Cartoon of a head that can't sleep using cannabis for sleep

Cannabis is used every day by thousands for rest and relaxation. In fact, the treatment of sleep issues is the number one reason people use cannabis. But why? How? This article is the second in a series about cannabis and sleep that looks deeper into the science behind the phenomenon and offers five tips on how to consume cannabis for sleep. Read the first post in the series, Can You Use Cannabis for Sleep in Place of Dangerous Sleep Aids? to learn about replacing harmful sleep aids with cannabis.

Cannabis and sleep. Many swear up and down the two go together like cookies and milk. Peas and carrots. Butter and jelly. (I can stop here, I think you get the picture…)

You may still be wondering:

  • Why do people use cannabis for sleep?
  • How does cannabis promote sleep?
  • What’s the best way to consume cannabis to fall asleep?

Want the answers to these questions and more? Join us as we uncover current research to gain a better understanding of how catching a buzz can help you catch some zzz’s.

Why do People Use Cannabis for Sleep?

Insomnia, or difficulty falling asleep, is the most obvious reason people use cannabis for sleep. However, this only scratches the surface because depending on the particular cannabis strain, marijuana can help people:

  • Fall asleep faster
  • Stay asleep longer
  • Stay alert in waking hours
  • Sleep with fewer interruptions
  • Experience more restful sleep

Considering these benefits, it’s easy to see how cannabis can treat people that suffer from the following five sleep disorders:

  1. Insomnia
  2. Restless leg syndrome
  3. REM sleep behavior disorder
  4. Sleep apnea
  5. Hypersomnolence

Follow our blog to watch for the fourth and final post in this series, which will take a deeper dive into those five conditions and how cannabis treats them all.

How Cannabinoids Affect Sleep

Cannabidiol (CBD). Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). While more than ten cannabinoids have been identified in the marijuana plant, CBD and THC are by far the most well-understood. Unfortunately, years of prohibition has dampened the research frontier for learning more about the medicinal purposes of marijuana.

However, the recent wave of legalization laws around the world has opened doors and made possible new research on the not-so-well understood effects cannabis has on the body. Amidst this sea of knowledge, many practical cannabis medical applications have come to light.

[Read Also: 21 Science-Based Benefits of Medical Marijuana]

The Effects of THC on Sleep

Have you ever smoked a joint then found yourself nodding off on the couch and drifting off to dreamland afterward? More than likely, the cannabis strain you were smoking had a fairly good concentration of THC, which has strong sedative properties.

Studies, such as this one released by the Journal of Clinical Psychopharmacology, reveal that THC interacts with specific cell receptors inside the brain which have a profound effect on the sleep and wake cycle of your body. In this particular study, the researchers concluded that the consumption of 15 mg of THC increased sleepiness and reduced sleep latency. Other notable reported feelings include changes in mood and slight impairment of memory.

The Effects of CBD on Sleep

Different in its mechanism of action from THC, CBD can decrease stage three sleep, but it is effective at counteracting sluggishness and tiredness the following day. Within a survey released by the FEBS Letters, the investigators came to the conclusion that “CBD modulates waking via activation of neurons in the hypothalamus and DRD. Both regions are apparently involved in the generation of alertness.”

Are you scratching your head? Wondering how increasing alertness makes CBD ideal for sleep? Actually, CBD is a great tool for anyone who needs to sleep less, wants to transition to a healthier sleep schedule or desires to stay alert the day after using cannabis to fall asleep.

Notorious for its pain relieving and soothing effects, CBD is a popular choice for the treatment of numerous health conditions, which can hinder one’s ability to fall asleep and stay asleep. Therapeutic effects of CBD include:

  • Combatting pain
  • Reducing anxiety
  • Alleviating inflammation

[Read Also: 9 Remarkable Uses for CBD Oil]

Tips on Consuming Cannabis for Sleep

  1. Want to safely fall asleep fast? Are you a long-time smoker with significant tolerance to cannabis? If so, high-doses of THC may be right for you. Concentrated forms of cannabis, including oils and capsules, harness levels of THC much higher than that of even the best flowers on the scene. After consuming cannabis concentrates, users typically feel a bit drowsy and ready to hit the hay!
  2. If you want the benefits of cannabis for sleep but desire to keep your normal reaction time, it’s better to stick with a lower dose combination of CBD and/or THC.
  3. When starting a regimen of cannabis for sleep, begin with strains that contain a low to moderate amount of both THC and CBD. Evaluate the effects and experiment with various THC and CBD level combinations to find the perfect strain for your sleep disorder.
  4. If a low-dose of CBD and/or THC elicits your desired effects, stick with it! Keep your dosage low as you can to avoid anxiety and to reduce the risk of developing a tolerance.
  5. Don’t miss out on the benefits of CBD! Stigma built up around the concept of CBD producing stimulant effects is still a debated topic. The advantages of CBD promoting relaxation and symptom relief, along with its ability to keep you alert, make it a significant player when it comes to the relationship between cannabis and sleep.