If you experience insomnia, you are not alone. Between 30% and 40% of people in the United States have insomnia symptoms at least once. As many as 15% of people struggle with insomnia over long periods consistently, making it a chronic condition. If you’re having trouble falling asleep, you are likely one of tens of millions of people.
First and foremost, insomnia involves difficulty in either falling asleep, staying asleep, or both. It can be a one-time event, occur every evening, or come back every so often. People who have chronic insomnia struggle with it at least three times per week for a minimum of three months.
Top Cannabis Strains for Sleep
Not all insomnia looks the same. For example, primary insomnia means it exists on its own, without being caused by some other health issue. There are a variety of things that can cause primary insomnia. Sometimes stressful events, such as a sudden loss of a job or loss of a loved one, can cause mental unrest that leads to insomnia. It could also be caused by environmental factors where you are sleeping, such as the temperature being uncomfortable or disruptive sounds or light. It could also be caused by a change in your sleep schedules, such as international travel (jet lag) or a change in your daily schedule for a job, or some other reason.
On the other hand, secondary insomnia is related to other health conditions, including pain, certain medications, alcohol or other substances, various diseases, depression, asthma, etc. It can be caused by using caffeine too close to bedtime, high blood sugar, or other sleep disorders such as sleep apnea.
You might have insomnia if you are sleepy throughout the day or are experiencing fatigue regularly. You could also feel grumpier or have memory or focus issues.
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How Marijuana Affects Sleep
The first thing to know about marijuana is that there are many, many different strains to choose from. You may have heard of negative experiences with marijuana (think of the humorous Toby Keith song “I’ll never smoke weed with Willie again”). These experiences may be true, but that does not mean you will have the same experience. Different strains affect people differently.
Some strains energize users, while others calm them down. According to research, this all depends on the “cannabinoids.” There are hundreds of these compounds in any weed strain, but there are two main ones that you may have already heard of, CBD and THC.
CBD (short for “cannabidiol”) is best known for its medical benefits. If you choose a strain of marijuana that is high in CBD and has little to no THC, then that strain will not get you high. It can still affect your body in relieving, medicinal ways, however. That’s why high CBD strains are so popular among many patients who want a natural, side-effect-free option without the stereotypical “high” that weed smokers are famous for.
The cannabinoid that causes a high is THC (short for “tetrahydrocannabinol”). It has psychoactive properties, meaning it can affect your head and thoughts. Some medical marijuana does have higher THC levels, but that does not mean it is any less therapeutic.
In fact, partly because THC affects your brain, it is the cannabinoid that is primarily responsible for sleepiness. It helps many people fall asleep faster. That means those seeking to combat insomnia will likely find the best luck with higher THC levels rather than CBD.
It is worth noting that this doesn’t work perfectly for everyone. According to research, THC diminishes REM sleep at night. This might sound like a negative, but it is actually beneficial to people with insomnia. REM sleep is when dreams occur, so people who struggle with nightmares will finally sleep without worry.
Cannabis Is Not What It Used to Be
Many people have tried different pharmaceuticals to fall asleep, with dangerous side effects. On the other hand, studies show that the side effects of medical marijuana are minimal in comparison. If you’re still on the fence about it, consider the following facts.
First of all, you have likely seen the popularity of cannabis skyrocket in recent years. Medical marijuana programs are available in most US states now due to laws based on studies, science, and evidence showing its therapeutic benefits. In many of those medical marijuana programs, insomnia is a recognized condition.
This is significantly different than the image of weed smoking in the past. One primary reason for marijuana’s increase in popularity is not the recreational users – it’s the medical users. Millions of people have benefited from medical marijuana, and many more are starting to try it for the first time. These are not junkies looking to sit around and get high all the time. These are respectable, working people looking for relief from their medical conditions. Many of them prefer to try something like marijuana over more risky pharmaceuticals.
Marijuana possession and use are legal in many states, whether for medical or recreational purposes. Many celebrities smoke weed publicly these days as well. The times are changing legally, and the dark days of buying weed from a person on the street are long over. You can easily get a “prescription” from a doctor these days.
And, if you live in a participating state, you can simply walk into a licensed medical marijuana dispensary and ask the professionals there for their advice about different strains. Many dispensary employees are more professional and knowledgeable than you might expect. Some absolutely know their craft and have a goal of helping you find relief.
Why People Smoke Weed, Instead of Other Options
These days, there are many ways of consuming marijuana: edibles, oils, topical creams, etc. So, why do people smoke weed instead of using some other method? The fact of the matter is, smoking weed is the fastest method for getting it into your system. When the dried flowers of the plant combust, it moves the active substances straight into the lungs. These substances are absorbed quickly and effectively in the lungs, reaching the bloodstream and other parts of the body.
There are also many different ways to smoke weed, so users can pick and choose their favorite methods. This makes it more accessible and easier than ever for those trying marijuana for the first time.
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How to Smoke Weed
Many people are trying marijuana for the first time these days, including those who’ve never even smoked a cigarette. There are several ways to smoke weed, and there isn’t one single best way to smoke weed.
There are three main methods for smoking weed: in a bowl, rolled in a paper, or in a bong. When smoking weed in a bowl, you pack it into the hole, cover the carb hole with your finger before sparking it, then light the bowl. Remove your finger from the carb hole just before inhaling, so it doesn’t feel too harsh.
