We spend a large portion of our lives sleeping. Getting proper rest is absolutely vital to our overall health and well-being. Millions of Americans use over-the-counter or prescription sleep aids to try and achieve a better night’s rest, but many of these methods are only mildly effective or effective only for a short period of time. Research suggests more natural methods could be better. Cannabis is a natural alternative that could lead to a better night’s sleep.
A Nation Wide Awake
Currently, about a third of American adults don’t get enough sleep. While trying to function on little sleep can be difficult, lack of sleep also increases your chances of developing serious diseases like cancer and diabetes. The problem is so bad, the CDC has declared sleeplessness to be the next public health epidemic.
So, why is getting high-quality sleep so difficult for many Americans? There are a number of factors that can affect sleep. Some common sleep issues include:
- Chronic pain, which can make going to sleep difficult
- Anxiety, which can cause wakefulness
- Any condition that causes nightmares, which disrupt sleep
- Insomnia, which can be both a cause and a symptom of other conditions like depression or PTSD
- Sleep apnea, which causes a person to stop breathing during sleep
One of the most predominant issues in modern society is the disturbance of our internal circadian rhythm. People’s internal clocks are personalized. One person may be ready to get up with the sun, while another prefers to stay up late. The demands of modern life can interfere with a person’s natural rhythms. Other issues include:
- Blue lights, often included in computer and phone screens, which block melatonin
- Shift work, which can require a person’s circadian rhythm to adjust almost constantly
Better Sleep Naturally
The good news is there are plenty of simple ways people can improve their sleep. Many health professionals recommend improving “sleep hygiene” to fight back against sleeplessness.
The basics of good sleep hygiene include:
- Establishing a routine, which means waking up and going to bed around the same time each day.
- Taking time to wind down before bed every night.
- Turning off screens about 30 minutes before it’s time to sleep.
- Only use the bedroom for sleeping. If it seems impossible to fall asleep, get out of bed and wait until the body and mind are ready.
Other lifestyle factors also play a role. Stress and anxiety, for example, can make it more difficult to fall asleep. Some ways to decrease stress and prepare yourself for a restful night’s sleep include:
- Using relaxation activities such as meditation. Here is an example of a guided meditation you can listen to before bed.
- Using essential oils like lavender, which promotes relaxation and sleepiness, in a bath or vaporizer.
- Limiting caffeine intake, especially in the hours before bed.
- Taking a melatonin supplement to reset the circadian rhythm and get back on schedule.
- Using Valerian root to create a calming, sleep-promoting tea.
- Take a magnesium supplement to enhance sleep quality.
- Consuming Ginkgo Biloba, which may help reduce anxiety.
Other changes, such as not eating late at night, limiting alcohol intake and exercising (but not too late), can also help.
From A to Zzz with Cannabis and CBD
What if you’ve tidied up your sleep hygiene and tried other holistic methods, but are still unable to get some shut-eye? Certain cannabinoids can potentially help you get a better night’s rest.
Some cannabinoids, or compounds derived from the cannabis plant, are better for sleep than others. THC is probably the best-known cannabinoid, and the one most associated with drowsiness. THC-rich strains of cannabis are often known to put users into states of deep relaxation and induce sleep. Studies have also shown that a synthetic version of THC, is capable of treating even sleep apnea.
- To use THC as a sleep aid, it is best to ingest a small amount an hour before your desired bedtime. Choose a THC-rich cannabis strain, but avoid strains with over 20 percent THC. Too much THC can cause anxiety after use, or lead to feelings of grogginess the next day.
Another well-known cannabinoid is CBD, which unlike THC, is non-intoxicating. However, the connection between CBD and sleep is less clear. CBD’s interactions in the body are complex and affect many different systems.
This gives CBD a wide range of effects on everything from mood to pain to sleep. While it has been suggested for daytime use because it’s less likely to make someone drowsy, it does have some interesting effects on the sleep cycle. First, CBD appears to relax people. Its effects on neurotransmitters like serotonin can help it both bust stress and reduce anxiety.
Next, it seems to affect the sleep cycle itself, reducing REM activity, which can help reduce REM behavior disorders. The REM portion of the sleep cycle is when dreams are produced, and if REM sleep is disrupted, overall sleep quality will be reduced. CBD appears to help the body move to the NREM stage, which induces deeper, more restful sleep.
- If stress or anxiety are keeping you up at night, CBD could be an ideal choice for you. It’s best to start with a low dose and slowly increase to find the dose that works best for you.
Although it sounds similar to THC, THCa is a cannabinoid with seemingly more in common to CBD in that it is non-intoxicating and has restorative properties. You can find THCa in the raw plant form of cannabis, and when heated, it becomes THC. Although there is yet not much definitive research on this cannabinoid, preliminary studies, and patient testimonials suggest that there may be numerous benefits, including sleep-aiding.
Also in a stage of preliminary research is the cannabinoid CBN. CBN occurs naturally as cannabis plants age and oxidize. This results in a compound that has little to no psychoactive effects whilst boasting a plethora of benefits including being a potentially powerful sedative as well. More research is certain to come on CBN, so definitely stay tuned.
Count on Cannabis for Sleep
Try these CBD-rich options to reduce stress and anxiety:
This soothing vape pen adds the potent powers of lavender to CBD. Take a puff right before bed and drift off to dreamland easily.
This all-natural, organic joint marries the Cannatonic strain with lavender for a more relaxing and sleep-promoting experience.
If you need help restoring your natural sleep cycle, THC is a proven option. Try these THC-rich products:
There’s nothing quite like sipping a soothing cup of tea, and this blend adds CBN, CBD, and THC to the experience. Brew a cup before bed.
This blend will delight those looking for a more restful sleep.
Or try THCa:
This THCa infused olive oil is extracted at very low temperatures to maintain non-psychoactivity. Enjoy this relaxing blend high in anti-oxidants and terpenes.
Talk to a Doctor
If you are having trouble resting, it’s important to first rule out sleep disorders. If you are curious if cannabis is right for your sleep, you can seek advice from a medical marijuana doctor. Don’t wait – get on track to better sleep today.