- Can cannabis be a sleep aid?
- 5 Best Marijuana Strains for an Awesome Night’s Sleep
- The Science Behind Cannabis & Sleep
- What Do the Studies Say?
- 1. Tahoe OG Kush – The Stay at Home Strain
- 2 – Purple Kush (The Pain-Relieving King)
- 3 – God’s Gift (The Dreamy Strain)
- 4 – Critical Kush (The Therapeutic Strain)
- 5 – Northern Lights (The Legendary Strain)
- Final Thoughts on Marijuana & Sleep
- How to Use Weed for Better Sleep
- Is indica better than sativa for sleep?
- Does THC or CBD help you sleep better?
- Advice for getting started
- Does Marijuana Help Sleep and Sleep Apnea?
- What is Insomnia?
- The Top 5 Cannabis Strains You Can Use for Insomnia
- Which is Better for Sleep: Indica or Sativa?
- Beyond CPAP: Could Medical Cannabis Treat Sleep Apnea?
- Minnesota OK’d sleep apnea as a qualifying condition for medical cannabis. Stakeholders weigh in.
- Medical Cannabis and the Treatment of Obstructive Sleep Apnea: An American Academy of Sleep Medicine Position Statement
- CANNABIS AND SLEEP
- DISCLOSURE STATEMENT
- Treating Sleep Apnea Overnight With Cannabis
- How Does Marijuana Affect Sleep?
- Is cannabis really helping you sleep?
- Cannabis and sleep
- Does frequency matter?
- Future directions
Can cannabis be a sleep aid?
Share on PinterestStudies have produced mixed results about cannabis as an aid to sleep.
Cannabis is known to induce a state of relaxation and drowsiness that could help to induce sleep.
Research on the possible sleep effects of cannabis date back to the 1970s, but high-quality studies are scarce because of the drug’s legal status.
The ongoing changes in the legality of cannabis are being driven by changes in attitude and by a greater understanding of its potential medicinal use.
There are many different components found in cannabis. The two most commonly studied elements are:
- Cannabidiol (CBD): This is a non-psychoactive compound, meaning that it does not induce the highs associated with cannabis.
- Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC): This is a psychoactive component that causes many of the feelings of being high.
Most medical research has focused on CBD, which has several proven health benefits.
What do the studies say?
A study in 147 participants with and without sleeping difficulties found that cannabis use reduced the time taken to get to sleep in both groups.
A further 2014 study looked at the therapeutic effect of CBD in people whose sleep was disrupted by anxiety, such as in the case of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
The research team noted that, at the time, PTSD was an acceptable condition for medicinal cannabis use in five states, and cannabis use for medical reasons was growing in the U.S.
The study concluded that many people with PTSD used cannabis to help them sleep. But the long-term consequence of the habit was not known, and more research in this area was needed.
But a 2017 review of the scientific research into cannabis use for sleep and sleep disorders concludes that the overall picture is far from clear and more studies are needed.
A study, using rodents only, found that CBD could induce a deeper sleep state in rats that researchers had subjected to anxiety.
But an earlier study in humans found that CBD produced a more alert state, while THC acted as a sedative.
A further 2016 study found that daily cannabis use had a negative impact on sleep quality in young adults who had no reported sleeping difficulties.
Again, the researchers in this last study concluded that more large-scale research was needed to assess the true impact of cannabis on sleep.
To further cloud the picture, much of the current support for cannabis as an aid to sleep is anecdotal. So, further investigation is needed to find out if the benefits are real or not.
It may also be the case that cannabis is only helpful for people with sleep disturbances, such as insomnia.
5 Best Marijuana Strains for an Awesome Night’s Sleep
I recently listened to a series of podcasts by famed motivational speaker, Tony Robbins. While he made a lot of great points, he was wrong about one thing. He suggested that ‘too many people sleep their lives away,’ yet research shows that he is inaccurate. According to data from a Global Relaxation Report in 2018, 51% of the world’s adult population get less sleep than they need.
An incredible 80% of adults use the weekend to make up for lost sleeping time! The United States ranked #4 for sleep-deprived nations, with 58% of adults failing to get enough sleep. Incidentally, the UK ranked #1 as 63% of British adults do not get the requisite level of sleep.
Back in America, 25 million adults have obstructive sleep apnea, and 35% report getting less than seven hours of sleep every 24 hours. 30% of Americans report short-term issues with insomnia, while 10% of the adult population has chronic insomnia.
We could bombard you with facts and figures, but one thing is obvious: Most of us need assistance when it comes to sleeping.
It is often falsely assumed that using weed will make you feel sleepy. In reality, some strains ARE potentially extremely effective as a sleep aid, but others provide you with energy. The latter ‘Wake and Bake’ strains are used in the morning, and some people swap their cup of coffee for an energizing joint!
Therefore, finding the best strains for sleeping is essential. Today, we look at the science behind weed and sleep, check out some studies, and provide you with five marijuana strains that could help you get to sleep.
The Science Behind Cannabis & Sleep
The relative lack of research into marijuana has resulted in people jumping to conclusions. It has long been assumed that Sativa strains give you energy and Indica strains help you sleep. While it is true that pure indicas and indica-dominant hybrids are more likely to cause full-body relaxation, the reason could be due to the concentration of cannabinoids and terpenes, rather than simply being an indica or sativa strain.
THC is the most abundant intoxicating compound in cannabis and has been associated with sedative effects. CBD has anti-inflammatory properties and may work as a pain reliever. It is linked with increased relaxation and when combined with THC, could increase a marijuana strain’s sedative qualities. CBN is also said to have sedative effects when combined with THC.
There are around 200+ terpenes found in the marijuana plant. The ones believed to best aid sleep include myrcene, limonene, linalool, terpineol, and caryophyllene. It so happens that indica-dominant strains tend to have high concentrations of these terpenes, which may explain why they provide a relaxing and sedative effect.
What Do the Studies Say?
Studies into marijuana’s effects on sleep have provided conflicting results. Most pertinently, there is evidence that insomnia could be a withdrawal symptom when you quit using the herb. A study by Budney et al., published in The American Journal of Psychiatry in January 2015, found that up to 76% of regular weed users reported poor quality sleep once they quit.
Make sure you check certain sites when they cite studies. One website, which we won’t name, claimed that a study by Budney et al., published in the Journal of Abnormal Psychology in August 2003, showed that the withdrawal effects when quitting weed last for 45 days.
In reality, the study looked at 18 weed users who smoked as normal for five days and abstained for the next 45 days. Symptoms such as sleep problems became apparent within three days, with peak effects from days 2 to 6. The study clearly states that “most effects lasted 4-14 days.” Still a problem, but not as bad as anti-marijuana sites like to claim.
