A Medical Guide to Choosing the Best Cannabis for Sleep

A Medical Guide to Choosing the Best Cannabis for Sleep

 

Looking for the best cannabis for sleep is one of the top reasons for using this herb. Medical practitioners have seen an increase in cannabis use among patients.

 

This surge is especially true among those with sleeping disorders. It’s one of the top three conditions physicians prescribe medicinal cannabis for.

 

Chronic pain and mental health are the other two. Many believe cannabis is the answer to their slumber concerns. Choosing the best cannabis for sleep can be difficult. But, by understanding the basics of cannabis, you can guide patients effectively.

 

Let’s learn how cannabis interacts with the body. We’ll also find out how to choose the best cannabis for sleep.

 

Understanding sleep disorders

 

Someone with a sleeping disorder can leave them feeling exhausted. They may have experienced a lack of sleep a few nights a week.

 

Nearly half of the Australian adult population have at least 2 sleep disorders.

 

Signs of these conditions include feeling sleepy during the day The patient may also become moody, anxious, and depressed.

 

These feelings can impair their concentration and judgement. A lack of sleep may result in other health concerns like diabetes or a cardiac condition.

 

Ultimately it doesn’t only impact a person’s overall health but their daily routine too. Many try remedying their sleeplessness by taking a bath or reducing caffeine intake.

 

Then there are those who seek medical assistance. They may even request their practitioner to prescribe the best cannabis for sleep.

 

The following are a few common sleeping disorders experienced:

 

Snoring

Snoring is the sound of interrupted breathing. It’s a loud vibration that emanates from your pharynx. The reason for this condition varies. It could be nasal congestion or a deviated septum.

 

While snoring does disturb others, it can impact the person. They wake up gasping, finding it hard to fall asleep again. This interrupted sleep can lead to fatigue the next day.

 

Those battling with snoring have tried sleeping on their side. They may even try clearing their nasal passages. While these and other remedies may help, it may only be temporary.

 

Finding the best cannabis for sleep, may have a longer lasting effect.

 

Sleep apnoea

Sleep apnoea is when someone sleeping suddenly stops breathing. The condition occurs when the throat muscles relax. This action causes the tongue to drop back restricting airflow.

 

It can occur multiple times during the night, resulting in sleeplessness. This disorder isn’t limited to any age and can affect anyone. Sleep apnea can even cause snoring.

 

Restless legs syndrome

While trying to sleep, some may experience the sudden urge to move their legs. Various forms of uneasiness in the limbs causes the involuntary action.

 

Some describe it as tingling or a feeling of crawling insects. While it’s common in pregnant women, many others have also experienced this.

 

Many professionals believe it's related to the nervous system. It requires more research to substantiate this reasoning.

 

The role of cannabis in sleep management

 

 

Finding the best cannabis for sleep requires a better understanding of it. How it interacts with the human body. This interaction depends greatly on the endocannabinoid system (ECS), found in the anatomy.

 

What is the ECS?

Every human body has an ECS. The system consists of receptors, endocannabinoids, and enzymes. They help regulate the body functions.

 

  • Endocannabinoid (endogenous cannabinoids)

These molecules are similar to the cannabinoids found in cannabis. The body produces endocannabinoids as the body needs.

 

There two main molecules; anandamide (AEA) and 2-arachidonoylglycerol (2-AG).

 

  • Receptors

Cells in the body have endocannabinoid receptors on its surface. The cannabinoids attach to them. It signals a need for the ECS to take action. There are two main receptors.

 

CB1 found in the central nervous system and CB2 present in the peripheral nervous system. Depending on where the receptors are, will determine their effects.

 

CB1 in the spine can relieve pain. CB2 in the immune system can indicate inflammation.

 

  • Enzymes

The enzymes break down the cannabinoids once they’ve completed their work. The body has two main enzymes. The fatty acid amide hydrolase and the monoacylglycerol acid lipase.

 

These components work together to maintain a state of homeostasis. Any external force threatening the body triggers the ECS to bring it back in balance. The system affects the following internal processes:

 

  • Mood
  • Stress
  • Sleep
  • Chronic pain
  • Muscle formation

 

How cannabis interacts with the ECS

 

Cannabis has hundreds of cannabinoids. These include CBD, THC, and CBG.

 

Their structure is similar to the endocannabinoids in the ECS. When consumed carefully and responsibly, it can aid the internal processes. With the right combination it can constitute the best cannabis for sleep.

 

What are the effects of these cannabinoids? Have a look at the following:

 

  • CBD (cannabidiol): A non-psychoactive cannabinoid. Its interaction with the ECS is subtle. It does combine with the dopamine, serotonin, and opioid receptors. This relationship can ease pain, anxiety, and depression.

