Sleep is an essential part of life for all humans. It is an important part of our lives, as it helps us to regulate our circadian rhythms, as well as our physical and mental health. While we all need sleep, not everyone sleeps the same way. Different sleep cycles exist, and understanding them can help us better understand our own sleep patterns and how to improve them. Additionally, medicinal cannabis may offer some benefits for those who have difficulty sleeping.
What are Sleep Cycles?
Sleep cycles are periods of time during which our bodies transition between different stages of sleep. During a sleep cycle, our bodies transition through three main stages: light sleep, deep sleep, and REM sleep.
Light sleep is the first stage of sleep, and it is the most shallow. During this stage, our bodies are still awake but our brains are beginning to relax.
Deep sleep is the second stage of sleep, and it is when our bodies are in a state of deep relaxation. Our bodies are in a heightened state of rest, and our muscles and organs are fully rested. During this stage, our bodies are in a state of repair and regeneration.
Finally, REM sleep is the third stage of sleep and is when our bodies are in a state of dreaming. During this stage, our brains are active, and our bodies are in a state of rest. The amount of time spent in each stage of sleep varies from person to person, and it is important to note that the total amount of sleep needed each night is between seven and nine hours. During this time, the body cycles through these stages several times. The length of each cycle can vary from person to person but typically lasts between 90 minutes and two hours.
Benefits of Medicinal Cannabis for Sleep
The cannabis flower contains more than 120 different phytocannabinoids, with delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD) being the most studied cannabinoids of interest.
Cannabis, specifically with strains containing higher levels of THC, is known to have a dose-dependent effect on sleep. THC acts on the CB1 receptors in the central nervous system and can yield a biphasic effect on sleep such that THC, at lower doses, can reduce sleep onset latency and has been associated with greater ease of falling asleep, increased slow-wave sleep and increased total sleep time. At higher doses, THC-predominant cannabis has demonstrated a reduction in total rapid eye movement (REM) sleep and REM density.
CBD, the second most abundant cannabinoid found in cannabis, has been shown to have a dual effect on sleep latency. At lower doses, CBD can have a stimulating effect; however, at higher doses, it can have more of a sedating effect. It can increase total sleep time and decrease the frequency of arousals during the night. Overall, cannabis may have a short-term benefit on improving sleep time, where evidence has shown reductions in sleep onset latency.
Based on the available evidence, THC and THC derivatives, used either alone or in combination with CBD, have been shown to improve self-reported sleep scores.
Sleep is an essential part of life, and understanding the different sleep cycles can help us to better understand our own sleep patterns and how to improve them.
Medicinal cannabis may offer some benefits for those who have difficulty sleeping. The two main active components, THC and CBD, can help to reduce pain, anxiety, and stress, as well as increase levels of melatonin. While medicinal cannabis may be beneficial for some, it is important to consult with a doctor before trying it, as it may interact with certain medications.