A study by Gorelick et al., published in The American Journal of Addiction in August 2013, looked at the sleep patterns of 13 chronic daily cannabis smokers. The subjects consumed oral THC doses of 20mg each time around the clock for seven days. They consumed between 40mg and 120mg of THC each day.
The research team found that using higher concentrations of THC in the evening resulted in shorter sleep latency, greater ease in falling asleep, but also increased daytime sleep the following day.
Numerous studies have looked into marijuana’s ability to combat conditions that could prevent us from sleeping. Cannabis could promote better breathing (great news if you have sleep apnea), and reduce the time spent in REM (a good thing if you have PTSD and suffer from nightmares).
It isn’t all good news, though. Long-term loss of REM sleep may cause issues such as memory impairment. Also, using weed before the age of 15 could result in sleep problems as an adult. Side effects of nighttime marijuana use include grogginess the next day, dry mouth and increased appetite.
Nonetheless, for an increasing number of people, marijuana is a much better option to help aid a good night’s sleep than sleeping pills or other forms of prescription medication. Below, we look at five great cannabis strains for a decent night’s sleep.
1. Tahoe OG Kush – The Stay at Home Strain
This marijuana strain is praised for its analgesic properties. It is a balanced hybrid (although the indica side shines through) that’s a cross of SFV OG Kush and OG Kush, possibly mixed with Afghani. It has minimal CBD, and its THC content can hit as high as 25% – more than enough for the experienced toker.
Tahoe OG Kush is one of the strongest members of the Kush family. If you are familiar with the effects of OG strains, the high provided by this weed will make you feel right at home. This strain is extremely relaxing and makes you feel as if you are wrapped in a warm and comfortable blanket.
If you are feeling a little down after a crappy day, Tahoe OG Kush is capable of lifting your spirits. You should feel euphoric and happy soon after using it, and if you want to eat dinner but find that your appetite isn’t the best, this strain can also help. Once you have satiated your hunger, the next step is to find a relaxing spot on your bed, close your eyes, and go to sleep.
2 – Purple Kush (The Pain-Relieving King)
Another member of the Kush family, this strain is a huge favorite on the West Coast. It is an almost pure indica that’s a cross of a Purple Afghani and Hindu Kush. Purple Kush is known for its sweet taste and was probably bred in Oakland. It has a THC content of 22% and a CBD level that’s usually less than 0.1%.
The sedative properties of Purple Kush are helpful, but it is this strain’s ability to relieve pain that helps it stand out. The National Sleep Foundation says that only 37% of Americans with chronic pain report good or very good sleep quality. Pain triggers poor sleep.
If aches and pains keep you awake at night, try Purple Kush an hour or two before bed. It gets to work fairly quickly and causes you to feel utterly sedated. Once the warm, fuzzy feelings take over, you will be ready to unwind; and as the effects last for hours, even individuals with chronic pain should find sleep almost impossible to resist.
3 – God’s Gift (The Dreamy Strain)
Be warned; this strain is a heavy hitter and should only be used close to bedtime! God’s Gift is a heavily indica-dominant strain that’s a cross of OG Kush and Granddaddy Purple. It is believed to have been bred in California, although no one is completely sure. It was probably used on the West Coast in the mid-1990s and its THC content of 27% is sure to impact even users with a high tolerance.
It doesn’t take long for God’s Gift to take hold. You will be taken aback by just how potent this bud is as it provides a relaxing full-body high that makes it almost impossible to move.
Users report feeling happy, and it isn’t unusual to suddenly burst out in fits of giggles for no particular reason.
Most pertinently, God’s Gift can help you sleep. Users have reported having a few tokes on the couch and waking up many hours later without realizing what happened! It is the ideal strain to help you chill out after a hard day at work. Not only does it help you handle insomnia, but it also ensures you go to bed with a smile on your face.
4 – Critical Kush (The Therapeutic Strain)
Once again, this is a strongly indica-dominant strain that’s a cross of OG Kush and Critical Mass. It should be obvious by now that the Kush family is your ‘go-to’ collection for better sleep. Critical Kush was bred by Barney’s Farm Seeds and its THC content of 25%, against 1% CBD, means it isn’t a strain for the novice.
The phrase ‘couch lock’ has become synonymous with Critical Kush. We recommend using this strain close to bedtime because its effects hit you hard and fast. The high begins with a feeling of happiness, but it doesn’t take long for your entire body and mind to succumb to the siren call of sleep.
While you may feel invigorated in the early stages of the high, and may even become more talkative than usual, these effects don’t last. Soon enough, you will enjoy giggling at things that aren’t even funny and be wrapped in a haze. If you use a large dosage of Critical Kush, expect to wake up several hours from now!
5 – Northern Lights (The Legendary Strain)
If a person is only able to name one marijuana strain, chances are Northern Lights is the one they have heard of! It is one of the most famous strains of all time and is known for its relaxing properties. Northern Lights is a strongly indica-dominant hybrid that’s a cross of a Thai Sativa and an Afghani Indica.
By the standards of modern weed, Northern Lights isn’t especially strong, with just 18% THC. It has been used in the U.S. since the mid-1980s and may be one of the most used types of weed in history. While its THC content is ‘only’ on the higher end of moderate, this strain is renowned for being fast-acting.
Users are often delighted by the smoothness of the smoke and soon feel compelled to relax as the Northern Lights high grabs them. The potent cerebral high lures you to a comfortable place and keeps you there for hours. This strain makes you feel good about life and helps melt away stress and anxiety, two common barriers to a great night’s sleep.
Final Thoughts on Marijuana & Sleep
A lack of sleep can do a lot more damage to your life than merely making you feel grumpy and irritable. Did you know that fatigue is linked to over 100,000 automobile crashes and over 1,500 crash-related deaths in the United States alone each year? Sleep loss and low-quality sleep increase the risk of workplace accidents and also harms performance in general.
Sleep deprivation can even lead to serious health issues such as stroke, diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, and heart attacks. It is estimated that 90% of people with insomnia also have another health condition! Lack of sleep hurts your sex drive, slows your thinking, ages your skin, increases the risk of depression, and increases the risk of unwanted weight gain.
Therefore, if you have problems sleeping, you must do everything possible to rectify the situation. If you have tried altering your sleep pattern, avoided the ‘blue light’ from electronics at night, and attempted to establish a healthy bedtime routine but still can’t sleep, marijuana could be the answer.
Research is divided on the subject, but countless individuals swear by the herb as an effective sleep aid. If you decide to try it for yourself, do so with caution, and make sure you begin with a very small dose to see how it affects your body and mind.
