Humans spend roughly one-third of our lives sleeping. The Sleep Foundation recommends that adults get roughly 8 hours of sleep per night, but so many people fail to achieve this.
Marijuana has been demonstrated to help people fall into a peaceful sleep a lot easier. However, which of the two most prolific cannabinoids in Cannabis sativa (THC or CBD) actually help you sleep the best?
Let’s find out below.
THC & Sleep
THC is widely known as a tool to help you get to sleep, but what is it about the compound that actually aids slumber?
THC is well-established as a strong sedative. A study for the Journal of Pharmacology, Biochemistry, and Behavior found that the stronger a strain of marijuana is (i.e. the higher the quantity of THC), the better it is at putting you to sleep.
The chemical reasons for this are to due to the way in which THC interacts with the CB1 receptor, as well how it triggers melatonin production in the brain. This all combines to create an effect that helps you get to sleep.
However, before you can begin to enter a sleepy state, you must first get through the high that THC gives you. For this reason, it is generally better to have a middle-range amount of THC in your marijuana strain if you’re looking to have better sleep, so as to not get too protracted and powerful a high. After all, it’s rather difficult to fall asleep when you’re flying high in the sky.
What about THC Use and Long-Term Sleep Health?
Another issue with THC, and quite an important one at that, is its effects on long-term sleep quality. Generally speaking, a healthy person begins to feel sleepy based on their circadian rhythm, the internal clock within every person that helps them figure out when to eat, sleep and work.
When it’s time to sleep, the human body produces a number of different hormones and chemicals, melatonin being the most well known, that help settle the body into the state necessary for sleep.
Your limbs get heavy, higher brain functions begin to shut off, and you just generally start to drift off.
When you use THC, however, the melatonin and other similar chemicals and hormones are triggered despite your circadian rhythm. This means it’s very easy to start to feel sleepy in the middle of the day.
However, this is a problem for your long term sleep quality, as your body can begin to expect this dosage of THC to help it sleep.
Isn’t that Similar to Addiction?
This isn’t quite the same as an addiction, of course – it’s more like the dependency one gets for caffeine in the morning to wake up properly. You get used to taking it, and then suddenly find yourself struggling to complete normal tasks without it.
Researchers Babson et al. found that while THC is remarkably useful for decreasing sleep latency, and thus making it easier to fall asleep from a wakeful state, it worsens the long term ability to fall asleep naturally without THC.
THC is also well-known to reduce the time spent in REM, which is where dreaming occurs. And while those with PTSD may want to decrease REM, REM is important for proper brain functioning and formation in younger people.
If you’re having trouble getting to sleep for a few nights, THC can be a godsend. However, if you use it to get to sleep every night, you may be creating new problems for yourself.
CBD & Sleep
Though its effects might seem similar to THC at the onset, CBD affects the body differently in regards to sleep. Instead of affecting sleep through the CB1 receptors, CBD works on the 5HT1A receptors, which involve serotonin, the precursor to melatonin.
Through its actions on the 5-HT1A receptor, CBD can increase serotonin levels, thereby resulting in higher levels of melatonin, and as a result, improved sleep. In fact, one of the few side effects CBD users have noticed if they take too much CBD is some increased sleepiness.
CBD has also been widely demonstrated to have anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving properties. Thanks to this, if you’re suffering from any kind of pain or irritation that might stop you from sleeping, CBD can enable you to get to sleep without those issues.
Be Wary of Product Quality!
Of course, given the unregulated status of the hemp-based CBD market, you’ll really want to be wary of the product you’re buying as all CBD oils are certainly not the same. Vast discrepancies exist in terms of strength and potency, but more importantly, wild differences can exist in terms of product quality and safety as well.
In general, you’ll want to look for a reputable CBD oil that comes with lab verification reports. This will allow you to get a realistic, unbiased report on what’s actually in the tincture you’re consuming.
Furthermore, you’ll want to pay close attention to where the hemp that was used to make the oil was grown. The USA, Canada, and the EU generally have the most rigid organic agriculture guidelines, so you’ll notice that most top-quality products are extracted from plants grown in these regions.
Take your time, do plenty of research, and know what you’re buying before you buy (and proceed to use) it.
THC vs. CBD for Sleep: Which is Better?
Marijuana has been used for millennia as a convenient sleep aid, but it’s only recently that THC and CBD were understood to be different components that affect the body in different ways.
Thanks to a plethora of research conducted over the last few decades, we finally know how marijuana works with regard to our sleeping patterns, and how best to use it.
THC and CBD both help our sleep, but in extremely different ways. To recommend the right one for a bad night’s sleep requires an understanding of what is leading to their sleep difficulties, and how chronically they will need to use it.
Regardless of your choice, however, it’s important to remember the long term effects of taking either of them. Taking THC can negatively impact your sleep over the long term, while CBD has yet to be linked to any significant long term effects.
Hopefully, whatever you use will end up helping you get those ever your necessary Z’s.