A good night’s sleep is essential to your body’s health and well-being. If you’re not sleeping, you’re not functioning at your full potential. Insomnia affects all aspects of daily life, from work to play and everything in between. Many Canadians know the pain of long, restless nights caused by insomnia, and are turning to alternative treatments to find results. Marijuana treatment for insomnia is increasing in popularity, and with good reason. Cannabis has been shown to help sufferers of sleeplessness kick this condition to the curb, restore natural sleep cycles, and enjoy the rest and relaxation that helps ensure health, happiness, and a brighter future.
Just the Facts: A Breakdown of Insomnia
Insomnia is one of the most common sleep disorders, affecting millions of Canadians every night. In fact, almost everyone will experience insomnia at some point in their lives. It can be caused by a variety of different factors, including stress, depression, anxiety, physical conditions, certain medication, travelling across multiple time zones, and lifestyle changes. Basically, anything that throws off your brain’s sleep and wake cycles can contribute to the development of insomnia.
So, why is insomnia a problem? Let’s start with the basics. Lack of sleep can cause daytime drowsiness and a lower level of alertness, irritability, problems with concentration and attention to detail, and even memory issues. The longer this goes on, the stronger the effects. Some studies have shown that prolonged insomnia can raise your risk for cardiovascular issues, stroke, diabetes, and obesity.
How Does Cannabis Help?
If you’re looking to catch a few extra Zs and restore your natural sleep cycle, cannabis may be the answer. Why? THC, the most common cannabinoid in marijuana, has been shown to be effective at inducing sleep. According to a study, high-THC marijuana strains typically reduce the amount of REM sleep you get. In theory, the less time you spend dreaming, the more time you spend in a deep sleep state, which offers improved restorative effects. It also has the advantage of quelling nightmares for people who are regularly awaked by disturbing dreams.
Of course, REM sleep is essential for proper cognitive function and development, so high-THC cannabis as a long-term solution isn’t ideal. However, the aim of marijuana treatment for insomnia is to restore natural sleep rhythms, making long-term use somewhat unnecessary.
Strains for Sleep
When it comes to treating insomnia, not all cannabis strains are created equal. In general, Indicas do a better job at providing the sleepy, relaxed feelings that make insomnia a distant dream. Some of the more popular Indica strains for sleepiness include Granddaddy Purple, Afghan Kush, and Northern Lights. Each of these strains has been shown to help you rest, relax, and rejuvenate, in addition to providing powerful pain-killing effects and freedom from depression and anxiety.
Hybrid strains are also a great candidate for easing insomnia. Just like the name suggests, hybrids are a blend of genetic material from both an Indica and a Sativa. Hybrids are bred to emphasize specific effects of their parent strains, which makes certain varieties, like Tahoe OG Kush and Ogre, ideal for sending you off to sleep. The staff members at your local dispensary can help you find the right hybrid strain for you.
Sativas are known for providing a rush of energy and spurring creative thoughts, so if you’re looking for something to help you wind down, it’s a better idea to stick to an Indica or hybrid.
Things to Keep in Mind
As with any new insomnia treatment, it’s a good idea to start small, and ramp up slowly until you find the right level for a good night’s sleep. Remember, when it comes to medical cannabis, a little bit goes a long way! Overdoing it can cause next-day grogginess, so starting small is the best course of action. If you find you need to augment your dose in the middle of the night, that’s OK. Just make sure you take your last dose at least 4 hours before you have to be up and active. As a general guideline, consuming marijuana one hour before bedtime provides the best level of rest.
So, what about ingestion methods? There’s a fair number of differing opinions on the best way to consume cannabis as an insomnia treatment. Smoking or vaporizing is a common method and has the advantage of effects that become evident relatively quickly. If smoking or vaping isn’t your thing, there are a number of other products available, such as THC tinctures that are simply dropped under the tongue. Edibles provide long-lasting effects, however, there’s some inconsistency around when those effects start to kick in, so many people prefer alternative ingestion methods.
When it comes to sleep aids, everyone reacts differently, and marijuana is no exception. People who have had anxiety reactions to THC in the past should avoid using marijuana as an insomnia treatment, and it’s also been recommended that people with cardiovascular problems should also avoid marijuana.
However, for many, consuming cannabis is an effective way to get a good night’s rest. Sleep well!