How to Use Weed for Better Sleep
If you’ve ever complained of sleep issues, chances are that someone you know, or some guide on the internet, has told you to try smoking a little weed. In both the cannabis community and pop culture, it is an article of faith by now that some strains or products promote quick and sound sleep; insomnia is one of the most common reasons people seek out marijuana today.
But ask anyone who’s researched weed and its components’ effects on sleep and they’ll be quick to tell you that most of the accepted wisdom floating around on weed and sleep is dubious and oversimplified at best. In truth, says Jeffrey Raber, founder of The Werc Shop, a weed testing lab, “we don’t know much of anything concretely” about weed and sleep issues. This doesn’t mean that cannabis has no utility for sleep, Raber adds, just that consumers need to question all common narratives on the issue and approach weed for sleep with solid knowledge and a degree of caution.
Is indica better than sativa for sleep?
Perhaps the oldest, most common, and simplest line floating around the cannabis world is that for good sleep, you want a soothing indica strain rather than an upper sativa strain. High Times, Leafly, and other cannabis community outlets regularly publish lists of indicas, with maybe a few hybrids thrown in, that ought to knock you right out. However, this narrative, Raber and other researchers agree, is based on imprecise user anecdotes. Many of these testimonials may be influenced by earlier anecdotes, and a placebo effect built around that hype and expectation.
“People are more likely to buy indicas to help them sleep,” says Marcel Bonn-Miller, a psychologist who studies cannabis’s effects on anxiety and sleep, “but that doesn’t necessarily mean indicas are better than sativas for sleep; there is no indication there is any difference in effect between the two strains. Bonn-Miller believes people are just buying indicas because other people tell them, “‘You should use this for this,’ so that’s what they buy.”
In truth, Bonn-Miller and other researchers note, the line between indicas and sativas can be utterly superficial and misleading. Two indicas could contain different compounds with radically different effects on sleep. The same indica in two different shops may not actually have remotely similar chemical profiles; one may not even actually be an indica. And the quality of one batch of indica from the same grower could vary significantly from another with real effects on its value for sleep.
This speaks to the wider unpredictability of using cannabis-the-whole-plant to address sleep. As cannabis pharmacology researcher Ryan Vandery points out, raw weed is chemically complex and ultimately unreliable; it’s hard to nail down how any given batch will affect any given individual’s sleep in fine and consistent detail. Even some distributors recognize these limitations today, like Dina Browner—a.k.a. Dr. Dina, a fixture of the California dispensary scene. “Usually, when you just buy a bag of weed, you don’t get to pick the compounds in that bud structure,” she says.
Does THC or CBD help you sleep better?
Researchers have studied some of the components of cannabis and found that they do have, as Vandery puts it, “a direct and pretty pronounced effect on sleep.” THC, he explains, clearly knocks people out faster than usual and can cut back on REM sleep, the stage in which we dream, which could help individuals with PTSD or anxiety who endure rest-sabotaging nightmares. CBD may help with depression and anxiety as well, promoting easier and more restful sleep.
More from Tonic:
But this research is in its infancy, especially when it comes human, versus animal, studies, Bonn-Miller points out. Vandery also cautions that just because we know about how a compound effects sleep in general, that doesn’t mean we know how to best use it for sleep disorders. For starters, points out Kymron deCesare of the cannabis-testing lab Steep Hill, poor sleep could be the result of anything from a restless mind to a restless leg. Each issue might require some different, as of yet unclear mixture of compounds. Some might be entirely beyond weed and its components’ remits. Plus, Vandery notes, individual biology, due to heredity or environmental factors, could lead to intense person-to-person variation in effects, which we do not understand well enough yet.
Existing research also shows that cannabis and its compounds can have adverse effects on sleep in some circumstances. CBD seems in some studies to promote wakefulness rather than sleep. And different doses of THC can yield vastly different effects; getting the wrong dose could, say, spike someone’s anxiety rather than mellow them out. THC can also have long-lasting effects, leading to continued grogginess in the morning. That hangover effect, Vandery says, is why researchers abandoned THC as a possible sleep aid in the 1970s. (Though it’s worth noting that the prevalence and severity of ‘weed hangovers’ is still very much a topic of debate among researchers.)
What’s more, long-term use of cannabis can lead one to develop tolerance to its sleep-promoting effects, reducing its utility and even leading to withdrawals that leave people with even worse sleep once they stop using it. In theory, the right dosage or frequency of use could mitigate these potential negative effects. But substantive research is not yet at a stage where anyone I spoke to could offer real advice on those elements.
This messy picture rarely makes it to individuals seeking sleep help because, as cannabis doctor Jordan Tishler notes, retailers and hardcore advocates tend to latch onto suggestions that something in weed may help with sleep as proof that it does and omit countervailing findings. This may be why individuals like Browner still insist CBD is a solid sleep aide—“CBD feels like someone you love just gave you a nice, warm hug,” she says—and reject the idea it might promote wakefulness, as researchers suggest. Most of the researchers I’ve spoken to put this down to some mix of industry under-education and greed. “The person at the cannabis dispensary is not going to tell someone coming in to purchase products from them, ‘oh, you shouldn’t buy this,’” Vandery says.
None of the caveats or limitations researchers point to mean that weed has no utility for sleep. Most researchers just believe we need more human studies on more areas of sleep experience, on compounds beyond CBD and THC found within cannabis, like terpenes, compounds that lend weed strains their aroma and flavor and likely have major effects on the human body, and on how these varied compounds act in concert with each other with respect to different sleep states.
Until we have those studies (which are hard to conduct under current federal prohibitions on weed in general), Tishler argues that cannabis products should not be marketed for, or trumpeted by retailers as definitive sleep aides. Doing so, he believes, will undermine the possible medicinal value of cannabis in the future for this and other issues. For now, Bonn-Miller and others suggest, those looking for help with sleep issues should focus on well understood and highly effective treatments, like cognitive behavioral therapy, which helps tackle the roots of insomnia.
Advice for getting started
For anyone set on exploring cannabis for sleep, though, the researchers do have some advice: Be dubious of testimonials, Tishler suggests, or any retailer or manufacturer claims. Experiment with different strains or products, Raber recommends, methodically and patiently, until you (hopefully) find something that works for your body and sleep needs. Start with a low dosage, Bonn-Miller cautions, and move up gradually to find a sweet spot without risking adverse effects. Ideally, Vandrey says, this should all be done with input from a doctor who understands your sleep issues, and only intermittently or short-term to avoid building up a tolerance or dependence.
