Insomnia affects millions of people worldwide. Its prevalence is especially concerning in Americans, with one in four US adults contracting an insomnia disorder every year.
While there are many traditional medications available for treating insomnia patients, Cannabis has emerged as a promising alternative.
Research suggests that Cannabis can treat insomnia’s underlying symptoms, such as stress and anxiety, thereby indirectly promoting sleep.
In this article, we’ll discuss what scientific evidence has to say about Cannabis’s role as a sleep aid and help you decide whether you should use Cannabis to treat insomnia or not.
Cannabis and Sleep
Insomnia is a condition where a patient cannot fall asleep or retain a deep and restful sleep for long periods or experiences no sleep at all. Some possible reasons for this behavior include:
- Poor Sleeping habits
Cannabis’s use as a sleep-aid dates back to decades. However, more recent research has shed light on the underlying science behind Cannabis and insomnia.
Cannabis and Insomnia: Scientific Evidence
Because of the stigmatization and legal hurdles boxing cannabis science, research to find the link between Cannabis and sleep has stalled for many decades.
Now that the tides are changing, and authorities have greenlit many cannabis-based products to be legally distributed in marketplaces, scientific interest has rekindled.
Cannabis as a Sedative
Sedation is one of the most dominant qualities of Cannabis that help insomnia patients sleep easier and faster. More specifically, THC’s sedative effects — the psychoactive cannabinoid in Cannabis — are held responsible for this behavior. That’s why most existing research is focused on studying the effects of THC-dense cannabis strains on sleep disorders.
Besides sedation, Cannabis is showing excellent medicinal potential for things like pain management, anxiety, stress, focus, neuroprotection, and even sexual enhancement. Insomnia is on this long list; however, research on it is dwindling.
Existing research suggests that CBD — another cannabinoid in Cannabis that is not psychoactive, unlike THC — can help improve insomnia symptoms.
CBD binds to the human endocannabinoid system through CB1 receptors in the brain. CB1 receptors act as buffers and regulate important functions, from pain management to anxiety alleviation.
While CBD doesn’t directly interact with CB1 receptors, it triggers those chemicals that bind to CB1 and produce therapeutic effects.
For instance, CBD stimulates the activity of serotonin that promotes “calmness,” among other things. These indirect effects help CBD treat sleep-disrupting functions and promote better sleep.
A 2018 study studied the relationship between medical Cannabis and insomnia. Researchers researched natural conditions, i.e., not in a lab, and found Cannabis to impact insomnia positively. They regarded CBD, in particular, an even more powerful agent to treat insomnia-related symptoms than THC.
The study also uncovered a diverse range of cannabis strains that could help treat insomnia — more than 460 stretched over a group of 400 subjects. This indicates that Cannabis’s potential as a sleep-aid is vast and sundry; what’s needed is the drive to match each strain to specialize and personalize treatments for different insomniac disorders.
Keep in mind that this study doesn’t substitute for lab-controlled research. However, this kind of “raw and natural” investigation can be used as a stepping stone to more clinical information and insight, nudging scientific inquiry in the right direction in the future.
Terpenes And Sleep Boosting Therapeutic Effects
One of the most exciting attributes of recent search is that scientists are exploring important Cannabis-based compounds other than THC to see how Cannabis affects sleep. Among these, terpenes have surfaced as a promising candidate.
Many terpenes indigenous to the cannabis plant have potent sedative properties. Terpenes are aromatic molecules that impart fragrance and aroma to different plant plants. They possess therapeutic effects that help treat various conditions, such as inflammation and anxiety. Cannabis is rich in terpenes; most of these have shown increasing promise to treat insomnia-related symptoms and induce positive sedation in patients. Some terpenes famous for their sedative qualities include:
Other than these, two more terpenes — pinene and phytl — may reduce the time to fall asleep and improve sleep frequency.
Right, now we’re still in the initial stages of finding out how terpenes fit into the broader debate between Cannabis and insomnia. More extensive scientific evidence can help us understand this relationship further.
How to Take Marijuana to Promote Sleep
Commonly, Cannabis or marijuana is consumed by lighting up a smoke. But, if smoking’s not your thing because you’re worried about your lungs or marijuana’s distinct odor doesn’t appeal to you, opt for vaping devices or THC-dense tinctures. THC tinctures, in particular, are pretty easy to the consumer. All you have to do is put them under your tongue, and wait for them to absorb immediately.
Next, you have to decide on Cannabis’s dosing frequency. Dosage varies from person-to-person. So, it might take some experimentation to land on the right amount. As a general recommendation, start with low doses and gradually pick up things to hit the sweet spot. For most people, little goes a long way. Don’t push your limits. Overdosing can cause some unsettling side-effects, such as grogginess and dry mouth.
Finding the Right Time
Finding the right time before bedtime is also something you need to factor in. As a general recommendation, try to take marijuana at least an hour before sleeping. Also, try not to ingest edibles. Edibles can take a long time to kick and produce the desired sleep-inducing effects. Use some other more dependable delivery system, such as vaping or CBD tincture.
In light of current scientific studies and anecdotal evidence, we can surmise that Cannabis can play a role in treating insomnia. However, with the help of more evidence, we can gauge dosing and other technicalities for widespread commercialization accurately.
Overdosing on cannabis strains, especially those rich in THC, has adverse side effects, such as delirium, hallucinations, dry mouth, and appetite loss.
People who already have underlying mental health disorders should especially talk to a doctor before choosing CBD to treat their ailments. Only a doctor can correctly analyze your health-status and decide which cannabis product will suit you best.