Medical marijuana has the potential to relieve a wide range of symptoms and conditions. But, like any other kind of medicine, it has side effects that impact some people more than others. Certain patients feel sleepy after they take their cannabis medicine. This drowsiness doesn’t cause any danger, but it can get in the way of daily functioning.
You may find yourself reading this blog post because you experience that sleepiness, too. If you understand why marijuana makes you tired, you can change your treatment plan to avoid it.
The Science Behind Cannabis and Sleepiness
We feel relief from medicinal cannabis thanks to science. The same science causes side effects like sleepiness to happen. Fortunately, when we understand how our bodies react to marijuana, we can reduce the side effects we feel and enhance the benefits. Cannabis makes you sleepy due to the following factors:
- Cannabinoids: The substance we call “medical marijuana” actually consists of about 500 compounds. Substances called cannabinoids give cannabis its properties and make up at least 85 of those compounds. They activate our endocannabinoid system, which includes receptors throughout our bodies. When cannabinoids activate receptors related to our sleep/wake cycle, we get sleepy. The compound tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) seems to be the main cause of the drowsiness associated with marijuana.
- Terpenes: In addition to cannabinoids, you can find hundreds of compounds called terpenes in cannabis. Even people who don’t use marijuana consume terpenes — they appear in aromatic herbs and plants. Just like cannabinoids, terpenes also work together to affect your body in different ways. A terpene called myrcene creates sleepiness and appears in cannabis.
- Medicine type: Patients have a wide range of methods to take cannabis medicine at their disposal. Some of these medication options can enhance the sleep-inducing effects of marijuana. Edibles with high amounts of sugar or tea infused with cannabis can calm you down and make you feel drowsy. Meanwhile, topical treatments that only reach your muscles may not make you tired at all. High-THC medicine formulas have a higher chance of drowsiness than medications with less THC.
As you can see, most of the reasons behind cannabis-related sleepiness have to do with the kind of medicine you take. A few minor factors come into play as well. Here are four ways to reduce marijuana-related drowsiness.
1. Try a Different Formula or Product
When you notice that your medicine causes drowsiness, you should first try changing to a different product. Concentrates, capsules and other infused products each have a formula of compounds. Some items have more THC than others, making them more likely to make you sleepy.
If you need a high amount of THC in your medicine, try asking for a product that also has a high amount of cannabidiol (CBD). CBD reduces the side effects of THC and improves its benefits. If you take your medicine in edible form, find something with lower sugar. Drink cannabis tea iced and in a non-herbal variety.
2. Change Your Strain
You should consider your medicine’s strain when looking for a remedy that doesn’t cause drowsiness. Searching for a new strain requires a few different considerations from when you look for a new infused product. Keep in mind that strains can count as an indica, sativa or hybrid. Indica strains have more sedating effects than strains with sativa heritage. Many indica strains have more terpenes in them than sativa strains. Even if your strain doesn’t have as much THC, the terpenes in it could impact its effects.
3. Take Fresher Medicine
While THC has the most influence over a medication’s ability to cause drowsiness, other cannabinoids have a similar effect. Cannabinol (CBN) amplifies the sleepiness associated with THC. You may not have much control over the THC in your medication unless you change it, but you can reduce the amount of CBN.
When THC makes contact with the air, it begins to turn into CBN. If you use flower to medicate, keep it stored in an airtight container away from light. Marijuana tends to contain more CBN when it becomes dry and aged due to a natural curing process.
4. Switch Your Treatment Schedule
If you feel satisfied with your medicine’s effects and don’t want to change it, you can try taking it before bed. Much of the drowsiness should go away when you wake up. However, some of the benefits could go away, as well.
This approach takes some experimentation, so try it the night before on a day you don’t plan to do much. You may find that you feel good enough throughout the day that you could change to a nighttime dosage. The added sleep benefits certainly don’t hurt, either.
Marijuana Medicine as a Sleep Aid
One fascinating aspect of medicinal cannabis is its side effects. Most pharmaceutical medications have side effects that we only consider harmful. Some of them have off-label uses, but not always. Meanwhile, medical marijuana has so much versatility that one person’s side effects are just another person’s benefits.