Does Weed Help You Sleep?

Does weed help you sleep? This is a question that many people ask, especially those who suffer from an insomnia sleep disorder, sleep disturbances, or other sleep related issues. There are many different opinions on this subject, and the answer may surprise you.

Some say that weed helps them fall asleep by making them feel more relaxed. Others say that it helps ease and relieve pain and muscle tension, making it easier to fall asleep. Either way, many people believe that weed can be helpful for those who have trouble sleeping.

Decades of anecdotal evidence surrounding cannabis use and sleep can lead one to believe that the drug is a magic cure-all for insomnia - just consume an edible, and you'll be asleep in no time. But does cannabis actually promote sleep? Is this just a shared case of the placebo effect? Does the research really support the claims of cannabis lovers?

Let's explore.

Cannabis, sleep and the endocannabinoid system

We can't talk about how cannabis affects sleep without talking about the endocannabinoid system. Every person has an endocannabinoid system, a system of neurotransmitters that integrates nearly every biological function we have. The endocannabinoid system (ECS) wasn't discovered until the late 1980s and is still not fully understood nor integrated into modern medicine.

A short list of functions your ECS regulates includes:

  • Pain
  • Appetite
  • Hormones
  • Sleep Cycle
  • Immune function
  • Thermoregulation
  • Memory and learning

And that's not even a comprehensive list! But this doesn't mean using cannabis to improve sleep is cut and dry.

Your endocannabinoid system is like your fingerprint - wholly unique to you. Thus, the effects of cannabis on your ECS and your sleep cycles are also unique. But there is substantial science we can rely on as a starting point for evaluating the effects of combining cannabis and sleep.1

Cannabis Can Improve Sleep

  • Small doses of THC can reduce sleep latency, or the amount of time it takes to fall asleep, particularly in people with insomnia. 2
  • Cannabis use can improve sleep by reducing the number of times we wake up, particularly for people with chronic pain. 3
  • Some data suggest THC may enhance sleep quality in patients with sleep disorders. Still, so far, most evidence has only shown a subjective benefit but has not yet demonstrated objective evidence. 4

But Cannabis Can Also Disrupt Sleep

  • THC can reduce time spent in the Rapid Eye Movement (REM) stage of your sleep cycle. While this may be a positive benefit for some, like people with health conditions like PTSD or night terrors, suppressing the REM sleep cycle long-term in an otherwise healthy person can have a negative impact. 5
  • Certain phases of sleep, particularly deep sleep, may be disputed by regular THC use in non-medical users. 6
  • Like any medication, you can develop a tolerance to the sleep-inducing effects of cannabis, disrupting your sleep cycles and causing you to wake up more at night and have trouble falling asleep. 7

How to Choose the Best Weed Product for a Good Night's Sleep

Building a sleep foundation is critical for anyone seeking improved sleep, regardless of whether you want to use cannabis or not. And the cannabis product that's best for helping you sleep is subjective, but many people find weed edibles helpful.

Your endocannabinoid system and metabolism are unique, so no one can tell you how you'll react to a specific dose of or different strains of an edible. But you can use guidelines to understand your options and find the best cannabis product for sleep.

Finding the Right Cannabinoid for Sleep

Certain cannabinoids are thought to be better for sleep, and certain cannabinoids are less helpful. The two most well-known cannabinoids are THC and CBD.

CBD

CBD may or may not be helpful for sleep. Though CBD is generally considered to promote wakefulness at low doses and sedation at higher doses, recent studies suggest it doesn't impact sleep cycles. 8 9

THC

THC is typically the cannabinoid people turn to for better sleep. THC can be very sedating, which may help you fall asleep. Studies have shown that activation of the CB1 receptor, one of the primary receptors in the endocannabinoid system, tends to induce sleep, and THC is known to interact predominantly with the CB1 receptor. 10

CBD & THC

But THC and CBD are just two of the 100+ cannabinoids in the plant and not the only two affecting sleep cycles. CBN has made recent headlines as a "sleep-inducing cannabinoid," although the science doesn't necessarily support this. However, when used alongside THC, CBN can affect the sleep cycle, as it has actions at the same receptors as THC, albeit weaker. 11 12 13

Finding the Right Terpene for Sleep

Cannabinoids aren't the only factor in choosing the right cannabis product for sleep. The terpenes also matter. Terpenes are another chemical compound produced in the cannabis plant, although terpenes are produced in all plants.

According to Dr. Ethan Russo, terpenes are typically considered of pharmacological interest even at very low doses (above 0.05%), meaning they affect your body and may impact the effects of cannabis by way of the entourage effect. Like cannabinoids, different terpenes have different effects in the body, and everyone will respond uniquely to them. 14

For assistance sleeping, look for these terpenes:

  • Myrcene — This has sedative and motor relaxant effects in rodents and has often been the terpene associated with "couch lock," making it an ideal before bedtime option. 15 16
  • Linalool — This is one of the most popular aromatherapy terpenes, thanks to its well-documented sedating and anti-anxiety effects. 17
  • Beta-caryophyllene — This has been shown to decrease time to fall asleep and increase sleep time in rodent trials. 18

Developing a sleep routine

Of course, all the cannabis in the world isn't effective without the right habits to support healthy sleep. Having a strong nighttime routine that helps you disconnect from the hustle and bustle and daily life and settle down for the night is just as important as the supplements you take.

