It’s an issue that affects us all; quality and duration of sleep. Whether you’re a busy 9-5er, a relaxed retiree or anywhere in between, it can be hard to get your recommended seven hours a day. While humans have been using puffs of Indica's to help lull into a bedtime slumber for thousands of years, new medical research is beginning to back that adding cannabis as a sleep aid has the potential to help with any short-term sleep troubles.
While we know certain strains of cannabis can be used as a sedative and sleep agent, the jury is still out on what formulation uniquely treats difficulty sleeping. THC and CBD have alternating effects on sleep depending on dosage. Anecdotal and research evidence hasn’t given us great guidelines on exact measured milligram levels, although a 1:1 mixture of both has been shown to have maximum sleep benefit in people suffering from chronic pain, according to a 2017 review on the role of cannabinoids in sleep disorders.
Less Isn't Always More
Based on the research that has been done so far, there is counter-intuitive information that shows you can be fooled by common assumptions around cannabis and sleep. For example, high dose CBD has been shown to help with sleep, but low dose CBD has been shown to have stimulant effects. Studies in both humans and mice which administered lower doses of CBD demonstrated increased wakefulness. Another study of medical cannabis users found that users treating insomnia were more likely to use high dose CBD strains. More research needs to be done on exact dosing, but these insights can bring medical cannabis consumers the insight needed to use CBD effectively for a good night's sleep.
Know Your Cannabinoids
Researcher Dr. Evan Russo identified sedative effects in the cannabinoid known as cannabinol (CBN), which is found in smokable flower in increasing concentrations over time through the oxidation of THC. She argues that the sativa and indica designations are useless, and recommends focusing on cannabinoid content instead - promoting the quest for higher levels of CBN in a strain designated for sleep.
Watch Your Tolerance
Sleep latency is a key benefit of cannabis for sleep, meaning it can help you fall asleep more quickly, and stay asleep longer. Short-term cannabis use can help you fall asleep faster, but for some people, that’s not always the case. Some early studies point to the development of tolerance to the sedative effects in some people who report long-term cannabis usage.
Practice Makes Perfect?
Different modes of ingestion yield different effects, so consider trying an oil and a flower vape while you test out what works best for you. We know that in general, ingesting cannabis orally has a prolonged, body-high effect that is uneven in onset, while inhaling cannabis has a more immediate and pronounced impact on your body. Personalized treatment for sleep, as with any condition, is the best way to achieve optimal results.
So, does cannabis improve or cure sleep deficiencies? The verdict is still officially out on that as more research needs to be done. However, current research does prove it can provide some relief to a number of individuals.
Remember to always consult a medical professional before starting any new health care regimen.
Stay Informed. Stay Healthy