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Not getting enough rest at night can have a multitude of short and long term impacts on one’s health. These impacts can range from increased stress levels to impairments in cognitive performance and even cardiovascular disease.
Shockingly, it’s estimated that up to 35% of all adults in the US get less than the physician-recommended 7 hours of sleep each night. Much of this population suffers from insomnia, since about 30% of adults in the US report having chronic insomnia.
The reason for this lack of sleep among the nation is due to a variety of factors. Some people have medical conditions like chronic pain or are prevented from sleeping due to stress and anxiety. Others are kept awake due to endless distractions from television, social media, and work.
Chances are, even you have had a chain of sleepless nights or are currently having trouble catching some Zs. The good news is that cannabis can be used to help with falling asleep and staying asleep. However, certain strains are better than others.
In this article, we’ll explore the links between cannabis and sleep, as well as which strains are the best for those nights that keep you tossing and turning.
Endocannabinoid System and Sleep
“Since researchers know the ECS is involved with sleep, they have been hard at work to prove the therapeutic benefits of cannabis when it comes to sleep.”
One significant research study found that the endocannabinoid system (ECS) plays a role in affecting the circadian rhythm. The circadian rhythm is the process of our body’s natural 24-hour sleep and wake cycle.
The circadian rhythm is important because it helps regulate various physiological processes throughout the body. When we get enough rest at consistent intervals, the circadian rhythm functions normally. It gets thrown off when we stay up late, have jet lag, or adjust to daylight savings time.
Another study reports that a lack of regular sleep causes the ECS to become dysregulated. If the ECS is stimulated during this non-normal sleep period, then it helps the circadian rhythm return to its normal state.
REM and Cannabis
“By shortening REM, our bodies can spend more time in deep sleep.”
Rapid Eye Movement (REM) is a phase in the sleep cycle where the eye moves rapidly, and it’s usually the phase in which we experience dreams. Cannabis can affect the REM phase by shortening it.
This effect may sound like a bad thing, but actually, it can be a positive thing. By shortening REM, our bodies can spend more time in deep sleep. The result is a good night’s sleep with a healthy ratio of deep sleep to REM sleep, but the downside is that you’ll likely have fewer dreams.
Insomnia and Cannabis
“It’s not only the CBD that aids people in falling asleep but terpenes as well.”
Since researchers know the ECS is involved with sleep, they have been hard at work to prove the therapeutic benefits of cannabis when it comes to sleep. There has been plenty of reports released so far, and the consensus favors cannabis.
In one study, researchers found that cannabidiol (CBD) is the primary cannabinoid responsible for helping patients with insomnia obtain much-needed rest. They found that at low doses, it stimulates, but at higher doses, it sedates. (This is also important to consider when using CBD to combat or aid THC’s potency).
It’s not only the CBD that aids people in falling asleep but terpenes as well. Terpenes are organic compounds found in cannabis, which lend cannabis strains their distinct smells and flavors and also play a role in the effects of each strain.
One terpene known as myrcene has been found to act as a muscle relaxant in mice and could explain how cannabis gets its sedative effect. It was used historically as a sleep aid in Germany, where it was taken from hops (one of beer’s core ingredients).
Linalool is another terpene identified for having a role in the ‘couch-lock’ effect that we get from cannabis. This terpene is found in high concentrations in lavender and has been used for centuries as an anesthetic and relaxant (think lavender tea).
Beta caryophyllene is an intriguing terpene because it’s the only terpene we know of that can interact with the endocannabinoid system. It can bind to CB2 receptors. This means that beta caryophyllene can mimic the effects of cannabinoids while not being one.
Strains For Sleeping
Now that we know some science behind cannabis and sleep, we’ve put together a list of strains to review that have the best characteristics to aid in chronic sleeplessness.
Grand Daddy Purple
The legendary strain known as Grand Daddy Purple (GDP) gets its name from the deep purple tones underlying its dense buds. This strain can not only give you delightful flavors of berries and flowers, but it can also completely glue you to your bed.
The terpene profile of GDP has all the right components, a significant amount of d-linalool and myrcene. These terpenes act as muscle relaxants and can help you fall asleep and stay asleep.
A heavy hitter derived from Blueberry and UK Cheese, Blue Cheese, is a strain that is not only body-numbing but also sleep-inducing. This famous strain helps with insomnia, whether it’s general sleeplessness, anxiety, or stress keeping you awake at night.
Blue Cheese possesses a terpene profile of mostly myrcene and beta caryophyllene. This perfect combination lays a one-two punch, first by inducing a body-numbing high, then delivering you gently into a deep, restful slumber soon after.
This is a potent strain that can lay you flat out, literally. Still widely regarded as one of the most potent strains available when cultivated properly, this legendary flower is sure to relax not only the body but the mind as well.
With a terpene profile of predominantly beta caryophyllene, this strain is sure to lock you to whatever you’re sitting or lying on. Make sure you’re on something comfortable because you’ll be counting sheep before you know it.
If any strain can call itself a genuinely medicinal strain, hash plant definitely qualifies. Its careful genetic selection is tailored for those who are looking to sink deeply into their beds in spite of any pains or stresses they have.
This flower is loaded with many relaxing terpenes, but mostly myrcene, guaranteeing sweet sedation. If you are seeking a calm and peaceful strain to relax every fiber of your being, this is the one.
“As research delves further into the connection between cannabis and sleep, we will continue to learn more about what makes some strains better than others.”
These days it’s challenging to get a regular sleeping schedule with a world that demands more and more from us each day. Sleeping may be the only respite from a hard day that some of us have, so it shouldn’t have to be a challenge.
As research delves further into the connection between cannabis and sleep, we will continue to learn more about what makes some strains better than others. Hopefully, the interactions of terpenes, CBD, THC, and other cannabinoids on sleep will soon be unraveled for the benefit of sleeplessness worldwide.