Sleep plays an important role in literally every aspect of our human life. Although we spend a third of our lives sleeping, it’s surprising how little we know of it. For example, do you know cannabis derivatives like CBD or THC, at some level, influences how we sleep?
Yes, in fact, there are contradicting concepts on how cannabis compounds affect sleep. One idea is it helps, the other talks about how it can disrupt. Which different school of thoughts speaks more facts? That’s what we’re here to find out.
A study splayed on the pages of Regional Anesthesia and Pain Medicine discovered long-time cannabis users to have sleeping disturbances in the middle of the night or have trouble falling asleep in general. But for years, emerging studies tout cannabis and its derivatives to help with the quality of sleep.
Can Cannabis Disturb Quality of Sleep?
Researchers at the University of Toronto, Canada, without meaning to, accidentally laid out the data on chronic cannabis use and sleep. What they found wasn’t that new but it cemented the theory that cannabis may have some role in affecting the quality of sleep of its users.
Here’s what they’ve discovered:
- Heavy cannabis users struggled with either getting too much sleep or not getting enough sleep 20 times or more in a month. They are the one’s most impacted by sleep disturbances.
- Moderate cannabis consumers were more likely to spend at least nine hours of sleep, some even more hours.
- Beginner cannabis users were reported to have seen doctors regarding sleeping issues than non-users.
There are limitations to the study that warrants further investigation. For example, the study was conducted at a population level not up close or on an individual level. Nevertheless, the findings on the study is a good foundation for the next research to start from.
Can Cannabis Help Quality of Sleep?
The market is filled with cannabis derivative products claiming to help with sleep. These marketing claims might sound unfounded initially but they didn’t come out of the blue without any scientific basis.
For example, a research found out that the use of cannabis helps “falling asleep” happen faster. However, the study notes that the heavy and chronic use of cannabis minimizes this effect. In hindsight, all studies tackling cannabis use and sleep say the same thing – there is a clear relationship between sleep duration and the frequency of cannabis use.
Aside from how frequent you use cannabis, HOW you consume cannabis products matters too. A 2021 study from the journal “Addictive Behaviors,” discusses how cannabis in edible form seems to intensely affect sleep more than smoking. This may be because edibles need more time before they kick in and the effects last longer as well.
The same study also explored the effects of CBD (cannabidiol; a cannabinoid of the cannabis plant) on sleep. Researchers found that those who take more CBD tend to gain better sleep quality. Research also implies CBD to evoke a sedating effect which improves aspects of sleep.
Interestingly, the same study notes that older participants seem to look CBD in a more positive light than the younger set of participants. Researchers theorize that this might be due to our changing bodies as we grow old. Our metabolism slows down, enabling huge amounts of CBD to stay longer in the body.
Other Proven Ways of Helping Improve Quality of Sleep
Cannabis and CBD aren’t the only ways that influence sleep. Supplements with melatonin have also been shown to help you fall asleep faster.
Melatonin is a hormone the brain produces as a reaction to darkness. The production of melatonin helps with our 24-hour internal clock. Armed with this knowledge, science has found a way to repackage melatonin into dietary supplements.
Taking in supplements can only do so much, research suggests that being active at creating “pro-sleep” bed routines immensely helps as well. Relaxing activities such as light reading, massages, dimming the lights before sleep are deemed to be beneficial helping you fall asleep.
Most importantly, exercising, eating healthy, upholding mental health, and keeping the same waking-sleeping hours should be prioritized more than anything. So while the consumption of CBD and cannabis (at a lesser degree) helps, ultimately, they’re not the only method to focus on.
Is Cannabis Right for Me to Help with Sleep?
Deciding on whether or not you need cannabis as an aid for sleep is entirely your decision. But there are few considerations to note before deciding.
For example, you need to consider factors such as the state you’re in – whether you’re legally allowed to use cannabis regardless of your purpose of use. Also, you might want to consult your doctor in case all methods fail.
What might work for some might not work for you. So try to not dive head first if your acupuncturist tells you that cannabis works wonderfully for his sleep.
The successful relief from pain diminishes one hindrance in experiencing great sleep. It’s not uncommon for people to use cannabis to manage chronic/acute pain but some people can get too sensitive upon contact with weed. The side effects may lean more on the intense side.
Ultimately, you won’t know for sure until you try it.
What does all this research tell us? Once again, studies show us how valuable cannabis’s compound (CBD) is when it comes to the science of sleep. If we’re seeing more “CBD for sleep” than “cannabis for sleep” in the market, it’s because, although unofficial, CBD for sleep has some ring of truth to it.
Let’s not forget both studies only relied on survey material. There could be many factors affecting the outcome of a population survey. These studies weren’t formed on a randomized control trial or a clinical trial that looks at a physiological (or even at cellular) level. Thus, we can’t also rely solely on them to tell us the truth about cannabis’s relationship with sleep but they aren’t dismissible either.
Let’s look at these studies as a conversation starter instead – a trigger to the question of “does cannabis really help with sleep?”