This may sound frustrating, or unreasonable. It ought to be easier for people to figure out how such a widely touted substance will help—or hurt—their sleep. Unfortunately that’s just where the science on this is to date. And it’s arguably better to start with this expectation than to try some sleep-focused strain or product, find it doesn’t work, and only after that hear from a bud tender, oh yeah, it doesn’t work for everyone, so you need to try more products until what you find works. “If you are using something,” though, Raber says, “and it works, keep it up.”
Sign up for our newsletter to get the best of Tonic delivered to your inbox weekly.
There’s no doubt that cannabis can have a range of effects on sleep, as it has been proven to not only help us fall asleep faster but also stay asleep longer and experience a more restful sleep cycle. It doesn’t matter if you suffer from the occasional wakeful night or chronic insomnia, marijuana is a natural sleep aid that nearly every cannabis user has turned to at one point or another. If you’re considering using cannabis as a sleep aid, chances are one of your next questions is whether indica or sativa strains are better for sleeping.
The short answer is that indica cannabis strains are usually a better sleep aid than sativas, which are typically thought of as more energizing marijuana varieties. We don’t have scientific evidence why indicas are better for sleeping (differences in genetic makeup, terpenes, etc.), but it is generally agreed that their effects are usually more relaxing and sedative than those of sativas. However, the most potent indica strains have high content levels of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), which can have an adverse effect on sleep and exacerbate one’s anxiety and insomnia.
This is just part of what makes knowing whether an indica or sativa will be better for sleeping a very personal, subjective question. We can’t forget that everyone experiences cannabis differently and that other factors come into play when considering indica and sativa marijuana strains as sleep aids.
For example, older, dried out cannabis is better for sleeping than freshly harvested flowers. This is because some of the THC has had time to degrade and convert to the compound cannabinol (CBN), which is a much stronger sedative than THC. Also, marijuana strains with high content levels of non-psychoactive compound cannabidiol (CBD) counteract THC-induced anxiety. The way you consume cannabis can affect sleep, as ingesting marijuana-infused products take longer to take effect, are more intense, and last longer than also last longer than inhaling smoke from the herb.
To end, knowing if an indica or sativa is better for sleeping depends on many things, including your personal needs and how a certain strain affects you. For now, we can only suggest that an indica is better than a sativa for sleeping, but you’ll have to judge for yourself.
Does Marijuana Help Sleep and Sleep Apnea?
Before looking at the specifics of sleep apnea and answering “does marijuana help sleep and sleep apnea,” the following are some general things to know about marijuana and sleep.
First, for some people, marijuana and sleep go hand-in-hand because marijuana acts as a sleep aid. When you have insomnia and have trouble falling asleep, you may rely on marijuana to help you feel more drowsy since it has a relaxing and even sedative-like effect.
With that being said, CBD and THC affect sleep in different ways. Both are components found in marijuana, but THC is psychoactive meaning you get high from it, while CBD doesn’t make you feel high. Strains of marijuana that are high in CBD versus THC may actually have the opposite effect from what you want to achieve if you have insomnia. High CBD marijuana strains tend to have no effect on how sleepy you are at night, but they can help you stay up during the day if you’re feeling tired.
High THC strains might help you sleep better, and even more specific strains may induce sleep. For example, indicia strains of marijuana tend to be the best for putting you to sleep, while Sativa strains tend to make you feel more alert and energetic.
Some people pair marijuana and sleep aids for better effects. For example, they might combine marijuana and melatonin to get a good night’s sleep, but it’s important that you speak with your doctor and don’t try to self-medicate. Your sleep problems could be indicative of something else, so you need to rule this out and discuss treatment options with your physician.
Another thing to keep in mind when you’re combining marijuana and sleep is that it can actually inhibit REM sleep. REM is the rapid eye movement phase of sleep, and it’s the final stage of the cycle. If you consume cannabis, you may not get into this important stage of sleep.
Finally, when discussing marijuana and sleep in general, using cannabis when you’re young, specifically under the age of 15, can cause long-term sleep problems into adulthood.
Cannabis has been used by its enthusiasts to help them drift off to sleep. Recent studies even suggest that the endocannabinoid system plays an important role in sleep regulation. Learn how cannabis affects your Zzz’s and if you should indica or sativa for a sleep experience that you are yearning for.
Is using sativa or indica for sleep a realistic goal? Cannabis strains can affect how we sleep, so much that some smokers with insomnia problems regularly use them before they go to bed. People who regularly use indica or sativa for sleep often report drowsiness and they experience faster onset latency. Furthermore, people who use indica weed for sleep report waking up less often during the night, and they strongly claim that it is cannabis that greatly increases their sleep quality.
Does indica or sativa make you sleepy? Many cannabis enthusiasts that are also insomniacs think so. They believe they are great for a natural alternative to sleeping medicine and many are now turning back to cannabis and its uses.
What is Insomnia?
Insomnia is a sleeping disorder wherein people experience troubles about falling asleep and sleeping well through the night. Most of the time, insomnia is not a condition on its own, but it can be a symptom of a more serious disease, like depression or anxiety. According to some reports, about 10 to 30 percent of all adults might be suffering from insomnia at some degree and about 95 percent of people suffering from an insomnia diagnosis take prescription medication to deal with this.
Unfortunately, sleeping medicine can have unwanted and long-lasting side effects. These unwanted side effects can range from prolonged drowsiness even when you are awake to damaging some internal organs. Moreover, these synthetic prescription drugs also carry a risk of dependence. For these reasons, it is no wonder that many are deciding to substitute prescribed medication to using cannabis instead.
The Top 5 Cannabis Strains You Can Use for Insomnia
- Bubba Kush – This indica-dominant hybrid came about as a result of crossbreeding the Kush and the Bubble Gum. While these are not as strong as other Kush strains in terms of THC, this well-balanced strain makes it a perfect option for people who cannot sleep. The Bubba Kush gives a high that is one of relaxation and ease, which can be taken further into a couch-lock if desired. When smoked, it gives out a sweet yet earthy taste that gives out a lemony Kush undertone.
- Blue Mystic – The Blue Mystic is an indica-heavy cannabis strain that has a short flowering period and a decent yield. It has a herbal and fruity taste that can deliver a comfortable body buzz for a quick general relaxation experience. It is a great starting point for insomniacs that are not too experienced in dealing with smoking cannabis. The Blue Mystic is not as overwhelming if you compare them with other strains on this list. It can allow you to enjoy a slower and more comfortable lowering of yourself into a deep sleep.
