People who smoke cannabis tend to really chill out when they do. Some of that is obviously psychological, it’s ingrained in the culture.
But other people swear that cannabis helps them to both chill out and get to sleep. So what’s the truth in that? Is it psychosomatic, or do the cannabinoids in cannabis help us to actually get sleep easier, or sleep better once we are?
So let’s take a look at this in detail. Let’s see if cannabis helps you have better sleep, if it shortens the time it takes to get to sleep, or if it’s the fact it chills you out in the hours leading up to sleep that makes people think it helps.
Do Specific Strains Of Cannabis Promote Sleep Better Than Others?
Some people claim that sativa or indica help you sleep better. The truth is when it comes to both those phytochemicals there really isn’t a lot of difference. Despite the fact that people can associate one or the other with low energy, or sleepiness, or more energy, it’s not really accurate; it’s mostly in the mind.
The truth is when you smoke cannabis, there are quite a few cannabinoids in the mix here, which THC and CBD are just the most dominant.
Researchers who worked with a group who claimed to be insomniacs (400 subjects) went through a course of medicinal cannabis. The researchers saw that cannabis flower did get improvements in sleep. However, this had varying levels of positive results, and side effects, depending on the type taken.
But what was most interesting, is that overall, the strains of cannabis that had higher percentages of CBD were the ones that delivered better sleep.
Is THC Or CBD The Alkaloid That Helps Us To Sleep?
That and similar research throws up some interesting questions, because most people just assume it’s THC that chills you out and helps you sleep.
But it actually appears to potentially be CBD. That is why a lot of people using CBD oil nowadays also report that it helps to calm them down and helps them to sleep better.
Now that’s obviously not the whole story as there are 100 or more cannabinoids in cannabis, and it could be the combination effects that give the perceived results around more ready and better sleep.
But as I said, CBD is being increasingly linked to better standards of sleep, so it’s something that can’t be ignored.
Let’s Talk About The Science Around Marijuana Benefits For Sleep
The problem around looking at studies into cannabis and sleep is that most of them, until recently, have looked at THC predominantly. That’s because CBD has only recently started to come into focus as potentially just as big an agonist of the cannabinoid receptors is THC.
THC definitely has sedative effects, anyone who smokes weed knows that. And cannabis has been noted to help people sleep faster.
However, that could be psychosomatic. A lot of weed smokers swear that cannabis helps them sleep, but it could just be that they are addicted to weed and can’t get to sleep without a joint because of their addiction and withdrawal symptoms kicking in when they try to get to sleep if they don’t smoke late in the evening.
In fact, a review of scientific literature between 2001 and 2014 concluded that THC seems to actually impair people’s sleep quality if used consistently in the long term.
There’s also the fact that high doses of THC can induce paranoia and anxiety. Those things are not conducive to sleep, and some people who smoke cannabis close to bedtime end up pacing around and trying to take their mind off things into the early hours instead of sleeping at all.
The problem is CBD’s influence on sleep is that it’s indirect, and poorly studied. But research so far suggests that strains that have a lower THC content and a higher CBD content tend to produce the best results, adding fuel to the fire that CBD could be beneficial.
People Who Smoke Weed Dream Less
If you ask pretty much anyone who smokes cannabis regularly, they will say that they don’t dream as much. And if they do, they don’t remember as much.
Cannabis definitely reduces people’s ability to dream, and their ability to remember the dreams they’ve had.
REM sleep is when dreaming kicks in, and when memory formation happens. The problem is that THC has been linked to changes in the stages of sleep, shortening and breaking up the REM sleep times of the night. That’s exactly why people who smoke weed, especially close to bed, don’t dream as much.
Are There Any Side Effects Or Problems With Using Weed To Get To Sleep?
So overall, the conclusion has to be that there’s a lot unknown about cannabis and sleep, and most of it is anecdotal, littered with a few studies which aren’t conclusive to anyone single conclusive view.
What is true is that CBD has only recently being investigated as an alternative to THC in potentially helping with sleep.
However, as there are 480 or more cannabinoids in THC, it could be another element to this which nobody has yet even discovered.
As has been noted, although cannabis can help you to get off to sleep sometimes, if you keep doing it, you get just as addicted to using it to sleep, as you do to using it to chill out.
It’s also potentially why people with heavy smoking habits seem to have poor memories. Sometimes it’s because of clouded thinking at the time, but also it appears that cannabis somehow effects REM sleep and can actually minimize our minds ability to process and store memories to be recalled later.
And unfortunately, if you try and stop, or taper down in your cannabis use is a heavy user, you could suffer several months where you have unsettled sleep as your body craves it during the day, makes you anxious, and as your body has to adjust to normal sleep pattern again.
But if you are going to try and use cannabis to sleep, it seems to be that cannabis that’s slightly weaker in THC, and higher in CBD content seems to work best.
As an alternative, rather than smoking a joint, why not try a few drops of CBD oil sublingually under the tongue around one hour before you go to sleep instead? If it is CBD oil that helps you sleep, then you can still get the benefits, and just maybe avoid some of the servants which is been linked to THC.