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Cannabis, Cannabinoids, and Sleep: Best Cannabinoids for Sleep

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Many health experts speculate that many years from now, we'll look back at our society's current sleep habits and cringe. It's not too controversial to admit that we live in a society that's obsessed with productivity that often comes at the detriment of getting a healthy amount of quality sleep each night.

According to the American Sleep Association, it's estimated that 50–70 million Americans suffer from a sleep disorder at some stage in their lives.

Stress and sleep deprivation become a vicious cycle. Poor sleep quality can have more consequences than feeling tired the next day—it can impact your mood, concentration, and metabolism, putting you more at risk for disease.

While there are prescription pharmaceuticals to help people living with severe insomnia and other sleep disorders, they often come with a long list of undesirable side effects and are prone to addictive use.

As cannabis products steps into the mainstream, many people are turning to medical cannabis and recreational cannabis use to support their sleep and maintain their wellness with very minimal risks.

Cannabinoids are the active compounds found in hemp and marijuana plants that support the endocannabinoid system—a cell-signaling system designed to help mammals self-regulate vital functions, including the sleep cycle and stress.

In this article, we'll take a look at what the research says about cannabis for sleep hygiene and how people are using it to improve their sleep quality.

TL;DR:

  1. All mammals have an endocannabinoid system to regulate vital functions including our sleep cycle.
  2. Cannabinoids interact with the endocannabinoid system to support its function as a self-regulating cell-signaling system. But they also have unique effects at receptor sites that can support relaxation, reduce the perception of pain, and make you feel sleepy.
  3. A study found that short-term cannabis use has an increase in deep sleep and reduces the time spent in REM sleep.
  4. CBD as a sleep aid is dose dependant. To use CBD for sleep, most people will opt for higher doses (50MG+) and take it in the evenings about an hour before bed.
  5. CBN is a minor cannabinoid that's often marketed as a sleepy cannabinoid. On its own, it doesn't have sedative effects, but it may increase the potency of other cannabinoids such as THC and CBD to promote sleep.

The Endocannabinoid System & Sleep Cycle

The endocannabinoid system (ECS) exists in all mammals, and its discovery came about while researchers were investigating the effects of cannabis in the body.

The endocannabinoid system consists of lipid molecules (endocannabinoids), receptors, and enzymes that communicate to many different systems in the body including the immune system, stress, energy metabolism, memory, and sleep. This self-regulating system is critical in helping mammals become so adaptable to changing environments.

The ECS is believed to influence our sleeping habits in several ways—it regulates the sleep-wake cycles through a complex series of signaling, helping us keep in a state of homeostasis [1]. The ECS receptors, CB1 and CB2, receptors also seem to play a role in our sleep quality.

The lipid-based active compounds found in cannabis plants are very similar to the neurotransmitters our body naturally produces in the ECS, which is why supplementing cannabinoids have such broad-acting effects in helping to support our health.

CB1 receptors are concentrated in the central nervous system—the spinal cord and the brain. When certain cannabinoids like THC and CBN, interact with this receptor, it activates certain neurotransmitters to produce hypnogenic (sleep-inducing) effects in certain doses [1].

There is still not clear which cannabinoid can contribute more prominently to the hypnotic effects on the ECS, but CBD and CBN are the most popular cannabinoid-based products available to support sleep because of their non-intoxicating effects and legal status.

How Does Marijuana Work As A Sleep Aid?

You may have heard of people smoking weed to help them sleep better at night, but how is marijuana an effective remedy for sleepless nights?

Marijuana contains several active chemicals like cannabidiol CBD and tetrahydrocannabinol THC.

It seems that CBD and THC may reduce the alert state by increasing sleep-promoting adenosine levels and increasing the neurotransmitter, GABA activity in the brain, which helps to slow down the stressed state of the body, helping you fall asleep [2].

One study found that THC may alter the sleep architecture—the amount of time one spends in the different stages of sleep (REM and non-REM) [3]. This study found that short-term marijuana use helped to increase the time in deep sleep and participants woke up the next morning feeling more refreshed. THC may also decrease the amount of time in REM sleep, the phase in which dreams occur. It's common for people who use marijuana to sleep not to remember their dreams when they wake up the next morning.

Some studies are currently looking at synthetic cannabinoids as a treatment to suppress nightmares in PSTD [4].

