We all know about marijuana. The dried-up leaves of this plant have THC in them, and are smoked or eaten medically and recreationally to help relax our mood, as well as to relieve pain. But did you know it’s also used as a sleeping aid?
Yes, surprisingly, a drug that has been rumoured to cause major problems to your heart and lungs can actually help with insomnia, sleep apnea, and sleep issues that relate to PTSD as well as chronic pain.
Even if it’s a chosen method for numerous people, how effective is weed for sleep? Read on to find out all the interesting – or alarming – details.
Using Marijuana for Sleep
Insomnia, characterized as a difficulty to fall asleep, affects a great number of people. Some turn to prescriptions, while others turn to marijuana, which was actually successful according to a 2013 study.
This study, conducted by the American Academy of Addiction Psychiatry, came to the conclusion that using marijuana for insomnia was effective, causing less difficulty falling asleep due to the THC and 11-OH-THC concentrations found in the drug.
Even back in 1973, there was another study published in the Psychopharmacology journal, which found that the drug caused a decrease in time spent falling asleep.
However, one of the side effects was that the participants suffered hangovers, though this was only if they increased their initial dosage of the drug. Like any other drug, too much of it is dangerous.
Marijuana also helps with sleep apnea, a condition which entails someone’s struggle or, at times, inability to breathe while asleep.
In another 2013 study from the Frontiers in Psychiatry articles, researchers gave synthetic THC to sleep apnea patients, discovering that their nightly troubles had improved – so long as they used a small dosage.
People with PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) may also benefit from marijuana use when it comes to sleep.
If a person has experienced a traumatic event, they may suffer from nightmares or other mental disturbances that interrupt their sleep.
However, when they used cannabis, people were able to sleep peacefully without an attack, due to the THC’s influence in calming their minds.
Another common reason people seek relief with cannabis is to reduce pain at night, which inherently improves sleep. The combination of pain and poor sleep can have serious effects on a person’s well-being.
A study on this from the Journal of Sleep Disorders & Therapy shows that many people who use marijuana for chronic pain find that it also progresses their quality of sleep.
Besides the aid in falling asleep, marijuana has a wide range of effects on your resting state. This is due to the compounds in marijuana, known as cannabinoids, which mimic the activity of chemicals found in the brain.
These chemicals and their pathways make up the body’s endocannabinoid system, which is responsible for regulating sleep, among other things.
When you consume marijuana, the cannabinoids (a.k.a THC) act on the brain to change the sleep-wake cycle. Marijuana can affect the progression and length of these cycles, changing the way you sleep.
One of these stages includes REM, which is when you start to dream. The drug reduces dreams, which is good for those suffering from PTSD, but may be problematic to those who enjoy having a movie playing in their head.
Dangers of Using Weed for Sleep
Even though legalization and access to marijuana have increased over the years, federal law presents a potential problem.
Possession of marijuana, or transport across state lines, can lead to criminal prosecution in certain jurisdictions. There may also be other legal implications, including the potential risk of job loss.
As with the use of any medication, there may be potential risks and side effects associated with the drug, especially when overdosing on it.
These effects include: impairment of cognitive abilities, judgment, and driving safety. Not to mention, it can cause a hangover that would likely make sleeping the next night worse.
Does marijuana help with sleep? The answer is yes. It has the potential to successfully aid those who suffer from insomnia, PTSD, and chronic pain, as well as other conditions which keep them up at night.
However, even though the drug has benefits, taking marijuana multiple times a day is linked to greater sleep difficulties. Also, if you use marijuana at night to help you sleep, don’t expect to have many dreams, as it has been found to impair the REM cycle.
If you don’t want to deal with any side effects, an alternative is to go to cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia. Of course, over the counter prescriptions work well, and may be safer due to the stigma surrounding the use of marijuana.
Either way, it’s worth noting that marijuana and sleep do go hand in hand. It’s a scientifically sound method of getting your much-needed rest at night, so long a marijuana sleep aid is used in proper dosages.
Have you tried marijuana for sleep?