Creating a cannabis infused sleep routine
The sleep-rich spend 1/3 of their lives sleeping.
The sleep-poor on the other hand; those of us that have a hard time falling asleep and staying asleep … well it would probably just be too depressing to compare that stat.
Our entire system - our brain, nervous system, muscular system, digestive system, spirit, ALL of it requires a full night of quality sleep to function optimally. If you aren’t catching those zzz’s, you’ll likely notice you are irritable, foggy and have less patience, energy and motivation … and those are only the first effects you will notice!
When lack of sleep builds up, sleep deprivation kicks in and then you are in some serious trouble. Anxiety, depression, inflammation, impaired immune function, major concentration issues (which will greatly reduce your productivity), weight gain AND if that’s not enough, your chances of developing diabetes, heart disease and stroke increasing significantly.
So if sleep is a natural function of being human, WHY is it so dang hard?!
You probably won’t be surprised to hear the answer: STRESS
Yep, that again.
We all have it. We all complain about it and joke about it (I'm such a hot mess), to make it slightly more bearable and relatable. We even stress about our stress. Crazy, right?
Everyday the world seems to move a little faster and even with our best efforts and intentions, our to do list just continues to get longer.
We try our best to carve out time for self care and relaxation, with the hopes of easing the stress, tension and anxiety, but that too can sometimes feel like something else to be checked off our to do list.
What we really need is a good night’s sleep. A peaceful eight hours of uninterrupted sleep. That’s what dreams are made. More sleep equates to more energy, concentration, motivation, patience, clarity and productivity. You might even shed a few of those extra pounds and avoid developing some serious health concerns.
So enough about WHY we need sleep … HOW are we going to start counting ourselves among the sleep rich?
First, let’s chat about what we should avoid.
Caffeine and sugar are a little like a poorly stuck bandaid. You have to keep re-sticking it and eventually replace it with a stickier one. Both are addictive because they lead to a quick rush of energy, followed by a hard crash, which leaving you craving more! They can also both produce a whole host of their own health issues. I know this rolling terrain all too well. I just came off a poor night’s sleep, my eyes are half closed, my energy reserves are depleted and I just finished my second cup of coffee. For me coffee isn’t about increasing energy, it feels like comfort to me, a warm hug even; and I don’t add sugar or cream - so there’s that! ;) More on this later.
You could also turn to alcohol to slow down the stress wheel, but that just leads to a worse night’s sleep (you might fall asleep quickly, but you are likely to wake up and not get back to sleep again), a headache and potentially sitting in an AA room listening to stories of dive bars and missed chances.
The same can be said for narcotics and even prescription drugs, but I’ll save my opiod discussion for another time. So just don’t do drugs, K!?
I know it can be tempting to zone out with a Netflix series or scrolling insta, but I urge you: DO NOT turn to your phone or Netflix before bed. Blue-light emitting devices before bedtime can disrupt your sleep patterns by suppressing the production of melatonin, that beautiful hormone that tells our bodies and brain that it is time to sleep.
Not doing these things, won’t necessarily guarantee you’ll be sleeping soundly though. To increase your likelihood of falling asleep faster and staying asleep longer, try using a cannabis product before bed. An indica dominant strain, in whichever form you choose to consume or use it, will be your best sleep buddy. Indica strains produce calming, sleepy affects, while sativa dominant strains can increase energy and make you feel super creative, which might just equate to you solving all of the world’s problems and not sleeping a wink. Been there, done that.
You can go the CBD only route, if you want to avoid THC, but personally I find better sleep relief when CBD+THC are combined. There are pros and cons to both, which we will have in a different conversation.
There are a lot of ways to consume or use cannabis, which can lead to a lot of questions and confusion when you are a newbie to the canna scene. Whether you choose CBD+THC or CBD alone, the following consumption information applies to both.
Inhalation: If you are not opposed to smoking your herb, inhalation is an effective and immediate way of finding relief. Again, an indica dominant strain will be your best bud (pun intended) for sleep. You can roll a joint or pack a bowl, a one hitter or bong … whatever you prefer. For those of you who are looking for an easy and discrete way to smoke, I try out a small pipe or one hitter, like this one by Ryot. You simply grind your herb and then pack the end of the one hitter, light it up … and then soak up the immediate effects of relaxation and calm.
Like wine, burning your herb is great to help you fall asleep, but the effects wear off after only a couple of hours, so it is not a great solution on its own to catch a full night of zzzz’s. Combining inhalation with a capsule or tincture (see below) is a great option. You will fall asleep easily and stay asleep longer!
As always do your due diligence and research the pros and cons of smoking. There are some health risks you should be aware of before you choose to smoke anything.
Vaping: As with smoking, choose an indica strain and decide for yourself if you want only CBD or CBD+THC. Invest in a dry herb vaporizer over an oil or capsule vaporizer. Research shows that vaping oils can be quite harmful to lung health. The main difference between vaping and smoking is that with vaping you are heating up your herb to activate the cannabinoids (CBD and THC) and with smoking you are burning it to activate. Again, use your own brain, do some research and decide for yourself if vaping is something you want to do.
