“Mom couldn’t sleep more than a couple of hours and then she would just lie awake until I came in to get her up in the morning. She would always be exhausted. When Medical Marijuana became legal in our state I asked her doctor if she would prescribe it for Mom for sleeping. The doctor said that she could prescribe Medical Marijuana for pain but not for sleeping, so we agreed that it might help Mom’s arthritis. I filled out the paperwork and got approved and then went to the dispensary and bought the first prescription. The young woman there talked with me about dosage and recommended a Vaporizer for Mom rather than her smoking the Marijuana. She showed me how it worked and how easy it was to control the dose by the size of what I put in the Vaporizer.
Mom now inhales just once or twice from the Vaporizer at bedtime and then falls asleep reading! Before her Medical Marijuana she hadn’t read a book in years. Now she reads and then sleeps for five or six hours. And also, we now light up the vaporizer again before her lunch, which she now actually eats and then she takes a two-hour nap! Medical Marijuana has been a blessing for her. And it really does help with her arthritis pain too.”
Kathy (Washington) in a Panaceachronicles.com comment
If Cannabis Flowers did nothing else but help people get a good night’s sleep or a restful afternoon nap then the fact that it is helpful in so many other ways almost wouldn’t matter. But the fact is that, for most older people, pure, natural Cannabis flowers are the only sleep-aid they will ever need. The bonus is that these natural little beauties are not addictive like so many pharmaceuticals and don’t cause collateral damage to your brain or body like almost all pharmaceuticals.
Where most prescription and OTC sleeping pills operate by knocking you out without even a hint of subtlety, and leave you with brain fog and a nasty headache, not to mention organ and neurological damage with long-term use, you can tailor your Cannabis flower sleep medicine to give you exactly the kind of sleep you’re looking for without paying for that relief with ugly side-effects afterwards.
Since there are over 800 recognized strains of Cannabis, and since each strain has its own treating & healing properties, let’s begin by discussing the best kinds of Cannabis for promoting sleep.
In one sense this is an easy task. Almost any landrace or hybrid Kush, a family of Cannabis strains that originates in the mountains of Central Asia, has strong sleep-inducing properties. Commonly available Kush strains include Hindu Kush, OG Kush, Purple Afghani and Purple Kush.
Some strains based on Kush genetics without “Kush” in their names also have the sleep-aid properties of pure Kush strains including AK-47 and White Widow. A little research at a credible website such as leafly.com will give you all the information you need, and if there is a dispensary in your area that you trust you’ll probably be able to get good advice on the spot.
With a number of excellent choices available, if you are using a medical Cannabis dispensary as your source then choosing which Cannabis strain is right for you, or the older person you are caring for is simply a matter of what is available in your area. In states that allow medical Cannabis sales through dispensaries your challenge is going to be finding the most helpful, knowledgeable dispensary and then working with them to determine which of the strains they carry will work best in your individual situation.
When discussing Medical Marijuana with any advisor for use as a sleep aid remember that it is important to take into account whether you are taking any pharmaceuticals for any other medical conditions. If you are fortunate enough to live in a legal state and have a doctor who is knowledgeable then you can get advice from them, but the reality is that Cannabis conflicts with very few pharmaceuticals. However, if for example you have Diabetes then you will want to choose a strain that does not promote the “Munchies” which could easily lead to a blood sugar overload. In case you weren’t paying attention or weren’t around in the 60s, the “Munchies” are simply an uncontrollable to eat. Anything. Preferably sweet. Not good if you have Diabetes.
This is just one example of the kind of common-sense precaution that anyone using Cannabis for any reason needs to take. Without doubt the greatest precaution that everyone needs to take is to buy only organic Cannabis, as far as that’s possible. Cannabis growers can’t technically say “organic” because USDA is playing “Cannabis is Federally illegal” games, but there are plenty of ways for growers to communicate with the comunity. Others include precautions that asthmatics need to keep in mind when thinking about inhaled vs ingested Cannabis, issues that a person challenged with obesity might face if the Cannabis strain that they choose for sleep instead makes them want to raid the fridge, and potential hazards from falling that an elderly person might face unless they are all tucked in before their Cannabis sleep aid starts to come on strong, or if they have to get up in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom and are still half-asleep. Any such issues can be resolved by taking a thoughtful approach to the use of Cannabis as a sleep aid, and by asking knowledgeable people for advice on potential issues before beginning.
In states that allow patients to contract with growers for their medical Cannabis supply you won’t be limited to what a dispensary has in stock as a sleep aid choice, since a responsible medical Cannabis grower will have access to seed stock for virtually any strain you feel is best, and of course a good grower will also understand the properties of each strain and be able to make knowledgeable recommendations.
Finally, if you are in a position to grow a personal legal crop of medical Cannabis for yourself or for someone technically your “patient” if you have a medical Cannabis license, you will be able to choose from among dozens of first-rate Cannabis seed suppliers, and you’ll be even more certain of the provenance of the strain you are growing. These are people who have been in the trenches of the “War On Drugs”, and who have dedicated their lives to making authentic, pure Cannabis seeds available to growers worldwide despite the terrible risks. Now that Cannabis is finally coming into its own as a natural medicine these seed producers have come out into the open and as long as you live in a Cannabis-legal state you’ll be able to buy your seeds from any of them online.
Are We Talking Naptime or Nighttime?
