Using Cannabis for Sleep
Sleep is one of the top 3 reasons people seek out cannabis therapy. Cannabis offers a natural solution that helps many people regain control of their sleep. We wrote about the negative effects of not getting enough sleep, and using pharmaceuticals sleep aids can have dangerous side effects including addiction. Let’s explore how cannabis might be a plant based alternative to pills.
Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the most prevalent cannabinoid in cannabis, has long been used as a sleep aid. A newer discovery, Cannabinol (CBN) is a promising cannabinoid which seems to be well correlated to good sleep. Releaf, the app for recording cannabis treatments, recently published a study on the positive results of using cannabis for sleep, based on anonymous data gathered from its app users.
Can’t Fall Asleep
How to use cannabis for sleep depends on what the particular sleep issue may be. A person who has trouble falling asleep, may benefit from a small amount (2.5-5 mg) of orally ingested THC, an hour before bedtime. Doses are different for each person, so some may need more or less. Starting with a low dose and slowly increasing until an effective dose is found can take days or weeks. Some cannabis tinctures may be labeled “indica” or “sativa” to identify the strain variety. Indica tends to be sedating and better for sleep, while sativa varieties may make the mind more active and should be avoided if sleep is the goal. Releaf recently reported on the top 5 strains for sleep therapy based on user results.
Another approach for someone who can’t fall asleep because their mind won’t quiet down or they have anxious thoughts constantly running through their head keeping them awake is to take cannabidiniol or CBD. Taking CBD during the day can help calm the anxious thoughts and make falling asleep more attainable come nighttime. It is not recommended to take CBD before bed, as it can cause wakefulness.
Can’t Stay Asleep
When the issue is waking up in the middle of the night and staying up for hours or not falling back to sleep at all, then a different approach may be necessary. In this instance, a vaporized product formulated for sleep (like the “sleep” vape pen by dosist) would have a much quicker onset and the dose can be controlled fairly easily by how long you inhale. If your initial dose is not working after 10 - 30 minutes, try a little more. Someone new to inhalation of cannabis may experience some coughing or mild throat irritation, but when weighed against the alternative of missing out on precious sleep, the choice becomes much easier. Inhalation has the benefit of quicker onset (5 – 10 minutes) and shorter duration (2 – 4 hours) so you don’t wake up feeling groggy, as some report with an edible taken in the middle of the night.
The goal is to work at improving one’s sleep hygiene which alone may lead to better, more restful sleep; but if not, cannabis can provide hope that a good night’s sleep is still within reach.
As with any treatment, use only as needed. Sweet dreams…
Sue Feldmeth, RN
Sue Feldmeth provides educational presentations to groups who want to learn more about the use of medical cannabis as well as one on one consultations and guidance for those who want to use cannabis to treat their particular condition. She is located in Pasadena, California and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Disclaimer: The information is intended to be educational and is not a prescription or guarantee of health outcome.