Cannabis and Sleep: How This Ancient Medicine Can Help a Modern Malady

Are you tired of bad sleep? Join the club. According to some estimates, as many as 50% of American adults suffer from insomnia. More than just “a hard time falling asleep,” insomnia encompasses a wide variety of sleep disorders, and it’s been a frustratingly difficult condition to treat. But a growing body of research indicates that one of humankind’s oldest medicines offers an effective, gentle, and sustainable solution. To that end, let’s walk through a few of the ways cannabis and sleep can make for a great match.

Cannabis and Sleep: How Cannabinoids Work With Our Bodies
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There are many ways to tackle insomnia, but the truth is that many—if not most of them—aren’t great long-term solutions. That’s why cannabis may present a better approach. Instead of just drugging us to sleep, cannabis can help restore and promote a more sustainable sleep cycle.

How? We’ve written a about cannabinoids before—the major “active ingredients” in cannabis—and how they interact with the Endocannabinoid System, a major regulatory network. You probably already know about the two major ones, THC and CBD. Each imparts very different effects on our bodies, including the ways they can help us find deeper sleep.

THC, of course, is the cannabinoid most directly responsible for the cannabis plant’s distinctive euphoria. And according to a 2008 study, cannabis strains with a higher THC content reduced the amount of Rapid Eye Movement (REM) sleep. REM is the sleep stage in which people experience dreams, and the working theory is that fewer dreams can lead to more time spent in the restorative deep sleep stage. And for those of us who suffer from anxiety or PTSD, a reduction in REM can lead to fewer nightmares, a major contributor to poor sleep.

Cannabis and Sleep: A Growing Role for CBD

One potential drawback to using high-THC cannabis for sleep is that some people experience a groggy “hangover” the next morning. That’s where CBD can help. Until recently, the “second cannabinoid” received far less attention than THC, but we now know it’s a powerful anxiolytic (or anti-anxiety medication), and exhibits many other useful properties as well.

On the topic of cannabis and sleep, a recent large-scale study found that CBD helped most test subjects’ sleep improve by exerting a subtle calming effect on the nervous system. Because it decreased their anxiety and sleeplessness, the group of over 100 participants found that their overall quality of life was improved.

It’s important to point out a key finding of many cannabis studies: How much cannabis you take plays a very big role in how helpful it will be. When we enjoy cannabis recreationally, it’s natural that we have the amount that feels right.

But when it comes to cannabis and sleep—or for that matter any medical use—most cannabis experts suggest taking only the smallest effective dose. Why? It’s because cannabis is biphasic, meaning that its effects change depending on its dosage. And while it may sound counterintuitive, research indicates that the majority of us actually get a greater medical benefit from smaller amounts of cannabis.

cannabis for sleep

Do you need more information on the intersection of cannabis and sleep? Just drop us a line! We’re always happy to help.

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