Waking up after a poor night’s rest feels like death. You’re grumpy, despising your alarm, and perhaps have the urge to throw it across the room. Or maybe you snooze 15 times until you have to run out of the door and have a frantic start to your morning.
To avoid this problem, people often turn to smoking marijuana. You probably have already at some point, maybe even just last night. It’s quite common to be recommended by others to smoke weed to help fall asleep, and obviously if you have no other methods, it’s worth a shot right? After all, sleep affects everything that you do–imagine trying to do a heavy lift session on 2 hours of poor sleep, or managing a long day of tedious work.
However, do you really know what’s happening when you smoke up to get a better night’s rest? And more, do you know what’s optimal for a good night’s rest?
First, let’s define what good sleep is. How are you going to solve your issue without truly understanding the context of your problem and what you are trying to work towards?
What you feel waking up in the morning is definitely indicative of what good sleep is to you, or a subjective quality, but we can explore what good sleep more objectively also. (We’ll be focusing on adults, considering minors technically shouldn’t be smoking marijuana to get a good night’s sleep anyway.)
The National Sleep Foundation, a US non-profit, released a report on what defines a good night’s sleep (though keep in mind, the research on sleep is still a little ambiguous). They defined the following measures under three categories of sleep continuity, sleep architecture, and naps:
They reported that sleep continuity is most associated with the subjective quality of sleep, while the relationship with sleep architecture and naps was less clearly defined. You’re unlikely to be aware of the stage of sleep you’re in anyway, though this would also affect how rejuvenated you are in the morning. Thus the differences between the measures; they’re aspects of sleep you can be aware of, and though you are aware of naps, they’re dependent on the quality of sleep you’re getting in the evening.
Additionally, they also reported on changes according to: age, gender, menopause, and season (due to light exposure). So–like all research, take the information with a grain of salt, though it would still be good to keep these concepts in mind to help analyse your sleep and understand where you are.
So now let’s look into how does smoking marijuana affect your sleep. You probably feel you sleep better, but are you actually?
Babson, Sottile, and Morabito (2017) found that there were mixed findings within their literature review, however they did report that some work shows there was a decrease in sleep onset latency, wake after sleep onset, increase in slow wave sleep, and decrease in REM. Applying this information back to the National Sleep Foundation’s report, this means that it’s easier to fall asleep, if you wake up you’re less likely to stay awake, spend more time in deep sleep, and have less REM sleep–not bad, right?
They delve in deeper. They explain that the endocannabinoid system has effect on the circadian sleep-wake cycle, and the endocannabinoid system is affected by cannabis. THC and CBD affects the circadian sleep-wake cycle differently, and it impacted by dosage, ratio of cannabinoids, when it’s taken, and how it is taken. It appears that a high dose of CBD, (creating a sedative effect, where a low dose will create wakefulness), and a low dose of THC provides the best results without any negative side effects like grogginess the next day.
It’s reported that generally those who suffer from insomnia, anxiety disorders, PTSD, and chronic pain often turn to marijuana to assist in sleeping. There are mixed results, but generally it’s been reported that marijuana is effective as a coping mechanism and helps those who suffer from these disorders to fall asleep quicker, and have longer total amount of sleep, though it may impact the amount of deep sleep an individual has (Babson, Sottile, & Morabito, 2017; Bonn-Miller, Babson, & Vandrey, 2014).
Bowles, Herzig and Shea (2017) reports that cannabis can help with the production of melatonin, a hormone that helps regulate sleep and wakefulness, and THC can decrease sleep latency. However, too much THC can increase sleep latency and increase wake after sleep onset. Heavy users, defined as 5 or more times per week, for at least the last 3 months, and a total length of 2 years usage, had “shorter total sleep duration, less slow wave sleep, worse sleep efficiency, and longer sleep onset” in their study. This is assumed to be due to densensitsation of a specific cannabinoid receptor in the body. Garcia and Salloum (2015) discovered something similar: “THC was found to have hallucinatory action in addition to decreased REM and slow wave sleep and increased sleep onset latency.”
So what have we learnt from all of these studies?
Given this information, now you can make a more informed decision, leading us to…
You’re unique! Not all doses affect everyone in a similar manner, but there are certain tips to help you make a decision and general guidelines. Mainly, this is dependent on your own background and how different strains will affect you. As an example, Belendiuka, Babson, Vandrey and Bonn-Miller (2015) found in their study that participants preferred sativa to battle nightmares, sativa is less likely to cause dependence, higher CBD helps with insomnia and sleep latency, and THC helps those on sleeping medications.
Prior to thinking about the marijuana, it would be useful to gain some self understanding or at least be mindful. Do your thoughts run wild before you sleep? Are you anxious? Are you worrying about the next day? Is it depression? Is your body feeling awake and energetic, or simply your mind? Are you in pain? Where is the pain? We recommend asking a bunch of “why’s” until you get an adequate answer.
