Many people are aware of the connection between marijuana and sleep. If you’ve ever smoked, you’ve probably encountered strains that make you sleepy or give you a better quality sleep. There are many people around the country who suffer from insomnia, which manifests itself as either the inability to fall asleep or the inability to stay asleep for a full night. The inability to fall asleep can interfere with work, relationships and health in general. Marijuana can help people get to sleep a lot faster and stay asleep. This is why so many people are in the habit of using marijuana for insomnia. The fact that there is a plant that will help you get to sleep is a godsend for those who have suffered through a night of restless anxiety that is produced by having insomnia.
The Preference for High Indica Strains
The first thing to understand though, when using the plant to treat this disorder is that the right strain for sleep will go a long way. Sativa strains are usually high in THC, the psychoactive compound that makes you feel high. These strains tend to be uplifting and good for stimulating creativity and inspiration. While these qualities are great, indica strains are a lot more beneficial for sleep. The indica strains are high in CBD; the anti-inflammatory, anti-spasmodic compound that encourages relaxation and rest. Indica strains are known for their ability to make you feel less of a mental high and more of a body high. They facilitate rest and high indica strains are much more conducive to promoting restful sleep.
Attempting to Understand Marijuana for Insomnia
The way that marijuana works to promote deep, restful sleep is quite mysterious and there is still a lot more study that needs to be done on the subject. What we know, is that it will help a person fall asleep a lot faster and then help them cycle through the stages of sleep and stay in each stage for a longer period of time with greater intensity. The first stage involves getting the body to go deeper into sleep. It usually lasts about 7 minutes but it can go longer if a person is in pain or experiencing stress. Since marijuana eases both pain and stress, it allows a person to move through this initial stage with ease, progressing the sleeper into the next stage of sleep which is a light sleep. During this stage, people are sensitive to being woken.
Slow Wave Sleep
Once passing through this second stage, the sleeper experiences stage 3 and 4 which are often called a single cycle involving slow wave sleep (SWS). This is a deep restful stage of sleep. In this stage, the body restores, regenerates and heals itself. Marijuana use elongates this stage, facilitating healing, health and restoration of the body. This helps to prevent illness and disease critical to both mental and physical health in general. Marijuana’s ability to intensify and elongate this stage has been linked to helping with all manner of conditions including Dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.
The last stage is REM sleep during which the person dreams. Many who are heavy users of marijuana report that their dreams are harder to remember and, when they stop using, their dreams return with intensity. Though the reason for this is still being studied, some hypothesize that it may be due to the mild dulling of the brain’s response to dopamine which is a side effect of marijuana. Dopamine is responsible for inspiring motivation and is connected to dreaming. Ceasing to use marijuana may make dreams return with great vividness although sleep itself may be problematic for users who cease marijuana use after long periods.
Using Cannabis to Treat Sleep Apnea
Marijuana is known to deepen and improve breathing which goes a long way to helping with sleep apnea, a disorder that can have very stressful side effects. Over 22 million people suffer from sleep apnea in America, increasing the risk of accidents and injuries due to sleep deprivation. Sleep apnea occurs for people who suffer with breathing problems. The person’s sleep is interrupted by being constantly woken up throughout the night with breathing difficulties. When people can’t cycle through the stages of sleep to experience restoration and recuperation it can have a negative impact on both the body and the mind.
According to a study published in Frontiers in Psychiatry “…Δ9-TetraHydroCannabinol (Δ9THC) stabilizes autonomic output during sleep, reduces spontaneous sleep-disordered breathing and blocks serotonin-induced exacerbation of sleep apnea.” The study went on to test how a manmade form of THC could help sleep apnea sufferers. They were able to help to reduce sleep apnea without disturbing the quality of sleep for the adults who participated in the study. These results are very encouraging and once again illustrate how marijuana can be used to help with sleeping disorders.
The Transformation of THC to CBN
An interesting thing to note when deciding which strain to use for treating insomnia is that as THC ages, it converts into a sedative called cannabinol (CBN). This doesn’t happen overnight. Rather, it is slow in forming but when it does, it is 5 times stronger as a sedative than THC. Only a portion of the THC will turn into CBN and it mostly happens through isomerization or oxidation. This could be useful information when you are choosing marijuana for insomnia as your oldest stash can be kept for this purpose.
Preventing a Marijuana Hangover
While marijuana won’t give you the kind of heavy hangover that a prescription sleeping pill will give you, there is still a mild hangover that may be felt the next day as a touch of grogginess or heaviness. This can be minimized by getting pesticide and chemical free weed, drinking lots of water and eating healthy foods. It’s also important to keep in mind that while marijuana for insomnia is extremely effective, if you are a heavy user, stopping can disrupt your sleep until your body adjusts to the discontinuation of use. So don’t be surprised if this happens and rest assured that it will pass.
Overall, using marijuana for insomnia is an excellent way to treat the disorder with minimal side effects. It can deepen and improve sleep in general and in our busy modern lives, this can be worth more than gold.