Trouble sleeping is a discomfort many are familiar with. For most, it is an occasional inconvenience triggered by an event or circumstance soon to pass. For insomnia patients, however, difficulty sleeping is a crippling challenge that defies explanation, resists treatment, and complicates daily life. Fortunately, many patients suffering from insomnia and other sleep disorders are finding medical cannabis beneficial. The following tips and strategies may be helpful to anyone exploring cannabis as a treatment for conditions affecting sleep.
Treatments for common sleep disorders are widely available. You may have a seen some advertised on evening television or heard them mentioned by friends and family. For some, these conventional therapies prove effective, but for others the side-effects can outweigh the benefits. Fatigue, depression, anxiety, dependence, and even hallucinations have been reported by patients taking prescription sleep aids. Many patients have found that medical marijuana offers a natural alternative that promotes rest and allows them to wake refreshed.
Though medical science continues to explore the relationship between cannabis and sleep, several studies have produced encouraging results. Whaxy presents some key findings:
A 1973 study conducted in the United States and published in the journal Psychopharmacology revealed that THC, administered in a 20 mg dose, helped patients fall asleep, reducing the time required to achieve sleep by more than an hour […]
A 1981 study published in the Journal of Clinical Pharmacology and conducted using human subjects reported that 160 mg of cannabidiol, or CBD, helped patients gain “significantly more” sleep than a placebo.
A 1986 study conducted by the American Society for Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics and published in Pharmacological Review found that THC, in doses of 10, 20, and 30 mg, helped patients fell asleep faster.
A 2010 human trial study conducted at McGill University in Montreal and published in the journal Anesthesia and Analgesia reported that nabilone, a synthetic cannabinoid, was effective as a sleep aid for those suffering from fibromyalgia.
These outcomes are believed to result primarily from the sedative properties of two cannabinoids found in the marijuana plant, THC and CBN. Achieving success in treating sleep disorders with cannabis requires the right approach with the right product, so the following suggestions are essential.
Tips and Strategies
Strain Selection – All cannabis strains are not created equal when it comes to assisting with sleep. Only indica strains are recommended due to their restful and relaxing effects. In particular, indicas in the “purple” category are considered especially effective due to their unique terpene profiles. Be advised that using sativa strains in the evening is strongly discouraged due to the stimulating cerebral effects they produce. Sativas may be beneficial for increasing energy levels during the day, but they’re best avoided during the hours preceding sleep.
Dosage and Timing – Strong doses are not recommended due to the risk of an intensified cerebral experience that may interfere with rest. Low to medium doses are ideal for most patients. Timing is also particularly important in the treatment of sleep disorders, due to the delayed onset of THC’s sedative effect. Waiting 60-90 minutes after medicating is advised before attempting sleep. This allows the cerebral effects to subside and allows the sedative properties to take effect.
Cannabinoid Content – As noted above, THC produces sedative effects an hour or more after use, so strains rich in THC are popular for insomnia treatment when used appropriately. CBD-rich strains are not considered inherently sedative, but it should be noted that CBD’s anti-anxiety properties can be beneficial for patients whose sleep issues are related to an anxiety condition. Finally, the cannabinoid CBN is known for particularly strong sedative effects. Though uncommon in fresh cannabis, CBN begins to occur in greater concentrations as THC content breaks down in aging flowers. This means, surprisingly, that a given sample of cannabis becomes more sedative the older it gets.
Edible Products – The above tips apply primarily to smoked or inhaled cannabis flowers, but edible products can be popular for treating sleep disorders as well. This option is recommended for patients who routinely awaken during the night and need a longer-lasting option to help them maintain a restful state. A low dose is suggested to avoid overmedication.
The debilitating effects of insomnia and other sleep disorders can impact every aspect of a patient’s life as they struggle to find the rest and recovery they need. Feel free to discuss your symptoms and health goals with dispensary staff, who will be happy to recommend specific products and share additional advice. We’re worked with many patients who found cannabis effective for improving sleep and we hope these tips will help others achieve similar results.