Arthritis to cancer. Glaucoma to seizures. Virtually everything in between. Cannabis consumption is used as a treatment option for a number of medical conditions. Perhaps the most common medicinal use of marijuana is to treat various sleep disorders. This article is the third in a four-part series focused on exploring the use of cannabis as a sleep aid.
Spiritual rituals. Rights of passage. Medicinal purposes. For centuries, people have consumed cannabis for many reasons ranging from spiritual and recreational purposes to medical relief.
Among the medical reasons for using cannabis, using cannabis as a sleep aid is the most common. Medical studies report anywhere from 50 and 60 percent of people worldwide suffer from insomnia. Considering this fact, recent progressive legalization measures come as good news for those seeking a natural alternative to traditional pharmaceutical options.
An Ancient Plant Lacks Substantial Research
Even though the use of herb is firmly planted in history, prohibition has held the world back collectively from studying the various strains of cannabis and their effects on the human body. In this exciting period of awakening in the 21st century, new information about marijuana continues to present, which includes which types of cannabis strains are ideal for various ailments. We set out to learn which types of cannabis plants are best for inducing sleep, indica or sativa.
Keep reading to find out if indica or sativa breeds are best for treating sleep disorders. We’re also going to review five important considerations about cannabis and sleep.
Should You Choose an Indica or Sativa Strain for Sleep?
Have you ever heard that you should always choose an indica strain for sleep? Cannabis connoisseurs have long held this belief that you need a hard-hitting indica for a killer knock-out effect. This notion is not created out of thin air, as renowned publications in the cannabis industry such as High Times and Leafly have promoted indica marijuana strains as sleep aids because generally speaking, indica plants produce more downer effects and sativa plants are known for upper-like effects.
How do these publications, even cannabis-prescribing doctors, come to the conclusion that indica strains are better for sleep? Anecdotal evidence.
That’s right. This widely accepted notion is based on the user testimonials from cannabis consumers who report greater sedative effects with indica marijuana strains. Not from solid scientific evidence. It’s important to understand that user experiences are greatly subject to influence such as earlier user anecdotes and a placebo-type effect elicited by the hype and expectation that indica is the go-to choice for sleep.
Cannabis use is a highly-individualized experience. Which strain works best as a sleep aid for one person might not work for another. Only through experimentation with different cannabis strains, including those on each side of the spectrum, can an individual find the strains that work best for them.
[Read Also: How and Why People Use Cannabis for Sleep]
5 Important Considerations About Using Cannabis as a Sleep Aid
Not everyone agrees on the use of cannabis for sleep (although many who discourage it work for pharmaceutical industries). The following are some considerations about the use of cannabis for sleep.
- Too Much THC Can Cause Anxiety – It’s true that tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) has a stronger sedative effect than not only cannabidiol (CBD) but other cannabinoids as well. However, CBD still plays an important role in the treatment of sleep disorders. It is worth noting that some studies, such as this one from the University of Washington, warn that cannabis plants containing high amounts of THC can have an adverse effect on sleep by inducing anxiety – which is a valid point. However, the same study notes that when taken at lower doses, THC is quite effective at reducing anxiety and promoting rest and relaxation.
- A Weed “Hangover” Can Leave You Groggy the Next Day – Yep. Weed hangover. You heard that right. If you’re not familiar with the concept of a hangover from cannabis, it would not be surprising as this is a hotly debated issue among researchers. So can marijuana leave users with a “hangover” effect? Some say yes and warn this could leave the user drowsy and groggy the following day.
- CBD Can Heighten Wakefulness – CBD is known to promote wakefulness and alertness. However, debate ensues as to whether CBD is effective as a sleep aid. Because it is also known to alleviate pain and ailments, many embrace the use of CBD for sleep as those symptoms preventing quality sleep are eased. Some who argue for the use of CBD for sleep insist that distributors of cannabis products with THC urge against the use of CBD-only products out of greed.
- Tolerance Can Reduce Effectiveness – Long-term use of cannabis can lead to the development of tolerance to its sleep-promoting effects. Abruptly stopping the use of cannabis as a sleep aid can lead to withdrawals in users according to research.
- Inadequate Research Exists Supporting Cannabis for Sleep – More research on the medical benefits of cannabis as a treatment for sleep disorders is needed. Seriously. Not only to learn more about the therapeutic effects of cannabis as a sleep aid, but the entire spectrum of marijuana for medicinal purposes needs further investigation. However, the use of cannabis for sleep should not be discouraged. Looking at the alternatives (pharmaceutical sleep aids that can be dangerous and also highly addictive), marijuana is a safer natural treatment option.