Can’t Sleep? Cannabis Can Help
Who has not suffered the drain and exhaustion of a restless night? Tossing and turning as you watch the sky slowly brighten to signal the beginning of a new day is agony – especially if not getting sufficient sleep is a regular occurrence.
While there are many prescription and over-the-counter drugs to manage insomnia, the side effects of these drugs, which range from addiction to depression and in some cases more overall tiredness, are enough to make anyone hide under the covers. Luckily, research shows cannabis, which has few, if any, harmful side effects, effectively promotes sleep.
Cannabinoids, naturally found in marijuana, can actually supplement what may be a deficiency within our body’s endocannabinoid system. This system is responsible for regulating appetite, pain-sensation, mood, and – you guessed it – sleep.
Improving sleep with cannabis
In one study, THC, a type of cannabinoid, was administered to individuals with insomnia in doses ranging from 10-30 mg. The study reported a significant decrease in the time it took patients to fall asleep. Also, (bonus!) patients were able to sleep more restfully throughout the night. The key? Don’t overdo it. Researchers found too high a dose can counteract these sleep-enhancing benefits and in some cases resulted in a “hangover effect.” This was experienced as feelings of increased lethargy and body stiffness. The takeaway: THC does promote sleep, but moderation is key. Also key is the delivery method you select before bedtime, suggests cannabis expert, Deborah Malka, MD, PhD, integrative physician and founder of Cannabis Plus.
“Most people who use cannabis for insomnia smoke an indica strain before bed. That is totally not useful”
“Most people who use cannabis for insomnia smoke an indica strain before bed. That is totally not useful,” Malka says. “You can’t use a 4-hour medicine, which is what smoked marijuana is, to replace an 8-hour medicine. For a lot of patients it’s really important to use a swallowed form of marijuana before bed.
I do not recommend baked products for sleep because they last too long, take one to two hours to take effect, and may leave a hangover. I recommend sublingual [under the tongue] products such as tinctures and lozenges. My favorite is a cannabis chocolate. It does have a small amount of caffeine but, because it’s cooked, some of the THC turns in to CBN, which is more sedating than THC. The chocolate dissolves in your mouth, and is activated within 30 minutes. And there are no morning side effects.”
“In the past, the only way to get off of a sleeping pill was to use a different kind of sleeping pill”
Some of the more interesting studies about the effects of marijuana and sleep show that THC can impact the sleep cycle – you know, those five stages from light to very deep sleep which impact how restful your sleep really feels. According to a study published in the journal, Sleep Medicine Reviews, THC actually increases the amount of slow-wave, or deep sleep, that a person experiences throughout the night. This is key because deep sleep is essential for restoring the body and feeling great. Not getting enough deep sleep is believed to contribute to the most damaging effects of sleep deprivation including high blood pressure, obesity, depression, and other mood disorders.
For anyone reliant on prescription drugs for sleep, Malka highlights that cannabis is one way to get off the pills and begin to regain more normal brain chemistry.
Frustrated with late night tossing and turning? Tired of waking up exhausted? Consider a pre-bedtime regimen of a minimal cannabis dosage to get you facing the next day with a smile on your face.“In the past, the only way to get off of a sleeping pill was to use a different kind of sleeping pill,” she says “It’s really difficult to get off of sleeping pills without having an herbal intervention in the middle. So that’s one thing that’s really gratifying. I have not seen anyone who has not been able to get off their sleeping pills.”
For more of Laura and the awesome people over at The Holistic Cannabis Network, check out the free Holistic Cannabis Summit on April 4th to the 7th!