With the legalization of cannabis in several cities and provinces worldwide, more and more people are turning to this multi-dimensional drug for various medical purposes. Of course, cannabis is very much used for its intoxicating “high.” However, its therapeutic and medicinal influence is at an all-time high. So much so that the number of medical marijuana (MMJ) patients registered in Canada increased from about 24,000 in 2015 to 329,000 in 2020.
In the medical sphere, marijuana is widely used to help treat conditions like anxiety, insomnia, depression, chronic pain, PTSD, and so on. Today, we’ll be throwing some light on the benefits of cannabis associated with sleep. As many as 37% of registered MMJ patients report that cannabis has helped manage insomnia.
Does Cannabis Really Improve Sleep?
Nothing can be conclusively said as the research on medical cannabis is limited and still developing. However, according to Sleep Foundation, about 70% of people that use recreational marijuana has reported that it helps them to sleep. In addition, 85% of medical marijuana users that use cannabis for treating conditions like chronic pain has reported that it improves their sleep. Based on these surveys, it wouldn’t be wrong to say that cannabis does have some positive effects on sleep.
In fact, in the medical marijuana community, cannabis is heavily used as an effective treatment to treat a range of sleeping disorders. And while marijuana might actually help you sleep better on a short-term basis, health experts do not recommend its long-term use or any other sleep aids for that matter. In the long run, marijuana could lead to side effects that may adversely affect your overall sleep quality.
How Does Cannabis Improve Sleep?
Cannabis is believed to deeply affect your sleep architecture, that is, the basic sleeping pattern involving different stages like REM (rapid eye movement) and NREM (non-REM). To truly comprehend how cannabis affects/improves your sleep, understanding the basic sleep architecture is vital.
NREM sleep has three stages, each lasting for about 5-15 minutes. The first stage is when your eyes are closed, and you’re quite aware of your surroundings. The next stage is when you’re in light sleep. The final stage is when you’ve fallen into deep sleep. Once an individual passes these three stages, they enter the REM stage. REM sleep is associated with dreaming, memory, healthy brain development, and emotional processing.
Now, cannabis contains over 400 chemical compounds and dozens of cannabinoids. Two cannabinoids, in particular, are heavily found in all marijuana plants, namely Cannabidiol (CBD) and Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). CBD is a non-psychoactive cannabinoid that doesn’t cause a “high” and comes with several health benefits. THC, on the other hand, is responsible for that “high” usually associated with recreational consumption.
It is believed that both CBD and THC affect sleep, thanks to their relaxing and sedative effects! One study found that cannabis shortens the time taken to fall asleep, hence helping people fall asleep faster (by up to 15 minutes). Moreover, both CBD and THC are also believed to positively impact chronic conditions that interfere with sleep.
CBD Effects on Sleep:
CBD steals the limelight in the cannabis industry for its anxiety-reducing benefits. Studies show that CBD can help reduce anxiety without hampering your natural sleep-wake cycles. Additionally, it’s also known to increase mental focus, relieve chronic pain, promote alertness, and reduce daytime sleepiness (which naturally would make you sleepy at night and offer a goodnight’s sleep).
THC Effects on Sleep:
THC is responsible for inducing sleep. Hence, people who want to improve their sleep or treat sleep-related conditions like insomnia and sleep apnea can potentially benefit from consuming cannabis strains with higher THC levels.
According to a study conducted by the National Library of Medicine in 2008, it was found that THC could reduce the time spent in the REM sleep stage. This means, consuming THC-rich cannabis strains would make you stay longer in the “deep sleep” stage. Moreover, reducing REM stage (dreaming) is an added benefit for people with PTSD as it could potentially reduce nightmares.
Terpenes And Sleep:
Apart from cannabinoids, terpenes are also believed to affect sleep. In a nutshell, terpenes are naturally occurring compounds (found in most plants, including cannabis) responsible for how a plant smells and tastes. Science shows that terpenes can affect a user’s mood, alertness, energy, and sleepiness.
Best Cannabis Strains For Improving Sleep
Yes, cannabis may improve sleep. But do all cannabis strains improve sleep? No. So, which strains should you use to have a goodnight’s sleep or improve overall sleep quality? Below are some options you can try!
It is an indica strain known for its muscle-relaxing, sedating effects. It has an average content of 1% CBD and 17% THC. So, newbie cannabis users should watch out!
Pink Kush is a hit among cannabis enthusiasts for nighttime use. With an average THC content of 18-22%, this strain can help you unwind after a long day at work and lull you to sleep.
Are you suffering from sleep apnea? You might want to give Blackberry Kush a try! It is an indica-dominant strain with an average THC content of 20%. It offers a full-body high with an almost sedative effect. Besides, this strain also has anti-inflammatory properties. So, it can help you relax and calm your muscles.
Grape Ape is another almost pure indica strain that can help you treat sleep apnea. It can help relax your muscles which will, in turn, keep airways open. This way, you’ll have no trouble breathing and enjoy a goodnight’s sleep.
Does Cannabis Improve Sleep? – Final Thoughts
If we go according to what thousands of cannabis users have to say, then yes, cannabis improves sleep. Many people have claimed that cannabis has helped them fall asleep faster, sleep better, and longer.
However, scientific research is limited, and researchers and scientists are yet to discover the full impact of cannabis on sleep. But, of course, there are a few findings that cannot be ignored, which reveal the positive impact of short-term cannabis use on sleep.
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