What happens when you sleep high?
Cannabis has been used as a sleep aid for generations, but has anyone asked what happens when you sleep high? Pot makes a lot of people fall asleep faster. There are even strains for slumber. People will opt for an indica strain when they have trouble sleeping, but is smoking weed the right move?
From dry, cured flower to hot cups of weed tea, many hope that their trusted home remedies help them get a good night’s sleep. However, there are questions as to whether the plant helps you both fall asleep and stay asleep longer, and it’s not as simple as choosing between indica and sativa. Scientific inquiry into what happens when you sleep high provides some answers.
If the proliferation of cannabis products is any indicator, people use the plant before bed. But there’s no concrete understanding of what happens when you sleep high. That said, there is some research on the matter. Here’s what’s known right now.
The science of cannabis for sleep
Cannabis consumers often need fewer sleep aids, according to a study recently published by the University of Washington. Of the almost 1300 cannabis consumers surveyed, from young adults to seniors. 80 percent of respondents no longer purchased over-the-counter solutions like melatonin or prescriptions like benzodiazepines.
The study went further, citing that many consumers specifically sought out products made with myrcene for sleep based on independent research.
“There is some evidence in the scientific literature to support that myrcene may help to promote sleep, so cannabis users seemed to have figured that out on their own,” senior author of the study and associate professor of psychology at WSU Carrie Cuttler said to IdahoNews.
Multiple terpenes have shown promising results for sleep, including myrcene, beta-caryophyllene, and linalool. In studies mostly done on rodents, these terpenes, or oils with heavy concentrations of them, showed sedative effects. However, more research into whether they impact the quality or longevity of sleep is necessary to understand the full picture.
Data also supports the notion that other compounds in the cannabis plant might help when people have trouble sleeping. A cannabis sleep study focused on CBN revealed that the minor cannabinoid may promote a more restful slumber.
Another study published in the last year revealed that CBD could also promote more restful and restorative sleep when distributed along with linalool, myrcene, phytol, limonene, α-terpinene, α-terpineol, α-pinene, and β-caryophyllene. As continued legalization opens up more doors for researchers, we may understand precisely what parts of the plant contribute to, and which inhibit, a quick trip to REM sleep.
Cannabis and REM sleep
There are certain compounds found in cannabis that are natural sleep aids, however, not all cannabinoids have proven positive for the role. When it comes to REM sleep, THC may be an antagonist, reducing the longevity of the restorative stage in the sleep cycle.
Rapid eye movement (REM) sleep is a sleep stage where the brain is as active as it is during waking life, and when dreams happen. The name was given due to the way that the eyes move behind closed eyelids during the REM cycle, which begins about 90 minutes after sleep.
Research suggests that THC might lead to less REM sleep and less overall REMs. Not getting adequate REM sleep cycles can have a lasting negative impact on a person. Many also note a lack of dreams when going to sleep high, though there is still no data on cannabis and dreams. Though it’s noted that with cessation of cannabis, dreams come back.
This study goes so far as to say that when prolonged, a lack of REM could prove fatal. While cannabis products high in THC may bring on sleep more quickly in the short term, it’s possible that they disrupt sleep patterns in the long term.
PTSD patients consume cannabis for sleep
There are some ways that smoking or eating weed before bed can inhibit a good night’s rest, but sleep continues to be a listed benefit for cannabis consumers and patients. One meta-analysis and systematic review of the current literature covering cannabis and sleep indicated that patients who listed sleep as a benefit weren’t always treating sleep disorders like sleep apnea, insomnia, and narcolepsy (though some were).
A systematic review indicated that those dealing with post-traumatic stress disorder-induced nightmares may find cannabis a viable sleep aid, but more research is needed. There was another review that showed chronic pain patients got more rest with cannabis. Though some studies suggest cannabis might have a negative impact in the long term, others might find medical marijuana helpful.
This is especially true in patients with PTSD, a condition that can result in sleep disorders like night terrors and insomnia. Many PTSD patients seek medical, and adult-use, cannabis products in the hunt for restful slumber, but there are side effects in the long term. Some studies suggest that when patients stop consuming, cannabis PTSD symptoms like sleep disorders may return with vigor.
In fact, research supports this spike in sleep issues when all cannabis consumers quit, not just those with PTSD. Cannabis withdrawal commonly leads to periods of rough sleep.
