Marijuana For a Good Night's Sleep | cannabisMD

Marijuana For a Good Night’s Sleep

Marijuana and Good Night Sleep

Marijuana affects everyone differently; some people love the way it makes them feel while others can’t stand it. Some people swear it helps them with any number of ailments, and others report it makes them paranoid and causes freak outs. There are people who could smoke weed all day and you would never know it, and people who after one puff get all red-eyed and stoned. No two people react to it the same. Furthermore, scientists have begun to figure out that different kinds of marijuana affect people differently. This is because the chemical makeup varies between different types of marijuana.

There are two main chemical compounds in marijuana: Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and Cannabidiol (CBD). THC is the better known of the two and is responsible for the intoxicating effects of marijuana. While THC has been shown to have medicinal properties, it is CBD that has researchers excited about the therapeutic value of marijuana. CBD does not get you high and has been shown to help with pain, inflammation, seizures, and appetite.

Just like everyone is affected by marijuana differently, everyone has different sleep schedules and patterns. Our circadian rhythms are the internal clocks that tell us when we should be awake and when we should be asleep. Circadian rhythms are also found in plants and other animals. In most people, the most considerable changes in circadian rhythm happens from 2 am until 4 am, and in the afternoon from 1 pm until 3 pm. Other factors, such as light and noise, can affect circadian rhythms and no two people are the same. Some people work through the night, while others do the 9 to 5 grind.

One thing that remains constant is that getting a good night’s sleep is crucial to maintaining one’s health. Every year the world seems to be moving faster and it is often difficult to find the time to sleep the recommended 7 to 9 hours a night. Any number of factors can keep you up at night: stress, work, children, roommates – and the list goes on. No matter what is keeping you up, not getting enough sleep will leave you lethargic, irritable, and distracted. Being ill-rested can lead to strains on your emotional and physical health. Relationships may suffer if one of you is up all night. It may be difficult to focus and stay present in your social interactions throughout the day. Aside from everyday things keeping you awake at night, there are recognized sleep disorders that affect the way you sleep.

Studies have shown that marijuana can significantly benefit certain people with getting a good night sleep, especially those being kept up by chronic pain or PTSD. It is essential to keep in mind that marijuana does affect everyone differently and while it may help some people fall asleep, it can keep others awake.

What are The Most Common Sleep Disorders?

Modern science has identified a number of sleep disorders. These disorders affect millions of people in the United States. If you are worried about your sleep, there are plenty of sleep specialists out there who can test to see if you have a disorder. There are both at-home and sleep lab tests that can be done to determine if you are achieving healthy sleep.

The most common sleeping disorder people complain about is insomnia, which keeps an estimated 30 to 35% of people up every night. Insomnia means that you can’t fall asleep at night, you can’t stay asleep, or you wake up too early in the morning. The reasons for insomnia vary from person to person, but in addition to keeping you up at night, it affects you during the day. It can leave you feeling tired and distracted throughout the day. Insomnia doesn’t mean you stayed up too late one night or had to get up early one morning, instead, it occurs when you are in bed trying to fall asleep and cannot. It is broken down into two categories, short-term insomnia, and chronic insomnia. Short-term insomnia is insomnia lasting less than three months and chronic insomnia lasts for more than three months at a time.

On the other end of the spectrum is hypersomnia. Hypersomnia is when you sleep too much or at inappropriate times. The most common form of hypersomnia is narcolepsy. People with narcolepsy feel extremely tired throughout the day and may also suffer from sleep attacks, in which they will suddenly fall asleep throughout the day.

Another common sleep disorder is sleep apnea. Those afflicted with sleep apnea stop breathing throughout the night. The disorder is often connected with heavy snoring, which can put a strain on relationships. Your airways get blocked and you have either shallow breath or stop breathing altogether. In severe cases, people can wake themselves up hundreds of times throughout the night by not breathing. Sleep apnea can have serious long-term effects on a person’s overall health. Those with sleep apnea have a higher chance of having high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and depression.

Another category of sleep disorders is circadian rhythm disorders. These disorders occur when your internal clock gets out of whack. Common among these is Delayed Sleep Phase Disorder. This disorder is associated with people who are referred to as night owls and whose sleep patterns are behind the natural rising and setting of the sun. Inversely, people with Advanced Sleep Phase Disorder wake up too early in the morning, before the sunrise. Advanced Sleep Phase Disorder is most common amongst elderly individuals. Other circadian rhythm disorders include jet lag, which happens when you cross time zones in a single day and are on the rhythm of the previous time zone, and Shift Work Disorder which occurs in people who work the night shift and therefore usually get on a schedule where they stay up all night.

