Sleep is dear to us all. Lack of it is deeply troubling. Sleep is a sign of good health. Adults need 7 or more hours of sleep per night for the best health and wellbeing. Adults who are short sleepers (less than 7 hours per 24-hour period) were more likely to report more chronic health conditions compared to those who got enough sleep (7 or more hours per 24-hour period). Quality of sleep is also a cause of concern. Sound sleep means sound health.
What is Insomnia
Insomnia is a common sleep disorder in which a person has trouble falling sleep and staying asleep. This condition can be short-term, or it can last a long time. It may also come and go.
Insomnia is currently classified as a sleep-wake disorder by the American Psychiatric Association in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5)
According to the DSM-5, the criteria for insomnia disorder include:
- Intense dissatisfaction with the quality or amount of sleep
- Sleep issues create a significant amount of stress
- Sleep problems occur at least three nights each week and persist for at least three months
- Poor sleep occurs even when there is enough time devoted to sleep and rest
There are two known kinds of Insomnia:
Primary Insomnia and Secondary Incomnia:
Primary Insomnia is defined as the disability in falling sleep and staying asleep. It is not linked to any other health problem.
Causes of primary insomnia include:
- Stress-related to big life events, such as a job loss or change, the death of a loved one, divorce, and many other
- Changes in factors such as noise, light, or temperature
- Changes in sleep schedule due to jet lag, a shift changes at work, or other habits or lifestyle
Secondary Insomnia is decreased issue sleeping because of a health condition including asthma, arthritis, cancer, depression; pain; medication; or substance use such as alcohol, caffeine tobacco etc. Comorbid insomnia (until relatively recently was often referred to as “secondary” insomnia)
Causes of secondary insomnia include:
- Mental health issues like depression and anxiety
- Medications for common colds, allergies, depression, high blood pressure, and asthma
- Pain or discomfort at night
- Caffeine, tobacco, or alcohol use
- Hyperthyroidism and other endocrine problems
- Other sleep disorders, like sleep apnea or restless legs syndrome
How Cannabis affects sleep?
Cannabis is being used to help people with trouble falling asleep and staying asleep. It has also been used to make sleep more refreshing, and to extend sleep’s duration. There are many reports indicating medical cannabis is proving beneficial for boosting sleep. Unlike sleep pills, proper cannabis consumption is not addictive.
Cannabis to Help you Sleep
Science of Cannabis and sleep –
Cannabis contain Terpenes which are found to have sleep-boosting abilities.
Terpenes are molecules found in all plants. They give taste and aroma to plants and its fruits. Terpenes are also known to have therapeutic abilities, providing relief from pain, inflammation and reducing anxieties. Cannabis contains hundreds of different terpenes; several of these terpenes have been identified as having sedative properties and at reducing specific insomnia symptoms.
There are around 200+ terpenes found in the marijuana plant. The ones believed to best aid sleep include myrcene, limonene, linalool, terpineol, and caryophyllene. Indica-dominant strains tend to have high concentrations of these terpenes, which is the reason why they provide a relaxing and sedative effect.
Terpenes act by activating the GABA system in the body – Gamma-Aminobutyric acid (GABA) is an amino acid that works as an inhibitory neurotransmitter. It inhibits the neural activity in the brain and body to induce sleep. It is known to reduce stress and anxiety significantly.
The other chemicals better known as cannabinoids also affect sleep and anxiety, especially the REM sleep. REM stands for Rapid Eye Movement that occurs while you are dreaming. A study conducted in 2008 stated that a high amount of THC in a Cannabis strain reduces the amount of REM sleep in the user. It means THC limits the dreams while sleeping which is beneficial for PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder). However, sleep experts believe that REM sleep is also needed for good physical and mental health.
Talk to your doctor about your sleep cycles. There may be long-term health consequences with interrupted REM, because much of the immune function repair takes place in deep sleep.
We infer that Cannabis may help treat insomnia if taken in appropriate doses. Please do not consume more than the prescribed/suggested dose as it can worsen the problem and cause other health ailments. To be safe, it is always recommended to consult your doctor before using Cannabis as a sleep aid.