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Can Smoking Sativa Help Insomnia? sleep disorder.

11 Jun 2023

Little by little, the marijuana family is becoming legalized, because of their health effects. One effect that has caused controversies and concerns is that of sativa on insomnia.

What is Sativa?

Sativa is the most common species of cannabis family that is used as marijuana.

The Cannabis family is an annual flowering herb characterized by a firm upright stem, divided leaves with serrations, and glandular hairs. It has three different species, which are,

  1. Cannabis Sativa
  2. Cannabis indica
  3. Cannabis ruderalis

Cannabis Sativa and Cannabis Indica are the two widely used of the three.

The major difference between these species of cannabis is that the common psychoactive element named Tetrahydrocannabinol(THC) is present in each of them in different proportions.

Cannabis sativa is said to have more THC than cannabis Indica.

Another important composite of cannabis is cannabidiol, which has a more relaxing, soothing effect and can serve to relieve pain.

Cannabis and Sleep.

Statistics show that about 70% of adults that randomly use marijuana admit that they do so to help them sleep. so it is widely used as a sleep aid. 

It has been reported  to have a notable effect on sleep. In a research done among people who use cannabis for medical reasons, like pain relief, about 85% say it improves their sleep.

So far, only occasional controlled use of Cannabis has been proven to improve immediate and overall sleep quality. Researchers  have made concerns  on Prolong uncontrolled usage,  as being detrimental to sleep quality overtime.

How Does Cannabis Affect Your Sleep?

Apart from  helping you fall asleep faster, cannabis may change your sleep cycle,( a term that describes how long you spend in the different sleep stages).

Temporal use of cannabis  appears to increase the time you spend in deep sleep, the stage that helps you wake up feeling refreshed.

THC decreases  rapid eye movement (REM) sleep time, this is a period of sleep characterized by  time dreaming, tossing and turning, processing of emotions, and creating new memories. REM sleep is a severity in people with Post Traumatic Disorder (PTSD)

Therefore, Decreased REM sleep can be progressive effect for people with PTSD, since nightmares are the disturbing symptoms here.

A study on people with PTSD found that synthetic forms of cannabis significantly decreased nightmares. Some participants in this study also attested to experiencing better overall sleep quality and fewer daytime flashbacks.

How does cannabis work for improved sleep quality?

 The sleep inducing effect of cannabis is  linked to its interactions with cannabinoid receptors in certain areas of the brain, like the cerebellum, basal ganglia, hippocampus and dorsal primary afferent spinal cord regions.

Cannabinoids are active compounds present in cannabis. They are carried in the blood to the brains, and actively bind to these receptors. After which, cannabinoids bind to these receptors, they send messages to increase levels of sleep-promoting adenosine levels and suppress the brain’s arousal system.

All these changes induce sleepiness and reduce restlessness and insomnia.

More so, the two active compounds (tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD)) in cannabis work to induce sleep in certain doses and conditions. These;

  1. THC sedating action comes to play for those who are using cannabis for the first time, or when a regular user increases the dose.
  2. CBD appears to elevate alertness at lower doses, and induce sleepiness at higher doses.
  3. THC has shown potential for treating obstructive sleep apnea, reducing PTSD-related nightmares, and improving sleep for people living with chronic pain. 
  4. CBD, may reduce symptoms of REM sleep behavior disorder and excessive daytime sleepiness.

 However, the most widely available Sativa strains mainly consist of a high limonene content that uplifts the mood. C Indica induces sleepiness. The percentage of THC levels can have an impact on your sleep cycle. A higher amount of THC can increase the chances of insomnia or restless sleep. Cannabis also consists of terpenoids that give it some peculiar characteristics. The different types of terpenes present in cannabis include

Does Sativa Help Insomnia?

So far we've learnt about the compositions of cannabis, the different species and how they generally   affect sleep.

Sativa and Indica are the most common natural forms of cannabis used for sleep inducement or alertness. Another form is "A hybrid".

Generally Sativa effect is  mood elevation. It makes people excited, happy and energized. It is considered more stimulating, and it may produce feelings of euphoria for some.

Indica on the other hand is thought to be the more calming species, and may help produce feelings of relaxation and sleepiness. People appear to prefer indica for pain management, relaxation, and sleep.

However, individuals who use cannabis to avoid nightmares and anxiety attacks may prefer sativa. 

Synthetic forms of Sativa appear to relieve nightmares and insomnia, but some researchers warn about the limitations of this information, as studies on dosing are not yet apparent.

The difference in effect of the two species of cannabis can be said to be a result of the difference in concentration of THC. 

Though some researchers argue that the effect of Indica and Sativa is based on individual usage, this is currently a  ground for more research.

Another school of thought suggests Sativa can induce relaxation in its ability to cause a boost of serotonin, a neurotransmitter which is involved in our brain's regulation of sleep, appetite, anxiety, movement, learning, and overall mood.

Things to consider before you try marijuana for insomnia.

Before you embark on the use of any form of cannabis; Sativa or indica or a hybrid, for insomnia, bear in mind that these are still the hard drugs; marijuana, which has ultimately been linked with  side effects.

First thing you must do is contact your physician. Although, health workers discourage sleeping aides, because of the long term side effects and dependency, there are certain exceptions where sleep aid is the only resort.

In such cases, your physician can provide you with the guidance peculiar to your health history and needs

Note that smoking of marijuana is associated with streams of respiratory diseases, as such you may want to consider deploying other forms of introducing cannabis.

some of which are;

by vaporizing, eating, or sublingually (placing the substance under the tongue as ).

  Also note that the different forms of administering marijuana offer different bioavailability (how much of the active THC that will be present in the bloodstream and carried to your brains).

        For example, Inhaled marijuana tends to have high bioavailability of up to 45%, while orally administered one has a bioavailability of about 17%.  The inhaled one enters the bloodstream directly, while orally ingested one is reduced by the first pass effect of digestion.

Lastly, an important consideration is how legal the use of cannabis is in your area. If not, talk to your physician about other ways to improve your sleep, such as sleep therapy or alternative sleep aids.

What are the side effects of Cannabis for insomnia?

While occasional controlled use of cannabis for insomnia can improve sleep with little or no side effects, long-term usage has side effects on both sleep quality and general health of users.

Firstly, continual use of cannabis to induce sleep makes the CNS to gradually develop immunity to it. This will necessitate an increased dose. Using High marijuana doses for a long time is linked with the following side effects on sleep quality;

  1. Little overall sleep
  2. Reduce time spent in deep sleep
  3. Longer falling asleep time
  4. Continual wakening.
  5. Could progress to anxiety and traumatic attack.

All of these effects will gradually lead back to the insomnia you were trying to cure.

Final Words


In all, whether or not to use Sativa and indeed any form of Marijuana for sleep is a completely a personal decision. Many have been able to successfully manage their insomnia using Marijuana. However, some people admitted that it makes them feel more paranoid or anxious. If you do not like the feeling of being high, a strain with a higher amount of CBD may be a better option for you.

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