Capsules: This one is pretty easy - you just swallow it like you would any other capsule and then wait for sleep to take over. Because it has to travel through the digestive system it takes longer to feel the effects (up to 2hours), but it lasts 6-8 hours. Sleep bliss!
Tinctures: Most bottles come with a dropper and dosage marks. Follow the dosage recommendations on the bottle to start and if you find you need a little more next time, take a little more! The glory of a tincture is that you can experiment to find your ideal dosage, rather than being limited to the dosage inside a capsule. Our body types, digestive system and metabolism all determine what your dosage requirements might be. I might find relief with only .5ml while you might need 1ml.
To take the tincture just empty the dropper full under your tongue (sublingual) and hold it there for about 60 seconds. It will be absorbed through your blood vessels, which means you will likely notice the calming effects within 15 minutes. The kicker; it only lasts for 4-6, which falls a little short the recommend 7-8 hours of sleep. If I wake up and can’t get back to sleep, I just take another dose! Save yourself some trouble by keeping it on your nightstand for an easy transition back to sleep.
Topicals: I highly recommend adding a THC+CBD topical to your nightly sleep routine of a capsule or tincture. Topicals can stand alone; you get all the benefits of those magical cannabinoids, but without ingesting it. You can apply it yourself to anywhere you feel tension in your body, but my personal favourite is getting hubby to give me a long and relaxing massage. I am a melty puddle of sleepiness.
Smoking: If you are not opposed to burning your herb, inhalation is an effective and immediate way of finding relief. Again, an indica dominant strain will be your best bud (pun intended) for sleep. You can roll a joint, pack a bowl or a one hitter, bong … whatever you prefer. For those of you who are looking for an easy and discrete way to smoke, I would recommend a small pipe or one hitter, like this one by Ryot. You simply grind your herb and then back the bowl or end of the one hitter, light it up … and then soak up the immediate effects of relaxation and calm.
Oral Strips: Oral strips dissolve under your tongue quickly and are absorbed sublingually, delivering cannabinoids into the bloodstream in less than 15 minutes. With a precise dosage, you don't need to do any guesswork, but you also can't customize your dosage.
There are some other forms of consumption, like infused beverages, but who wants to drink too much of anything right before bed. The goal here is to sleep, not be using the bathroom all night!
I might not be a doctor or a scientist, but I am someone who has dealt with sleep deprivation for longer than I care to attach a number to.
I have tried melatonin, sleeping pills, wine, sleep meditations, anxiety meds, long soaks in the tub before bed; I have even begged, prayed and repeated the mantra “I am a good sleeper” until that even kept me awake at night. My sleep issues escalated with the arrival of 3 children in 3.5 years. For 6 straight years I was pregnant, nursing or both. For 6 years we had babies, sometimes all of them, in our bed which lead to even less sleep. For 6 years I was absolutely sleep deprived and hanging on by a thread. When I should have been enjoying my babies, I was irritable, impatient and sometimes not very kind. Migraines, headaches and back pain made it even worse. Last year I decided to make good sleep a priority in my life.
I can’t tell you what your magic formula for better sleep will be, but I can share with you what helps me to fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer.
Step 1: Get the kids to bed!
Step 2: Steep my relax tea with CBD flower
Step 3: Burn (smoke) my favourite indica flower
Step 4: Yoga practice/Journalling - I 100% let my body guide me - sometimes it is low+slow, other times a sweaty work out and sometimes I’m all about headstands and balancing. Taking my head out of the equation only happens because of the indica!
Step 5: Meditation
Step 6: Take CBD tincture, apply my favourite de-stressing essential oil blend (Wild + Free - available in the shop!), apply canna balm/topical (hopefully as a back rub by hubby ;))
Step 7: Sleeeeeeeeppp
When I stick to my sleep routine, I sleep well. When I don’t stick to my routine, I don’t sleep well. Pretty simple.
Remember how I said that I laid awake last night? That’s because I got through the first 6 steps faithfully, but then hubby and I watched a movie instead of slipping into sleep. When the movie ended, I laid awake for an eternity with a pin ball bouncing around in my head, then I slept fitfully until I was woken up by ALL 3 kids crawling into bed. Then I spent the rest of the night sweating on my allotted 4 inches of the bed until my alarm went off at 6. I may have cried at this point.
Moral of the story: find your routine and stick with it as best you can every night. I find that when I falter from my bedtime routine, I don’t only suffer with no sleep that night, but also for the following few nights afterwards. My hubby, who I simultaneously envy and curse because he is one of the sleep-rich (he can legit fall asleep anywhere in less than 7 seconds!) could never understand why I need a sleep routine. He might not understand it, but we can both agree that I am a much nicer person when I sleep, so he plays along with it.
Also, keep in mind that it might take a few nights for your routine to start working for you. Remember that your body and mind are so used to being awake all night that it might take a few nights to get them used to actually sleeping.
Don’t be discouraged if takes you a few tries before you find a sleep routine that works for you. It will be so worth it in the end.
Soon you too will be counting yourself among the sleep-rich!