Normal sleep patterns vary so much that there’s no general prescription the best use of Cannabis therapy for an individual who is experiencing a short-term or long-term disruption of their sleep. Fortunately, plenty of people have talked online about their experiences with Cannabis as a sleep-aid.
It’s important to keep in mind that a person with sleep problems might not need a Cannabis strain that will essentially knock them out, and some of the “couchlock” strains of Cannabis Indica can do just that. But a given individual may benefit more from a Cannabis Sativa strain that simply relaxes them and helps them enjoy reading a little before falling asleep, and might reject the more compelling hammer of Indica at bedtime. Because Cannabis lets a person choose from among different pathways to sleep it’s important not to throw away this advantage by simply assuming that everyone needs a strong Cannabis Indica for sleep.
One pathway to sleep that many seniors enjoy is a daytime nap, and yet many people who suffer from conditions that create pain and discomfort have a hard time getting any rest during the day, much less at night. So in some sense the ability to nap peacefully may simply depend upon relief from the conditions of body and mind that are interfering with that daytime rest.
This leads to a consideration of what strain or strains of Cannabis are already being ingested, if any, to treat any of the person’s other health issues besides sleep and rest? If Cannabis is not already being used to treat any other conditions, then the choice of strain or strains and the method and timing of use in promoting daytime and nighttime sleep become less problematic.
But if a heavy strain is already being used, say for pain, and the person is still having a problem with sleep, the problem may be that the heavy Cannabis strain being used to help control the pain has lost some of its sleep-promoting effect in the process. This may mean that the pathway to sleep is blocked, and if it is, then the relaxation & meditation pathway to sleep may still be opened by the use of a mentally stimulating Sativa strain. If the environment is right and if the person is able to relax in bed or a comfortable reclining chair doing something they enjoy like reading or watching a movie, then a little Sativa flower in a cup of infused tea or in a vaporizer can send a person onto that longed-for pathway to sleep, perchance to dream, with just a light touch of the sacred blossom even if they are also taking a heavy-duty strain for pain.
Another important consideration is whether or not to smoke Cannabis as a way to enjoy its sleep benefits. For Seniors who don’t mind, or who enjoy smoking, this is a good choice for shorter dozes like an afternoon nap, or as a way to get back to sleep in the middle of the night. The sleep that comes with smoking a nice pipe of Kush will last at least several hours, but not much longer, and there is very little residual mind cotton. However, for a Senior who for whatever reason doesn’t want to smoke, which for many Seniors is a good decision, vapor devices offer a great alternative.
There are several big differences between smoking Cannabis bud and using a Vapor device.
First, since the vapor device doesn’t combust the THC in the bud, it takes fewer puffs to get the desired result. Which also means that if you are buying Cannabis, your usage is less expensive and if you grow your own or a friend grows it for you, you use less per session.
Second, also because there is no combustion, there are no nasty combustion byproducts. In spite of all the positive aspects of Cannabis use, Cannabis buds are still organic plant material and when you combust any plant material – Cannabis flower or firewood – you get hundreds of chemical compounds in the smoke, many of them harmful and even carcinogenic, along with particles that lodge in the tiny air sacs in the lungs.
A third benefit is that with pure vapor you get more of the great tastes of the terpenes and oils in the Cannabis bud and almost none of the “gag and cough” components. Not that you can’t overdo it with a Vapor pipe too – the secret is to take small, light draws and to figure out from experience how much you need to get a good sleep and not to exceed that amount.
The final option for Seniors is edible/drinkable Cannabis in just about any food or beverage form that you can imagine from gummy bears to classic brownies to infused teas. The advantage of ingesting Cannabis for sleep is that the effects last much longer than inhaled Cannabis. The effects take longer to come on, and when you wake up they take longer to wear off, but ingested Cannabis is definitely the solution for a Senior who wants a long night’s deep sleep. It is important to note that with ingested Cannabis dosage control is important because unlike smoking, you won’t know that you have taken too much until it’s too late to stop. This means that Seniors using ingested Cannabis as a sleep aid should be very particular about anything they buy, making sure that it is produced by a reputable company with solid dosage controls in place. Buying Cannabis edibles from local entrepreneurs can be just fine, or it can be a disaster in terms of dosage control.
Other than buying reputable Cannabis edibles, the other option is to make them yourself, and if you are buying your Cannabis from a good dispensary they ought to be able to tell you the concentration of THC per gram in the buds you are buying, as well as offering you everything you need in the way of scales, thermometers etc. to make your culinary efforts a success.
My wife and I both prefer to use Cannabis edibles as our sleep aid, and we also prefer to cook them ourselves because we can be certain of what ingredients are in the edible as well as how much THC there is in a given dose. Not all Seniors would want to go to this much trouble, which is why taking precautions is necessary if a Senior is using a commercial product, or even a batch of Alice B. Toklas brownies baked for them by a well-meaning friend.
Speaking of making edibles for yourself or a friend, although there are a lot of choices in Cannabis cookbooks these days I like to think that the recipes and extract techniques that my wife and I invented for my 1981 book “Marijuana Foods”, which was the first book written specifically for people who wanted to use edible Cannabis for medical and recreational purposes, still offer some of the easiest and most delicious ways to cook with and ingest the divine flower. You can find the hardcopy version of Marijuana Foods on Amazon.
With all sensible precautions taken, and all important choices made thoughtfully, Seniors who have access to high quality Cannabis can simply forget about any sleep issues they may have been having, and can toss those poison pills hawked by Pig Pharma where they belong – in the trash.