Cannabinoids are known to have different effects in some people due to genetics and other lifestyle factors. Delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) typically can sometimes behave as a sedative but has a stimulating effect on some people, depending on how much THC is consumed and the user.

THC isn't always an ideal compound to support sleep because it's psychoactive. The activation of CB1 receptors can lead to overstimulation that can increase anxious thoughts that can keep one awake, making it less of an ideal compound to use before bed.

On top of this, marijuana is still considered federally illegal, and THC remains on the list of Schedule I Substances. There are some states that have medical marijuana programs to support health conditions such as sleep disorders, and some states like California, New York, and Oregon have legalized marijuana for recreational use, giving more people options to cannabis.

However, for most states, the only way to use cannabis is through Farm Bill compliant hemp crops. Hemp and marijuana are technically both Cannabis sativa plants—their main differences are the phytochemical composition of the THC molecule. Hemp crops cannot have more than 0.3% THC and have much higher CBD levels.

What Are The Best Cannabinoids For Supporting Sleep?

There are studies that look at cannabis use and three cannabinoids—THC, CBD, and CBN. Because delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol is still considered federally illegal and tends to have mixed effects on the ability to fall asleep, the two top contenders for this topic are CBD and CBN.

Let's jump into the two cannabinoids and their effects on sleep.

Cannabidiol (CBD) And Sleep

CBD is the primary cannabinoid found in hemp plants, and it's the most accessible cannabinoid thanks to its legal status and popularity as a gentle yet effective compound to support a wide range of health goals.

CBD has broad-acting effects on the body—it doesn't have an affinity to activate CB1 receptors in the brain, similar to THC, so it's non-psychoactive and much less prone to causing feelings of nervousness, anxiety, and restlessness.

Instead, CBD helps to tone the ECS by increasing its receptors' ability to bind to other cannabinoids and helps to maintain high cannabinoid levels in the body by inhibiting the release of enzymes that breaks them down.

CBD isn't considered a sedative. It has round-about ways to support sleep. Some of the most common reasons people are unable to fall asleep at night are due to high-stress levels and pain, which CBD is found to support.

Interestingly, CBD's potential as a sleep aid seems to be dependant on the dose. CBD tends to have more stimulating effects when taken in small doses (10–25MG) and can make some people sleepy when taken in higher doses (50MG+)

Cannabinol (CBN) And Sleep

As THC is exposed to oxidation, it turns into cannabinol as a byproduct. It's found most abundantly in mature cannabis flowers and has the potential to be mildly psychoactive in extremely high doses.

CBN has been nicknamed the "sleepy cannabinoid" because cannabis users found that marijuana flowers containing higher levels of CBN produced couch-lock and sedative effects. However, CBN on its own hasn't been proven to show these effects.

As a metabolite of THC, studies suggest that CBN may increase the effects of THC, which may enhance its hypnogenic effects [5].

You may have come across CBN-isolate products marketed as a powerful sleep aid. However, CBN is not a versatile cannabinoid on its own but lends its sleep aid potential alongside other cannabinoids like THC and CBD in the entourage effect.

CBN is an excellent supporting cannabinoid. Rather than buying a CBN isolate product to help you sleep, it's best if you opt for a full spectrum CBN product that contains a range of cannabinoids to leverage its effects for relaxation.

How To Use Cannabinoids For Sleep?

Cannabinoids are extremely versatile—you can smoke them in their flower form as a joint, vape concentrates, drink them as tea, or enjoy the treats like gummies and chocolate.

How you use cannabinoids will depend on your preference of experience. Smoking cannabis products will deliver potent, fast-acting effects as the cannabinoids enter the bloodstream via the lungs in a matter of seconds. Whereas, edibles like oils, capsules, and gummies take roughly 30-45 minutes, depending on your metabolism, and the effects creep up on you slowly but last much longer.

Risks And Side Effects of Consuming Cannabinoids For Sleep

Many people who use CBD, CBN, or THC regularly will develop a tolerance to it. When your body becomes accustomed to a compound, it becomes more resistant to its effects, requiring higher doses.

While cannabinoids are found to be quite safe and well-tolerated with no known doses of lethal toxicity, high doses of cannabinoids can produce undesirable effects such as:

  • Nausea
  • Lethargy
  • Dizziness
  • Anxiousness
  • Changes in appetite
  • Upset stomach

Smoking cannabis products also have the added risks of developing lunch conditions such as a chronic cough and bronchitis. Overall, cannabis use is considered safe to use if you find that it does help with sleep. If you find that you're growing a high tolerance to cannabinoids, experts recommend taking a tolerance break or t-break for 2-3 weeks.

