Sleep & Medical Marijuana


As we know, medical marijuana in Pennsylvania is directly prescribed to treat a number of qualifying conditions. That being said, a major part of treating a condition is treating the symptoms associated with it. For many conditions, such as chronic pain, PTSD, anxiety, cancer, opioid use disorder, Alzheimer’s, and autism spectrum disorder (just to name a few), a common and difficult symptom is sleep loss. As many medical marijuana patients struggle with sleep loss and sleep disturbances, medical marijuana has great potential to help them find relief. 

The Importance of A Good Night’s Sleep

Anyone can understand the frustration of trying to fall asleep and not being able to, or to not be able to sleep consistently throughout the night. Common immediate effects of sleep deprivation include irritability, daytime fatigue, mood swings, and difficulty focusing and remembering. However, long term effects of sleep deprivation can include increased anxiety and depression, weakened immune system, and increased blood pressure. When the body is already working hard to fight disease and illnesses, or someone is struggling with pain and anxiety throughout the day, losing sleep can only serve to make things more difficult. 

Adults need about 7-9 hours of sleep per night, and children need about 8-12. Without those hours of sleep, the body can’t function as it needs to to keep a person supported throughout the day as well as through the conditions they may already be dealing with. While there are a number of treatments for sleep specifically, medical marijuana may be able to help those who are experiencing sleep loss as a symptom.

How Medical Marijuana Can Help You Sleep Better

There are a number of properties and varieties of marijuana that can be helpful options for sleep loss. One such commonly known way is with indica strains. Indica marijuana plants are identified by their shorter and wider leaf structure. Common effects of indicas including body effects, appetite stimulation, as well as relaxation and sedation, making it a common choice for sleep aid. Generally when looking for a product that will help with sleep, indicas are a go to choice, and they are also common choices for people looking for pain and anxiety relief. That being said, not all indicas are going to be sedating or sleep aids, so there are other factors to consider when looking for the right indica strain. 

One important measure to look for in indica products are the terpenes, specifically, products that are high in myrcene and linalool. Myrcene has sedating properties (as well as pain relieving properties) and linalool can be very relaxing as well as helpful for anxiety relief. Alternatively, the terpene pinene can provide a boost of energy, so while it may be helpful for staying awake during the day, it may not be the best option for falling asleep at night, so consider looking for strains that have lower/no amounts of pinene present. 

High CBD products can also be very helpful for sleep. CBD has many of the same properties as THC, though it is not psychoactive like THC. Due the lack of psychoactivity present, CBD has great potential to help with anxiety, stress, pain, as well as being a sleep aid. Similarly, the cannabinoid CBN has potential as a sleep aid. 

In addition to the right strains to look for, with sleep it is important to consider the kinds of products to look for and their consumption methods. Many patients may be used to having to use their medical marijuana multiple times a day, however, when it comes to sleep, the idea is to be able to stay asleep throughout the night. What a patient needs will of course vary, especially considering how their condition is affecting their sleep. Products like dry flower and vaporizers may be helpful for those looking to fall asleep quickly, as inhaled products take about 0-10 minutes to take effect. The effects typically only last between 1-2 hours, so some patients may find that they wake up when the product wears off. In that case, there are tinctures that take about 20-30 minutes to take effect, and last about 4-6 hours, and ingestible oils and capsules that, though they take 1-2 hours to take effect, they last about 6-8 hours. For many, a combination of these kinds of products may also prove to be a helpful remedy. 

There are so many conditions that can cause sleep deprivation, and because so many of those conditions are treatable with medical marijuana, sleep deprivation becomes treatable as well. Though sleep is a routine part of our lives, it is an essential, important part of our lives as well, and regardless of condition, everyone should be able to have a good night’s sleep. For patients who are treating their conditions with medical marijuana but are also suffering from sleep loss, consider if marijuana may be able you get back to sleeping too!

Disclaimer: These statements have not been reviewed for accuracy by the FDA. As always, seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider when considering trying a new treatment. Do not start or stop taking any medications without speaking to your doctor first. 


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