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Cannabis and Insomnia

cannabis for insomnia
Photo by Mpho Mojapelo

Cannabis and Insomnia

Insomnia and other sleep related disorders affect millions worldwide. Symptoms include trouble getting to sleep, light or interrupted sleep, difficulty staying asleep, fatigue, dizziness, irritability, difficulty performing daily tasks and concentrating.

Reasons for insomnia vary individually but are often attributed to debilitating pain or high anxiety. Prescribed medications can cause an array of unwanted side effects or lose their efficacy over time. Cannabis potentially offers a viable solution for those seeking an alternative.

One of the most common reasons someone may visit a cannabis dispensary is to find a safe and effective sleep aid. Discovering preferred methods of consumption and optimal strains for insomnia may take some time as cannabis affects everyone uniquely. Numerous options are available, including smokable flower, edibles, vape cartridges, tinctures, sublingual sprays, topicals, tablets, capsules and concentrates.

Indica dominant strains typically carry relaxing and sedating properties, making them a popular option for combatting insomnia. However, many hybrids may also induce drowsiness. Terpene and cannabinoid profiles should always be considered as they will contribute to the overall effects of cannabis and aid with strain selection.

Terpenes such as myrcene are well known for their sedative and pain relieving qualities. Pinene can curb anxiety and help clear the head, providing mental clarity. Linalool holds soothing and relaxing properties that calms both body and mind. Although there are many cannabis terpenes, high concentrations of these particular terpenes are worth noting.

Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is widely responsible for the sedative nature of cannabis, reducing the REM cycle and promoting a deeper and more restful sleep. It’s also what provides the psychoactive sensation from cannabis use. THC’s analgesic and antispasmodic effects can assist with pain and discomfort, especially when paired with other cannabinoids and terpenes to accentuate the numerous benefits cannabis can provide.

Cannabidiol (CBD) holds potent anti-anxiety and anticonvulsant properties that can be beneficial for easing the restless mind and relaxing the body. Although CBD is not thought to be as sedative as THC, CBD’s ability to fight pain, anxiety and spasticity may target underlying causes of many sleep related disorders. Finding the ideal ratio of CBD to THC may prove instrumental in covering a spectrum of conditions that affect sleep.

Cannabinol (CBN) is a cannabinoid that THC converts to through oxidation. This conversion process can result in degraded, dried out cannabis with potentially sedative properties. CBN may be more prevalent in cannabis products formulated specifically for inducing drowsiness.

Edibles can have a long lasting effect (typically 4-5 hours), making them particularly effective not only for getting to sleep, but also staying asleep. Recommended starting doses are generally between 5-10mg and may take upwards of a couple hours before they take effect. Alternatively, THC infused drinks can be tried, often with a faster onset.

Battling insomnia or any sleep related disorder can have crippling effects on the body and mind. Whether you’re an experienced user or cannabis novice, finding a solution for deep and restful sleep through cannabis is entirely possible. Feel free to ask any of our knowledgeable patient consultants with any questions.

A study from June 2002 showed cannabinoids have the potential to assist with sleep apnea and aid with respiratory stability during sleep.

A double blind study from September 2005 supported promising results for multiple sclerosis patients, administering a sublingual spray with equal parts THC to CBD, reducing neuropathic pain and measurably assisting with sleep related disorders.

The role of the CB1 receptor as a sleep regulator was studied in August 2008, which also acknowledged THC’s possible sedative effects. A study from September 2011 supports the potential role the endocannabinoid system plays to promote sleep modulation.

A review from April 2017 summarizes the potential of THC and CBD to assist with chronic pain, reduce nightmares for those who suffer from PTSD, regulate REM cycles, and the urgent need for more research.


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