Hush little insomniac, don’t say a word,
Evarínya’s going to tell you what she heard.
If sleep time evades you, my sweet darlings,
Then smoke some weed and see what it brings.
As humans, we spend about a third of our lives sleeping. It is a necessary part of life whose importance is often overlooked in the busy lifestyles of today’s societies. It is a time when our brains consolidate our memories from short term to long term storage, enabling us to learn and retain information. Sleep also rejuvenates us, allowing muscle growth, body repair and hormone replacement to occur.
Thus it is no surprise that those who do not get enough sleep on a daily basis suffer from forgetfulness, bodily ailments and mental health issues. The body and brain require sleep to heal and to grow.
When we sleep
There are four stages of sleep, with the first three being categorized as NREM (Non-Rapid Eye Movement) and the last stage being REM (Rapid Eye Movement) sleep.
Stage one is the drowsy sleep stage. This is the feeling of drifting off. Your brain is still aware of its surroundings as it slips into sleep. Stage two is where actual sleep happens. Your breathing and heart rates slow, and your senses dull to your surroundings. Stage three is deep NREM. This is when the brain begins its restorative effects and it becomes hard to wake the sleeper.
Stage four is the beginning of the REM cycle. Dreaming occurs during this stage. Unfortunately, because of the heightened brain activity, it is easy to wake the sleeper at this stage. However, waking in stage four will cause grogginess and extreme sleepiness. The body will naturally pull out of REM sleep after approximately 90 minutes and return to stage three sleep.
Sometimes, however hard we might try, we find ourselves unable to sleep. We lay in bed, tossing and turning, thinking about that meeting tomorrow or worrying if you will financially make it through the month. These anxious thoughts can ward away sleep and keep you up. This regular, persistent type of anxiety-induced sleep deprivation is oftentimes a result of generalized anxiety or other mood disorders.
Alternatively, you may be part of the few who suffer from insomnia. Whether by depression, medical problems or as a result of the medication you’re taking, insomnia can range from the inability to fall asleep to waking up in the middle of the night and not being able to fall asleep again for hours.
Another problem is sleep apnea, a far less noticeable and equally detrimental sleep disorder. Sleep apnea occurs when the throat does not remain fully open during sleep. The reduced oxygen intake causes the brain to panic and pull the sufferer out of REM sleep, thus causing the person to feel unrested and groggy in the mornings. The main indicator of this condition is uneven snoring and repeated stops in breathing while asleep. While unnoticeable by the sufferer, it is often detected by a bed partner or roommate.
In all these cases, sufferers wake up feeling tired and restless. Persistent conditions can have serious implications on the bodies and minds of the sufferers. Cognitive abilities reduce, reaction times are slower and moods become unstable and variant. These issues can lead to accidents while driving, poor judgment, weight gain and even ageing past your years. A serious deprivation of sleep can also cause psychosis and even death.
So what can we do about it? Talk to your doctor. It is advisable to consult your doctor as their diagnosis will yield more insight into what is actually happening to you. From there, you can take corrective action, whether it be by medication, holistic healing, or some combination of the two. If you do decide to supplement prescribed medications with cannabis, be sure to let your physician know as certain medications should not be taken with certain forms of cannabis.
That leaves the question: What form of cannabis is right for me? And how do I use it to help me sleep?
Why Cannabis helps
The body has its own cannabinoids, called endocannabinoids, which help to regulate bodily functions and systems. Oftentimes, when this system is compromised, it has latent effects of the body – sleep disorders being one of them. The cannabinoids in cannabis add to the endocannabinoids, helping to rectify any deviations, thus allowing the body to, essentially, self-heal.
CBD, cannabidiol, is a compound in cannabis that has become the buzzword synonymous with the health benefits as a result of cannabis. Thus it is no surprise that CDB is one of the most effective sleep management compounds.
