If the fast-paced rhythm of modern times, adult life and all the pressures that come with it is taking away your sleep, you're not the only one. Nearly one in four Americans suffer from insomnia, it is clear at this point that this is a real problem today and many people try to combat it with drugs. Ambien comes to mind, Ativan, Restoril, Lunesta, etc. all or most of which are Opiate-based sedatives, which are highly addictive and often result in fatal overdoses. Many people, on the other hand, take the "green" route; Medical Cannabis. Which is nearly not addictive at all and impossible to overdose on (unless you take the synthetic crap, which isn't really Cannabis anyway). So which is best? I honestly don't need to read dozens of scientific papers to know that the latter is the better alternative, but is it the right remedy for insomnia? Many people swear by it, however, before you go buy a massive bag of CBD gummies or smoke that titanic blunt to combat your sleepless nights, let's dive deeper into this conundrum.
Poor Quality sleep
The short answer is NO. Marijuana does not help you sleep better. You see, Cannabis and its components, THC and CBD affect your Endocannabinoid system, which regulates many of your biological and metabolic functions, unfortunately onset or maintenance of normal sleep cycles are not one of those things your Endocannabinoid system is in charge of. In other words, Cannabis has no direct effect on it, just like the aforementioned Opioid alternatives, it's a sedative. What Cannabis does is increase the lighter stages of sleep, also known as NREM slow wave sleep, but in doing so, decreases the other kind of sleep; REM sleep, also known as dream sleep, which for all intents and purposes is the one you need for a restful night. Not getting enough REM sleep may result in increased risk for obesity, heart disease, memory problems, mood disorders and other health issues.
And let's be honest here, sometimes all you need is to calm the fuck down and chill the fuck out. I get it, it's been a hard day, maybe you have chronic aches or severe anxiety, all you want is a doobie and go to bed. And Marijuana is amazing for those but does it really help your insomnia? To fall asleep, yes. To have a long, restful slumber, no. Using weed before bed to help you fall asleep is kind of the equivalent of having a few glasses of wine/beer, unfortunately. The effect it has on you is merely sedative and is often associated with frequent awakenings during the night due to the whole NREM shebang. And despite Cannabis not producing any sort of heavy dependency like opioids, it does produce tolerance, which requires you to amp the doses over time. Furthermore, withdrawal can cause poor sleep and insomnia.
So What Now? Cannabis is Bad?
Not at all. That's not the take away. It's just not what it's for. If you're using weed to mitigate your sleepless nights, you're doing it wrong. It is recommended to limit its use to only every once in awhile to avoid developing a tolerance, rebound insomnia and the negative consequences of prolonged REM sleep suppression. Consider other alternatives, like exercise, a change in diet (I.E. less caffeinated/sugary drinks/food before bed) and cognitive therapy a.k.a. seeing a shrink, which can go a long way to combat the root cause of your anxiety.
PTSD, Nightmares and Severe Anxiety
In some extreme cases, perhaps you don't need those pesky dreams, maybe REM sleep is over-rated, right? Especially if when you close your eyes, you relieve those horrible moments that left you traumatized in the first place and Marijuana can be of paramount importance for such patients, but should never be seen as a permanent solution. REM sleep, which stands for Rapid Eye Movement, is a stage of sleep when memories acquired throughout the day are consolidated to "permanent storage", it is also when many key proceses in your body occur.
You can read more about REM sleep and REM sleep deprivation at Wikipedia.org: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rapid_eye_movement_sleep
My point is, YES, Cannabis is a tremendous aid to those suffering from certain sleep disorders and can be incredibly beneficial to many patients, but the best thing is to face the individual root causes of these problems, not to keep putting dams around it, because eventually these dams are going to burst.
Sleep Aids That Actually Work
If everything else fails, there's other natural remedies that were actually designed by nature specifically for this, such as Valerian Root or Melatonin, which promote REM sleep, induce vivid dream states and help you wake up revitalized and full of energy. These natural remedies are far more efficient than Cannabis against insomnia and don't sacrifice this highly beneficial stage of sleep, which is indispensable for your physical and mental health.
You can read more about these sleep improvers here:
Or read more about Cannabis and insomnia here:
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