Rolling dried cannabis flowers in paper is the stereotypical way of smoking weed. Using thin rolling paper, spread some ground up weed across the crease and then roll it together. You can twist the end to close it. Light the tip of it and inhale. Once some smoke is in your lungs, continue breathing some fresh air, and then just exhale.
A bong uses water. You fill the bong with water, add ground weed, and spark the bowl while your mouth is around the mouthpiece.
Other Options Besides Smoking
If you are not keen on the idea of smoking something, there are other techniques. Smoking is, unquestionably, dangerous, as the practice is linked to many health issues. However, it is worth noting that marijuana smokers have a far lower lung cancer rate than tobacco smokers. Some research indicates this might be due to the presence of THC, which has been shown to destroy tumors in animals.
Many people opt to use edible marijuana instead. Some people cook with marijuana-based products, increasing some of THC’s psychoactive effects.
Two of the most effective options include “vaping” or tinctures. Vaping also involves the inhalation of marijuana products; however, it also includes heated oil. Some consider it safer because it doesn’t involve smoke (it’s vapor instead); however, more research is needed to prove this. Still, many find it at least more pleasant since inhaling vapor is easier than inhaling smoke. Some claim that vaping might be the healthiest way to smoke weed.
Tinctures are another option. They are basically extracted cannabis oils in an alcohol-base. Many people use tinctures because they don’t involve smoking and can actually be made at home relatively easily. To use a tincture, take a drop of the liquid beneath your tongue. The results are typically as potent as smoking; however, the process is very user friendly for beginners.
How To Take Marijuana For Sleeping
One of the main questions people have for trying marijuana for insomnia is how much of a dose to take. Because everyone’s body reacts differently and every strain of marijuana plant and method has slightly different reactions, a little bit of trial and error will be necessary. Note your method, how much you take, and the results, and tweak it every time.
There will be some trial and error. That’s why it’s a good idea to avoid trying it for the first time if you have something important the next morning. Start out small, knowing that you can take another dose in the middle of the night if you wake up. Just make sure you allow at least 4 hours of undisturbed sleep.
Related: 3 Ways to Stop Running out of Weed
The Best Cannabis Strains for Better Sleep
There are two main groups of marijuana, indica, and sativa. In general, indica-dominant strains are more relaxing (and better for insomnia), while sativa strains are better for more energetic feelings after smoking. Usually, these two are mixed together in different percentages, forming hybrid strains. These days, there are a multitude of different strains to pick from. You could smoke weed everyday and enjoy a new strain each time! So, it can be confusing. We recommend one of the following if your goal is addressing insomnia.
1. MK Ultra
This strain has high THC, making it suitable for sleeping, plus the added benefits of some CBD. It is a hybrid of 50% indica and 50% sativa, but its calming indica traits come out the most. It is a steady strain that has been around for a long time and has won some impressive awards.
If you do not like the smell of marijuana, you might not like MK Ultra because it smells pretty strongly. It has an earthy and sweet smell and flavor, with an aftertaste featuring bits of pine. Of course, if you choose not to smoke it, you won’t notice these flavors the same way. It makes people sleepy and relaxed while also delivering mild euphoric feelings.
This strain is primarily indica with up to 20% sativa. People who grow their own marijuana enjoy growing this strain because it’s fast, easy, and hardy. It makes you feel joyful as well as sleepy and typically has around 19% THC levels. It also has a rather pungent smell, but it is worth it for its muscle relaxing, stress-reducing, and anxiety-relieving qualities.
3. Granddaddy Purple
This strain is 100% indica, making it ideal for those looking to calm down and fall asleep. It also doesn’t have as pungent of a smell and taste; instead, it tastes like berries and grapes. This strain soothes and relaxes, making you feel euphoric as well as very sleepy.
4. La Confidential
Another hybrid, yet still indica-dominant, LA Confidential sedates users quite a bit, making it an excellent strain to use right before bed. It combines a woody and skunky smell and taste, mixed with a warm and earthy spice. It works to soothe stress and pain as well as insomnia.
Things to consider before using cannabis
There are a few things to consider before deciding if cannabis is for you. For one thing, your personal situation matters. Are you pregnant? If so, you may be wondering, can you smoke weed while pregnant? The answer is not yet crystal clear, but it is generally agreed that smoking weed while pregnant could harm the baby, so it is better to avoid it.
If you donate blood, you might be wondering, can you donate blood if you smoke weed? The answer to this is yes. Being a smoker of weed will not disallow you from donating blood. However, you should not smoke right before donating because if you appear high at the time, they will turn you away.
Some people who are new to the marijuana scene might be wondering what parts of the plant are actually smokable. Technically any part of it is smokable, but not all of it is useful. So, can you smoke weed stems? Yes, but it is a waste of time and effort because there is not enough THC in the stems to have beneficial effects.
If you are considering using medical marijuana to treat your insomnia, you should know that you are absolutely not alone. According to studies from 2019, there are more than 200 million weed smokers around the world. On top of that, marijuana use has increased by 60% within the last ten years. More than 19% of people above the age of 15 and below the age of 64 have used marijuana in the US alone. It’s nearly as widespread as smoking tobacco, yet it has far more medical benefits, including fighting insomnia.
No matter what keeps you up at night, it might be worth your time to consider cannabis.