We get a lot of questions about using cannabis for sleep. It seems a lot of people have sleep trouble these days – whether from stress, health problems, too much blue light, or other factors, insomnia is a very common complaint. Cannabis can be a great remedy to help you get some shut-eye. We previously explored cannabis and insomnia in another article. In this article we’re going a little deeper and will explore the benefits and potential negatives involving cannabis and sleep.

Cannabis helps insomnia and other sleep problems

Cannabis has been used for centuries as a sleep aid. Modern scientific research has explored what people have known for thousands of years: cannabis has very relaxing and sedating effects. One recent study found that cannabis shortens the time it takes to fall asleep, both for people with sleep problems and people who fall asleep without trouble. Among people with active difficulty falling asleep, cannabis use resulted in an average of 30 minutes less time in falling asleep. The study also included a group of people who were able to fall asleep without difficulty. Among this group of strong sleepers, cannabis helped them fall asleep even faster, by 15 minutes.

This research aligns with other studies that show cannabis use reduces the time it takes to fall asleep, and lengthens time spent in deep, slow wave sleep. Cannabis also appears to shorten time spent in REM sleep.

Entourage of natural chemicals in cannabis affect sleep

Cannabis has dozens of different chemical compounds that effect sleep and sleep cycles. There are two main components to cannabis: cannabinoids and terpenes.

Cannabinoids

Scientists have identified more than 100 cannabinoids in the cannabis plant. Many are being studied for their benefits for sleep and other health conditions, including psychological conditions like depression and anxiety, neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s, seizure disorders, different forms of cancer, and chronic pain. We’ve covered cannabinoids extensively in our Focus on Cannabinoids series. Check out our blog to learn more about the different cannabinoids and their studied health benefits. Three of the best-known cannabinoids all have effects on sleep.

CBD

Cannabidiol, or CBD, is a non-mind-altering cannabinoid that promotes relaxation. CBD has no psychoactive effects—meaning there’s no “high” associated with this compound. Scientists think instead that CBD works to balance or counteract the high that’s delivered from THC, another cannabinoid.

CBD has gained a lot of repute for its ability to reduce anxiety, relieve pain, and promote mental clarity. CBD also has the ability to reduce daytime sleepiness and promote alertness. Studies of CBD show that it reduces anxiety without affecting natural circadian rhythms.

CBN

Cannabinol, or CBN, a lesser-known cannabinoid appears to have powerful sedative effects, which may be enhanced when combined with THC. CBN also has pain-relieving and anti-inflammatory properties.

THC

Tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, is the most famous and main psychoactive cannabinoid found in cannabis. THC is what gives the high that is associated with cannabis use. THC is pain-relieving and also an anti-nausea. Research shows THC has sedative effects, and can make it easier to fall asleep. There’s also emerging evidence suggesting that THC may improve breathing during sleep, which makes it a potential therapy in the treatment of obstructive sleep apnea.

THC appears to alter time spent in stages of sleep. Specifically, THC has been found to reduce time spent in REM sleep and increase time spent in slow-wave sleep.

Because of this diminished time in REM, THC reduces dreaming. That can be helpful to people who have conditions such as PTSD that involve frequent, disturbing dreams and nightmares. As THC reduces dreaming, people may experience fewer dreams when using cannabis regularly. After stopping cannabis use, it is common to experience a burst of dreaming. All sleep cycles are important for healthy rest and proper functioning of all biological processes.

Terpenes

Terpenes appear to play a significant role in the effects of cannabis, including its ability to affect sleep. We are still learning about how terpenes affect the body and mind, but scientists think they may work to enhance the effects of different cannabinoids, as well as affecting the body directly in a myriad of ways.

Terpenes are aromatic molecules in cannabis that create its smell and taste. Terpenes are not only found in cannabis—they are found in many herbs, fruits, and flowers. More than 150 different terpenes that have been identified. Studies show terpenes have effects on energy, mood, sleepiness, and alertness.

Some of the most common terpenes identified as helpful to sleep are:

Myrcene 

Commonly occurring in cannabis, this terpene is also found in a lot of fruits and herbs, including mangoes, basil, thyme, and lemongrass, as well as in the sleep-promoting plants hops and ylang ylang. Myrcene has been shown to have sedative effects. It also functions as an anti-inflammatory.

Caryophyllene 

This is a stress, anxiety and pain-relieving terpene that may also promote sleep, thanks to these relaxing, anxiolytic and analgesic properties. This terpene has a peppery, spicy scent, and is also found in cloves and black pepper.

Linalool 

This lavender-scented terpene is found in hundreds of plants, including cannabis. Studies show linalool lowers anxiety and depression symptoms, as well as help guard the immune system against damage from stress. Particularly important for sleep: linalool increases adenosine, a sedating hormone that helps us fall asleep.

Limonene 

This citrus-flavored terpene, which is found in citrus peels as well as in cannabis and other plants, has been shown to reduce anxiety and stress, according to research. Limonene may also have anti-depressant effects. And research shows it may reduce OCD behaviors. Scientists think its calming, mood-lifting effects come from limonene’s ability to elevate serotonin levels in the brain. That may also make this terpene a sleep-promoter. Studies have shown that limonene may help reduce insomnia symptoms.

Terpineol 

This terpene has relaxing, pain-relieving, and sedative effects. In addition to being found in some strains of cannabis, terpineol is also found in lilac, pine, and eucalyptus.

Cannabis comes in many flavors

Different types of cannabis have different combinations and amounts of cannabinoids and terpenes. Here are a few key things to know:

The most common cannabis strains are Indica and Sativa. There are also hybrid strains that combine the two. Indica is generally considered to be relaxing and sleep promoting. Sativa is generally regarded as more energizing and invigorating.

However, some scientists who study cannabis say that these generalizations of indica and sativa aren’t especially accurate or useful. The important factor, they say, is the composition of cannabinoids and terpenes. When considering using cannabis for sleep or other health conditions, these scientists say we’re better served by using an understanding of the effects of cannabinoids and terpenes to choose the particular strain that’s most suited to our individual needs.

When it comes to sleep, generally that means identifying a strain that contains relaxing terpenes, and a balance of CBD and a not-too-high concentration of THC. In addition to increasing the euphoric and mind-altering effects, higher concentrations of THC can make you feel sluggish the next day.

Don’t be shy! Ask us questions, if one of our knowledgeable and trained budtenders don’t know the answer, we will put you in contact with one of our physicians.

Bartlesville’s Only Physician Owned Cannabis Dispensary

GreenLeaf Solutions is Bartlesville’s top rated cannabis dispensary and the only dispensary in NE Oklahoma that is owned and operated by licensed physicians. We take great pride in our award-winning cannabis flower, highest quality products, and the absolute best patient service. Come see why we’re Bartlesville’s best cannabis dispensary!

Our doors are open Monday through Friday from 10:00am to 7:00pm and Saturday from 10:00am to 4:00pm. Call us anytime as well at 918-214-8775.

During the COVID-19 pandemic we are taking orders over the phone and delivering curbside. Call ahead or call when you pull in! We are here to serve our patients!

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