Cannabis is considered effective for many sleep disorders, often without the negative side effects of pharmaceutical treatments. For centuries, cannabis has been used in ancient medicine to help with a variety of ailments, including insomnia. Studies have shown that consuming cannabis before bed helps patients fall asleep an average of 30 minutes faster, experience fewer interruptions to sleep, and feel more rested upon waking.
Despite the promising results seen in clinical studies, there are misconceptions around using cannabis for treating sleep disorders.
Myth 1 – Only THC helps improve sleep
The cannabis plant contains hundreds of cannabinoids, the two most commonly known are THC and CBD. Cannabidiol, or CBD, does not have a psychoactive effect on the consumer, meaning it will not get you high. THC has sedating effects, which leads to the common misconception that it is the only cannabinoid that helps with sleep.
CBD may not have the sedative property of THC but it has the potential to regulate sleep cycles, leading to improved overall sleep over time according to a 2006 study. Cannabidiol has been shown to increase daytime alertness, improve sleep cycles, promote mental focus and lessen anxiety.
Myth 2 – There are no risks to using cannabis for sleep
There are no absolutes in any treatment, regular use of any sleep aid can create certain risks for negative effects. In higher doses, THC can contribute to sleep ‘hangover’, where patients experience more wakefulness during the night and feel groggy the next morning. This can be easily mitigated with a lower dose of THC prior to bed and is one of the reasons why doctors recommend that new consumers start with low doses and slowly increase them as your body becomes acclimated. Long term cannabis consumers also experience a risk of disrupted sleep patterns and increase in lucid dreaming when abruptly stopping regular consumption as a sleep aid.