Many things can affect your ability to get a good night’s sleep. Sleep disorders can cause disruptions in sleep quantity and quality, and in some cases, it can be severe enough for a physician to consider prescribing a chemical sleep aid in order to maintain a consistent sleep schedule. The good news is that there are a number of sleep aids readily available, either over the counter or by prescription from a doctor. Melatonin, TCH, and CBD are among the most common sleep aids available. There are some distinct differences between each of these that as a consumer, you should be aware of. We will discuss these differences in more detail below.
Of all the chemicals associated with aiding sleep, melatonin is the most natural. In fact, it is naturally made by your own body when it is trying to induce a state of sleep. Melatonin is a hormone that is made by your pineal gland, found just above the middle of your brain. Normally, when you lie to sleep at night, your body begins ramping up production of Melatonin, especially as you are trying to fall asleep in a peaceful and dark environment. This hormone plays the important role of informing the rest of your body that it is time for sleep. For some individuals, especially those that are affected by sleep disorders, melatonin can be used as a supplement to help maintain better sleep consistency. Melatonin supplements can be found as pills, liquids, or chewables.
Compared to the other sleep aid substances such as THC or CBD, melatonin is arguably the least risky, both in regard to its effects on the body and the legality of use. Since melatonin is a hormone already naturally present in your body, it might make more sense to try this one first if you are looking for a supplement to help with sleep disorders or other sources of sleep disruption. Just like CBD or THC though, the research surrounding the use of Melatonin as a sleep aid is still quite new and not always conclusive. Because of this, you shouldn’t assume that melatonin will be a cure all for sleep needs.
Melatonin is a hormone that is made by your pineal gland.
THC, properly known as tetrahydrocannabinol, is one of the principal psychoactive cannabinoid compounds found in cannabis plants. THC is typically derived from different varieties of cannabis plants that have a higher level of THC in them, whereas plants that have a much lower quantity of THC are classified differently, such as hemp (a form of cannabis used for industrial purposes). THC has been shown to change or induce sleep patterns among those that use it. This makes THC worth considering as a sleep aid. Some studies show that ingesting marijuana with high levels of THC can reduce the amount of REM sleep that an individual will experience, while allowing for more states of “deep sleep”. This state of sleep is thought to be more restorative and making you feel more well rested when you wake up.
If you are considering THC as a sleep aid, you should also be aware of the different strains or blends that are commonly used.
- Indica- This type of strain is associated with relaxation.
- Sativa- This strain is used for those looking to feel excited, happy, and energized.
- Hybrids- A combination of indica and sativa. Hybrids are strains which are left up to the manufacturer or dispensary. These can have more specific effects for different for customers with specific needs.
As with many substances that we might not normally put into our bodies, THC may have a long-term impact on sleep quality or health. For instance, it has been shown that if used for too long, THC can actually cause worse sleep quality instead of improving it. THC, depending on how it is ingested, can also have other adverse health effects. Smoking something, such as marijuana, that contains THC increases the risk of diseases like COPD. Another impact of long-term marijuana use is change in the amount of gray matter in the brain. For younger individuals, such as teenagers, marijuana can also have long term effects on memory and cognitive function.
When using THC, you should be aware that its legality varies from state to state. Some states have legalized it for recreational use, while some have only legalized it for prescription based medical use. In some states, it is still totally illegal to use or consume THC. The exact use and legal quantities will vary from state to state and can also impact what sources you can get THC from as a sleep aid. Regardless of your state’s laws, all products with more than 0.3% THC by volume are illegal on the federal level. This means that you could still be prosecuted by federal law enforcement agencies for illegal possession and use of THC.
THC can reduce the amount of REM sleep that someone will experience, while allowing for more states of “deep sleep”. This state of sleep is thought to be more restorative and making you feel more well rested when you wake up.
Cannabidiol (CBD) oil is a phytocannabinoid derived from cannabis plants. It is similar to THC, but CBD is non-psychoactive. CBD is often used for recreational or medicinal purposes. Due to calm inducing properties, it is frequently used as a form of treatment for anxiety and chronic pain. Generally, the sleep aiding properties of CBD come mainly from its ability to induce a state of calm or relaxation while also providing pain relief. This can help counteract certain health conditions or sleep disorders that prevent restful sleep. Compared to THC, CBD may be more helpful or desirable to use due to the lack of psychoactive properties. Most CBD sleep aids or sleep products must also be tested to ensure THC levels are less than 0.3% in order to be available to the general public.
While the use of CBD is generally thought of as safe, its use can still have side effects. Some side effects could include fatigue, diarrhea, changes in appetite, or weight gain/loss. Compared to THC, there are less long-term negative effects of using it. However, if you’re looking to use CBD as a permanent solution for your sleep needs, some studies show that the usefulness of CBD as a sleep aid may not be long term, with its effects diminishing after a few months of use. As with THC, it is probably best not to rely entirely on a cannabinoid to cure your sleeplessness.
Overall, all of these sleep aid substances are generally safe to use, but please consult with a medical professional before consuming any of these substances. For substances such as THC and CBD, just be sure to following local and federal law, as well. Although you may find that these natural ingredients help you sleep, they may also have unintended side effects. Their use as sleep aids is relatively recent, so it is important to remember that there is a complex relationship in how they may affect sleep, the body, and each individual.