 

Its effects may reduce vomiting and nausea. Many have also experienced pain relief, improved sleep, and increased appetite. Researchers have not reported any real side effects. An excess of CBD can flood the CB1 and result in increased anxiety and impaired memory.

 

  • THC (tetrahydrocannabinol): Unlike CBD, THC is a psychoactive compound. Known to provide a ‘high.’ It does bind with CB1 and CB2 receptors.

 

Patients have successfully used THC to relieve pain and nausea. Its interaction with the brain reduces fear.

 

  • CBG (cannabigerol): Other cannabinoids evolved from this compound. It’s this reason that it’s referred to as the ‘mother of all cannabinoids.’

 

It has no psychoactive effects and predominantly found in hemp. It’s believed to relieve symptoms associated with PTSD. Its neuroprotective properties protect the brain and prevent damage.

 

Besides these compounds, cannabis also has terpenes that provide various effects. Playing a significant role. It gives the plant its aroma and taste. An ingredient that helps enhance the best cannabis for sleep.

 

The most common terpenes and beneficial for sleep are:

 

  • Myrcene: A terpene found in herbs and fruit. It has sedative effects while also having anti-inflammatory properties. It’s taste is sweet, yet spicy too.

 

  • Caryophyllene: This compound has pain relieving properties. It also provides relaxing and sedative effects which helps promote sleep. It tastes and smells very spicy.

 

  • Limonene: Known to reduce anxiety and stress, limonene has a citrus flavour. It also has relaxing and anxiolytic characteristics. Its calming effects can improve moods and sleep.

 

  • Terpineol: This terpene has relaxing and pain relieving effects. Its sedative properties make it a great benefit for those with sleep disorders. Its floral and pine scent gives it a complex and calming aroma.

 

  • Linalool: Known to ease symptoms associated with anxiety and depression. It increases the sedative hormone, adenosine. Together with its lavender scent aids the user into a peaceful sleep.

 

The effects of cannabis on sleep patterns

 

Interrupted sleep is a popular condition which doctors prescribed cannabis for.

 

  • Insomnia: Cannabis is well tolerated and can improve the symptoms of insomnia. Many have had enhanced slumber when using cannabis.

 

Some have, however, used it for pain originally and then experienced improved rest. According to anecdotal evidence; patients eventually discontinued prescribed meds after success with cannabis.

 

Depending on the strain, the sedating effects can promote peaceful sleep.

 

  • Restless leg syndrome: Cannabis is an effective treatment for this condition as it reduces dopamine levels. It restores the level in the brain, which helps control the erratic muscle activity.

 

Some anecdotal evidence indicates complete remission after a cannabis treatment plan. More research is still needed into its efficacy.

 

Factors to consider in strain selection

 

Each cannabis strain has differing CBD and THC content levels. Finding the right balance between these two compounds is important.

 

It’s this ratio that helps you and the patient discover the best cannabis for sleep. One of the more popular combinations is CBD 5:1 or 10:1.

 

These offer a less psychoactive effect. It promotes a feeling of relaxation and content.

 

While cannabis research remains limited, professionals believe it has potential health benefits. The many active chemical compounds work together to provide balanced effects.

 

They call this combination ‘the entourage effect.’ The right combination depends on each patients’ natural endocannabinoids.

 

Their lifestyle and genetics also plays an important role. A strain that’s high in THC may evoke undesired side effects. These reactions may manifest as paranoid symptoms.

 

A strain that’s well-balanced with CBD can help prevent these effects. Professionals believe that CBD counteracts the metabolism of THC in the brain. This action reduces the psychoactive effect.

 

Some patients experienced THC to reduce their inflammation. While CBD inhibits the creation of inflammatory cytokines.

 

Terpenes, with its psychoactive effects, enhances the impact of THC.

 

When prescribing cannabis, health practitioners should consider the THC and CBD content. A patient with an appropriate dose, could respond well. It’s part of discovering the best cannabis for sleep.

 

Patients' doses should start off low and then gradually increase. This method minimises the risk associated with toxicity. It also prevents any drug-to-drug interactions.

 

Patients' age and health condition is also crucial in prescribing the right dosage. Cannabis usage could negatively impact someone with a history of myocardial infarction. It may also affect a patient with angina.

 

Best cannabis strains for sleep

 

Cannabis  is also categorised into sativa, indica, and hybrid.  Most of the strains in Australia are hybrid, a combination of sativa and indica.

 

  • Sativa: This category has high levels of THC and low amounts of CBD. Its effects are uplifting and energetic. Typically used during the day.

