If there’s nothing you enjoy more than a quick smoke before bedtime, you’re certainly in good company! As any seasoned stoner will be more than aware, cannabis has the potential to be one of the best sleep aids on Earth. For the average individual, bedtime bud can make for the perfect nightcap and have you slumbering soundly before your head hits the pillow. And even for those with advanced insomnia, it’s been proven time and time again that cannabis can be more effective than pretty much any alternative remedy or treatment on the market.
But while you may be aware of the fact that cannabis and sleep are well-connected, there are probably quite a few things you don’t know about this particular relationship. For example, you might not know that cannabis is known to inhibit dreams. In addition, it may surprise you to learn that fresh bud will not make you quite as sleepy as cannabis that’s a little older and drier.
So if you do happen to have included cannabis in your nightly bedtime rituals, here’s a brief overview of a few…let’s say ‘interesting’…factoids you probably didn’t know:
THC and CBD Have Different Effects on Sleep
First of all, you are probably very much aware of the fact that different cannabis strains have different effects when smoked. Those that are low in THC but high in CBD deliver a minimal buzz, while high-THC strains can get you high as a kite. And then there are those with balanced levels of both, which can keep you nicely grounded in a good place. But what’s interesting to note is that due to relatively low availability over the years, the vast majority of sleep studies carried out with regard to cannabis use have to date involved the use of higher-THC strains – CBD strains having been thinner on the ground until recently.
Interestingly, tests on high-CBD cannabis strains have found that non-psychoactive marijuana doesn’t have a great deal of impact on ‘lights-out’ sleep at all. In tests carried out on animals, they found that while CBD cannabis increased alertness during hours of light, it didn’t make any real difference when the lights were turned off. Or in other words, it showed impressive prowess in the treatment of excessive fatigue during the day, but didn’t help any of the test subjects get a good night’s sleep.
Indica Strains Are Better for Assisting Sleep
If you smoke cannabis, you’ll know that while Sativa strains tend to make you feel energised and uplifted, Indica strains are more about crashing out and vegetating. The thing is, we haven’t yet reached a stage in terms of research where the scientific community can actually explain why it is that this is the case. Nevertheless, common sense should tell you that when it comes to assisting restful sleep, it is a good idea to stay away from anything energising and to instead stick with something that actually makes you feel sleepy. So for whatever the reason why these different cannabis strains affect us in different ways, the smart money when it comes to getting good night’s sleep is always on Indica strains.
Fresh Cannabis is Less Effective
Try to bear in mind that when we say ‘effective’ in this particular instance, what we are actually talking about is effective in terms of getting you to sleep. Generally speaking, allowing cannabis to age and degrade is the kind of thing the average stoner would consider to be nothing short of heresy. The reason being that the longer you leave your fabulously fresh bud untouched, the more the THC in it breaks down and deteriorates. However, what you may not know is that as the THC in your weed deteriorates, it is naturally converted into CBD – a highly-sedating chemical. It may take some time for CBD to form, but when it does, it is somewhere in the region of 500% more effective as a tranquiliser/sedative than THC. It’s not a theory, it’s a scientific fact – as proven and documented by the experts:
“As d9-THC degrades through both isomerization and/or oxidatively, only a small portion of it turns into CBN. As a result, CBN is a bit difficult to collect in large quantities for usage. My experience is that if I take cannabis that is about 20% THCA, and I wrap in in plastic and let it sit in the garage for 3 years (in summer heat and dry), it results in a 3-5% production of CBN. Yes, I use ‘old weed’ to make sedative medicinals.”
The wise words of Chief Research Officer, Rev. Dr. Kymron deCesare, of Steep Hill Labs.
Cannabis Can Be Paired with Natural Remedies
Don’t mix your drugs – the essential advice anybody who knows what they are doing lives by. Whatever it is you’re into, it generally isn’t a good idea to mix it with anything else. In this particular instance, however, things are rather different. Not least because what you are actually talking about is a naturally-occurring and 100% organic plant, as opposed to lab-made chemicals. And this is precisely why it is perfectly possible and indeed recommended by many experts to consider pairing cannabis with other natural remedies, in order to intensify the sleepifying effects of your bud. It’s not a case of simply reaching for whatever you have to hand, but instead going for the tried and tested options as very much tried and tested by the pros.
There are certain compounds that are brilliantly synergistic with CBD, which among others include hops, chamomile and lavender. As such, when used in conjunction with sedating cannabis, they have a tendency to intensify the effect quite significantly. Which in turn means that if you are really looking to get serious with your sleep, consider investing in some valerian root, 5-HTP or melatonin and adding this to your nightly nightcap routine. Chances are, you’ll be happy with the results!
Edibles Can Help You Sleep Longer
Given the way in which cannabis can both relax you physically and significantly reduce stress, it pretty much goes without saying that it can help you fall asleep much faster. In fact, it has the potential to help you fall asleep before even making it to the bedroom. This is particularly the case in instances where people may be suffering from anxiety, insomnia, chronic pain, depression and other common conditions. But what you may not realise it is the way you choose to consume your cannabis could have a marked effect on how long you stay asleep.
If you have ever tried cannabis edibles, you’ll probably know that the effects tend to be considerably stronger and last exponentially longer. When it comes to sleep therefore, cannabis edibles have the potential to go on relaxing you much longer than comparable inhalation methods, which in turn means a much longer, deeper and undisturbed sleep. The only caveat being that you need to first work out exactly how long it takes for cannabis edibles to kick in for you personally – not to mention the exact dose you need.
Next-Day Cannabis Hangovers Do Exist
Make no mistake about it – cannabis hangovers do exist and have the potential to be rather unpleasant. Now, don’t for a single minute assume that by indulging in a little cannabis to help you sleep, you will spend the morning with a pounding headache, hideous nausea and a sense of self-loathing. However, it is perfectly possible that if you overdo it, you may feel a little dry-eyed, dehydrated, foggy and groggy in general. At least, for a little while. In order to minimise the likelihood of suffering any untoward consequences the next day, try to keep extremely well hydrated throughout the night, don’t go to bed on an empty stomach and be extremely wary of exactly how much cannabis you use to help you sleep. If you do suffer a cannabis hangover, simply reduce your night-time dose next time around.
Marijuana Can Affect Dreams and REM Sleep
If you have been using cannabis for any given period of time to help aid restful sleep, you may have noticed something peculiar – you aren’t dreaming to the extent you might expect. The reason being that preliminary studies into marijuana use have found that REM sleep can be inhibited by cannabis use before going to bed, which in turn means you are less likely to dream or have the kinds of dreams you will remember. Interestingly, if you suddenly stop using cannabis before bed, you may find you then have the most incredibly realistic, wild and wacky dreams you’ve ever had!
Starting too Early Is Inadvisable
Last but not least, no sensible human being would ever advise a minor to get started with cannabis use before coming of age. As far as this particular subject goes, it’s no different either. A study carried out in the year 2014 found that when cannabis is used regularly before the person in question reaches the age of 15, it may lead to problems with sleep during adolescence. That being said, the size of the study was far too small to reach any ironclad conclusions, but still – better safe than sorry where kids are concerned!