Insomnia — the recurring inability to go to sleep as desired or to wake up feeling rested — is one of the three most common reasons medical cannabis users cite for consuming cannabis. In states and countries not fortunate enough to have legal medical or recreational cannabis, insomnia is also a top reported reason for self-medicating with cannabis.
Cannabis users anecdotally report positive benefits for using cannabis to help them fall asleep and stay asleep, but what does the science say? Surprisingly, the few studies conducted on cannabis for insomnia treatment yielded mixed messages. The scientific results are complicated, but can be summarized as follows: cannabis helps people fall asleep faster and maintain certain non-REM cycles of deep sleep better, but daily use has been associated with an overall decline in sleep quality.
What does this mean for people hoping to treat their insomnia? They should pay close attention to the type of strain they use, when they last consume cannabis before bed and how ongoing use affects their ability to feel rested in the morning.
The Research on Cannabis for Insomnia Treatment
Few good-quality studies have been conducted on the effectiveness of medical cannabis for insomnia treatment. Most studies conducted have failed to provide control and experimental groups for certain strains of cannabis; for instance, those that have a high CBD:THC ratio. Nearly all recommend further research on the subject.
The most precise, and telling study, was conducted on 98 subjects at an average age of 22.3-years-old. The results found that daily cannabis users scored higher on the Pittsburgh Sleep Index (higher scores means poorer sleep quality) and on the Insomnia Severity Index than non-daily users, and both groups scored higher on the two indexes than non-cannabis users.
However — and this is a huge however — when the study adjusted for subjects experiencing depression and anxiety, there was no significant difference between any of the three groups. Additionally, there was no difference between all three groups on the Epworth Sleepiness Scale of Morningness Eveningness Questionnaire, meaning subjects with poorer quality sleep did not necessarily notice.
Another study conducted comparing cannabis users to users of the illegal drugs cocaine and MDMA found that cannabis had the lowest sleep disturbance effect of the three and that “acute administration of cannabis appears to facilitate falling asleep and to increase Stage 4 sleep,” while REM sleep cycles were less frequent and shorter.
A case study of a 10-year-old girl with severe PTSD found that cannabidiol (CBD) oil helped decrease her anxiety and lead to a steady improvement in her quality and quantity of sleep..
There is plenty of evidence that cannabis does help you fall asleep, but individuals should take care when choosing the strains they consume and how they consume it to avoid negative effects on sleep quality.
Recommendations for Trying Cannabis as a Sleep Aid
If you have a sleep disorder, you should discuss your symptoms with a medical professional that can properly diagnose the condition. Together, you can decide if cannabis, CBD oil, or another derivative of cannabis would be the proper treatment for you.
If you are interested in trying cannabis for insomnia, seek out high CBD strains. Try to smoke/vape at least 1-2 hours before going to bed. If you are trying edibles, eat 1/8 of the amount you usually would 3-4 hours before bed.
In both cases, drink plenty of water, avoid alcohol, try some light stretching, and avoid screens. In the morning, make note of how quickly you think you were able to fall asleep, how many times you think you woke up and whether or not you feel rested. Over time, you can adjust your preferred strain, your dosage or your routine to optimize your results.
Note that high THC strains have been associated with greater night time energy and lower sleep quality, especially when consumed just before bed. Try a cannabis strain with low THC or pure CBD oil if you think you are experiencing this effect.
Get Personalized Advice From a Recreational and Medical Cannabis Dispensary in Las Vegas
You can find the strains, product or guidance you need to discover the perfect solution for your sleep needs by coming to our experienced staff at Euphoria Cannabis. Our extensive selection of products and highly knowledgeable staff can help you adjust your approach until you find something that works.
This content is not intended as medical advice. The information provided is meant to encourage cannabis education, not replace direct patient-healthcare professional relationships. Always consult your primary care physician or other healthcare provider prior to using cannabis products for treatment of a medical condition. Any statements contained herein have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. Products referenced are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. Products are only available where the consumption of cannabis is legal.