We can’t sleep! Record-high sleep issues have plagued Americans since the beginning of the pandemic, with web searches for insomnia up almost 60% in the first five months of 2020 alone. The biggest issues reported include falling asleep, staying asleep, poor quality of sleep, and a higher frequency of disturbing dreams. As more people look for ways to fall asleep, many are turning to cannabis for relief. But can cannabis help symptoms of insomnia?
THE SCIENCE OF INSOMNIA
Understanding insomnia begins with the Spielman model, which identifies three components:
- Predisposing factors are issues that may cause a poor night’s sleep occasionally, or even problems falling or staying asleep, but in general, a person sleeps well until step two.
- Precipitating factors are big events that trigger acute insomnia. Things like a death in the family, loss of employment, or navigating a global pandemic all qualify.
- Perpetuating factors describes poor sleep habits that exacerbate the precipitating factor. For instance, if you consume too much caffeine or nicotine, you don’t have a relaxing bedtime routine, or you’re exposed to too much blue light before going to bed, your insomnia can become chronic and persist even once the precipitating event is no longer an issue.
Of course, the real problem with lack of sleep is that it makes us vulnerable to a number of health issues, including depression and anxiety, a weakened immune system, type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and many others.
All of that brings us to the question, what can cannabis do?
CANNABIS FOR INSOMNIA
There is some research that is promising. Proponents of cannabis believe that it can effectively treat insomnia under proper use, which varies depending on what you’re trying to reach. If the issue is falling asleep, low inhaled doses seem to be most effective. For those who have trouble staying asleep, cannabis products designed for a longer effect window are probably a better choice.
In both cases, a low dose is important to avoid building a tolerance (often an issue with melatonin, another popular sleep aid).
While there is plenty of anecdotal evidence for cannabis as an effective way to treat symptoms of insomnia, the truth is that we really don’t have the clinical studies yet to back up the claim. That’s why some sleep experts advise against cannabis for this outcome.
Not getting enough sleep is a recipe for misery. If this is something you’re struggling with, it may be worth trying cannabis to see how it works for you. Ask a MYNT budtender for recommendations on products and dosing next time you stop in.
Keep out of reach of children. For use only by adults 21 years of age and older.