Can Cannabis Help You Get A Good Night's Sleep?
If you are having trouble getting a good night’s sleep these days, you’re not alone. Up to 70 million people are affected by sleep disorders, according to data from the National Institutes of Health, and consumers are spending $70 billion a year on sleep aids, 65% of which goes to medications. And let’s be honest, the past year hasn’t been terribly conducive to getting a good dose of shuteye. In fact, a recent study found that a substantial portion of the general population was affected by sleep disorders during the coronavirus pandemic, often leading to impacts on mental health.
To deal with the stress associated with the Covid-19 outbreak, many have turned to cannabis for help. A recent Harris Poll survey found that half of cannabis consumers were replacing or reducing their alcohol consumption with marijuana during the pandemic. At the same time, California cannabis delivery service Ganja Goddess saw a whopping 635% increase in revenue for products marketed to support sleep.
“In a year filled with challenges, we saw a surge in consumers placing orders for cannabis products marketed to help with sleep issues, highlighting one of the many health issues Americans are facing during the pandemic,” Ganja Goddess CEO Zachary Pitts wrote in an email.
“As people grapple with anxiety and insomnia, they are turning to cannabis because of its effectiveness and ease of treating such a variety of stress-related conditions,” he added.
For many cannabis users, a few puffs of some potent, heady indica flower will promote relaxation and support healthy sleep just fine. But if smoking isn’t your style, you’ll likely find a vast selection of cannabis products designed to promote sleep at a licensed dispensary.
CBD And Sleep
Much of the attention for cannabis as a sleep aid has been focused on cannabidiol (CBD), one of the more than 100 compounds known as cannabinoids that are found in marijuana and hemp. Some research has shown that high doses of CBD may support sleep, and Adam Grossman, the founder and executive chairman of Papa and Barkley, notes that “CBD interacts with the body’s endocannabinoid system to help it achieve balance and regulate its normal functions. CBD has shown to be great for helping to reduce stress and discomfort from normal inflammation, two issues that make it difficult to fall asleep.”
Papa and Barkley manufactures a variety of THC-rich products for California’s regulated market, as well as a line produced from hemp that is available nationwide. Grossman says that anecdotal feedback has shown that the company’s oral products such as CBD drops and capsules can promote a better night’s sleep in two ways.
“First, taking CBD on a daily basis helps many people regulate systemic bodily functions and biorhythms, including the sleep cycle. It has a noticeable calming effect once it builds up in your system” Grossman said in a virtual interview. “Second, our CBD topicals can help improve sleep by reducing joint discomfort and muscle soreness, conditions that often affect a good night’s sleep in athletes and older people.”
In a small survey of 34 consumers who took 30mg of Papa and Barkley CBD daily for two weeks, respondents reported a 10-minute decrease in the time it took to fall asleep and a 24-minute increase in total sleep time after only seven days of use. Grossman says that both ingestible and topical CBD products can help manage inflammation and boost the body’s natural recovery processes, which promotes better sleep. He also notes that Papa and Barkley uses a proprietary infusion process that retains the natural profile of cannabinoids, phytonutrients, and terpenes, the compounds in cannabis that give the plant its characteristic albeit varying aroma.
“We believe the full spectrum of these naturally occurring compounds work together to provide better results, including improved sleep,” explains Grossman.
Terpenes in Cannabis Promote Sleep
Terpenes are produced by many plants and are commonly found in essential oils used for aromatherapy. Chamomile, for example, has been used for centuries thanks to its ability to help calm the nervous system and other benefits, says Bethany Stiles, the founder and CEO of Empress Teas. And when paired with a water-soluble form of CBD, the result is an Evening Blend tea that combines the benefits of two herbs that have been used since ancient times.
“Chamomile and cannabis have both been used for medical and spiritual purposes for thousands and thousands of years,” Stiles wrote in an email. “While the chamomile flower has been noted as being discovered in ancient Egypt, cannabis has been used since 500 B.C. for hemp and textiles and later to consumable forms helping everything from asthma and anxiety to cleansing rituals and spiritual healing.”
Terpenes are also an important element of cannabis gummies produced to enhance sleep from Plus Products. Ari Mackler, the chief scientific officer for the licensed California brand, says that the company’s “proprietary formulation now includes terpenes selected for their sleep-inducing properties: β-Myrcene and Limonene for relaxing and calming effects, β Caryophyllene for stress-reducing effects, and Linalool for sedative and pain-relieving properties.”
Besides these relaxing terpenes, Plus Products’ sleep gummies contain the cannabinoids CBD and THC, as well as the lesser-known CBN.
“Cannabinol (CBN) is a natural metabolite of THC, the principal intoxicating component of cannabis. Research suggests it is associated with cannabis’ sedating effects,” Mackler explained. “CBN appears to interact with the body’s endocannabinoid system, which in turn, can affect the function of many hormones and neurotransmitters that are involved with mood, energy, and sleep. Some research has suggested that CBN's sleep-associated effects are amplified when consumed in combination with THC.”
As more and more Americans get vaccinated against Covid-19, stress levels will hopefully ease along with restrictions put in place to help stem the outbreak. But if you find getting a good night’s sleep is still a challenge, cannabis just might be the solution you’re looking for.