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Cannabis and sleep, a double edged sword.
Cannabis has been used for centuries for its therapeutic properties, and one of its purported benefits is its ability to help with sleep. However, the impact of cannabis on sleep is a complex issue that requires a closer examination. In this post, we’ll explore the impact of cannabis on sleep and what science has to say about it.
The Science of Sleep
Before delving into the effects of cannabis on sleep, it’s important to understand the science of sleep. Sleep is a complex process that is crucial for our physical and mental health. It allows the body to repair and regenerate, helps consolidate memories, and is essential for mood regulation. There are two types of sleep: rapid eye movement (REM) and non-rapid eye movement (NREM). Both types of sleep are necessary for optimal health and well-being.
Cannabis and Sleep
The impact of cannabis on sleep is a topic of great interest to both researchers and cannabis users. Some people use cannabis to help them fall asleep, while others use it to stay asleep throughout the night. However, the impact of cannabis on sleep is not straightforward, and its effects may vary depending on the individual and the type of cannabis used.
Research shows that cannabis can help with sleep in some cases. According to a review of studies published in the journal Current Psychiatry Reports, cannabis use can improve sleep quality, reduce the time it takes to fall asleep, and increase total sleep time (Chasen et al., 2019). However, the review also noted that the effects of cannabis on sleep may vary depending on the dose, method of use, and the individual’s sensitivity to the drug.
Cannabis and REM Sleep
Cannabis has been found to have a significant impact on REM sleep. REM sleep is essential for memory consolidation and emotional regulation. Studies have shown that cannabis use can decrease the amount of time spent in REM sleep (Bolla et al., 2008). This can have both positive and negative effects. On the positive side, it may help alleviate symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), which is characterized by overactive REM sleep. On the negative side, a decrease in REM sleep can lead to cognitive impairment and memory problems.
Experts have varying opinions on the impact of cannabis on sleep. Some experts believe that cannabis can be beneficial for sleep, while others caution against its use. Dr. Michael J. Breus, a sleep expert and author, says that cannabis can be useful for short-term sleep problems, but it may not be the best long-term solution. “In the short term, cannabis can be an effective sleep aid, but in the long term, it can lead to dependence and withdrawal symptoms,” he says.
Dr. Jordan Tishler, a cannabis specialist and CEO of InhaleMD, agrees that cannabis can be helpful for sleep, but he advises caution. “Cannabis can be useful for sleep, but it’s not a magic bullet,” he says. “It’s important to use it responsibly and under the guidance of a healthcare professional.”
The impact of cannabis on sleep is a complex issue that requires a closer examination. While some studies suggest that cannabis can improve sleep quality and reduce the time it takes to fall asleep, its effects on REM sleep can have both positive and negative consequences. Experts caution against long-term use of cannabis for sleep and recommend its use under the guidance of a healthcare professional. As with any medication or treatment, it’s important to weigh the potential benefits against the risks and make an informed decision.
Chasen, M.R., et al. (2019). Cannabis, Cannabinoids, and Sleep: a Review of the Literature.