In bad but unsurprising news, we’re experiencing record-high sleep issues during this never-ending pandemic. And more people than ever are looking online in hopes of finding relief, with web searches for insomnia up 58% during the first five months of 2020. People are struggling with falling asleep, staying asleep, poor quality of sleep, and disturbing dreams. Sounds like a living nightmare! Sleep aids—already a thriving industry—have likewise increased in popularity, and cannabis is being increasingly explored specifically as a means to better sleep. So, can cannabis fix insomnia? Here’s what to understand about the science of insomnia and how cannabis may help.
Understanding insomnia means understanding something called the Spielman model, which has three components:
- Predisposing factors. These are issues that might cause a bad night here or there, or even mild issues falling or staying asleep, but it’s not until the next group kicks in that real problems begin.
- Precipitating factors. This is a big event—think the death of a loved one, unemployment, or some other crisis, like a global pandemic—that triggers major sleep issues.
- Perpetuating factors. If you develop poor sleep habits during this time (too much caffeine or nicotine, or lots of blue light before bed), those sleep issues develop into full-blown chronic insomnia, even if those precipitating factors are resolved.
It’s a troublesome cycle, and it’s no wonder people are desperately seeking solutions. Lack of sleep opens us up to any number of health problems, including obesity, depression, anxiety, type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, a weakened immune system, and more.
So, what can cannabis do?
Since research is sorely lacking when it comes to the therapeutic benefits of cannabis, that really depends on who you ask. Proponents of cannabis believe cannabis can effectively treat insomnia when it’s used properly, which is a qualifier relating to both the type of product used and the dosage. Those factors themselves depend on your main issue with insomnia. If it’s falling to sleep in the first place, the general recommendation is a low inhaled dose. If staying asleep is the issue, products designed for longevity, like a tincture or edible, are likely more effective.
Either way, low doses are key. Too much cannabis can lead to tolerance issues.
Anecdotal evidence tends to abound when the topic is cannabis and sleep, but preliminary research is promising, specifically for CBD. Still, there’s just a lot we don’t know, which is why some sleep experts advise against cannabis for sleep.
The Bottom Line
If you’re struggling with sleep, cannabis is worth exploring. Ask a budtender for tips and tricks on getting started, and remember to take it slowly. With a little luck, you could be drifting off to sweet dreams in no time.
Keep out of reach of children. For use only by adults 21 years of age and older.