Are you one of millions of Americans suffering from sleep deprivation? If so, a supplemental sleep aid might be just what you need to get in some more zzz’s and improve your overall health.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 35% of Americans report sleeping less than the recommended 7 hours per night and an additional 35% report that, although they sleep 7 or more hours, the quality of sleep is very poor. Lower income adults, women, and people with generally high levels of stress make up the group of people who sleep less or have unsatisfactory sleep quality.
Inadequate sleep can have a profound impact on one’s health. In the short-term, it can affect mood and judgement, the ability to learn and retain information, and it can increase the possibility of an accident or injury. Over a longer period of time, lack of sleep can lead to obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and even early death.
Some people turn to prescription medications, such as Ambien, to help deal with their chronic sleep deprivation. But others prefer more natural methods and choose to incorporate different supplements into their daily routines. For years the most popular option has been melatonin, but now, cannabinoids are emerging as a new and effective way to get a restful night’s sleep as well.
Cannabinoids vs. melatonin as a better sleep aid has been a hot topic of discussion lately. Let’s take a look at each these compounds separately, and also how they can be used together.
Cannabinoids are a diverse group of chemical compounds that can be found within our own bodies (endocannabinoids) and in plants (phytocannabinoids). Today we’ll discuss a few of the main cannabinoids found in cannabis plants: THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), CBD (cannabidiol), and CBN (cannabinol). According to Terry Roycroft, the president of the Medicinal Cannabis Resource Centre Inc. (MCRCI), “cannabis influences the bodies endocannabinoid system, which plays an important role in regulating your anxiety, which calms the body enough to fall asleep.”
Studies indicate that cannabinoid signaling can have a direct and positive impact on sleep. For example, CBD, while not necessarily a sedative, can help relieve anxiety and calm your nerves, making it easier to relax before bed. One study suggests that CBD can help improve the quality of your sleep by decreasing the amount of “nightly sleep disturbances”.
THC, which many agree can make them quite tired (especially if using an indica strain with high concentrations), is a scientifically proven sleep aid as well. Research shows that THC “significantly decrease the time it takes to fall asleep in physically healthy insomniacs.” A small 2008 study did mention that THC can reduce the amount of REM sleep you get and lead to less dreams though, so that’s something to take into consideration.
One of the lesser known cannabinoids, CBN, is also said to have a major part in promoting good sleep. As a matter of fact, CBN is the most powerful sedative out of all the cannabinoids. Evidence of this dates back all the way 1976, but more prominent studies have been conducted over the years. Chief Research Officer Rev. Dr. Kymron deCesare of Steep Hill Labs claims that CBN is five times more sedating than THC.
Melatonin is a hormone that’s made by the pineal gland in the human brain. It helps control your daily sleep-wake cycles, as well as your immune and reproductive systems. Your circadian rhythm and the amount of daily light that you’re exposed to dictate how much melatonin your pineal gland secretes.
Triggered by darkness, melatonin levels start to elevate in the mid to late evening and they peak at night when it’s completely dark. As the sun rises, these levels decrease and you start to feel more and more awake. Aside from natural light, your diet can play a role in melatonin levels. Foods with high levels of this hormone include: walnuts, tomatoes, olives, barley, rice, cherries, strawberries, and cow’s milk.
Can Cannabinoids and Melatonin Be Used Together?
Yes! It’s not necessarily cannabinoids vs. melatonin, but rather cannabinoids AND melatonin. Multiple companies are starting to make supplements using a combination of these. Anecdotal data also shows that many people are self-medicating with cannabinoids to improve their sleep. When it comes down to it, whether you choose melatonin, cannabinoids, or a combination of the two, it all depends on what works best for you and what has fewer side effects.
Sometimes it takes a bit of trial and error to find a perfect sleep aid. Maybe trying cannabinoids alone, each cannabinoid separately, adding just a little bit of melatonin… it’s all up to you.
Have you ever mixed cannabinoids with melatonin to create your own sleep aid? How did it work for you? We’d love to hear your thoughts, drop us a line in the comment section below!