Feeling anxious? Can’t sleep? You’re not alone. Insomnia is a very common sleep disorder. There’s nothing more maddening than being dead-tired and exhausted but unable to fall asleep. Chances are if you worked up the nerve to call your doctor to help find a solution, they jump right to prescription sleep aids. Sleep aids, that are notorious for knocking you out for a few hours, and then leaving you unable to function properly the next day. An insomniac’s options are to endure sleepless nights or take a sleep aid that often causes dependency and withdrawal symptoms. If you identify as a person with insomnia and it is affecting your health or your performance during the day, research shows that cannabis might be a safer alternative.
“Australian researchers assessed the use of a proprietary, sublingual cannabis extract product (ZTL-101, produced by the Australian-based company Zerila Therapeutics) versus placebo in 23 subjects with chronic insomnia” (Armentano, 2021). Each extract is a blend of THC, CBD, and CBN (Armentano, 2021). The results illustrated that the participants that were administered ZTL-101 experienced significantly fewer insomnia symptoms (Armentano, 2021). As cannabis rebrands itself from a harmful gateway drug to a chronic pain reliever, more people are gravitating to this greener solution. If you have ever tried cannabis to help you sleep in the past and it hasn’t worked, there are some clear reasons why.
“If your sleeplessness is the result of anxiety, stress or inflammation-related pain, then CBD may be useful at higher doses. Paradoxically, lower doses of CBD may cause wakefulness” (Gonzalez-Walker, 2020). It’s important to understand how much you need to deliver the results you desire. “If you are contending with age-related changes in your sleep patterns, CBD may not be enough to solve your sleep issues” (Gonzalez-Walker, 2020). It’s important to understand why you might be suffering from insomnia. Start small by reducing screen-time in the evenings before bed. Limiting food, especially sugar after dinner can cause restlessness at night. Be mindful of daily habits that might be negatively charging your nights. If you’re sure you’ve done everything you can to relax your body and mind before bed, and you don’t want to turn to pharmaceutical remedies, then keep reading.
“Even very small amounts of THC, like 2mg, can have therapeutic benefits. Using very small amounts of THC is called microdosing, and it’s an increasingly popular option among people of all ages who are seeking cannabis’s health benefits without an intoxicating high” (Gonzalez-Walker, 2020). This way, skeptics won’t feel the intoxicating side effects that THC is stigmatized for, they are more likely to feel relieved. The dosage varies from person to person, if 2mg is not enough, then the next time try 2.5 mg or 3 mg. The full effect takes approximately 2 hours, therefore, it is important to wait at least 2 hours before ingesting anymore (Gonzalez-Walker, 2020). Building slowly allows you to find the perfect dose for your body. Before you rush out to the dispensary, let’s break down some of the more common strains of cannabinoids and their basic purpose.
Indica is a strain of cannabis that is known for its soothing effects (Ferguson, 2019). A fun way to remember this is by repeating this simple phrase, “Indica puts you ‘in da couch’” (Indica vs Sativa: What’s the Difference?, 2021). Pure Indica is difficult to find because many cannabis farmers interbreed the plants (Indica vs Sativa: What’s the Difference?, 2021). The most important characteristics to look for when shopping for Indica are fatter leaves and buds that are nearly purple (Indica vs Sativa: What’s the Difference?, 2021). Indica is a very helpful sleep-aid, stress-relief remedy, and is known to ease anxiety in some users. “In addition to relaxation, India can be used to reduce pain and nausea. This strain can also assist with appetite loss – it’s the type of high that will bring on the munchies. Indica is definitely more of a nighttime strain, but it’s also great if you just plan on having a relaxing time” (Indica vs Sativa: What’s the Difference?, 2021). Sativa, on the other hand, might not be the best choice at night.
Sativa delivers a different response when ingested. Most commonly reported, users experience feeling energized with a “head-high” (Indica vs Sativa: What’s the Difference?, 2021). Sativa is great for people that need more energy or focus, during the day. Sativa is not recommended for use at night, especially if insomnia strikes. When shopping for Sativa be sure to look for thin leaves that are tall and light green in color (Indica vs Sativa: What’s the Difference?, 2021).
There are hybrid strains available that are usually a combination of both Indica and Sativa (Indica vs Sativa: What’s the Difference?, 2021). “…hybrid flowers are perfect for clients seeking full-body benefits without potentially distracting psychological effects” (Indica vs Sativa: What’s the Difference?, 2021). Both Indica and Sativa are known to ease pain and anxiety but some need the best of both worlds. If you can’t decide which is better for you, it may be wise to try a hybrid. Everyone reacts to cannabis differently, therefore, be mindful and move slowly when introducing a new substance to your body.
After selecting which strain is right for you, decide how to use the cannabis. Should you smoke it? What about edibles or tinctures? Plenty of people buy their strains rolled up into a joint for smoking. Vaporizers are another way to inhale cannabis. Some people would rather keep their lungs clear and use a tincture instead. Just a drop or two under the tongue, the effects are induced much faster which means bedtime might come earlier than usual. Depending on which route you go you should plan your evening accordingly.
With several ways to ingest cannabis, it is important that you are in bed when the cannabis takes full effect. “While everyone’s physiology is different, it’s usually better to ingest the marijuana at least an hour before bedtime” (Ferguson, 2019). This ensures that you are where you want to be. Sweet dreams.
Armentano, P. (2021, July 5). Cannabis extract helpful for chronic insomnia. The Leaf Online. http://theleafonline.com/c/science/2021/07/insomnia-study-2021/
Ferguson, S. (2019, April 24). Can You Use Cannabis to Restore Your Natural Sleep Cycle? Healthline. https://www.healthline.com/health/medical-marijuana/cannabis-for-sleeping#choosing-your-strain
Gonzalez-Walker, D. (2020, August 29). Seniors and Insomnia: How a Little THC Can Go A Long Way to Restoring Sleep. Leaf411. https://leaf411.org/seniors-and-insomnia-how-a-little-thc-can-go-a-long-way-to-restoring-sleep/
Indica vs Sativa: What’s the difference? (2021, June 10). Silver Therapeutics. https://silver-therapeutics.com/indica-vs-sativa/