You may not look like you’re accomplishing much while you’re sleeping, but your body certainly is. Sleep is an essential function, and many biological activities take place during this time. These include cell repair, energy restoration, information processing, toxic waste elimination, and the release of proteins and hormones. You may not be conscious that these events are taking place, but they all play a vital role in keeping you healthy and regulating your physical and mental performance. This is why consistently getting enough hours of quality sleep is very important.
Unfortunately, a good night’s sleep doesn’t come easy to everyone. According to the American Sleep Association, about 40 to 50 million Americans experience symptoms of sleep disorders. Of this number, about 10 to 15 percent experience chronic insomnia or difficulty sleeping for long periods.
Cannabis as a Sleep Aid: Does It Work?
Many people who suffer from sleep issues due to a wide variety of causes swear by cannabis as a sleep aid. Some of them arrange for CBD or THC delivery to their homes to address their sleep problems, while others actively incorporate marijuana products into their lifestyle so that they can sleep better at night. But does this work?
Yes, it does, with certain caveats. For instance, a large-scale 2019 study on cannabidiol treatments showed that 67 percent of 72 participants reported better sleep after a month of using CBD. A significant portion of young adults who use cannabis also reported that they were doing so because the substance helps them sleep.
Over the years, there have been a lot of studies that highlight how using cannabis products has helped people achieve better sleep quality. It’s worth noting, though, that this positive outcome is not exactly universal. In the same 2019 study, for example, 25 percent of the participants reported worsening sleep quality after a month of CBD use. There are also studies that point to how regular and heavy marijuana use can worsen sleep quality in some people.
In short, there are different ways in which cannabis can affect people and influence sleep. What’s clear, though, is that the use of cannabis products does affect sleeping patterns.
How Does Cannabis Help People Sleep Better?
To understand how cannabis impacts people and sleep quality, it’s important to take a look at the active ingredients of the plant.
There’s THC, which is primarily known as marijuana’s psychoactive component, and there’s CBD, which has made a name for itself due to its beneficial properties such as reducing inflammation and relieving pain. Researchers typically focus on these substances, sometimes exclusively on one or the other, when investigating how using cannabis affects sleep. Many of these research studies are still in their preliminary stages, so it will take time before their results can be published.
There’s a study in 2008, though, that found that THC reduces the amount of REM sleep a person gets. REM refers to the phase of sleep where the sleeper has the propensity for dreaming, among other things. By shortening REM, cannabis can also reduce dreaming, which can be beneficial to people who have PTSD that manifest in the form of recurring dreams. This, in turn, can help improve sleep quality.
On the other hand, various studies have found that CBD is effective in reducing anxiety and managing pain. These effects can then help a person manage intrusive thoughts or painful sensations that can hinder or interrupt sleep.
How Can You Use Cannabis to Improve Sleep Quality?
If you suffer from a sleep disorder or an issue that makes it difficult for you to fall asleep, stay asleep, or get quality sleep, it’s best to talk to your doctor about the possibility of using cannabis to manage your condition. A medical professional who has an open mind about the medicinal applications of marijuana can guide you in introducing cannabis to your treatment. If you simply want to see for yourself how the use of cannabis products can impact your sleep, you can start small and look into the options available to you.
Cannabis products take different forms and have varying THC and CBD compositions. Among your primary considerations should be choosing the form and dose that work best for you. Beginners should always start small to gauge the impact of the substance. You can opt to smoke marijuana, infuse it in your food, or apply it sublingually. The form and potency of the cannabis product are factors that affect how quickly it will take effect, and this can inform you on when you should take the product to maximize its sleep benefits.
Moderation is key when using cannabis for sleep, as there are studies that show that heavy and regular use of the substance can negatively impact sleep quality. With tempered use and by keenly observing the effect of the substance, though, you can make an informed decision about whether or not cannabis can help you sleep better at night.