Sweet Sleep: How Cannabis Can Get You There
For an increasing amount of people, sleep is difficult to come by in the modern era. Technology, busy schedules, lack of exercise, too much caffeine, and anxiety can all lead to a racing mind and fidgety body that robs you of your rest. Thankfully, there are some cannabis strains that send you straight to dreamland without having to count sheep.
Whichever way you say it — crashing, dozing off, grabbing some shut-eye, hitting the sack, or catching 40 winks, you’re talking sleep.
Edgar Allen Poe had his own definition: “Sleep, those little slices of death — how I loathe them.” These days, many people would kill for a good night’s sleep.
According to statistics, roughly 60 million Americans are affected by some form of sleep disorder. Another study revealed around 40 percent of Canadians have some difficulty falling asleep each night.
And while some lucky sleepers can conk out within mere minutes of their head hitting the pillow, many insomniacs couldn’t pick the Sandman out of a lineup. It’s not like they don’t want to fall asleep, they just can’t. And for them, a sleep aid of some type is often the only option.
The Downside of Staying Up
A continuous lack of sleep can become a very serious matter leading to a surfeit of unhealthy conditions that include the physical as well as mental. There is a reason sleep deprivation is often used in interrogative operations. The following is a short list of issues that can arise when you don’t get enough shut-eye for an extended period. Insufficient amounts of sleep can bring about:
- Disease and other maladies
- Poor balance and sluggish reaction times
There are many more unwanted residuals associated with not getting enough sleep, some with consequences that can be even more serious.
The US Department of Transportation estimates at least 100,000 traffic accidents and more than 1,500 deaths occur each year in the US from drowsy drivers falling asleep at the wheel.
The list of benefits of a good night’s rest rivals its flipside.
A sound sleep promotes better health by:
- Boosting the immune system
- Improving mood and attitude
- Reducing stress levels
- Helping quell anxiety while lessening depression
- Improving memory and recall
- Sharpens reaction times and our ability to think clearly
It’s clear that a good night’s sleep is important for good health.
Marijuana and Natural Sleep
In an effort to avoid over-the-counter and prescription pharmaceuticals, sleepy souls are seeking a more natural solution. Products such as herbal teas and bath salts are good, but sometimes it takes a little more firepower to put you down for the night.
Containing more than 400 compounds, including more than 60 cannabinoids, Cannabis sativa is proving to contain a reservoir of medical benefits with potentially many more yet to be discovered. Two cannabinoids in particular have garnered the most attention from the medical world for study: Delta-9-tetrahydrocannibinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD oil).
The exact reasons cannabis helps us to fall asleep aren’t clearly known and much of what we do know is anecdotal. More study needs to be undertaken, but some research suggests it may be the THC and terpenes working in concert that help us to relax. Terpenes are aromatic compounds that give marijuana its fragrance and taste. We know the terpenes in chamomile and lavender are sleep-inducing and they may play the same role in marijuana.
Many insomniacs are discovering smoking a little indica an hour before bedtime to be an excellent alternative to pharmaceuticals. It may take a bit of experimenting before you hit on the one that provides you the good night’s sleep you seek.
With so many strains on the market, where does one start in choosing the best sleep-promoting smoke? You can begin by knowing the difference between the two major types of cannabis: sativa and indica.
Sativa vs Indica
As a general rule, sativas are a good daytime smoke. They produce a more cerebral experience that tends to be uplifting and energetic, often creating a feeling of pleasure and well-being. Sativas allow the user to enjoy some euphoria while blissfully going about their daily routine and tasks.
Therefore, a sativa probably shouldn’t be your first choice when seeking a botanical sleep aid. Some sativa strains are very potent and may help with relaxation before bed but, overall, are not really recommended. The very opposite effect you’re looking for may occur, bringing you back to square one.
An indica strain, on the other hand, is more a child of the night. Indicas are much more sedative and best enjoyed when the day is winding down. Indicas generate a higher high along with a deeper stone, often referred to as a body-stone. The self-descriptive couch-lock is another term used to describe an indica high when indulged in too deeply.
For a better night’s sleep, experts recommend a smoke containing less than 20 per cent THC. A higher percentage, they state, could lead to a sluggish morning-after hangover. Experiment. And remember, all things in moderation. For best results, try smoking a little bit an hour before bedtime. You can always take another pull if needed.
The Sleepy Six
What you’re looking for is Goldilocks Ganja. Something not too heavy, not too light, but just right. If you have access to a dispensary, this list will give you a good starting point. Admittedly, some of these brands are common names within the cannabis culture, but not everyone knows them and they do have a track record of sedating their host.
Northern Lights — Winner of the coveted Cannabis Cup and other prestigious awards, this indica dominant hybrid has been closing people’s eyes since it took the cannabis world by storm in the 1980s. A legendary smoke with a relaxing and persuasive stone.
Super Skunk — An indica-dominant plant with an average THC content hovering just below 20 percent that delivers a knock-out stone. Consumers report this superior indica has also shown to be efficacious at reducing pain and anxiety.
Hash Plant — This heavy hitting indica makes the perfect nightcap. A strong sedative smoke with an earthy taste reminiscent of Nepalese Temple hash. Containing an ideal THC content peaking at 13 percent, this powerhouse will have you checking your eyelids for holes in very short order.
Afghan Kush — Offers the user a host of sleep enhancing and relaxing properties with the ability to calm a busy mind and provide a head-nodding high. This powerful strain contains all the elements necessary to facilitate a good night’s sleep.
Aurora Indica — This 90 percent indica-governing night stalker is just what the doctor ordered when it comes to relieving tension and laying you back. A superior smoke that will get you stoned to the bone while bringing about a euphoric state of the highest quality.
Granddaddy Purple — Resistance is futile with this west coast classic. One of the most popular and potent of all the purple strains and the love child of Big Bud and Purple Urkle, GDP is an indica-dominant beauty possessing all the gifts of a superstar. Fascinating fragrance, remarkable taste, physical beauty, and a stunning stone. Fluff your pillow before getting too involved with this girl.
Again, all things in moderation. There’s no need to smoke yourself into a coma at bedtime. There is a difference between falling asleep and passing out or waking up versus coming to. For newbies, smoking etiquette dictates you hit it lightly and be patient in awaiting the effect (10 to 15 minutes) before taking another draw if needed. Ultimately, the goal is to find a strain that gives you the euphoria you enjoy while helping you get the sleep you need. Sweet dreams.
Written by Alan Ray
Alan Ray has written five books and is a New York Times best-selling author. Additionally, he is an award-winning songwriter with awards from BMI and ASCAP respectively. He lives in rural Tennessee with his wife, teenage son, and two dogs: a South African Boerboel (Bore-Bull) and a Pomeranian/Frankenstein mix.