How is cannabis good and bad for sleep?
THC is obviously very sedative, and therefore conducive on those nights where you can't seem to fall asleep. But THC also reduces REM sleep which disturbs sleep quality over the long run and may cause sleep disturbances once you stop using it.
Tips for not developing a dependance on THC for sleep?
The trick for avoiding a dependance on THC for sleep is to mix up your night time routine. You can do this my mixing up cannabinoids, e.g. alternate nights between THC and CBD. You can also alternate herbs — try some herbal teas to get to sleep and save THC for the really persistent nights!
Which two recipes can I use for getting to sleep?
Passionflower, hops and chamomile for anxious insomniacs and valerian root, lemon balm and californian poppy for those who are up at night because of pain.
There are a lot of cannabis users out there using cannabis before night time, specifically for the purpose of getting a good night’s sleep. It’s probably one of the most common reasons to use cannabis therapeutically and is likely to become habitual the more it works. And it does work, possibly even a little too well.
What’s the problem, then?
Research shows that in heavy cannabis users, sleep can actually become disturbed after prolonged use. The way that cannabis (THC specifically) affects the sleep cycle is by reducing sleep latency (the time it takes to get to sleep), which is beneficial for those with the inability to fall asleep. However, it also reduces time spent in REM, which after a long time, can actually disrupt the circadian rhythm instead of fixing it.
There is a lot of evidence that cannabis is a fantastic, effective sleep aid. Most people testify for cannabis’ ability to make sleep come around much easier. But simply dosing up heavily on THC before bed for months on end can end up ruining your sleep in the long term.
But there is a way you can use cannabis and mitigate this problem. It’s all in your choice of cannabinoids and using complementary therapies along the way. This article is your how-to-guide on using cannabis properly before bed, without hurting your circadian rhythm.
Let’s knuckle it out.
Don’t develop a reliance on cannabis for sleep.
Think about the reasons you might choose cannabis over a sleeping pill. It’s natural, it doesn’t have negative consequences, and it’s too easy to become dependent on sleeping pills. This is all good and well until you use cannabis as though it is a sleeping pill. You essentially become reliant on that THC dose before bed.
The moral of the story is: don’t rely on cannabis.
Use cannabis as a complementary tool, but not as the be-all and end-all. So what might that look like?
You might be fond of the “night-time routine.” Make it comprehensive. Enjoy a cup of tea that warms your soul, tune in to some music and meditate for a few minutes, or bathe under some infrared light for a short while. Add cannabis to your nighttime routine instead of making it the only feature of your nighttime routine.
Consider removing electrical items from your bedroom such as computers, mobile phones, modems, etc. And try not to indulge in online activities immediately before going to bed. This is all about cultivating a space that is conducive to sleep and relaxation. It should be the number one priority when trying to achieve good sleep in the long term.
Switch up cannabinoids.
THC is the famous drowsy cannabinoid. In a strong Indica strain, THC can turn your muscles into jelly and your brain into sticky date pudding. It’s arguably the sweetest sensation to enjoy before bed. But, as we mentioned, it can also disrupt your sleep after a while.
To mitigate becoming dependent on THC for sleep, switch up cannabinoids at regular intervals. For example, think about using a CBD-based sleep formula and intervene with THC when you need some extra assistance.
CBD, at high doses, still produces drowsiness and can be used as a sleep aid. At the same time, it doesn’t disturb the circadian rhythm as much as THC. THC is well known to reduce REM time, but CBD hasn’t been shown to have this effect as far as we know. Plus, sleep disturbances have been noted in THC users after discontinuation. Reduce the likelihood of this by alternating between THC and CBD.
From the pantry:
1000mg CBD Sleep Tincture
Consider using specially formulated CBD sleep tinctures such as the CBD Sleep Tincture. Formulated with melatonin, a hormone your body uses to bring on sleep, this is a cruisy way to a good night's sleep.
Indica 1:1 Orange Flavoured Drops
The Indica 1:1 Orange Drops are made with equal parts of THC and CBD for those nights when you need stronger assistance for getting to sleep. Plus, they're orange flavoured so they're also very delicious.
Complement cannabis with other herbs.
Cannabis isn’t the only herb that can help bring on sleep. And when it comes to herbal medicine, variety is key. This is the best way to avoid developing tolerances to certain herbs and to keep getting the best out of them. So along with switching up cannabinoids, consider switching up herbs. Here, we’ve included two herbal tea recipes you can use for a good night’s sleep.
Passionflower, hops, and chamomile
If you’re the kind of person that struggles to get to sleep because of anxious thoughts, consider a passionflower, hops, and chamomile tea. All are beautifully sedative, as well as being great herbs to reduce anxiety. Use equal parts of all three herbs, and steep for 10 minutes in boiling water.
Valerian root, lemon balm, and californian poppy
For those who need something a little more hard-hitting because of pain or stress, make a tea with valerian root, lemon balm, and californian poppy. This brew is extremely sedative, painkilling, and anxiolytic. Use equal parts of all three herbs, and steep for 10 minutes in boiling water.
Get to the root of your sleep issue.
There are a lot of different causes for insomnia, and finding the root of the problem can be difficult. But ultimately, if you never get to the root of the problem, you might never enjoy a good night’s sleep without a sleep aid.
For some people, a good night’s sleep is hard to come by because of anxious thoughts and feelings before bed. If that’s the case, it’s important to be working on anxiety levels (and not just good sleep). For others, poor gastrointestinal function can wake them up at night, making it nearly impossible to get back to sleep. If this is the case, it’s really important to address gastrointestinal problems. For others again, chronic pain can be the cause of insomnia. You get the idea.
Cannabis is a wonderful, natural sleep aid, but when used incorrectly, can actually worsen sleep quality over time. Don’t fall into the trap, and use our sound advice to cultivate a healthy relationship with bedtime.