Sleep can be elusive, and in the past few years it has become disturbingly more so. Certainly, pain contributes to an inability to sleep soundly, and anxiety and stress can exacerbate that. But sleep is essential for healing and good health. Why can’t we simply drift off to Neverland for the night?

Simply put, the human body has regulatory systems in place to keep our body healthy. One of those regulatory systems is the endocannabinoid system (ECS), a complex network of receptors, enzymes, and molecules that work together to maintain balance (homeostasis) in the body and mind. It manages functions like pain, mood, sleep, appetite, sex drive, temperature, and, importantly, the immune system by producing and using its own chemical messengers, called “endocannabinoids” (“endo” means “internal”).

These endocannabinoids bind to specific receptors in the body, primarily CB1 (found in the brain and nervous system) and CB2 (found in peripheral tissues) receptors. Activating these receptors produces various effects, such as reducing pain or inflammation, improving mood, or stimulating appetite. When the endocannabinoids are no longer needed, the body produces enzymes that break them down.

But not everyone’s ECS functions well enough to sustain the homeostasis (balance) levels most beneficial to their health.

The good news is, if your body cannot produce enough of its own endocannabinoids to balance the body and mind for sleep, there is help available. External cannabinoids (phytocannabinoids) can interact with the same CB1 and CB2 receptors to produce effects like those of your own endocannabinoids. THC’s external cannabinoids can be used to treat certain medical conditions to help regulate the ECS and bring the body back into balance.

Cannabis promotes sleep by reducing anxiety and stress, common causes of sleep disturbances, as it has been shown to have anxiolytic and sedative effects. A low dose of cannabis (less than 5mg, a dose unlikely to cause psychoactivity) can calm the mind, separate anxious thoughts, and promote relaxation.

Additionally, cannabis can affect sleep positively by reducing chronic pain and inflammation, which can make it difficult to fall asleep and stay asleep, and by promoting deep sleep. When the ECS does not produce enough of its own cannabinoids to get us to sleep, the cannabinoids in cannabis can help the body’s ECS decrease pain, anxiety, and inflammation, thereby alleviating discomfort and promoting restful sleep.

THC, the psychoactive component in cannabis, is known to have sedative effects and can help people fall asleep faster. THC can also help to increase the amount of deep sleep, which is the most restorative stage of the sleep cycle. CBD, on the other hand, does not have the same psychoactive effects as THC and may not make you feel drowsy, but it has been shown to have calming effects that can help reduce anxiety and improve sleep quality. A combination of the two cannabinoids in a 1:1 ratio (e.g., 5 mg THC + 5 mg CBD) can often relieve pain, ease anxiety, and encourage sleep.

It is worth noting that the effects of cannabis on sleep can vary depending on the individual and the strain of cannabis used, if smoking. While some people may find that cannabis helps them sleep better, others may experience disrupted sleep or negative side effects such as grogginess or drowsiness the following day, usually a result of overdosing.

Use cannabis responsibly especially for those with pre-existing medical conditions or those taking other medications. Remember, too, that more is not necessarily better, and starting at a low dose and increasing that dose slowly can improve one’s response to cannabis over time.

Come visit us at Canuvo’s Cannabis Dispensary in Biddeford & Bridgton Maine, and we will assist you with your sleep efforts!

Sage Peterson
[email protected]
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