Marijuana has long been touted as a treatment or cure for many illnesses, from cancer to the common cold. Many of those claims are bogus, but the science is behind others.
There are more than 100 cannabinoids in marijuana. However, the two cannabinoids that do most of the work in marijuana are CBD and THC, both of which have been found to help with sleep in different ways.
The amount of sleep we get affects nearly every aspect of our lives, from the amount of pain we feel to the anxiety that races through our minds and bodies to the foods we crave. When we don’t get enough sleep, we struggle to get through our days. We’re also more likely to eat poorly, feel pain more acutely and have more trouble with our mental health. All of those, in turn, often leads to more trouble sleeping, creating a vicious cycle in which you don’t get enough sleep and your health worsens, causing you to get even less sleep.
If you are trying to improve your sleep habits and the quality of your sleep, CBD and/or THC products might be worth a shot. If you aren’t sure where to start with these products, here’s a guide to help you make the right choice for yourself and your health.
What is CBD?
CBD is a cannabinoid primarily found in cannabis sativa, a plant that is more commonly known as hemp but is also found in marijuana. However, this does not mean that it will get you high. CBD is non-psychotropic, which means that it isn’t illegal, unlike marijuana. It’s been found to be non-addictive, which makes it appealing to a lot of people who struggle with addiction to sleep or pain medicines.
It’s been found to be helpful for those with autoimmune diseases, neurological conditions like Alzheimer’s or Parkinsons, metabolic issues like diabetes, gut disorders, cardiovascular issues and even skin diseases like psoriasis, though there is a lot more research to be done on the topic.
How does CBD affect sleep?
CBD acts as a kind of mild sedative, which means that it helps to relax your body’s functions just a little bit. This can help to lower your heart rate, reduce the anxiety that you feel and help you sleep. It can also help to reduce the amount of pain that you’re dealing with, making it easier for you to get comfortable at night.
Because it’s helpful for so many other diseases and disorders, it can also help you to break away from short-acting prescription medications which often have problematic side effects that lead to even more sleeplessness.
What is THC?
If you’re looking for that high feeling, you’re looking for THC – also known as tetrahydrocannabinol. Because this is the psychotropic cannabinoid in marijuana, this is what can get you in trouble if you live in a state where recreational marijuana is not legal or your company does not allow marijuana usage.
However, it should be said that some strains of THC are very different than others. To know exactly what kind of 2 facts you might see, read the reviews on the product you intend to use to see how other people have reacted to that specific product. If you’re looking to go local, you can talk to a grassroots grower or budtender to help you figure out what exactly you should be looking for and how you can get that particular effect.
How does THC affect sleep?
THC has a somewhat similar effect to CBD most of the time, although it has slightly different side effects. When you are looking for a THC product, you want to stick to a lower dose because the higher a dosage you get, the more likely it is to exacerbate your anxiety. For some people, THC leads to increased anxiety, hallucinations and even heart palpitations in some people.
It can make you feel more awake than you intended, so if you use a product with THC in it, make sure you take it well before it’s time to go to sleep. This can give you a boost of energy that helps you to make it through the end of your day without having to deal with the side effects of caffeine. Aim for at least an hour before bed until you figure out how your body is going to react to the product you choose.
THC has also been found to increase appetite, an example of “the munchies”, but that’s not any different than operating off of very little sleep. If you catch yourself craving carbs and fats, are you eating something healthier instead to cut the craving? You should also look at ways to help yourself avoid the hungry feeling so that you can go to sleep. If the feeling of hunger continues, you might need to take your dose earlier in the evening so you can have a snack without disrupting your sleep with the digestive process.
However, you should make sure that you talk to your doctor before adding anything with THC or CBD in it to your routine and check the laws for your state and your employer’s rules before using anything with THC in it. Even if recreational marijuana is legal in your state, your employer may still have a policy against coming to work with THC in your system.
What is Sativex?
Sativex is a prescription drug that is one part CBD and one part THC. It has been found to be very helpful for people who struggle with sleep disorders because of the combination of cannabinoids used in it.
Because of the way that these two cannabinoids are combined, often it helps to wake you up and help you work through your anxiety before helping you to start producing melatonin and falling asleep easier at night. CBD often helps the product cut back many of the negative side effects of THC while amplifying the positive ones. This can be incredible for your sleep if you can get the prescription for it. However, that can be difficult to get, since many medical professionals still struggle with recommending anything that’s even vaguely related to marijuana. You might need to visit more than one doctor in order to get a prescription, which we think would probably cause more anxiety than it’s really worth.
If you live somewhere that recreational marijuana is legal, you can get THC and CBD and combine it on your own to create a similar effect.
Are you a Recreational User?
If you are a recreational user of marijuana, you may want to reduce your recreation time or plan it for right before bed. Our bodies work best on routines so if you are smoking or vaping marijuana during the day and not going to sleep, your body will start to avoid producing melatonin because you aren’t going to sleep, no matter when you use it.
What Will Help You Sleep Better?
Sativex seems to have the most research behind it, but since it is a prescription, it can be difficult to access in some places. The research on it is also still relatively new and mostly sponsored by the company, which gives us pause.
If we were to recommend just one of these two cannabinoids, we would recommend using only CBD products. THC reacts very differently for different people and doesn’t always help with sleep. You won’t get in trouble for using it, no matter where you might have to travel, which takes a weight off of your mind.
You can take CBD or THC in a variety of ways – as a topical oil, as an ingested oil, as a vaping liquid or even as a pill. If you are ingesting your product, make sure that it is created with that purpose in mind. You don’t want to have an issue because of some gross filler the company added. You should also be careful if you are ingesting it in a product like a brownie or in a beverage to keep it out of the hands of those who should not be taking it or who are unaware. You may have to try a few different formulations and styles before you find the CBD product that is right for you. Just make sure to talk to your doctor before you start it to avoid any nasty interactions with other medications or preexisting medical conditions.
You should also combine your product with some lifestyle changes, such as making sure that you go to bed with plenty of time to actually get enough sleep to feel rested the next day, or scheduling your evening meal for 3 to 4 hours before you intend to go to bed. As you get used to using your product, your body will start to anticipate the production of melatonin and begin producing it on its own as well, making it easier for you to start falling asleep. When you do that, you’ll be improving your chances of getting a good night’s sleep and living your best life.