Neurogan Products To Support Sleep

All Neurogan products start from premium hemp crops grown on the West Coast and bred to contain high levels of CBD and beneficial cannabinoids and terpenes.

We stand by the experts and believe that our customers will receive the most benefits from the hemp plant through the entourage effect. This means, rather than isolating and concentrating one cannabinoid, you can gain more well-balanced and potent effects from using the diverse range of hemp's natural compounds.

Here are our top recommended hemp products for supporting sleep quality.

Camomile Hemp Tea

For those looking for the most natural and gentle way to use hemp, our hemp tea is the perfect brew for relaxation.

Our Camomile Hemp Tea is made of two simple ingredients—high CBD hemp flowers and organic camomile tea. Each brew contains about 45MG of full spectrum CBD for a moderate to high dose that won't leave you feeling groggy the next morning.

Both hemp flower and camomile contain ingredients to counteract the stress response for a deep sense of relaxation and calm that can help you gently fall asleep.

CBD Oil

Our CBD oil is the most versatile product that's both easy to use and dose. It's made from premium hemp extract in either full spectrum or THC-free broad spectrum and organic MCT oil. They come in a wide selection of strengths from 500MG to an ultra-high potency of 12,000MG.

For those just getting started with CBD and want a strength to support their sleep quality, we recommend started with the 1000MG or 2000MG bottle. For fast-acting effects, you can drop the oil under the tongue and hold for 30-seconds before swallowing or add to your beverage 45-minutes to an hour before your desired bedtime.

CBN Oil

CBN is an excellent compound that can support sleep and deep relaxation when taken alongside other cannabinoids. Our full spectrum CBN oil is designed to do just that. We start out with a high CBN hemp flower and use careful extraction methods to create a hemp extract that contains a diverse cannabinoid and terpene profile.

CBD + Melatonin Gummies

Melatonin is a natural hormone that our brains produce in the evenings to signal that it's time to sleep. People who experience poor sleep quality due to travel, shift-work, or stressful events will use melatonin to regulate their sleep cycle. We've just combined the relaxation properties of CBD to support melatonin's effects in a delicious chewy gummy candy.

The Takeaway: Cannabis, Cannabinoids, And Sleep

Using cannabinoids like THC, CBN, and CBD are many people's favorite ways to improve their sleep quality as an alternative to prescribed sleep medicine. There are studies that look at cannabinoids and sleep with a lot more promise for further research.

THC remains federally illegal and induces intoxicating effects, so marijuana use isn't ideal for most people, making CBD and CBN derived from hemp more desirable options. These cannabinoids have multiple ways of promoting sleep quality from elevating mood, supporting healthy stress levels, and managing pain with very rare and mild side effects.

If you struggle with sleep apnea, depression, or severe sleep disorders, it's recommended that you speak with your doctor who can recommend lifestyle changes and help you decide if cannabis would make a good addition to your health regimen.

For more articles looking at the potential benefits of cannabinoids, you can check out our blog and subscribe to our newsletter, Insider Scoop for industry news and exclusive discounts on Neurogan products.

Resources:

  1. Kesner, A. J., & Lovinger, D. M. (2020). Cannabinoids, endocannabinoids and sleep. Frontiers in molecular neuroscience, 13, 125.
  2. Bakas, T., Van Nieuwenhuijzen, P. S., Devenish, S. O., McGregor, I. S., Arnold, J. C., & Chebib, M. (2017). The direct actions of cannabidiol and 2-arachidonoyl glycerol at GABAA receptors. Pharmacological research, 119, 358-370.
  3. Schierenbeck, T., Riemann, D., Berger, M., & Hornyak, M. (2008). Effect of illicit recreational drugs upon sleep: cocaine, ecstasy and marijuana. Sleep medicine reviews, 12(5), 381–389. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.smrv.2007.12.004
  4. Fraser G. A. (2009). The use of a synthetic cannabinoid in the management of treatment-resistant nightmares in posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). CNS neuroscience & therapeutics, 15(1), 84–88. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1755-5949.2008.00071.x
  5. Russo, E. B. (2011). Taming THC: potential cannabis synergy and phytocannabinoid‐terpenoid entourage effects. British journal of pharmacology, 163(7), 1344-1364

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