Sleep disturbances from quitting weed
Those who choose to quit cannabis might find sleep disturbances at the top of their list of side effects. In fact, studies show that the lack of deep sleep is one reason many return to the plant even when they don’t plan to.
A study tracked sleep quality for heavy cannabis consumers in the two nights following abstinence compared to a cannabis-free crowd. Researchers started collecting data with questionnaires before the weed group stopped consuming through two nights of sober sleep. The quality of natural sleep was measured with a type of sleep study called polysomnography.
The cannabis cohort experienced worse sleep overall, and it progressed on the second night. After quitting weed, the heavy consumers took longer to fall asleep, experienced shorter REM sleep, and overall less efficient rest.
This study had a small sample size, with 17 people in the consuming cohort and 14 in the sober group. They also only studied two days following cessation of weed, but a follow-up on sleep patterns after weeks or even months would be worth studying. Either way, in the days following a t-break, expect nights filled with tossing and turning. This side effect might also make a case for not building a dependency on the plant for sleep.
The greatest concern about what happens when you sleep high
The most dangerous aspect of using cannabis regularly for sleep is the possibility of dependency. Since quitting can antagonize sleep even further, it can be easy to fall back on the plant nightly. However, the body will build a tolerance, and eventually, the same quality of rest will require more milligrams. The tolerance may also increase the time it takes to feel sleepy after eating an edible.
Working with a cannabis clinician when consuming cannabis for a sleep disorder is one good way to avoid an unwanted dependence on cannabis for sleep. Additionally, opting for less psychoactive cannabinoids like CBN and CBD for sleep may have less negative impact on sleep patterns in the long term. Let’s go through effective weed sleep aids.
Cannabis products for sleep
Many old heads, or long time connoisseurs, swear by smoking weed before bed because of the quick onset and heavy effects. While most will choose the strains of cannabis based on a given situation, like no sativa strains for bed, there’s options now. There are lab-designed products in every state manufactured for the one goal of getting people to sleep fast and keeping them out all night.
Kiva offers the Camino ‘Sleep’ Midnight Blueberry gummies, featuring 5 mg THC and 1 mg CBN per serving. Each gummy is also infused with beta-caryophyllene, myrcene, and linalool. These are available in CA, AZ, NV, IL, OH, MI, HI, MA, OK, NY, and FL.
Those in Washington can check out Fairwinds Deep Sleep Tincture, which also relies on CBN. The product description claims that the drops are intended to balance the nervous system, promote relaxation and rest, and support neuroprotection. Each serving of this sleep-focused cannabis product includes 10 mg CBN, 10 mg CBD, and 2 mg THC.
Over in California, classic beer brand Pabst Blue Ribbon entered the space with High Seltzer Midnight Berries. Every sparkling canned beverage contains 10 mg THC, 2 mg CBD, and 3 mg CBN. Singles and four-packs are available at California dispensaries.
For those buying weed in Illinois, Wonder Wellness Co has Wonder Gummies and Minis (hard mints). The sleep formula includes 2.5 mg each of CBD, THC, and CBD along with chamomile and melatonin.
The blossoming New York dispensaries have a variety of sleep gummies available. Snoozy Sleep With Benefits gummies boast 10mg THC, 10 mg CBD, 5 mg CBN, 10 mg chamomile, and 25 mg L-theanine per candy. These are manufactured with hemp-derived delta-9, so anyone in the U.S. can order them.
Another nationwide option comes from FloraWorks with the TruCBN Soft Gels. This high dose edible gets straight to the point with no frills, each soft capsule contains 50 mg CBN.
There are sleep-focused cannabis products available all over the nation, but their efficacy varies depending on who is being asked. This discrepancy could harken back to a lack of knowledge regarding the mechanisms that promote and inhibit a restful night’s sleep when high. But until more research is published, it’s wise to rely on trial and error when trying something new.
What happens when you sleep high?
Turns out that what happens when you sleep high depends on various factors. Anecdotal evidence suggests that cannabis can make people sleepy faster, but research points to long-term issues with regular consumption.
Going to bed high may have an impact on sleep, and the outcome is dependent on circumstances like whether the person in question has conditions like chronic pain or a predisposition for addiction. Like most cases with the plant, consider whether cannabis works for sleep on a case-by-case basis.