28 Mar Using Cannabis for Sleep: THC vs CBD
You’ve probably heard the booming reports of people using cannabis for sleep, and may have even heard of people using cannabis to replace their usual sleep aids. If you suffer from a sleep disorder or have ever been unable to rest, it’s likely that cannabis has struck your interest before. But like many people find out, there’s a lot more to the world of cannabis than just clicking a lighter and taking a puff. Cannabis, which is full of plant molecules called cannabinoids and terpenes, comes in a variety of forms and affects everyone differently.
When looking to try cannabis for sleep, most people find evidence that both THC and CBD may have an impact on sleep patterns. Research suggests that both molecules could be useful for managing sleep issues, but they also varying effects for each person based on several factors. Everybody has their own opinion on THC vs CBD and which one works best for sleep, mostly because everybody has unique body chemistry and reacts to cannabis differently. In fact, there are dramatic differences in how cannabis affects men vs women, as well as how it affects people with different tolerances, ages, weights, and health conditions.
THC, the psychoactive material in cannabis, is most commonly linked to inducing the sleepy state that many insomniacs are looking for. However, CBD is rising in popularity and maybe THC’s biggest opponent. Because of CBD’s lack of psychoactive side effects, it may be a better option for those who are sensitive or restricted from THC. What are the differences between THC vs CBD for sleep? Keep reading to see what the research has to say.
Cannabinoids Impact Sleep Patterns
Cannabis impacts the body through what has come to be known as the Endocannabinoid system. This system is composed of thousands of neuroreceptors throughout all of the major organs, including the brain. This system is also responsible for the production of molecules called endocannabinoids, which are made by the body but structurally similar to the cannabinoids made by the cannabis plant, called phytocannabinoids. The similarities between the molecules made by our bodies and the molecules made by the cannabis plant are the reason that cannabis can bind with neuroreceptors to take effect in the body.
Research has shown that signaling within the endocannabinoid system has a direct effect on regulating sleep stability. Furthermore, the endocannabinoid system also impacts factors like the body’s ability to enter different phases of sleep. Other studies have looked at a variety of cannabinoids and terpenes to evaluate its effect on sleep, and research has found that each has a varying effect on sleep. Some cannabinoids and terpenes provide a stimulating effect that impedes sleep, which is why you must choose your strain carefully if using cannabis flower. To avoid these issues, many people stick with products that single out the THC or CBD molecule (or both). Many products exist, like CBD or THC isolates, edibles, tinctures, and more that may make it easy to utilize cannabis for sleep.
THC for Sleep
Medical researchers have known for years that THC may help improve sleep quantity and quality in patients that suffer from insomnia. When patients complain of refractory symptoms of insomnia, doctors have been using Dronabinol, a pharmaceutical based on THC, to effectively treat them. In the same light, medical marijuana patients may utilize THC to combat sleep conditions.
There’s still more research needed to identify exactly the impact THC has on sleep patterns. Some of the existing related research dates back as late as the seventies and includes 147 participants. The study concluded that cannabis reduced the length of time that people needed to fall asleep. Unfortunately, further research has been minimal (and specific only to CBD) due to cannabis’ illegal status in many areas.
Some sources might argue that cannabis dosing also has a lot to do with the way that THC affects sleep. For instance, it’s widely accepted that cannabis has a biphasic effect. That means that the effects of cannabis change entirely after a certain dosing threshold. Many experts believe that in small amounts, cannabis may be a sedative. In larger doses, cannabis is sometimes believed to act more like a stimulant, and in much larger doses (than anyone should ever need) may even cause symptoms of psychosis. Of course, like most things pertaining to cannabis, lack of research gets in the way of expanding on this theory. That makes it difficult to say how much THC each person needs to combat any symptoms, much less symptoms of insomnia or other sleep-related disorders.
CBD for Sleep
There is much more modern research regarding CBD for sleep, which may be part of the reason that CBD products have such widespread popularity. Research suggest that cannabidiol could potentially be used in a variety of ways to help regulate sleep patterns and manage symptoms of insomnia. One study shows that cannabidiol works as a wake-promoting agent. It sounds counterintuitive, but cannabidiol’s ability to promote wakefulness may potentially alleviate fatigue during the day. Increasing energy burn during the day could result in better sleep quality.
Experts suggest that these wake-promoting abilities also decrease REM sleep, which is how many modern sleep aids work to increase total sleep time. Of course, more research is needed before labelling CBD as an effective treatment for all sleep disorders, but many people have given it a shot with great results.
Combining CBD and THC May Be the Key to Better Sleep
Many experts tend to agree that some sort of synergistic effect exists between THC and CBD. Studies show that certain cannabinoids and terpenes have the ability to blunt some of THC’s effects, which may be better for users who are sensitive to THC. Another study shows that the pain-relieving effects of THC were more effective when combined with CBD than when used alone. There are no studies looking into how CBD and THC work together to enhance your sleep regimen, but many people find that CBD reduces the severity of the psychoactive effects of THC, which may make it easier to sleep and improve sleep quality when using cannabis.
Cannabis for Sleep: Choosing the Best Product
If you’re still interested in the effects of cannabis for sleep and sleep disorders, you may be looking to try it for yourself. After choosing between THC and CBD (or any combination of the two) you’ll need to choose a consumption method. Generally, there’s a wide range of different methods that people may choose. However, for people hoping to use cannabis for sleep, there are two products that are frequently recommended: tinctures and edibles.
Both tinctures and edibles are available in THC and CBD concentrations and are taken by mouth. However, there’s one key difference between the two that makes them better or worse for people at any point on the cannabis dosing spectrum. Tinctures take effect quickly, while edibles may take a couple of hours to kick in. That may make it seem like a clear choice for the quicker method, but the slow onset of edibles has its benefits, too. Let’s take a look at both of the most popular consumption methods for using cannabis for sleep:
Tinctures are one of the quickest ways to get the effects from every there THC or CBD. For this reason, they may provide the most benefit to people who experience poor sleep based on underlying conditions that respond to cannabis. For instance, many people find that pain, inflammation, anxiety, or a number of other symptoms may impede on sleep quality or make it difficult to fall asleep at night. If you are using cannabis to control symptoms that affect your sleep, tinctures may help provide immediate relief. A tincture may also provide the dose you need to use cannabis as a sleep aid, but they falter to edibles in one area: they are shorter lived. Although tinctures may take effect in as little as 15 minutes, the effects may fade in 2-3 hours.
Alternatively, edibles take effect in 1.5-3 hours for most people. However, they often provide longer lived effects than other consumption methods. People who use edibles have experienced effects lasting anywhere from 3-6 hours, with effects averaging around 4-5 hours. Edibles also take effect more slowly, which may be perfect for utilizing in your nighttime routine. Experts agree that one way to improve sleep quality is to include a “wind down” period before going to bed. Since the effects of a cannabis edible will slowly kick in over an hour long span, CBD or THC edibles are perfect for taking before this “wind down” period to improve your ability to relax and “shut off.”
Other methods for using cannabis for sleep include whole-plant cannabis flower, CBD or THC Vapes, capsules, topicals, and more. If you plan to try THC, CBD, or any other cannabis product to manage your sleep disorder, always consult your doctor first. This is especially important if you already take prescription medications or suffer from chronic conditions. Cannabis may be safe to take alongside most medications, but your doctor will be able to more effectively assess how cannabis will affect you. For many people, cannabis is the key to combating their sleep disorders and experiencing a great night’s sleep.