Marijuana and sleep go together like a warm cookie and ice cream, but that doesn’t mean they’re always the perfect combination. Just like dessert, you need to use the right ingredients and the right timing to really enjoy it. Learning about cannabis and sleep can therefore help you get the rest you need with fewer side effects.
The effects marijuana has on your sleep cycle can change depending on the strain you smoke and how you use it. Certain marijuana strains that are good for insomnia have a chemical profile that’s ideal for helping you drift off to sleep. Even then, smoking too much or at the wrong time can still prevent you from getting the rest you need.
To help you out, we’re going to teach about the chemical effects weed can have on your ability to fall asleep, stay asleep, and wake up feeling rested. In the process, you’ll learn about the best weed for sleep and the best way to consume it to get the shut-eye you deserve.
Does Weed Help You Sleep?
Science proves that marijuana and sleep have a close connection.
A 2017 review of studies for cannabis and sleep found that marijuana decreases “sleep latency,” which refers to the length of time it takes someone to fall asleep. In other words: smoking marijuana can help you fall asleep faster.
However, some of the studies cited also noticed some drawbacks. THC, the psychoactive chemical that gets you high, can impair long term sleep quality while making you feel too mentally engaged to drift off.
Consuming marijuana can also impair REM (rapid eye movement) sleep cycles, which normally occur during dreaming. People who smoke marijuana may therefore have fewer dreams and less deep of sleep during the night.
That can be a good thing for some people, though! People suffering from PTSD and other stress-related disorders can often be woken up by their dreams or disturbed by them. Reducing REM sleep lessens the vividness of dreams and may prevent nightmares from waking them up.
Another interesting effect is that people who smoke habitually but then take a break may end up having more intense REM cycles and more vivid dreams.
Another negative that cannabis users should keep in mind is that using marijuana right before bed can lead to lingering effects the next morning. Some people refer to this as a marijuana hangover or “hazeover”, which can be avoided by not consuming cannabis in high quantities before bed.
Overall, marijuana can help lull you to sleep more easily and quickly, but you could wake up feeling less rested overall in certain situations. The key is to select marijuana strains with the right balance of chemicals for your sleep needs.
How Do I Find the Best Weed for Sleep?
Marijuana has hundreds of active compounds known as cannabinoids and terpenes. Many of these chemicals have profound effects on our minds and bodies.
When it comes to marijuana and sleep, the most important cannabinoid to know about is called cannabinol, or CBN for short. CBN has an extremely strong sedative effect, making anyone who ingests it quite sleepy.
CBN is created as THC ages, so old weed equals sleepy weed. Cured marijuana flowers that have been allowed to sit for six months or more will have some of its THC converted into CBN. The effect is stronger for weed that has been exposed to oxygen and UV light.
“My experience is that if I take cannabis that is about 20% THCA, and I wrap in plastic and let it sit in the garage for 3 years (in summer heat and dry), it results in a 3-5% production of CBN,” observes one expert from cannabis testing facility Steep Hill Labs.
Indica marijuana also normally has higher concentrations of CBN, which is why so many people associate indicas with an “in da couch” experience.
Some people also recommend using edibles since cooking marijuana during the process called decarboxylation produces stronger quantities of CBN.
How Does CBD Affect the Quality of Marijuana Sleep?
Another important compound to have for effective marijuana sleep is CBD. CBD counteracts the excitable effects of THC while reducing daytime sleepiness after getting too little of sleep.
People who want the best results from marijuana and sleep should look to strains that have a low THC:CBD ratio, like Harlequin. Smoking a strain like that prevents THC from making you too jittery or overwhelmed before sleep.
You can also find supplements like pure CBD oil to consume during the day if you tend to feel sleepy and fatigued. Combining high-CBD strains at night with pure CBD during the day can help you get the best balance of daytime and nighttime satisfaction.
5 Other Tips for Cannabis and Sleep
Firstly: Smoke at least one hour before bedtime, and for edibles consume at least two hours before bed. You don’t want psychoactive effects kicking in right as your head hits the pillow, and you also don’t want to wake up still groggy from being stoned half the night.
Two: Drink plenty of water to avoid feeling dehydrated the next morning. While you don’t want to go to bed with a full bladder, having cotton mouth, dry eyes, and an overall dried out feeling can make you uncomfortable enough to disturb your sleep quality.
Third: Avoid alcohol before bed, which can suppress melatonin and hurt sleep quality. A few drinks can help someone drift off to sleep, but those drinks objectively make sleep worse. Try to stick with the one drink per hour limit and cut yourself off 1-2 hours before bedtime.
Fourth: Cannabis’ sleepy effects be enhanced by other natural sleep aids, like chamomile, lavender, melatonin, valerian root and others. Don’t consume all at once, mind you, but try modest amounts of one in combination with marijuana to help deepen your sleep quality.
Finally: Try reading before bed instead of looking at screens. Watching TV, playing games or browsing online can not only tempt you to stay up later, but the light generated by screens can hurt your sleep quality
Put these tips into action in combination with the best cannabis strains for helping you sleep to enjoy a more restful night and better energy in the morning.