If you’re one of the many people in California who suffer from insomnia, the prospect of obtaining a cannabis card due to the known benefits the drug holds when used as a sleep aid, can be an alluring one indeed. Across the United States, insomnia affects a staggering amount of people, with an estimated 10-30% of Americans being affected at some point in their life.
While studies have shown medical marijuana has little-to-no effect on the symptoms of primary insomnia, for those suffering with a kind of secondary insomnia i.e. a lack of sleep caused by another underlying issue, such as stress or anxiety, it can be of inordinate value – dramatically improving one’s standard of living in the process. Cannabis treatment also benefits from the minimal side effects and addiction associated with a lot of prescription drugs on the market.
For anyone with a cannabis card, it’s likely you know by now that there are different types of strains when it comes to medical marijuana. Some of these strains are notable for getting you high (low-CBD, high-THC), while others keep the high to a relative minimum (low-THC, high-CBD). These strains can be used to relieve a wide variety of illnesses: nausea, depression, anxiety and chronic pain, to name but a few.
Why does it work?
When it comes to insomnia, an equal part THC and CBD strain is often the best way to go. A 2006 study conducted on animal models found that strains of
cannabis containing high levels of the CBD compound, increased alertness during the day, while having no discernable effect at night. While high levels of THC can be of a detriment to those with secondary insomnia, as it can actually increase the effects of anxiety and depression if chronically used. Keeping these compounds on an equal level can negate these issues and sooth its users to a much improved sleep. There is evidence to suggest that smoking any kind of cannabis can provide therapeutic benefits, which in-turn might be of help to those struggling to sleep; but for the full effects of your herbal nightcap, it’s important to know your strain.
Odds are that if you’re a cannabis card holder, you’ve likely heard of THC and CBD. But while these are the most prevalent and most versatile strains of medical marijuana, they are by far the only options. Indica strains (originating from Indica plants, known for their short, bushy stature), are known to produce a physical ‘body high’, great for relaxation. Indica strains tend to induce heavier sleep effects than most other common compounds, so if available, are the advised strains to gravity towards if seeking the paramount combatant of insomnia.
Marijuana treatment isn’t solely limited to natural compounds either. A 2010 study at McGill University in Montreal found that the synthetic cannabinoid of nabilone was a great sleep aid for those suffering from the effects of insomnia. Regular use of medical cannabis has also been found to reduce the frequency of dreams. This reduction in brain activity when the user is asleep can help alleviate the effect that extreme anxiety can have on insomnia, such as that caused by post-traumatic stress disorder.
What should cannabis card holders look out for?
Another important aspect of medical marijuana that any holder of a cannabis card should be aware of, is its age. This may seem like an odd factor, but it’s true. When THC degrades over time, its chemical makeup converts to that of the more heavily sedative chemical of cannabinol, or CBN. When aged, this compound is five times more sedating than that of its less mature THC self. While it can be difficult to obtain due to only a portion of THC turning into CBN, it can have a significant positive impact on those struggling to sleep.
Evidence suggests that pairing medical marijuana with natural remedies can increase the benefits cannabis offers when fighting insomnia. Smoking a joint in one hand with some chamomile tea in the other can work wonders towards a healthy sleep cycle. Edible methods go hand-in-hand with this technique also. While smoking a joint can relax and relieve symptoms almost immediately, the effects don’t take all that long to wear off. However, while cannabis-infused edibles do take longer to kick in, their effects tend to be considerably more potent, lasting for several hours and helping you stay asleep for longer.
For Californians taking full advantage of their cannabis card, consuming cannabis can be the perfect alternative to standard over-the-counter sleep aids. Yet it doesn’t come without a precaution or two. A 2014 study found that the frequent use of cannabis at a young age may in fact cause sleeping problems in later years. Discontinuing use after long-term reliance can also be a problem – a 2008 sleep study found. Quit using or take a tolerance break after a prolonged acquaintance with the drug, can lead to worsened sleep, as well as mild ‘hangovers’ of sorts.
Having a cannabis card by your side can be a wonderful partnership in the fight against insomnia. While being knowledgeable about specific strains must not be understated, the advantages medical marijuana supplies when used correctly can significantly improve one’s sleeping pattern and day-to-day life.