Sleep is one of the most important things you can do to maintain a healthy mental and physical life. However, about one in three adults in the United States experience insomnia throughout the year and don’t sleep the recommended seven-plus hours each night.
Unfortunately, despite the growing knowledge of sleep’s benefits people are more willing to lose a couple hours of shut eye each night due to what is considered time-stressors such as work, play, and social activities. Additionally, about 35% of adults experience either acute or chronic insomnia related to serious mental health disorders, chronic pain, and anxiety.
Sleep helps to regulate the body’s hormones and chemical processes to help the mind process memory, emotions, moods, and physically repair damage and stave off infection. Without an adequate amount of sleep each night, you may feel fatigued, dizzy, have memory lapse, an inability to focus, and a lack of motivation to name a few symptoms.
While more is learned about the benefits of sleep, there is also a push in research to discover new ways to not only induce sleep, but help adults maintain quality sleep. This is where cannabis comes in and may be the most potent natural sleep aid yet discovered.
Cannabis has been used for decades to promote better sleep. However, with varying laws between states regarding cannabis, cannabidiol (CBD) a byproduct of cannabis has received a higher degree of focus. CBD is a non-psychoactive compound of cannabis that does not provide the “high” many people associate with marijuana and Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC).
Some of the stronger claims regarding CBD come from studies focusing on people with PTSD. People who suffer from PTSD have frequent sleep disruptions often due to nightmares. The way that CBD supposedly helps is by reducing the amount of time that a person spends in REM sleep. REM sleep is a sleep cycle where the body is more likely to dream and experience lucid dreams. Research also indicates that THC has the same effect.
In addition to its effect on REM sleep, cannabis is considered a natural sedative. One of the difficulties with people who suffer from sleep deprivation is the act of actually falling asleep or the amount of time it takes to fall asleep. Research has shown that people who find it difficult to fall asleep when taking cannabis tend to fall asleep about 30 minutes faster than normal.
The ability for cannabis byproducts to improve overall mental relaxation and calm is critical for those who suffer from anxiety and depression. These disorders, along with daily stress, often lead to difficulties in sleep due to an overwhelming concern or apprehension over what is to come.
Cannabis and its byproducts help to modify the time spent in REM sleep which can also limit nightmares experienced by sufferers of PTSD. Additionally, CBD and THC are known to create a calming effect which helps sedate and manage common problems associated with sleep disorders. As research continues and laws change to enable better accessibility to cannabis-based medications and sleep aids it is likely that cannabis replaces synthetic products such as melatonin to improve peoples’ overall sleep quality.
Written by: Krista Harper