If you regularly suffer from insomnia, you’re not alone. According to studies, 30% of people experience regular insomnia and more than 10 million Americans take prescription sleep aids. Considering that prescription sleep medications like Ambien can leave you feeling sluggish and drowsy the next day (and in extreme cases even lead to dangerous side effects like “sleep driving“), it’s no wonder that many people are now turning to marijuana as a natural remedy for insomnia.
If you’re wondering how cannabis and insomnia work together, here are five things you should know:
1. Not all strains are created equal.
If you are new to the world of cannabis, you may be surprised to learn that there is a broad spectrum of highs, ranging from energetic, creative and slightly giddy, to deeply relaxed and sleepy.
In general, indica is considered the best strain for insomnia because it promotes a deeply calm and relaxed mental and physical state. Sativa tends to be much more energizing, which makes it better for daytime use. Hybrids combine the stimulating effects of sativa with the relaxation benefits of indica to varying degrees.
2. Marijuana can help reduce anxiety.
For many people, insomnia and anxiety go hand in hand. You may feel physically tired at the end of the day, but once you get ready for bed your anxiety kicks in, your thoughts begin racing, you become consumed with worry, and sleep eludes you.
If that sounds like you, a relaxing strain of marijuana may be especially beneficial for your insomnia. Smoking or inhaling a bit of indica before bed can quiet your anxious thoughts and help you feel calm and relaxed so that you fall asleep much more easily. In general, it’s best to avoid strains that are very high in THC as these can cause anxiety in some people. Instead, stick with a low-THC indica and you may find your anxiety-induced insomnia becomes a thing of the past.
3. Cannabis complements other natural sleep aids.
Unlike prescription and over-the-counter sleep aids, marijuana can typically be used in conjunction with natural insomnia remedies without negative effects. Melatonin or valerian root can usually be used along with marijuana to deepen the sleep-inducing effects of both remedies.
Cannabis also nicely complements relaxing activities like gentle yoga, deep breathing, or getting a relaxing massage. In fact, marijuana may help you get into a relaxed state so that you can more easily enjoy these activities.
4. Don’t overlook edibles.
Smoking and vaping aren’t your only options for using cannabis as an insomnia sleep aid. Edibles like cookies or gummy candy often lead to a deeper, more potent, and longer-lasting high, which can be great for getting a full night’s sleep.
Keep in mind that edibles do take much longer to kick in than traditional smoking, and plan accordingly. You may have to experiment a bit to see what works best for you, but most people find that ingesting edibles 1-2 hours before bed works best.
5. Marijuana helps with sleep apnea.
If your insomnia is linked to sleep apnea, you may find cannabis especially helpful. Sleep apnea is a very frustrating and sometimes difficult-to-treat condition that causes breathing to start and stop suddenly while sleeping, leading to frequent sleep interruptions throughout the night and next-day sleepiness.
Scientists and doctors are still determining the best way to harness medical marijuana as a treatment for sleep apnea, but so far studies have been promising. It’s best to discuss your sleep apnea symptoms with your doctor and determine if medical marijuana makes sense as a natural part of your individual treatment plan.
As you can see, cannabis shows a lot of promise as a natural sleep aid for insomnia sufferers. If you’d like to explore the many relaxing cannabis blends and cannabis-related products we have available, make an appointment with one of our dispensary guides.