All of these disorders can have a negative impact on your overall health and quality of life. Many people don’t even realize they are suffering from these afflictions. Even with no other symptoms, poor sleep can lead to premature death, through accidents and other side effects. Our culture undervalues sleep and our lives are not necessarily set up to ensure healthy sleep. This article will go on to look at things you can do to help with healthy sleep.

For more information of how marijuana can help with common sleeping disorders, check out Marijuana to Help Relax and Sleep for Optimal Rest

How to Improve Your Sleep by Maintaining a Healthy Circadian Rhythm

When people talk about healthy sleep habits, a common term that is used is sleep hygiene. Healthy habits and rituals before bed can greatly improve your sleep. There are some things you can do yourself to improve your sleep hygiene and help ensure you get a good night sleep. Good sleep hygiene helps to balance your circadian rhythm and gives you consistent and rejuvenating sleep. Even things as simple as changing your sheets and pillow covers can help you sleep. If you are currently sleeping poorly and feeling tired throughout the day, improving your sleep hygiene can improve your productivity and overall quality of life. Here is a list of some healthy sleep practices you can implement in your routine:

  • Avoid caffeine in the evening: Stimulants such as caffeine are used to keep you awake and alert. This can be helpful during the day, but chances are if you are drinking caffeine after work it could be keeping you up at night. Caffeine is most commonly found in beverages such as coffee, some teas, and sodas. Cutting out caffeine in the evening can greatly benefit your sleep.
  • Quit smoking: Nicotine found in cigarettes is also a stimulant. It can keep you up at night and raises your blood pressure. So, smoking right before you go to bed can make it hard to relax before you fall asleep. Furthermore, if you are suffering from snoring or sleep apnea, quitting cigarettes can reduce the symptoms of these afflictions.
  • Don’t get drunk: Having more than two drinks a night can negatively impact your sleep. While alcohol may help you fall asleep if drank in excess it can decrease the quality of sleep you are getting. Many people claim to only snore when they are drunk. This happens because when your drunk your throat muscles relax and can close up, making it difficult to breathe while you are sleeping.
  • Avoid looking at screens before bed: For many of us, our circadian rhythms are based on the natural progression of lighting throughout the day. It is still somewhat of a mystery to scientists exactly how these rhythms work, but usually, people are alert when the sun is up and sleepy when it’s dark out. If you are looking at computer, tv, or phone screens throughout the night, your body can be tricked into thinking that it should be awake because of the light coming off the screen. One thing you can do that will help with this is that if you do have to use a screen at night, download an app that will enable nighttime mode on your screen. These apps usually change the colors of your screen from blues to reds. It has been shown that blue and white light like the kind that comes from LED lights can keep you awake at night. Probably because it simulates fire, which humans have evolved with since the beginning, red-hued lights do not seem to have this effect of tricking the circadian rhythm.
  • Get regular exercise: Exercising regularly can greatly help with getting to bed at night. Also, sleep apnea can also be alleviated by regular exercise. Not properly breathing while you sleep is often associated with obesity and reducing body fat, especially around the neck, can do wonders for your sleep. Aerobic exercise, such as running, walking, swimming, and bicycling, is especially important if you are attempting to lose weight and maintain a healthy heart.
  • Don’t eat right before bed: Trying to digest a heavy meal right before bed is a sure way to keep yourself up at night. If you do fall asleep with a full stomach, this is also bad news, as your metabolism slows down at night and won’t continue digesting, which may lead to weight gain. Also, many people complain of nightmares when they go to bed with a full stomach. Fatty fried foods are especially important to avoid before bed.

To learn more about how marijuana can help your daily routine, check out Marijuana For Your Daily Routine and Uplift

Traditional and Modern Sleep Medicines

In addition to good sleep hygiene, some sleep aids exist. Some of these medicines go back thousands of years, while others are newly created laboratory medicines. There are specific chemicals that are released when we fall asleep. Our circadian rhythms determine when these chemicals are released. Keeping a healthy circadian rhythm is, therefore, crucial to properly regulate these chemical releases. The chemicals our bodies release to signal sleep naturally occur in some plants and can also be recreated in laboratories. The primary chemical that is synthesized by our body and signals that it is time for bed is melatonin.