 

Many have reported to have reduced feelings of anxiety.

 

  • Indica: Indica characteristically has high quantities of both THC and CBD. Believed to evoke sedative and relaxing effects. Recommended use is bedtime.

 

Anecdotal feedback indicates that it may cause you to relax and tranquil. Ideal for those with anxiety or experiencing disrupted sleep.

 

  • Hybrid: A hybrid strain is typically a combination of indica and sativa. The mixture of the two means there’s a unique ratio of THC and CBD. These blends bring with it a wide range of effects.

 

Consider the following few strains of the best cannabis for sleep:

 

Northern lights

This strain is an indica. It produces feelings of euphoria while relaxing the body and mind. It has a sweet and spicy flavour thanks to the myrcene, the dominant terpene. THC is 18% while CBD is 1%.

 

Granddaddy purple

Also known as ‘Granddaddy Purps,’ it’s associated with a full body relaxation. This strain is also an indica with sedating and muscle relaxing effects. With its high THC content of 17%, it’s not recommended to someone new to cannabis. The dominant terpene is myrcene.

 

Charlotte’s Web

A strain that’s high in CBD with 12% and low in THC with 1%. This sativa helps in relieving pain and easing anxiety. The dominant terpene is myrcene that helps promote sleep. Its anxiolytic and sedative attributes are the reason for this.

 

Hindu Kush

This pure indica strain is not just one of best cannabis for sleep but popular too. With a 25% THC content it’s definitely one to lull anyone to sleep. It’s also reported to ease stress and anxiety. Something the terpene, limonene also helps with.

 

Potential risks and considerations

 

With any medical treatment, there’s always some potential side effects. The same is true of cannabis. It’s possible for any patient to experience some fatigue or drowsiness.

 

Someone new to THC may become confused and even hallucinate. The same applies when they ingest excessive amounts. THC isn’t recommended for women who are pregnant or breastfeeding.

 

A patient who’s cardiovascular health is unstable, should avoid THC. Those with any neurological conditions could also have adverse effects.

 

There’s no specific dosage that's safe or correct. Any patient new to cannabis should start low and go slow. Their medical practitioner should carefully monitor their response to the dosage.

 

Too much THC can result in dry mouth, ‘the munchies’, and a euphoric sensation. Prolonged use may also eventually cause withdrawal symptoms when treatment stops.

 

Each individual’s reaction differs based on their physiological condition and the strain. Sativa strains usually energise and uplift the user. It’s best to not consume this for sleep.

 

While indica is better suited for any sleep-related conditions. Its sedating terpenes can ease anyone into a deep slumber.

 

Incorporating cannabis into sleep therapy protocols

 

There are various ways to consume cannabis. Some medicinal forms are already in a product ready for use. Other methods include vaping, smoking, or edibles.

 

Patients may also prefer a tincture which they can place under the tongue. Those with existing lung conditions should avoid smoking and perhaps try vaping.

 

The effects of cannabis may take a while to kick in and depend on many factors. The type of cannabis and the method plays a vital role.

 

A fast acting method is smoking or vaping. The patient may feel the effects almost immediately. Tincture placed under the tongue can kick in within 15 minutes.

 

The effects of edibles take a bit longer to set in. It could take one to two hours. After digestion, it takes a while to enter the bloodstream.

 

These effects will last a lot longer than the other methods of consumption. With edibles, the release is over a period of time. Patients should exercise care with this ingesting option.

 

The delay in feeling the effects may result in them taking extra doses. This action can lead to overindulging and the patient experiencing adverse effects.

 

Limit consumption to one hour before bedtime. There may first be a feeling of excitement before the sedation settles in. Taking cannabis earlier will allow for this elation to pass. 

 

As a health practitioner, you should monitor the patient's reaction. Then adjust the dosage as needed. There’s no ‘one size fits all’ when it comes to prescribed doses.

 

Patients remain the heart of healthcare

Many patients battle with ongoing sleep disorders. Some treatments leave them feeling more ill with its various side effects.

 

Finding a natural cure is something that’s uppermost in most patients' minds. In pursuit of finding a sleep solution, they’re looking to their doctors for guidance.

 

Familiarising yourself with all things cannabis related is what your patient needs. The minimal available evidence supports the efficacy of cannabis. In addition, the anecdotal proof is encouraging.

 

These guidelines are a step in helping you identify the best cannabis for sleep. Enabling you to evaluate the possible risks. Then provide your patients with the necessary treatment. After all, they're the heart of healthcare.

 

Keep abreast of the developments in the cannabis industry. Allow PlantEd to increase your knowledge and broaden your horizon. Find a course to suit you.

 

 

Citations/References

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