If you're struggling to fall asleep or stay asleep at night or have overall poor sleep, consider the following:

  • Diet Are you eating close to bedtime or consuming foods that upset your digestive tract? Both of these can make it harder to fall asleep at night.
  • Exercise — Are you getting in movement during the day? Not moving enough can leave you awake and restless at night. But conversely, be sure you're not working out too close to bedtime, as this can also wake you up.
  • Mediation If you are lying awake with a restless mind, try meditation and breathwork to help you detach and find stillness. It won't happen overnight - it's called a practice for a reason. 19

Getting Started with Weed Edibles for Sleep

When consuming weed for sleep, the most crucial piece of advice you need to know is this: start low and go slow. It may sound simplistic, but it's essential to having a positive edibles experience. Overshooting and taking too much could lead to disrupted sleep, which is obviously counterproductive.

Start Low

Edibles are an orally consumed method of cannabis, which means the cannabinoids are absorbed and processed in your digestive system. Once absorbed through the digestive tract, the cannabinoid THC is changed by the liver into another molecule called 11-hydroxy-THC. This molecule can be twice as potent as THC, which is why edibles hit many people harder than tinctures or smoking. This isn't inherently bad, but you must be mindful of dosage.

Start with a low dose of edibles, particularly a new product, and feel it out. Then, if you need more, you can adjust your serving size next time. And if it hits just right, you'll be glad you didn't take more.

Go Slow

Unlike smoking cannabis flower, the effects of consuming weed edibles are delayed because digestion is a slow process. It can take over 90 minutes for you to even feel the results of the edible, and in some cases (like on a full stomach), the high experience may not peak until around hour three or four.

Sometimes new cannabis users get impatient or think they didn't take the correct dosage because they haven't felt the effects when actually the only thing they need is more time. Edibles take longer to hit than other consumption methods, but you'll know when they do, as they can also be more intense than smoking for many people.

The delayed onset of edibles makes them a good choice for sleep because they can be an easy addition to your bedtime routine. Eat one at the start of your sleep routine, and feel the effects start as you tuck in for the night.

Track Your Consumption

As mentioned above, everyone has a unique endocannabinoid system. Unfortunately, no one can predict how you will react to a cannabis product - you can only look at previous experiences and judge from there.

Track your consumption and its effects, and you'll see a clearer picture of your endocannabinoid system and the proper dose of edibles. By tracking what edibles you took, the dosage, cannabinoids, and the effects, you'll better understand how to respond to certain products and how to best use cannabis for sleep.

Tracking your consumption can help determine how you react to cannabinoids like THC, CBD, and CBN. It can also help determine the best time to dose an edible, if there are ingredients you don't like in different products, and what works best for your ECS and lifestyle.

Drug Interactions and Contraindications

Cannabis is plant medicine, but like all medicines, it can interact with other drugs. This means certain medications shouldn't be mixed with cannabinoids.

In particular, CBD is well known to interact with numerous important enzymes in the body that are important for drug metabolism. Therefore, any coadministration of prescription medication and cannabinoids should be addressed with professional medical advice.

In particular, cannabinoids should be avoided whenever a patient is taking high risk medications. These medications include most blood thinners, cardiac medications, anti-seizure medications, and many drugs to treat fungal or viral infections. This tool, developed by researchers at Penn State University, can be used to identify some of the highest risk medications. 20

The Best Weed Edible for Sleep

So does weed help you sleep? Of course, it can and comes in delicious forms - edibles. However, not all edibles are created equal, and not all are designed for a good night's sleep. But that's exactly what Pantry Nite Bites are made for.

Not only are Pantry's edibles vegan, gluten-free, and made from clean ingredients (no soy, palm oil, or high fructose corn syrup here), they're specially formulated with ingredients that can help you relax and fall asleep faster after a long day, making them the best edible to help you sleep.

Pantry Nite Bites are made with 5 mg of THC and 5 mg of CBN, two cannabinoids that are thought to help you get a good night's rest. THC interacts with your CB1 receptor, which can induce sleep, while CBN is believed to work alongside THC to help you fall asleep and stay asleep. (It is important to note that the research on CBN is still scant at this point.)

But cannabinoids aren't the only molecules doing the heavy lifting in Pantry Nite Bites. These tasty little sleep edibles also harness the power of adaptogens, natural substances that help the body deal with stress and normalize bodily processes.

Nite Bites also contain:

  • Valerian root: an ancient remedy used for centuries, this root helps to sleep quality and reduces anxiety levels. 21 22
  • L-theanine: an amino acid commonly found in green tea and certain mushrooms, this complicated-sounding molecule has been studied as a sleep aid and may improve mental cognition. 23 24
  • Passionflower: a beautiful flower with sedative qualities that reduces anxiety, improves sleep, and is even being investigated to reduce blood pressure.25 26
  • Melatonin: a hormone naturally produced by your body, melatonin plays a key role in our circadian rhythm and falling asleep, and it can be used to help you reset your sleep cycle. 27
  • Cocoa: a well-known superfood, cocoa delivers antioxidants and endocannabinoid-like molecules that reduce inflammation and may improve cognition, memory, and mood. 28 29 30

If you're on the hunt for cannabis sleep aids to help you get more quality Z's, start with a product specifically formulated for sleep. When you combine the power of cannabis and adaptogens, you get a natural, cleanly-formulated edible that can help you sleep better and wake up feeling well-rested, energized, and ready to take on the day. And isn't that what we all want?

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