- Northern Lights – Another indica dominant strain, the Northern Lights is famous for its reputation for the ultimate relaxation. It has many resinous buds that usually have a tinge of purple, as well as a spicy yet still sweet scent. The Northern Light also gives out waves of calm and relaxation, including a gentle euphoric feeling that can make sure to kill all traces of depression and anxiety away. If you are looking for a strong cannabis strain that will protect you against sleepless nights, the Northern Lights can carry you off into a deep slumber and leave you there with a smile on your face. It produces a long-lasting high, which should prevent you from waking up during the night.
- Vanilla Kush – Vanilla Kush is another indica-dominant strain that both tastes great mixed with strong cannabinoid content. The combination of the subtle yet highly enjoyable vanilla flavors has the capability to take you into the depths of a far reaching stone that makes it the perfect choice for people who are looking for losing tension in their body and mind and aiding them in drifting off to sleep.
- CBD Critical Mass – Another strong contender for inducing sleep is their take on Critical Mass. Much like many other strains that are heavy on the CBD content, it works well in tandem with THC to offer a quick route to slumber. This relaxing and potentially couch-locking indica-dominant strain has a citrusy sweet taste and a cannabinoid content that will surely not disappoint people seeking for a sleep-inducing medical cannabis strain.
Which is Better for Sleep: Indica or Sativa?
Okay, you heard about these strains, but this is the question: does indica or sativa make you sleepy? The simple answer is you should go for Indica. Typically, sativa strains are more energizing and heady in effect. Since they are usually bred to be high in THC levels, it is easier to end up getting a little too spacey with sativa-dominant strains that can actually counteract sleepiness.
On the contrary, Indica strains can induce a more profound body-centered stoned effect. Indica also tends to show a wider range of cannabinoids and higher levels of CBD that can partner with THC to induce and maintain a better sleep quality. So, even when you have an extremely powerful strain with high THC, the CBD can take off the edge for you.
In the end, knowing if an indica or sativa for sleep is better depends on many different things, including your personal needs and how certain strains affect you. You can go for what people think is better and try some indica strains, or you can go for trying out all types of strains and judge them for yourself. The best options are using the research as a guide and keep trying out things so that you can pick the best one according to your preferences. Remember to only transact with legitimate cannabis sellers and retailers so you do not have to worry about excellent quality as well as potency.
Here’s a reliable source on where to buy marijuana seeds! Just visit this !
Beyond CPAP: Could Medical Cannabis Treat Sleep Apnea?
Minnesota OK’d sleep apnea as a qualifying condition for medical cannabis. Stakeholders weigh in.
By Lisa Spear
Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), a molecule found in cannabis that is commonly known for its psychoactive properties, could be a viable therapy for obstructive sleep apnea, but research in this area is still in its infancy.
The Minnesota Department of Health approved medical cannabis for the treatment of sleep apnea last year. This means that in August the first sleep apnea patients were able to obtain medical cannabis under state law, though it remains classified as an illegal Schedule 1 narcotic on the federal level. While some providers feel the state’s decision is a step in the right direction, it has ignited a debate among sleep medicine physicians about whether there is enough evidence of the plant’s effectiveness to recommend its use for patient populations.
Not long after the department’s announcement, the American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM) came forward with a statement against the use of medical cannabis for sleep apnea.1 “We do not have enough data to tell us if it is OK to use it at this point,” says Kannan Ramar, MBBS, MD, professor of medicine in the division of pulmonary and critical care medicine at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn.
In a brief, the Minnesota Department of Health cited recent research, including a clinical trial on dronabinol, synthetic THC that has been used for years to prevent nausea in chemotherapy patients.2 The medication was a new approach to the treatment of sleep apnea because it targeted the brain instead of the physical problem of collapsing airways. This reflects the new idea that sleep apnea is not just a physical problem but may be caused by several factors, including poor regulation of the upper airway muscles by the brain. The study from the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) and Northwestern Medicine was published in the journal SLEEP in 2017.3
Dronabinol had positive outcomes in some subjects, possibly by increasing airway muscle tone. After six weeks of treatment, patients experienced fewer episodes of shallow breathing and apneas throughout the night. The primary outcome was that dronabinol decreased the severity of the disorder (as assessed by the apnea-hypopnea index) by 33% of the pretreatment value, on average among all subjects.
The researchers think that dronabinol works by binding to cannabinoid receptors on the nerves that regulate the upper airway muscles. This inhibits activation of the vagus nerve, which increases muscle activity to stop airway collapse during sleep, says the principal investigator of the study, David Carley, PhD, a professor of biobehavioral health sciences, medicine, and bioengineering at UIC.
He cautions that while this work could lead to new treatments for sleep apnea, the promising results of the study do not apply directly to the cannabis plant in its natural form—since dronabinol was studied in isolation. Any reference to his research to justify the approval of medical cannabis is taking his work out of context, Carley says, since cannabis plants contain over a hundred biologically active molecules that interact with one another.
The drug dronabinol contains just one biologically active molecule. Further research is needed to fully understand how other molecules found in cannabis plants might impact patients with sleep apnea, says Carley.
“I’m not saying that it wouldn’t be or couldn’t be therapeutic; I’m saying that we don’t have any data on that yet,” he says. “There is a lot more work that needs to be done.”
Research manager in the Minnesota Department of Health’s Office of Medical Cannabis, Thomas Arneson, MD, MPH, agrees. The former Minnesota Commissioner of Health Ed Ehlinger, MD, MSPH, made the decision to give sleep apnea patients the freedom to try medical cannabis to see if it works for them on an individual basis, but patients should still use caution, says Arneson.
“If you choose to use some cannabis products, bear in mind, that there is very little research evidence that shows that it works, and if you do use it make sure to check back in with your healthcare provider to make sure it is working for you,” he says.
In the dronabinol study, the researchers found significant improvement in the objective measures of severity of obstructive sleep apnea compared to the participants who took placebos. The subjects’ breathing during sleep and daytime alertness improved. These are positive signals that dronabinol, at least, potentially has a therapeutic, positive effect in patients with obstructive sleep apnea, says Carley.
A drug that treats the cause of sleep apnea could one day give patients more options to manage their condition. “The CPAP device targets the physical problem but not the cause,” says co-lead author Phyllis Zee, MD, in a release. “The drug targets the brain and nerves that regulate the upper airway muscles. It alters the neurotransmitters from the brain that communicate with the muscles. Better understanding of this will help us develop more effective and personalized treatments for sleep apnea.”
New cannabis therapies for sleep apnea are already on the horizon. Nasal respiratory and sleep technology company Rhinomed recently announced that it is partnering with the medical cannabis company Columbia Care to develop a product that can be administered through the nose with a nasal stent during sleep. The investigational cannabis product would treat several qualifying conditions, including obstructive sleep apnea.
