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Can You Use Cannabis to Restore Your Natural Sleep Cycle?

Insomnia isn’t that uncommon

Sleep is essential for maintaining our mental and physical health, yet it eludes many adults.

According to the National Sleep Foundation, 50 to 70 million U.S. adults experience symptoms of a sleep disorder. About 30 to 40 percent of the population will experience insomnia at some point in their lives, and about 10 to 15 percent of adults will deal with chronic insomnia.

So if getting shut-eye is becoming harder and harder, you’re not alone.

With so many people experiencing sleeping disorders, there’s been a rise of interest in one controversial cure: cannabis. Many in the medical marijuana community refer to cannabis as an effective treatment, with little to no side effects, for a range of sleeping disorders.

“Marijuana is an effective sleep aid because it restores a person’s natural sleep cycle, which so often falls out of sync with our schedules in today’s modern lifestyle,” says Dr. Matt Roman, a medical marijuana physician.

Whether you have a sleep disorder or you’re having difficulty sleeping after a stressful day, cannabis might be a choice for you. Marijuana’s analgesic properties might provide some relief for those with chronic pain, while the anti-anxiety properties can soothe a stressed out mind and body.

There are different strains of marijuana. Some are more energizing, and some are calming and sedating depending on the balance of the different cannabinoids.

First, here’s a quick primer on the science behind marijuana. This herb works because it contains different cannabinoids, two of which you’ll see most often:

  • Cannabidiol (CBD). CBD has a number of health benefits, and is nonpsychoactive, meaning it doesn’t cause you to feel “high.”
  • Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). THC, a psychoactive cannabinoid, is primarily responsible for that “high” feeling.

Something else THC is responsible for? Inducing sleep . So you’ll want a strain that contains more THC than CBD.

According to a 2008 study , ingesting marijuana strains with higher levels of THC typically reduces the amount of REM sleep you get. Reducing REM sleep means reducing dreams — and for those who experience PTSD, it could mean reducing nightmares.

So the theory is that if you spend less time dreaming, you’ll spend more time in a “deep sleep” state. The deep sleep state is thought to be the most restorative, restful part of the sleep cycle.

Still, REM is important for healthy cognitive and immune functioning, and marijuana with higher THC levels could impair your sleep quality if taken long term.

But this isn’t true across the board. Some studies have found that sleep can actually be impaired by regular use of marijuana. It’s clear that marijuana changes sleep cycles.

Smoking of any kind is a known health risk and should be approached with caution. Also, medicinal use of marijuana is still illegal in many areas.

Talk to your doctor about your sleep cycles. There may be long-term health consequences with interrupted REM, because much of the immune function repair takes place in deep sleep.

Please use marijuana responsibly. As with all forms of smoking, your risk of COPD can increase. Smoking marijuana is hazardous to the lungs, especially for those with asthma or other respiratory conditions. The use of marijuana while pregnant or breastfeeding isn’t recommended.

Long-term marijuana use has been shown to have changes on the amount of gray matter in the brain. For teenagers, marijuana seems to have even more profound long-term and lasting effects on the brain and isn’t recommended.

Marijuana use isn’t recommended for anyone under 25 years of age because of the long-term effects on learning and recall.

More research on marijuana for medicinal purposes as well as the risk of COPD is still needed.

Is cannabis an answer to entering the land of sleep? From strains to timing, here’s what you need to know about cannabis as a nightcap.

Here’s the science on why marijuana makes you sleepy

What you need to know about THC and CBD and Zzzz’s

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention considers sleep apnea and other related disorders as a dangerously hidden public health issue.

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    Article content

    Falling asleep is as easy as laying down and closing your eyes. But about 40 million Americans have some sort of sleep issues and marijuana can help, but first, let’s explain exactly why does marijuana make you sleepy.

    Here’s the science on why marijuana makes you sleepy Back to video

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    The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention considers sleep apnea and other related disorders as a dangerously hidden public health issue. According to the CDC, “persons experiencing sleep insufficiency are also more likely to suffer from chronic diseases such as hypertension, diabetes, depression, and obesity, as well as from cancer, increased mortality, and reduced quality of life and productivity.”

    An estimated 10 million Americans have a prescription for Ambien or some other pharmaceutical sleep medication and 4 percent of adults report that they have taken a sleeping pill or sedative in the previous month. Some of the more common side effects for these pills include:

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    • Daytime drowsiness, dizziness, weakness, feeling “drugged” or light-headed
    • Tired feeling, loss of coordination
    • Stuffy nose, dry mouth, nose or throat irritation
    • Nausea, constipation, diarrhea, upset stomach
    • Headache, muscle pain

    As more and more states move to legalize cannabis, more of us are looking at the herb as an alternative to pharmaceuticals. Studies have shown that cannabis can improve the duration and quality of sleep. A 1973 study suggests that THC reduces the amount of time it takes those with insomnia to fall asleep. Another study found that those that regularly used THC fell asleep faster.

    Before you grab your bong, here are a few things you should know:

    Know The Difference Between Indica And Sativa

    Most regular cannabis consumers know that Indica strains provide more of a “body high.” These strains are preferred if you are looking to relax and sleep. Sativa strains are provide a more upbeat experience and can often interfere with sleep.

    Ask your budtender for help identifying “sleep strains.” You may have to do a little of trial and error before you find the right strain for you.

    The Cannabis Combo

    The science of why cannabis promotes sleep is not entirely clear, but some research suggests that the terpenes in cannabis are doing the work. Terpenes are the aromatic compounds in marijuana and they interact with your body in favorable ways.

    The terpenes found in lavender and chamomile both promote sleep. Working in combination with cannabis, a soak in a lavender-infused bath or a cup of chamomile tea before bed may work. Aromatherapy is another option.

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    Beware Of The Edible “Hangover”

    Edibles are another great way to get a good night’s sleep. These typically pack a stronger punch and stay in your system much longer than smoked marijuana.

    The downside of edibles? Since the cannabinoids are processed differently and stay in your system longer, you may wake up still feeling the effects of the dose. Typically, the high dissipates after a hot shower and a cup of coffee or tea.

    PTSD Sufferers: Take Note

    Studies have also found that cannabis is effective for treating nightmares in military personnel with PTSD. Many veterans use cannabis as a sleep aid in order to keep the nightmares at bay. If you suffer from PTSD or anxiety, cannabis may work for you.

    Final Thoughts

    There are now 29 states that have a medical marijuana program, but not one include sleep disorders as a qualifying condition. Why? There simply is not enough research. But if you want to steer clear of sleeping pills, cannabis may help.

    Your body and your brain need seven to nine hours of sleep. Your health depends on it.

    What you need to know about THC and CBD and Zzzz’s ]]>