Problems falling asleep? You wake up easily, abruptly and can’t go back to sleep? You are not alone. According to the World Health Organization 40% of the world population had problems sleeping in 2019. Apart from that, the COVID-19 pandemic has halted essential mental health services in 93% of countries worldwide while the demand for mental health is increasing, according to a new WHO survey. This survey of 130 countries provides the first global data showing the devastating impact of COVID-19 on access to mental health services. Insomnia, among other disorders, is brought up during therapy and its treatment has led to an increase in the use of anxiety medications and antidepressants. The traditional treatment for insomnia is based on psychiatric medications such as zolpidem and benzodiazepines. However, the secondary effects of their chronic use produce symptoms of severe abstinence, driving patients to search for new alternatives like formulations based on medicinal herbs that improve sleep quality. Linden blossom, passion flowers, lemon balm, valerian, and cannabis are the most frequently mentioned in therapy.
The Therapeutic Effect of Cannabis on Insomnia
According to users’ experiences, cannabis can be useful to induce a better sleep quality because, after its initial stimulant effect, its sedative properties appear. Although the way in which this drug acts on the body is still being researched, there are studies suggesting that the effect of cannabis on sleep is triggered by the activation of CB1 and CB2 receptors. The best cannabinoid to curb insomnia is cannabidiol (CBN), resulting from THC oxidation.
Among all terpenes present in cannabis, it is worth mentioning the sedative effect of linalool and the soothing properties of myrcene, the latter being the most abundant terpene in indica varieties such as Blue Cheese or Og Kush.
Indicated Strains and Available Products
The recommended strains are varieties with a higher amount of THC over CBD, or an equal proportion of these two components, but—more importantly—with a high CBN content. The more mature the plant is when harvested, the higher the CBN content. The easiest-to-take administration forms are sublingual oil, vaping flower, or ingesting edibles such as cannabis gummies. Gummies are a great choice when the user doesn’t like the herbal flavour of cannabis extract and they are available in dosages ranging from 5 to 50 mg per gummy. They are on the rise since they are easy to dosage and easy to carry—apart from their tasty flavour.
Scientific Evidence of the Effects of Cannabis on Insomnia
In 2019, a retrospective study was carried out and was then published in The Permanent Journal. In this case, scientists studied the effect of CBD on sleep analysing the clinical records of 41 adult psychiatric patients taking CBD as a supplementary treatment to improve sleep quality besides the usual treatment at a mental clinic for outpatients. Patients took 25 mg of CBD in the form of pills each night after dinner. Some patients received higher doses. Two months after the beginning of the CBD treatment, 56.1% of patients, that is, 23 out of 41, reported an improvement in the way they slept as compared to the previous month.