“It is administered almost like a dermal patch, but inside the nose. What we can do is we can deliver a very set amount over a set period of time,” says Michael Johnson, CEO of Rhinomed. “And because it is going directly into the blood, into your circulatory system, we can actually use a much lower amount to achieve a clinical outcome than if you were to swallow it.”
This could offer an alternative to CPAP therapy. “That’s really interesting to us because certainly compliance rates with CPAP are under 40%. It’s an expensive therapy, patients don’t really like it, and yet there’s been no innovation in the sector for a long time,” says Johnson. “Here is an opportunity, potentially, to create a whole new mode of therapy that actually doesn’t treat the symptom of sleep apnea, but actually goes to ask the question: What is the underlying cause, what is the underlying reason why people have apnea?”
Lisa Spear is associate editor of Sleep Review.
1. Ramar K, Rosen IM, Kirsch DB, et al. Medical Cannabis and the Treatment of Obstructive Sleep Apnea: An American Academy of Sleep Medicine Position Statement. J Clin Sleep Med. 2018 Apr 15;14(4):679-81.
2. Minnesota Department of Health. Issue Brief on Obstructive Sleep Apnea. 2017 Sept. Available at www.health.state.mn.us/topics/cannabis/rulemaking/sleepapneabrief.pdf.
3. Carley DW, Prasad B, Reid KJ, et al. Pharmacotherapy of apnea by cannabimimetic enhancement, the PACE clinical trial: effects of dronabinol in obstructive sleep apnea. Sleep. 2018 Jan 1;41(1).
Medical Cannabis and the Treatment of Obstructive Sleep Apnea: An American Academy of Sleep Medicine Position Statement
The American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM) is the leading professional society dedicated to promotion of sleep health. The AASM promotes sleep health and fosters high-quality, patient-centered care through advocacy, education, strategic research, and practice standards. The AASM endeavors to advance sleep health policy that improves the health and well-being of the general public.
Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is a sleep-related breathing disorder that is characterized by repetitive episodes of complete or partial upper airway obstruction during sleep.1 Untreated, OSA is a potentially lethal disease that increases the risk of numerous health complications including hypertension, congestive heart failure, atrial fibrillation, coronary artery disease, stroke and type 2 diabetes.2 Data show that untreated OSA is associated with an increased risk of all-cause and cardiovascular mortality, and that this risk can be reduced with effective treatment.3,4 Therefore, the diagnosis and effective treatment of OSA in adults is an urgent health priority.
CANNABIS AND SLEEP
The flower from the cannabis plant has nearly 100 different active compounds called cannabinoids that work on the human endocannabinoid system through two main receptors, the CB1 and CB2 receptors. The two extensively researched cannabinoids are delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD). THC is the primary psychoactive component of cannabis that results in euphoria, hallucinations, anxiety, and tachycardia by acting on the CB1 receptor, while CBD counteracts the THC effects and has potential medicinal value of analgesia, neuroprotection, and anti-inflammatory action by acting on the CB2 receptor. To maximize the potential therapeutic applicability of medical cannabis, synthetic-based cannabis products have been developed such as synthetic THC (dronabinol, nabilone), CBD, and nabiximols (1:1 THC/CBD combination). Some of these synthetic cannabis products are approved by the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for certain medical indications.
The effects of medical cannabis on sleep vary depending on acute versus chronic use, withdrawal after chronic use, the type of cannabinoids based on their effects on the CB1 versus CB2 receptors, and the types of synthetic extracts. Early animal studies demonstrated that cannabinoid agonists such as dronabinol improved respiratory stability through peripheral serotonergic antagonism activity, and thereby provide therapeutic benefit to treat OSA.5 This led to human studies that assessed the effectiveness of dronabinol in pill form of different strengths from 2.5 to 10 mg to treat patients with OSA.6–8 Prasad et al. reported a significant improvement in apneahypopnea index (AHI) of 32% at 3 weeks compared to baseline (−14.1 ± 17.5; P = .007). Side effects related to treatment were reported in most patients, and somnolence was reported in 29% to 50% of patients. A recent placebo-controlled randomized trial in people with moderate or severe OSA found a similar response after 6 weeks of treatment using a 10-mg dose of dronabinol that reduced AHI by 33 percent with no change in the Maintenance of Wakefulness Test (MWT) latency scores. Eight percent of patients reported sleepiness and drowsiness.8
Importantly, the long-term use of these products on other sleep quality measures, their tolerability, and safety are still unknown. Dronabinol is not FDA approved for treatment of OSA. Medical cannabis and synthetic extracts other than dronabinol have not been studied in patients with OSA. Additionally, the safety and efficacy of other delivery methods (eg, vaping, liquid formulation, oral capsule) have not been studied. Medical cannabis and other synthetic extracts may not only have differential effects on the CB1 and CB2 receptors; their delivery methods might also create differential effects. Therefore, further research is needed to understand their functionality before recommending them as a treatment for OSA.
It is the position of the AASM:
That medical cannabis and/or its synthetic extracts should not be used for the treatment of OSA due to unreliable delivery methods and insufficient evidence of treatment effectiveness, tolerability, and safety, and OSA should be excluded from the list of chronic medical conditions for state medical cannabis programs.
That patients with OSA should be advised to discuss their treatment options with a licensed medical provider at an accredited sleep facility.
Most states in the United States do not have laws legalizing the use of cannabis. However, certain states have laws that legalize it for medical and recreational use. At least one state has announced that OSA will be added to the list of medical indications for the use of medical cannabis.9 This is concerning as the announcement was based on limited evidence citing pilot or proof of concept studies with small sample sizes. Additionally, the duration of these studies was only 3–6 weeks, and therefore the long-term effects of use of these medical cannabis products and the effect on OSA is unknown at this time. Also, treatment with the use of medical cannabis has shown adverse effects such as daytime sleepiness and may lead to unintended consequences such as motor vehicle accidents. Most studies only evaluated a specific synthetic cannabis extract (ie, dronabinol). The effects of other medical cannabis products for treatment of OSA are unknown currently.
PAP therapy remains the most effective treatment option for OSA.10 Adherence with PAP therapy is optimized by a patient-centered approach that includes pretreatment education and ongoing follow-up.11
Dronabinol is one of the many synthetic medical cannabis extracts. The composition of cannabinoids within medical cannabis varies significantly and is not regulated. Therefore, synthetic medical cannabis may have differential CB1 and CB2 receptor effects, with variable efficacy and side effects in the treatment of OSA.