CBD has been known to have the following effects:
- Reduced anxiety
- Easing depressive symptoms
- Relieving chronic pain
- Stabilizing mood
- Reducing inflammation
- Stimulating the growth of new brain cells
By causing the release of feel-good chemicals, like dopamine and serotonin, CBD reduces anxiety and depressive symptoms. This means that it can relieve the mind of the user and stabilize their mood long enough for them to fall asleep easier. It also increases the length of time that sleep will occur, making it beneficial to those with insomnia, for whom waking in the middle of the night is the main problem. If insomnia is caused by inflammation or chronic pain, the relieving properties of CBD may aid the user in easing their conditions enough for sleep to occur. CBD also aids in the stabilization of the REM sleep stage, allowing the user to properly rest.
Pure CBD (without the influence of other cannabinoids found in cannabis) can come in the following forms:
- Teas and other drinks
Long-lasting digestibles, such as gummies or oils, may prove more effective as they release slowly over time, allowing the CBD to be in effect for a longer amount of time. Experiment to see what works best for you.
CBD is one of those chemicals that takes time to build in your system as it is filling in deficiencies in your endocannabinoid system (ECS). Thus regular use is required until you reach a desirable circadian rhythm. Once your ECS has been restored, there is no longer a needs to use it.
THC, or tetrahydrocannabinol, is more commonly known as the psychoactive compound found in cannabis. While its main use is for recreational purposes, it can also be used to induce sleep. When compared to CBD, THC has a more immediate effect. Thus it is the compound of choice for some users.
Cannabis that is high in THC has been known to induce sleepiness in many of its users, allowing them to fall asleep easier and stay asleep for longer. This makes THC is more apt for those with insomnia who struggle to fall asleep.
The psychoactive properties of THC mean that it can also affect the REM sleep stage, shortening it for many users. For those who suffer from PTSD and the like, the shortening of the REM stage can mean the shortening of the dream stage, thus reducing the opportunity for nightmares to break the sleep cycle. Long term usage of THC, especially with large doses, is not advised as the recurrent shortening of the REM sleep cycle is not conducive to the restorative properties of the body.
THC has also been known to improve breathing during sleep. Small amounts are therefore very reliable for sufferers of sleep apnea as it opens the airways and reduces the number of times the body stops breathing while asleep.
THC is also useful for mild pain relief and can ease temporary pain, allowing the user to sleep. It is particularly helpful with period cramps, sprains and after-gym soreness.
THC is a tricky compound to use as it affects everyone differently. It is advised that you start slow with small doses and work your way up. If you find that THC is worsening the condition, stop taking it and explore one of the other cannabinoids.
CBN, or cannabinol, has powerful sedative effects on the body. It is the compound responsible for that drowsy feeling that cannabis users report with certain strains of the plant. CBN, especially when taken in conjunction with CBD, can aid sleep.
CBN should be taken right before bed as it often also stimulate the appetite. And, as any mother would warn, sleeping on a full stomach is ill-advised.
CBN is like the child of CBD and THC, bringing together the best of both worlds, at least where sleep is concerned. It is my recommended sleep aid, however, it can be difficult to attain due to it occurring in such small quantities in the plant and being so difficult to extract in its pure form. You are most likely going to have to source medical-grade CBN.
However, if CBN is too difficult to find, you would be hard-pressed to go wrong with CBD. With its growing popularity and accessibility, you should have no problem getting your hands on some high-quality product without breaking the bank.
In closing, always remember to look for high quality, pure products when using cannabinoids. It will help you isolate its uses and concentrate its effects on your body. And also, start with small doses so that you can build onto it as your system gets accustomed to the changes.
I hope this will lead you to better sleeps and sweeter dreams. Goodnight all!
May all your days be high ones!
P.S. If for any reason none of the above sounds like your jam, why not contact Amandine for a plant consultation, where she can find the best plants for you and in the form that will suit you. Schedule your call today!
Evarínya is a dancer, a dreamer, a cynic and a lover of glitter.
She began writing at a young age, creating her own private imaginary worlds to disappear into.
While her pursuit of her engineering degree side tracked her for a while, she has returned to the
world she loves in hopes of sharing her experiences and stories.
She believes in the empowerment of women through non-conventional methods and seeks to
uncover the world of cannabis through experimentation and the scientific method.
In her spare time, she reads avidly, sews and paints. She tutors part-time and blogs weekly. You can
find out more about her by reading her personal blog, Mist in the Mountains.