Throughout the day, light absorbed through our eyes lets our body know not to produce melatonin. Then, when it becomes dark, our body begins to create melatonin from an amino acid called tryptophan that is found in our blood stream. Melatonin pills are sold at drug stores and can be used to help reset your circadian rhythm. It is not recommended if you are suffering from insomnia, but if your internal clock is out of whack from jet lag, or a late night work schedule, taking melatonin can help your body to know when to sleep. The artificial melatonin, if taken for several days, will help your body get back in the habit of synthesizing melatonin on a regular schedule.

Other, more massive, sleep medicines also exist. The most popular among them is zolpidem, more commonly known in its rapid release form as Ambien. These drugs are known as sedatives, or hypnotics, and are used to treat insomnia.[5]. There is also time released versions of the drug that are made for those having trouble staying asleep throughout the night. These medications are great if you can’t fall asleep, but can have extreme side effects and should be used with caution. The most severe among these side effects are reports of blackouts and sleepwalking.

People have reported having entire conversations they don’t remember, doing things they have no recollection of, and even driving without realizing it. In recent years, doctors have begun recommending lower dosages of Ambien because of all the negative side effects and dangers associated with zolpidem.[6] A safer alternative to heavy prescription sleep medicines are traditional herbal sleep aids such as skullcap, hops, lemon balm and valerian root that also work as sedatives. Another common sleep medicine people self-medicate with is marijuana.

To learn more about how marijuana can be used to help with feeling tired, check out Marijuana for an Energy-Boost: Strains to Wake Up and Focus.

How cannabis can help sleeping disorders

For thousands of years, people have been using cannabis. Cannabis use can be traced back to ancient China, where it was used both medically and as an industrial fiber. Today in the United States, there is a resurgence in the attention cannabis is getting as a medicine. Numerous states have legalized medical marijuana for the treatment of many different conditions. Many of these conditions, such as multiple sclerosis, cancer, and epilepsy, are incredibly difficult to treat and the relief that medical marijuana offers is often unprecedented. However, the legal status of marijuana as a Schedule I drug has made it difficult to perform clinical trials and research on the drug.

The National Institute of Drug Abuse heavily regulates the distribution of research-grade marijuana. Only the University of Mississippi is authorized to produce research-grade cannabis. This is problematic for some reasons: it makes it difficult for those attempting to perform research to obtain recognized research-grade marijuana, and the marijuana that is obtained from the University of Mississippi often does not reflect the marijuana that patients are using to self-medicate. Regardless of these obstacles, researchers are still making breakthroughs in marijuana research each year.

Research on marijuana’s effects on sleep are limited and many of the studies are nearly 50 years old. One thing researchers have discovered since these initial studies is that different individual compounds within marijuana interact differently with the brain. The two most common among these compounds are Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and Cannabidiol (CBD). These chemicals are known as cannabinoids and interact with the endocannabinoid system, a complex system of neurotransmitters discovered as a result of studying marijuana. The endocannabinoid system has been found to play a significant role in the regulation of health and disease in mammals.

The therapeutic possibilities associated with studying the endocannabinoid system are fantastic. However, there are a couple of significant factors limiting the proliferation of medications derived from marijuana, including the social stigmas surrounding the plant, and the intoxicating effects of the plant. Luckily for those hoping to gain the therapeutic benefits of the plant and avoid getting high, researchers have found that CBD does not get you high and can offer a number therapeutic benefits. It is, in fact, THC that causes the intoxicating effects. Through cultivation and extraction processes, people have been able to create medicines that have almost no THC in them and are therefore non-intoxicating. These CBD medications are probably what you want to be looking for if you are attempting to use marijuana to sleep.

The psychoactive properties of cannabis often keep people up at night. A study from the 1970’s does show an initial increase in deep sleep associated with marijuana use, but this effect diminishes over time.[8] Marijuana has also been shown to decrease the Rapid Eye Movement (REM) during sleep. REM is thought to be the portion of sleep when we dream, so this reduction of REM may be beneficial for those suffering from nightmares. The study further showed that those withdrawing from marijuana use often had difficulty falling asleep, while their REM would increase.

More research is needed to make definitive statements regarding marijuana’s effect on sleep. However, there is a plethora of anecdotal evidence demonstrating that marijuana does help many people to fall asleep. Given the low risk associated with marijuana use and the fact that it is far less dangerous than other prescribed sleep medications, it seems fair to conclude that if you are searching for help sleeping, marijuana may help.

For other ways cannabis can help with sleep, check out Benefits of adding marijuana to your night time routine

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