What’s the Relationship Between Cannabis and Sleep?

Getting the ol’ forty winks is more than just a figure of speech; it’s one of the keys to good health. But too many people forgo sleep for one reason or another, and the results can be pretty dangerous.

Lack of sleep is a symptom in over 70 different conditions and causes over $411 billion in economic damage. But money aside, it can also wreak havoc on your mind and body, especially if you’re already dealing with health issues. Good sleep hygiene is more than what you can ingest or buy, it’s a process and a routine to commit to, continually invest in, and perform regular maintenance on.

While ASMR videos and silky pajamas are an obvious place you might be tempted to start, it’s worth asking: What can CBD and other cannabinoids do for the big sleep?

Cannabis is a burgeoning go-to for some of the concerns we deal with that can mess up sleep, such as burn out and pain. It's also being studied for how it helps us stay in the deeper parts of the sleep cycle, right now primarily in subjects with Parkinson’s Disease and PTSD.

A three year review of sleep studies published in 2017 stated, “Preliminary research into cannabis and insomnia suggests that cannabidiol (CBD) may have therapeutic potential for the treatment of insomnia.” While another study claimed, “Evidence points toward a calming effect for CBD in the central nervous system.”

In 2016 a group of researchers incorporated CBD into the sleep treatment regimen of a young woman with PTSD with insomnia and anxiety. They found, “A trial of cannabidiol oil resulted in a maintained decrease in anxiety and a steady improvement in the quality and quantity of the patient's sleep.”

All of this points to how the endocannabinoid system could be influencing our sleep habits, and one story on Project CBD discusses how our body uses one of it’s naturally made cannabinoids, anandamide, to regulate sleep: “The highly complex sleep-wake cycle is driven by a variety of neurochemicals and molecular pathways. Both anandamide and 2AG activate CB1 cannabinoid receptors that are concentrated in the central nervous system, including parts of the brain associated with regulating sleep.”

It’s exciting stuff, but can also have mixed results—CBD was also noted for its ability to help maintain daytime wakefulness. This is where the sleep hygiene comes in. You can’t just sprinkle some CBD on a bad case of the sleepless nights and make it stick. Getting to sleep and staying asleep is a process, one that cannabis can definitely aid, provided you treat it as one pillar of many and not a miracle remedy.

Of course, CBD is just one of over a hundred cannabinoids. The lesser known CBN, full name cannabinol, is showing some sleepy promise says cannabis tech company Steep Hill, “Of all the cannabinoids, CBN appears to be the most sedative. Not only is it sedative, it takes very little to do the job.”

Here are some of the best ways to get ready for sleep time, according to the pros.

Set the Mood

To add cannabis into a proper sleep routine, start by setting the mood. Limiting screen time can be crucial, so turn on night mode on any devices and try to avoid too much scrolling before trying to sleep.

Make Your Bed the Place to Be

Making your bed a place of comfort and safety is truly at central here. It’s also where you can incorporate cannabis into the mix. Since the dosage can vary, a potent tincture near your bedside is the smartest strategy so you can use exactly what you need, no more and no less.

Ask the Terpenes to Help

Don’t let the sleep prep stop there— use a variety of sleep helpers to create a routine that works so that you can drop those eyelids and get to relaxing. Terpenes like lavender’s linalool are in many cannabis products as well as cannabis-free sleep products, like oils, mists, and creams. Drop a dose under your tongue, slather up in relax-inducing smells, slide under the covers, and see if these intentional practices can’t help you get the sleep you need—and deserve.

Danielle is an New York City-based writer. Off-duty, she enjoys a good cup of coffee, a clean house, cooking gourmet meals, and studying botany, cosmetic chemistry, and natural healing.