Marijuana For Sleep. Is It Right For You?

Marijuana For Sleep. Is It Right For You?

Have you ever considered marijuana for sleep? No?

Well, does this situation ring a bell?

Here’s the scene: It’s Wednesday at 9:45 p.m. You’re halfway through the work week, and it’s already been grueling. All you’ve been looking forward to all day is that sweet, sweet moment when your head hits the pillow and you drift off into a glorious dreamland of puppies and rainbows (if that’s your kind of thing). This earlier-than-normal bedtime is exactly what you need. You snuggle up in your freshly washed sheets and rest that pretty little head of yours on your favorite pillow, and...

--Record scratch--

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Now it’s 11:45 p.m. You’re still awake. Why are you still awake? It’s a full two hours after you hopped into this comfy bed, and you’re still awake? You have to be up at 5:30 a.m. to get to a morning coffee meeting with a potential client, and if you don’t get to sleep soon, you might sleep through the three alarms you set. Wait, did you set the alarms? Yes, you know you set the alarms — you just checked. JUST. GO. TO SLEEP. “It’s not that easy!” you say to yourself. Wait — when did you start talking to yourself? Is this normal? Should you see a counselor? Maybe you should Google it. You pick up your phone. IT’S TWELVE THIRTY. IT’S ALREADY TOMORROW. JUST. GO. TO SLEEP!

Sound familiar?

You're not alone. 

According to the American Sleep Association, insomnia is the most common sleep disorder, impacting 30 percent of adults from time to time and 10 percent of adults chronically. Its causes span the gamut. The National Sleep Foundation (NSF) reports anxiety, nasal allergies, arthritis, back pain, medication side effects, and even poor nutritional habits as causes of insomnia.

Some individuals may find relief from insomnia by treating the specific symptoms of the conditions causing their sleep deficit, but for others, sleep aids are necessary.

Sleep aids come in both over-the-counter and prescription forms and are used by nearly 9 million Americans according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Perhaps the most common over-the-counter sleep aid is melatonin, which is a hormone produced naturally in the body to regulate one’s circadian rhythm. While melatonin may work well for many with sleep disorders, the NSF reports that “when scientists conduct tests to compare melatonin as a ‘sleeping pill’ to a placebo (sugar pill) most studies show no benefit of melatonin.”

For those who do not experience a noticeable improvement in their sleeping habits while taking melatonin, stronger medications may be recommended. Prescription sleep aids including widely recognized brands such as Ambien and Lunesta are known for their ability to help insomniacs fall asleep more quickly and stay asleep longer. But for some, these medications cause unpleasant side effects. Stories of everything from sleep eating to sleep shopping to sleep driving (yes, driving while asleep and having no recollection of said act) have been reported.

So, where is the middle ground?

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Enter: Cannabis.

Yes, marijuana for sleep.

For individuals suffering from sleep disorders who find over-the-counter options to be ineffective, while prescription options on the other end of the spectrum prove to be too powerful, cannabis may be the happy medium.

With so many strains of cannabis, it’s important to note that not all varieties will have the same effect on sleep. In fact, certain types of cannabis may cause users to be more alert, so a little research or trial and error may be necessary prior to self medicating with cannabis for sleep.

Indica is the strain most commonly recognized for its effectiveness in helping insomniacs get to sleep, but those who use marijuana for sleep may find that they feel groggy the following day. Although scientific research is limited, it is believed that cannabis can limit the time spent in the final sleep stage, rapid eye movement or “REM sleep.” The National Institutes of Health explains that REM is crucial to retaining information, meaning that not getting enough REM sleep can limit one’s ability to remember information they learned prior to falling asleep. So keep that in mind as you consider your options.

Is cannabis right for you?

Sleep disorders are not currently recognized as qualifying conditions for medical cannabis. However, professionals in dispensaries in legal states can provide guidance in choosing a strain that has sedative effects.

It may turn out that using marijuana for sleep is a good fit for you.

Happy snoozing.