sleep and flower
Aaaahhh sleep. When you get a good night’s sleep you wake up ready to conquer the world. Get a bad night’s sleep and you’re grumpy and sluggish all day long. Sleep is a basic human need, like eating, drinking, and breathing, and vital for good health and well-being throughout your lifetime. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 1 in 3 adults in the United States reported not getting enough rest or sleep every day. Nearly 40% of adults report falling asleep during the day without meaning to at least once a month. And, an estimated 50 to 70 million Americans have chronic, or ongoing, sleep disorders.
A lack of good quality sleep doesn’t just make you tired, however. It can actually lead to several chronic health problems, including heart disease, kidney disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, stroke, obesity, and depression. Sleep helps your brain work properly. While you’re sleeping, your brain resets and forms new pathways to help you learn and remember information. Studies show that a good night’s sleep improves learning and problem-solving skills, and helps you pay attention, make decisions, and be creative.
Of course the opposite is true as well. Sleep deficiency changes activity in some parts of the brain. If you’re sleep deficient, you may have trouble making decisions, solving problems, controlling your emotions and behavior, and coping with change. Sleep deficiency has also been linked to depression, suicide, and risk-taking behavior.
You may be surprised to learn about all the important things that go on in your body while you slumber away:
- Your body heals and repairs heart and blood vessels.
- Sleeps support a healthy balance of the hormones that make you feel hungry (ghrelin) or full (leptin): When you don’t get enough sleep, your level of ghrelin goes up and your level of leptin goes down. This makes you feel hungrier than when you’re well-rested.
- Sleep affects how your body reacts to insulin: Insulin is the hormone that controls your blood glucose (sugar) level. Sleep deficiency results in a higher-than-normal blood sugar level, which may raise your risk of diabetes.
- Sleep affects your body’s ability to fight germs and sickness: Ongoing sleep deficiency can change the way your body’s natural defense against germs and sickness responds. For example, if you’re sleep deficient, you may have trouble fighting common infections.
According to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM) recommendations, adults 18 years or older should try to get 7 to 8 hours of sleep a day. In my younger days I never had issues falling or staying asleep. But, as I’ve aged my ability to fall asleep and my quality of my sleep has suffered. Like many people I’ve tried several sleep remedies, like melatonin, Benadryl as well as prescriptions like trazodone. But I really don’t want to take a bunch of over the counter or prescription drugs to get a good night’s sleep, so I started experimenting with flower as a sleep aid. But before we delve into that let’s talk about some other recommendations that can benefit you and your ability to get good quality Z’s.
You may have heard these before, but they are worth repeating. To improve your sleep habits, it may help to:
- Go to bed and wake up at the same time every day. Afterall, humans are creatures of habit. Setting a regular sleep routine can go a long way towards helping you get enough hours of sleep.
- Try to keep the same sleep schedule on weeknights and weekends. Limit the difference to no more than about an hour. Staying up late and sleeping in late on weekends can disrupt your body clock’s sleep-wake rhythm.
- Use the hour before bed for quiet time. Avoid intense exercise and bright artificial light, such as from a TV or computer screen. The light may signal the brain that it’s time to be awake.
- Avoid heavy or large meals within a few hours of bedtime.
- Avoid alcoholic drinks before bed. This is a big one. Even though alcohol is a depressant and can cause sedation making you dose off at night, it can also interfere with the quality of sleep. In fact, according to the Sleep Foundation even moderate alcohol consumption (2 drinks for men and 1 drink for women) can decrease sleep quality by 9%, and high amounts of alcohol consumption can decrease sleep quality by almost 40%. Research shows sleepers who drink large amounts of alcohol before going to bed are often prone to delayed sleep onset, meaning they need more time to fall asleep. And as liver enzymes metabolize the alcohol during their night and the blood alcohol level decreases, these individuals are also more likely to experience sleep disruptions and decreases in sleep quality.
- Avoid nicotine (for example, cigarettes) and caffeine (including caffeinated soda, coffee, tea, and chocolate). Nicotine and caffeine are stimulants, and both substances can interfere with sleep. The effects of caffeine can last up to 8 hours. So, a cup of coffee in the late afternoon can make it hard for you to fall asleep at night.
