Getting enough rest is a serious issue for 70 million Americans. The past two decades have seen a surge in less restful sleep, implying an increase in bloodshot eyes, frequent yawning, and caffeinated energy drink sales.
According to the CDC, sleep disorders are so pervasive in the United States that they now constitute a public health epidemic. Of course, you don’t have to meet the diagnostic criteria for a sleep disorder to impact your day-to-day life.
Just Trying to Find Rest
While the sleep economy has no shortage of products, services, and applications connected to sleep, no solution is perfect. Sometimes they work and sometimes they don’t.
Looking for a natural way to fall asleep? Cannabis use has been an effective method for countless people, and is one of the top reasons the plant is used for sleep.
How Cannabis Can Help You Sleep
All animals—including you and your cat—have an endocannabinoid system (ECS). This system consists of receptors throughout the body that restore and maintain homeostasis. This includes balancing blood pressure, heart rate, mood, sleep rhythm, and more. Cannabinoids such as THC, CBD, and CBN interact with the ECS to optimize its effectiveness.
Anandamide, “The Bliss Molecule”
Anandamide is an endocannabinoid that is commonly referred to as the “bliss molecule,” and is largely responsible for the stress-relieving component of cannabis. It’s also found in chocolate, which may be one reason why chocolate is a comfort food for many. Cannabis is believed to help maximize the body’s anandamide levels, promoting feelings of calmness and relaxation.
Another way that cannabis can help with sleep is through increasing levels of adenosine in the body. Adenosine is a molecule linked to the digestion process, which is tied to our sleep cycles. This is one reason that you may feel sleepy after eating a big meal or need a quick nap after lunch.
Adenosine builds up in the bloodstream and interacts with ECS receptors, inhibiting neural activity and causing drowsiness. This influx of adenosine is crucial for a healthy sleep cycle.
Do People Use Cannabis for Sleep?
A 2021 survey by Singlecare found that 44% of respondents use sleep aids to find rest. Up to one third of those use natural options such as vitamins, supplements, or cannabis. Specifically, 9% use marijuana, and 7% use CBD.
A survey published in the Journal of Psychoactive Drugs showed that the majority of people who used marijuana for sleep say it helps. Of the respondents who indicated they used marijuana for sleep, 84% said the marijuana helped them. Over 83% said they had since reduced or stopped taking sleep aids.
A larger survey found that of 7% of US adults who reported using marijuana medicinally, 47% were using it to treat insomnia.
Do Marijuana Strains and Terpenes Matter for Sleep?
The short answer is “yes.” Indica cannabis strains are more commonly used as sleep aids than their sativa counterparts. Sativa strains are typically considered to be more energizing.
Terpenes for Sleep
Terpenes are the essential oils found in the cannabis plant. These oils contain beneficial properties and give all plants, herbs, and flowers their diverse aromas.
Did you know there are hundreds of terpenes in cannabis? Some are more prevalent than others. One of the most common terpenes found in indica strains is myrcene, which is known for its sedative effects. Some evidence also suggests that myrcene may boost the potency of THC and other cannabinoids by helping them cross the blood-brain barrier.
Linalool is one of the most recognizable terpene aromas. Commonly derived from both cannabis and lavender, linalool is used for many of the benefits associated with aromatherapy. Lavender has been used for centuries to reduce stress, which often means better sleep.
Terpinolene is a common terpene found in cannabis that’s known for woody and citrusy aromas. It’s also known for having mild to moderate sedative effects. Terpinolene is found in sage, lilac, rosemary, conifer trees, apple trees, and tea trees.
Cannabinoids for Sleep
CBN was the first-naturally occurring cannabinoid to be isolated in its pure form back in 1896. The amount of CBN contained in the cannabis plant depends on the amount of heat and light it’s been exposed to. The plant’s age is also a factor.
In recent years, consumers have shared that they’re finding better sleep with cannabis high in CBN. Science has yet to validate these claims, but there’s evidence that CBN promotes pain relief, which can lead to better sleep.
Using Cannabis for Sleep
If you plan on trying marijuana for the first time or for sleep, your care provider can provide the best guidance based on your needs and medical history. This is especially true if you’re undergoing existing treatment for sleep issues. It also helps to understand the different options available.
Cannabis for sleep can be smoked, vaporized, eaten, or placed under the tongue as a sublingual tincture. Different products may take more or less time to activate in the body depending on bioavailability and your own metabolism. It may take more than one try to discover the format, dosage, and timing that work for you and your sleep schedule.
At Fine Fettle, patient care is our number one goal. Our dispensary pharmacists are always onsite and available to answer any questions. We’ll make sure you find the right product to fit your sleeping needs. You can also discover new products and order online for quick pickup at one of our dispensaries in Connecticut and Massachusetts.