Hindu Kush
  • Grape Ape
  • Pink Kush
  • Wedding Cake

What Does Research Say?

The wide popularity and potential of cannabis and its cannabinoids have exploded the area of research. Every day, there’s new research or study being conducted on CBD, THC or other cannabinoids in order to determine the actual potential of the herbal plant.

As per a 2019 long case series on CBD for sleep, 72 adults with poor sleep were studied where 48 patients reported improved sleep score in the first four months of the study while reported fluctuating sleep cycles for the next few months. The study concluded that controlled research is still needed to state bold claims.

Another study reported that marijuana may have therapeutic potential for the treatment of insomnia but delta-9 THC could impair sleep quality in the long-term. Again, a more detailed study is required to have a better understanding of the cannabinoids and its role in the treatment of insomnia.

Terpenes Play an Important Role in Promoting Sleep

Another factor that influences sleep is terpenes. These are a diverse class of organic compounds primarily produced by plants including cannabis. They are known for providing unique aromatherapy scents to different trees and plants. Some of the popular sleep-inducing terpenes are :

  • Myrcene
  • Beta-Caryophyllene
  • Linalool
  • Beta Pinene
  • Terpinolene

Now, how do these compounds promote sleep? Terpenes do their job either by reforming the way CBD binds with the receptors present in the body’s endocannabinoid system or producing an effect that supports CBD’s interaction in the body. Terpenes contain anxiolytic and analgesic properties that help in offering a sense of calmness, relaxation to combat broken sleeping patterns and promote sound sleep. As cannabis strains require more detailed research, the data on terpenes is also emerging. Individual research on each terpene is yet to be conducted in order to state anything bluntly.

Using Cannabis for Sleep

Using Cannabis for Sleep

Timing Is Important

Timing is important for using different marijuana products, especially for sleep. As mentioned earlier, different cannabis products take different time to show their effects on the body. Speaking of edibles, gummies are effective but they are unreliable as sometimes they take one hour to kick in and sometimes it could be up to three hours. Though each body responds differently to marijuana, taking your cannabis dose half an hour before bedtime is advised. Cannabis takes around 2-3 hours to induce the sleepy effects, taking it just around the bedtime can cause excitement and hence, trouble in sleeping.

Marijuana Can Be Sedative

Have you ever wondered what’s in marijuana that makes falling asleep easier and faster? Scientific studies suggest it’s the THC component in the herbal plant that is sedative, making you feel relaxed and sleepy.

It is said that earlier studies on marijuana and insomnia were more focused on THC strains but with cannabis illegalization at the federal level, no further studies were conducted more actively. But as compounds like CBD, CBG are gaining recognition in respect to health and wellness, one can find marijuana easily available in wellness products, paving the way for further research.

Effects You May Experience

Since cannabis comes in different strains, the effects each strain produces are also different. People report different effects after consuming cannabis for sleep. Apart from being a sleep promoting agent, THC also induces some other effects like relaxation, dizziness, dry mouth, fatigue, nausea, vomiting, loss of balance, problem in concentration, hallucinations, etc. Beginners are more likely to feel these kinds of side-effects while regular cannabis users usually have a tolerance that helps them digest the drug safely, in most of the cases.

What’s the Ideal Dosage?

There’s no particular answer to this question as different cannabis products work differently for different people. There are CBD gummies, oil, capsules, beverages, etc to be used for sleep and the concern of ideal dosage depends on various factors. Your body weight, height, medical condition, etc all these factors influence how marijuana works for you. For CBD in particular, clinical trials suggest patients with insomnia can consume anywhere between 25 mg to 1500 mg per day.

If you are a beginner who’s not sure about the dosage, always start with a low dosage and then gradually increase it as per your body’s reaction to cannabis. Once you feel a particular dosage works well for you, stick to it unless you require a higher amount to achieve desired results. Above all, consultation with your primary doctor regarding cannabis consumption would be the safest option to go for!

What Are the Risks?

Experts believe that marijuana usage in the short-term can be beneficial for improved sleep cycle but long-term consumption can be risky. Doctors recommend not using sleep aids including cannabis owing to their potential to adversely affect the sleep cycle and cause other side effects too.

It is said so because people who consume cannabis for long term tend to develop a tolerance level which can be sedating, and may increase your need to take more to get the same results. Following are the short term consequences associated with long-term cannabis consumption-

  • Reduction in overall sleep timing
  • Lack of quality sleep
  • Broken sleep pattern
  • Irritation

Also, keep in mind that people suffering from poor cardiovascular health and recent heart attacks should resist taking cannabis, say experts.

Best Cannabis Products for Better Sleep

There are different cannabis products available to be consumed for insomnia relief. The popular way to get a good night rest is via smoking cannabis flowers in a joint or with a pipe. In addition to smoking, another effective way is to consume high-potent cbd gummies. A wide range of people prefer cbd gummies to get relief from a variety of medical conditions including sleep, chronic pain, anxiety, PTSD, inflammation, etc.

Though gummies take a good time of about 2 hours to kick in the effects, the results they deliver are long-lasting and more satisfying. CBD oil and tinctures are also widely used for better sleep. Other products like cbd chocolates, candies, cbd beverages are also available in the market but might not be the ideal choice when it comes to better sleep. It is said that CBD works the best to get relief from sleeping disorders.

Synthetic forms of marijuana are also available which are believed to relieve insomnia and nightmares but the limited research around this subject is concerning. Note that different cannabis products might work differently for different people. What works well for a person might not work the same way for another person. You need to find the product which suits you the best and continue your dosage accordingly.

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Bottom Line

Summing up the whole discussion, it could be concluded that not all sleep aids work the same way for everybody. Some consumers who use THC dominant cannabis strains report anxiety and paranoia while some strains work perfectly for some people. Be it pharmaceutical drugs or cannabis, what works best for a person requires experimenting.

Though existing data on cannabis and sleep emphasize on marijuana’s healing properties to induce sleep, more appropriate information and studies are still needed to enhance our understanding of marijuana’s potential.

Online Medical Card Team