Of the 100+ different cannabinoids found in cannabis, cannabidiol (CBD) and
tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) are by far the most well understood. Research indicates that
these cannabinoids have a range of medical applications and may be used to treat a variety
of health conditions – including sleep issues. This will undoubtedly come as welcome news
to the 40 percent of Canadians who live with some form of sleep disorder, according to a
study by investigators from Université Laval.
Interestingly, a number of studies show that both THC and CBD can be effective for treating
sleep issues. However, the effects can vary quite substantially between THC- and CBDbased
sleep medicines, so it’s important that patients familiarize themselves with these
differences before choosing a product.
Are you trying to decide between using CBD or THC as medication for your sleep disorder?
We’ve rounded up everything you might need to know to make a more informed decision.
How Does THC Affect Sleep?
Perhaps the most important factor in choosing between CBD and THC is to understand how
the two cannabinoids actually affect your sleep. While both can improve your ability to get
some shut eye, the way they achieve it is quite different.
THC has strong sedative properties. The way it interacts with cell receptors in the brain has
a profound effect on the body’s sleep/wake cycle, and oils and capsules that contain a high
concentration of THC will typically make the user feel drowsy and ready for bed.
These anecdotal findings are backed by a study published in the Journal of Clinical
Psychopharmacology, in which investigators tested the effects of cannabis extracts on
certain sleep elements. Researchers found that the use of 15 mg of THC was associated
with reduced sleep latency and increased sleepiness. It was found that memory was impaired, sleep latency was reduced, and the subjects reported increased sleepiness and changes in mood.
How Does CBD Affect Sleep?
CBD affects sleep by decreasing stage three sleep but counteracting sleepiness the next day. Reaction time is better when a lower dose combination of CBD or THC is used.
THC might produce a more pronounced sedative effect than other cannabinoids, but that
certainly isn’t to say that CBD has no place in sleep treatment. Thanks to its soothing and
pain relieving properties, CBD is excellent for treating symptoms associated with other
health conditions that may otherwise hinder your ability to fall asleep. Not only is CBD
incredibly powerful at combating pain, alleviating inflammation and reducing anxiety, it can
also help regulate your sleep patterns.
Well, research published in FEBS Letters led investigators to conclude that “CBD modulates
waking via activation of neurons in the hypothalamus and DRD. Both regions are apparently
involved in the generation of alertness.” In other words, CBD actually makes you more alert.
This may seem like a counterproductive attribute for a sleep medication, but its ability to
prevent excessive somnolence makes CBD a great tool for anyone who needs to sleep less
or those attempting to transition to a healthier sleeping schedule.
Understanding the Psychoactive Effects
As we’ve learned, THC is superior to CBD when it comes to directly inducing sleep.
However, THC is also a psychoactive compound and is the cannabinoid largely responsible
for the high associated with cannabis use. This means there is always going to be a bit of a
risk with using THC-heavy medication, as it’s possible – particularly for inexperienced users –
to over medicate. This may result in feelings of anxiety, paranoia and more – none of which
are conducive to getting a good night’s sleep.
In contrast, CBD is non-psychoactive, meaning it produces no high whatsoever and has little
or no discernible impact on your day to day bodily functions. This allows patients to reap
many of the therapeutic benefits of cannabis without being subjected to its psychoactive
effects, which can be distracting or even dangerous in some situations.
CBD or THC: Which is Right for You?
There’s no one size fits all answer to this question. Whether you should opt for a CBD- or
THC-based medicine really depends on your own unique circumstances. The absence of
psychoactive effects makes CBD a reliable and widely available option, particularly if you
don’t want to experience a high when using your medicine. On the other hand, if you require
medication that can directly induce sleepiness and you’re confident of handling the high,
THC might be the better choice for you. As always, be sure to consult your doctor before
starting any new medication.
Treat Sleep Issues with Cannabis
Canabo Medical Inc. has identified a few strains of cannabis that work well for treating sleep issues. Feel free to refer to the company’s new online self-referral program for individuals with sleep issues.
Each patient is unique and should be assessed by one of Canabo’s Cannabinoid Specialists
to get the correct strains and amount of cannabis.
By: Jareth Trigwell