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CDB and THC Series: The Science Behind Sleep With Cannabis

If getting enough sleep is hard for you, you’re not alone.

Many people experience sleeping disorders. The medical marijuana community refers to cannabis as an effective treatment, with little to no side effects, for a range of sleeping disorders.

“Marijuana is an effective sleep aid because it restores a person’s natural sleep cycle, which so often falls out of sync with our schedules in today’s modern lifestyle,” says Dr. Matt Roman, a medical marijuana physician. Marijuana’s analgesic properties might provide some relief for those with chronic pain, while the anti-anxiety properties can soothe a stressed-out mind and body.

There are different strains of marijuana. Some are more energizing, and some are calming and sedating depending on the balance of the different cannabinoids.

Cannabidiol (CBD). CBD has several health benefits, and is nonpsychoactive, meaning it doesn’t cause you to feel “high.”

Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). THC, a psychoactive cannabinoid, is primarily responsible for that “high” feeling.

THC also induces sleep. So you’ll want a strain that contains more THC than CBD.

Ingesting marijuana strains with higher levels of THC typically reduces the amount of REM sleep you get. Reducing REM sleep means reducing dreams — and for those who experience PTSD, it could mean reducing nightmares. So the theory is you’ll spend more time in a “deep sleep” state. The deep sleep state is the most restorative, restful part of the sleep cycle.

If you’ve spoken to your doctor, and they’ve approved the use of marijuana to treat your insomnia, it’s time to choose a strain.

The three most common kinds of strains are Indica, Sativa and Hybrids. The Indica strain results in feeling soothed and relaxed. Sativa strains make people feel excited, happy, and energized. Hybrids are a combination of both Indica and Sativa.

Dr. Jordan Tishler, a Harvard-trained physician, and cannabis therapeutics specialist, recommends a strain with less than 20 percent THC. Anything more than that, he says, will make dosing difficult. Too much THC might make you feel groggy and sleepy the next morning.

Different strains will also have different amounts of cannabinoids in them, but for getting sleep, both Roman and Tishler recommend an Indica strain to induce sleep.

How much marijuana to use might take some experimentation to get the dosage that’s right for you. Tishler notes that a little goes a long way. “If you need to re-dose in the middle of the night, that’s [OK] too,” Tishler says. “But avoid re-dosing if you awaken within four hours of when you need to be up.”

While everyone’s physiology is different, it’s usually better to ingest the marijuana at least an hour before bedtime. According to Tishler, an hour before bedtime is ideal because the cannabis will work for about three to four hours, helping you to fall asleep. “That way, people don’t feel the effects right as they are going to sleep, which can cause excitability and prevent sleep.”

Not all sleep aids work for everyone the same way. Marijuana is no different.

This herb has many medicinal effects that may work as effectively as other medications, and with much fewer side effects.

This article is for interest only and not a medical recommendation. Consult your family doctor to determine which sleep aid you need, if any.

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