Cannabis and its effect on Sleep
Does Cannabis help you sleep more soundly?
Just like one may pour a glass of wine at the end of a rough day, many people find cannabis to be a relaxing alternative for winding down. With more research presenting itself regarding the therapeutic uses of cannabis, it appears medical cannabis can improve sleep.
5 Ways Cannabis Improves Sleep
1. Easier Falling Asleep
Early research on medical cannabis and sleep show that the constituent known for its psychotropic effects (THC), can significantly reduce the time it takes for those who struggle to sleep, to fall asleep.
In a small study published in 1973, THC decreased the time it took for nine subjects who suffered from insomnia to fall asleep. The difference was over an hour on average. Researchers also noted that in having too high a dose, the sleepiness effect could diminish.
THC was also found to ease the anxiety of falling asleep in a 2013 study involving healthy subjects.
2. Longer Sleep
Early studies also revealed that taking either THC or CBD before bed had the potential to increase total sleep. Increasing the dose of THC did tend to increase the amount of time the subject would spend sleeping.
3. More Deep Sleep
Some of the more interesting effects of cannabis with sleep have to do with its ability to improve the quality of sleep within sleep cycles. Studies show that THC can increase he amount of slow-wave sleep, also known as deep sleep, that users experience during their slumber.
Deep sleep is believed to play a significant role in the restoration process that occurs during sleep.
What’s more, experts believe that the most damaging effects of sleep deprivation result from a lack of slow-wave sleep. For example, research has shown that reduced slow-wave sleep can be a reliable predictor of high blood pressure in older men.
4. Shorter REM Sleep
Another way medical cannabis affects the sleep cycle is a reduction in REM sleep. Many people who smoke before bed report a lack of dreaming, which only occurs during REM sleep.
While less REM sleep could be seen as a negative effect of marijuana use, scientists are still not sure what purpose REM sleep serves.
However, people who quit after using cannabis on a frequent basis often experience an increase in REM sleep, also known as the “REM rebound” effect, which is accompanied by an increase in dreaming and restlessness during sleep. But this effect tends to wear off within days or weeks, depending on the individual.
5. Better Breathing
When it comes to medical use, marijuana could offer an incredible benefit to the approximately 25% of men and 9% of women who suffer from a disorder called sleep apnea.
Sleep apnea is characterised by disrupted breathing during sleep and has been linked to some severe conditions, including diabetes and heart problems. Unfortunately, the vast majority of sleep apnea sufferers remain undiagnosed and untreated.
Even of those who seek treatment, many eventually give up on wearing a CPAP mask every night.
But that’s where marijuana may help, as researchers are currently trialling THC as an alternative, with early results already showing promise.