There is a need for increased funding and further research on the use of synthetic medical cannabis extracts to treat OSA. We need a better understanding of the pathophysiologic mechanisms on how synthetic medical cannabis extracts work differentially on the CB1 and CB2 receptors peripherally to help patients with OSA. This may also identify other potential synthetic extracts with higher efficacy and lesser side effects to treat OSA. Because of the potential for misuse and increased costs, the lack of evidence on beneficial effects, and risk of side effects including increased daytime sleepiness, which might lead to more harm than benefit, the AASM takes the position that medical cannabis should not be used for the treatment of OSA at this time.
Based on the available evidence, it is the position of the AASM that medical cannabis should not be used for the treatment of OSA. The AASM also advises state legislators, regulators and health departments that OSA should not be included as an indication for their medical cannabis programs. Further research is needed to better understand the mechanistic actions of medical cannabis and its synthetic extracts, the long-term role of these synthetic extracts on OSA treatment, and the harms and benefits.
This position statement was developed by the board of directors of the AASM to help physicians and other health care providers make decisions about the appropriate treatment of patients with OSA. It is published by the AASM as an advisory that is to be used for educational and informational purposes only.
Treating Sleep Apnea Overnight With Cannabis
Sleep issues are one of the most common reasons why patients seek advice from their medical practitioners these days. Insomnia and other sleep problems are the third most common medical complaint for which people are looking to cannabis to treat. Let’s check out some of the latest research that shows the potential for cannabis varieties (THC and CBD) to help those suffering from sleep apnea get the relief that they’ve been looking for.
How Sleep Apnea Affects Your Daily Life
One of the most disruptive sleep problems that plagues more than 25 million adults in the U.S. currently is obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). OSA is a breathing disorder that occurs when the back of the throat relaxes during sleep, blocking off the airway. This causes gasping, choking, and oxygen deprivation to the brain, preventing the subject from ever reaching a deep sleep and resulting in serious long-term health consequences such as stroke, cancer, and even death in some cases.
Many Americans resort to sleeping with a Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) machine which increases the air pressure in your throat to prevent your airway from collapsing when you inhale while asleep. Wearing a CPAP machine can be a major buzzkill in the bedroom as it requires an outlet to function which can be cumbersome if you find yourself traveling overseas.
What Cannabis Can Do To Your Sleep Cycle On Its Own
The primary active compounds in cannabis (THC and CBD) have completely different effects on sleep. Since the cannabis plant has nearly infinite number of variations with different levels of THC and CBD, it can make it difficult to pinpoint which strains are best to combat sleep apnea problems. Since cannabis can help relax the muscles, many patients find that their sleep quality improves if they use cannabis before bed. Others find that it can calm their nerves, keeping them from having to count sheep until the wee hours of the morning just to doze off.
According to a 2008 study, ingesting marijuana strains with higher levels of THC typically reduces the amount of REM sleep you get. A reduction in REM sleep ultimately means that you’re limiting your ability to dream which could help you reduce your nightmares, but also may limit your ability to get into a “deep sleep” stage of your sleep cycle. Since the deep sleep state is meant to help your body restore itself and help you improve your cognitive and immune, higher THC levels could impair your sleep quality if taken long term. This is why it’s always best to microdose with different strains before bed and use a sleep tracker such as a FitBit, Apple Watch, etc. to help you track which strain and dosage works best for your body.
What’s the Verdict on Cannabis Treating Sleep Apnea?
Although sleep apnea is becoming more prevalent as a byproduct of the global obesity epidemic, the number of cannabis specific human studies have been few and far between. A 2002 study by the University of Illinois found that medical grade THC and oleamide improved breathing patterns in rats with the condition in all stages of sleep with apnea episodes decreasing between 42 to 58 percent. Researchers found that when they gave the rats higher dosages, they saw even more improvement than lower dosages.
Even though human anatomy is far different from rats in most ways, sleep researchers have found that rats have similar sleep cycles compared to humans. So really, this rat research is closer to the truth when it comes to alleviating sleep apnea than some researchers may be prepared to admit.
How Does Marijuana Affect Sleep?
A 2019 study on 72 adults reporting issues with anxiety and sleep found 67 percent of participants to report getting better sleep while taking CBD. Anxiety scores decreased in 80 percent of the participants and remained lowered for the duration of the study. However, some studies indicate that CBD actually induces wakefulness and decreases the beneficial slow wave and REM phases of sleep.
Marijuana Has Been Shown to Mitigate Obstructive Sleep Apnea.
The January 2018 issue of Sleep, from the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, published a study showing a positive correlation between dronabinol (a synthetic, man-made form of marijuana) and treatment of obstructive sleep apnea with participants reporting overall treatment satisfaction.
In the June 2002 issue of the journal Sleep, researchers at the University of Illinois at Chicago Department of Medicine noted “potent suppression” of sleep-related apnea in rats that were given either exogenous or endogenous cannabinoids. More recent studies confirmed this effect in rats and in human adults.
Marijuana Use by Adolescents May Affect Brain Development.
Because children’s and teenagers’ brains are still forming and are thus susceptible to lasting damage, researchers caution that the detrimental effects of steady marijuana use are greater in the non-adult age group, and tend to outweigh the benefits.
A study published in The Journal of Neuroscience in 2019 showed changes in brain structure and cognitive effects in teenagers after one or two instances of ingesting marijuana. Susan Weiss, director of the division of extramural research at the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), notes that “there’s a growing literature, and it’s all pointing in the same direction: Starting young and using frequently may disrupt brain development.”
Is cannabis really helping you sleep?
“Certainly, cannabis can help you fall asleep,” he says, but that sleep isn’t necessarily good “just because your eyes are closed and you’re unconscious.”
There is some evidence that cannabis helps users fall asleep more quickly. However, other studies suggest the effect is largely subjective. A 1973 study found participants with insomnia given a high dose of cannabis fell asleep in 54 minutes — less time compared to participants given a placebo. However, data for the study was self-reported.
Results like these don’t tell us much about whether cannabis is helpful for sleep or not, says Bowles. She says she’s skeptical of self-reported sleep data — studies have shown the data’s often inaccurate, and it’s natural for people to perceive their sleep as better than it really is.
Studies done in the lab under controlled conditions can explicitly measure both the quantity and quality of sleep participants get. But these lab studies haven’t been able to replicate the effects found in self-reported data, according to a review of studies done prior to 2014. Often, researchers found, when an effect is there, it’s small. For example, one study found that participants given cannabis took two minutes longer to fall asleep than those given a placebo. Bowles says these studies deserve attention — not self-reported data — and two minutes isn’t a large enough difference to make any sweeping claims about cannabis, she says.
In reality, most cannabis users experience a negligible change not only in the amount of time it takes them to fall asleep, but the total time spent sleeping. For Emily, these results aren’t surprising. Although cannabis did help calm some of her middle-of-the-night worries, Emily (who never suffered from insomnia) never noticed a pronounced change in her sleep once she started smoking.