Generally, what was stated within studies was finding a low dose of THC and high dosage of CBD will be utile in getting better sleep. Cannabinol, a cannabinoid with known sedative qualities, would be good also (mostly found in aged cannabis–it’s pretty much broken down THC). However we’ll break it down according to typical usage of specific strains.
Think about your own body–are you 158 cm and 45 kg, or 190 cm and 99 kg? This will have some impact on your dosage.
Think about the frequency to which you take marijuana: daily? Occasionally? Never? Don’t jump into a high dosage right away.
Edibles, smoking, vaping, and tinctures are all good forms of administration. All depends on your habits, whether or not you’re trying to keep smoke out of your lungs, access, etc. Just keep in mind the time it takes to kick in, and the potency of the source. However, edibles are generally going to last longer (think of the digestion process).
Our BAKED Edibles Chocolate Fudge Brownie has 205 mg of THC and 1 mg of CBD and our BAKED Edibles Peanut Butter Cup has 19 mg of THC.
We’ll break it down according to typical usage of specific strains and what strains should you smoke to get the best sleep? Again keeping in mind your “why’s!”
Death Bubba and Grape Ape are known to be relaxing.
Black Chemo is known to be relaxing.
Black Chemo and God’s Green Crack known to have analgesic effects, which would be useful in becoming relaxed enough to fall asleep.
Perhaps… look more into the reasons for your insomnia to see which of the previous categories you fall into.
Keep in mind how long your highs usually last, and how long it takes to kick in (dependent on your method of administration). Feel free to redose if you wake up in the middle of the night, but be wary of when you need to wake up. Let’s say your highs last 4 hours, but you’re going to need to wake up in 2 hours, it’s probably better to skip the redose.
So all of the information given is somewhat over the place, with some consensus but nothing strong and definite. All are being quite vague. And on both sleep, and smoking weed! This may be frustrating and you may feel agitated that you haven’t been able to find an exact chart perhaps is scientifically proven to work, but given the laws of the past, different agencies and whatnot, this is the current reality. This is where we’re at with the research. The upside is, more and more studies will be done though and the knowledge on smoking marijuana to sleep will only improve.
We believe the silver lining to this is it’s a great opportunity to experiment and understand yourself better. What are the sources of your problems? What can be done to treat them? What works with you, and your body?
Answering the questions in the beginning of the article, we hope you have gained some insight into what’s a better night’s rest and what is optimal for a good night’s rest.
Babson, K. A., Sottile, J., & Morabito, D. (2017). Cannabis, cannabinoids, and sleep: A review of the literature. Current Psychiatry Reports, 19: 23.
Belendiuka, K. A., .Babson, K. A., Vandrey, R., Bonn-Miller, B. O. (2015). Cannabis species and cannabinoid concentration preference among sleep-disturbed medicinal cannabis users. Addictive Behaviours, 50, 178-181. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.addbeh.2015.06.032.
Bolla, K. I., Lesage, S. R., Gamaldo, C. E., Neubauer, D. N., Funderburk, F. R., Cadet, J. L., David, P. M., Verdejo-Garcia, A., & Benbrook, A. R. (2008) Sleep Disturbance in Heavy Marijuana Users. Sleep, 31(6), 901–908.
Bonn-Miller, M. O., Babson, K. A., & Vandrey, R. (2014). Using cannabis to help you sleep: Heightened frequency of medical cannabis use among those with PTSD. Drug and Alcohol Dependence, 136, 162-165.
Bowles, N. P., Herzig, M.X., & Shea, S.A. (2017). Recent legalization of cannabis use: effects on sleep, health, and workplace safety. Dovepress, 9, 249-251.DOI: https://doi.org/10.2147/NSS.S152231.
Garcia, A. N., & Salloum, I. N. (2015). Polysomnographic sleep disturbances in nicotine, caffeine, alcohol, cocaine, opioid, and cannabis use: A focused review. American Journal on Addictions, 24(7), 590-598.
Ohayon, M., Wickwire, E. M., Hirshkowitz, M., Albert, S. M., Avidan, A., Daly, F. J., Dauvilliers, Y., Ferri, R., Fung, C., Gozal, D. Hazen, N., Krystal, A., Lichstein, K., Mallampalli, M., Plazzi, G., Rawding, R., Scheer, F. A., Somers, V., & Vitiello, M. V., (2017). National Sleep Foundation’s sleep quality recommendations: first report. Sleep Health, 3(1), 6-19. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.sleh.2016.11.006.
Roehrs, T. A., & Roth, T. (2015). Sleep disturbance in substance use disorders. Psychiatric Clinics of North America, 38(4), 793-803.
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