- Spend time outside every day, if possible and be physically active.
- Keep your bedroom quiet, cool, and dark
So what about flower? Is it safe to use as a sleep aid? Well the endocannabinoid system (ECS) as we’ve learned plays a role in maintaining certain body functions, such as mood, appetite, sleep, and regulating circadian rhythms. This is regulated through the two primary receptors identified are CB1 and CB2. Both THC and CBD act on these receptors. One commonly known side effect of THC is that it can make you sleepy, particularly some indica strains. But the Sleep Foundation reports that heavy and high dose use of THC can lead to less sleep overall, less time spent in deep sleep, require a longer time to fall asleep, and experience frequent awakenings. CBD is known to help with relaxation as well reduce pain and anxiety, which can interfere with sleep. Even the American Sleep Association states, “there’s little evidence suggesting major risks to consuming CBD for improved sleep.” CBN is another cannabinoid in cannabis that has risen to fame recently, and is thought to have even stronger relaxation and sleep effects than CBD.
Excessive THC may cause sleep problems. But if you’ve been paying attention, you know I’m all about microdosing THC, which is why I typically only smoke cannabis when I want to get high. For other purposes, like improved sleep, I prefer not to inhale to have better control over the dosing. For me, microdosing is usually in the range of 1mg – 2.5mg of THC. Another important point to make with all sleep aids is, you tend to build up a tolerance, and based on my experience this is true with cannabis, as well. So, try not to use cannabis every night if possible.
Here are a few products I’ve tried that help me fall asleep and stay asleep:
Wyld Elderberry Gummies
I can’t say enough good things about Wyld gummies and these are my favorite. I cut one gummy into four pieces and take it about an hour before I want to go to sleep. These gummies are infused with a CBN and Indica enhanced THC with a ratio of 2:1 THC:CBN of 10mg:5mg. CBN (cannabinol), much like CBD (cannabidiol), is also known to have a relaxing effect.
Wyld Elderberry CBD:CBN gummies
Want to go THC free? Well here you go. Wyld also makes THC free gummies. These gummies are made with CBD and CBN derived from hemp and do not contain THC. Each gummy contains 25mg CBD + 5mg CBN. Feel free to cut them in half and start with a lower dose to see if you get the effect you want.
Wyld Strawberry Gummies
If you’re looking for a CBD dominant edible to relax, this might be the one. These gummies have a 20mg:1mg CBD:THC ratio (remember THC and CBD work better together). This very low amount of THC is barely felt and CBD is well known for decreasing the “high” feeling caused by THC.
Rare Cannabinoid Company’s CBN:CBD Rest tincture
Natural plants like chamomile and lavender also promote relaxation and sleep. I really like a cup of hot chamomile or lavender tea in the evening before bed. And, adding a few drops of this 1:1 CBN:CBD blend tincture goes a long way to help me relax and fall asleep, even without any THC.
1906 Midnight plant-based pills for sleep
These pills not only have a 5mg:5mg THC:CBD ratio but also include Corydalis, used in Chinese medicine for thousands of years as a sleep aid. These fast-acting pills (works in about 20 minutes) should be swallowed, not chewed and promote a deeper and more restful night’s sleep.
Of course, many people smoke flower as a sleep aid. Depending on your tolerance this may provide the best benefit. So here are a few indica dominant strains to help you relax and reach a slumber. But keep in mind the high THC content in a few of these is probably not for cannabis newbies:
- Northern Lights
- Bubba Kush
- Mendo Breath
- Wedding cake
As usual, cannabis is very subjective, so start low and go slow. You may have to experiment with a few different products and doses to find what works for you. Be sure to let us know if you have any other suggestions.
These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA and are not intended to treat, cure, or diagnose any disease. This website contains general information about diet, health and nutrition. The information is not advice and is not a substitute for advice from a healthcare professional. You should always get your medical advice from a healthcare professional (HCP) knowledgeable about your individual needs. A competent healthcare professional will provide a comprehensive intake meeting where you review the conditions you want to treat and assess your prescription medications to identify potential contraindications with cannabis.