“I don’t know that it does help my sleep, but I know that it doesn’t hurt it,” she says.
Researchers like Cuttler are concerned not that users will have worse sleep, but that once users start smoking cannabis, they won’t be able to sleep without it.
Insomnia is one of the main symptoms of cannabis withdrawal, which makes it even harder for users to cut back or quit. As many as 76% of regular users report poor sleep quality after quitting and that their sleep quality grew even worse over time, according to a 2015 study in the American Journal of Psychiatry. Another study found that these negative effects on sleep last for up to 45 days.
“The more you use, the more likely you are to have sleep disturbances,” Bowles says about users who try to wean themselves off cannabis.
Some sleep and substance abuse experts also worry cannabis’ effects on dreams. Emily has noticed this herself. Although she feels more relaxed at night, her dreams stopped almost entirely once she started smoking at bedtime. This concerns her — not only does she miss dreaming, but she sees her dreams as a healthy part of sleep. And she’s right.
People who take cannabis before bedtime tend to get less REM sleep, the deepest stage of sleep when dreaming tends to happen. One early sleep study carried out in the lab found that cannabis reduced time spent in REM sleep by 18%, and total eye movement (an important indicator of the depth of REM sleep) by 49%.
Loss of REM sleep could have detrimental long-term impacts, including memory impairment. In fact, loss of REM sleep “may be part of the memory impairing effects of cannabis,” says Cuttler.
REM sleep is also crucial to our ability to regulate negative emotions, says Naiman. “The better we dream, the better we digest daily life experiences,” he says.
We don’t understand with absolute certainty the effect of cannabis on REM sleep, Cuttler says. Most studies on the REM-suppressing effects of cannabis were conducted in the 1970s and 1980s. Today, it’s almost impossible to research cannabis in a laboratory because of restrictions on schedule 1 substances, Cuttler adds. As a result, most recent studies are based on self-reported data or studies on rats and mice. Many of these studies also support the conclusion that cannabis suppresses REM, according to a review of research on the subject, but animal studies are not necessarily an indication of how a drug will affect humans.
Cuttler emphasizes that people looking into cannabis as a sleep aid should remember that it’s not a long-term solution. Instead, she recommends that people struggling to fall asleep try cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia, a talk therapy that focuses on implementing good sleep habits and reducing anxiety around bedtime. Unlike medication or cannabis, cognitive behavioral therapy is not a quick fix, but its benefits have been shown to be long-lasting.
“I see cannabis very much as a Band-Aid treatment,” she says, “It temporarily alleviates the problem, but it can create more problems afterward as a result.”
This article was originally published at The Conversation. The publication contributed the article to Live Science’s Expert Voices: Op-Ed & Insights.
If you speak to someone who has suffered from insomnia at all as an adult, chances are good that person has either tried using marijuana, or cannabis, for sleep or has thought about it.
This is reflected in the many variations of cannabinoid or cannabis-based medicines available to improve sleep – like Nabilone, Dronabinol and Marinol. It’s also a common reason why many cannabis users seek medical marijuana cards.
I am a sleep psychologist who has treated hundreds of patients with insomnia, and it seems to me the success of cannabis as a sleep aid is highly individual. What makes cannabis effective for one person’s sleep and not another’s?
While there are still many questions to be answered, existing research suggests that the effects of cannabis on sleep may depend on many factors, including individual differences, cannabis concentrations and frequency of use.
Cannabis and sleep
Access to cannabis is increasing. As of last November, 28 U.S. states and the District of Columbia had legalized cannabis for medicinal purposes.
Research on the effects of cannabis on sleep in humans has largely been compiled of somewhat inconsistent studies conducted in the 1970s. Researchers seeking to learn how cannabis affects the sleeping brain have studied volunteers in the sleep laboratory and measured sleep stages and sleep continuity. Some studies showed that users’ ability to fall and stay asleep improved. A small number of subjects also had a slight increase in slow wave sleep, the deepest stage of sleep.
However, once nightly cannabis use stops, sleep clearly worsens across the withdrawal period.
Over the past decade, research has focused more on the use of cannabis for medical purposes. Individuals with insomnia tend to use medical cannabis for sleep at a high rate. Up to 65 percent of former cannabis users identified poor sleep as a reason for relapsing. Use for sleep is particularly common in individuals with PTSD and pain.
This research suggests that, while motivation to use cannabis for sleep is high, and might initially be beneficial to sleep, these improvements might wane with chronic use over time.
Does frequency matter?
We were interested in how sleep quality differs between daily cannabis users, occasional users who smoked at least once in the last month and people who don’t smoke at all.
We asked 98 mostly young and healthy male volunteers to answer surveys, keep daily sleep diaries and wear accelerometers for one week. Accelerometers, or actigraphs, measure activity patterns across multiple days. Throughout the study, subjects used cannabis as they typically would.
Our results show that the frequency of use seems to be an important factor as it relates to the effects on sleep. Thirty-nine percent of daily users complained of clinically significant insomnia. Meanwhile, only 10 percent of occasional users had insomnia complaints. There were no differences in sleep complaints between nonusers and nondaily users.
Interestingly, when controlling for the presence of anxiety and depression, the differences disappeared. This suggests that cannabis’s effect on sleep may differ depending on whether you have depression or anxiety. In order words, if you have depression, cannabis may help you sleep – but if you don’t, cannabis may hurt.
Cannabis is still a schedule I substance, meaning that the government does not consider cannabis to be medically therapeutic due to lack of research to support its benefits. This creates a barrier to research, as only one university in the country, University of Mississippi, is permitted by the National Institute of Drug Abuse to grow marijuana for research.
New areas for exploration in the field of cannabis research might examine how various cannabis subspecies influence sleep and how this may differ between individuals.
One research group has been exploring cannabis types or cannabinoid concentrations that are preferable depending on one’s sleep disturbance. For example, one strain might relieve insomnia, while another can affect nightmares.
Other studies suggest that medical cannabis users with insomnia tend to prefer higher concentrations of cannabidiol, a nonintoxicating ingredient in cannabis.
This raises an important question. Should the medical community communicate these findings to patients with insomnia who inquire about medical cannabis? Some health professionals may not feel comfortable due to the fluctuating legal status, a lack of confidence in the state of the science or their personal opinions.
At this point, cannabis’s effect on sleep seems highly variable, depending on the person, the timing of use, the cannabis type and concentration, mode of ingestion and other factors. Perhaps the future will yield more fruitful discoveries.
Deirdre Conroy, Clinical Associate Professor of Psychiatry, University of Michigan
This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.