“I have a problem with insomnia and sciatic nerve damage. Drinking Black Rain at night before bed has allowed me to replace sleep aides. I have no side effects with Black Rain and highly recommend to anyone who has problems with sleep or inflammation.”

-Lisa A, Insomnia & Sciatic Nerve Damage

Do you have a difficult time falling asleep, or find yourself waking up in the middle of the night? Do you sleep more than you should, or sleep very little hours? If the answer to any of those questions is yes, know that you are not alone. As a matter of fact, you are amongst 70 million other US adults who have intermittent sleep problems and experience chronic sleep disorders

Getting a good night’s sleep is extremely important. Not only does sleep restore our energy levels, but it also improves our immune system, repairs our body’s tissue, regulates our metabolism, and is responsible for ensuring the healthy functioning of a lot of other bodily functions. Sleep helps to ensure a healthy mind and a healthy body. 

Chronic sleep disorders left untreated can be extremely detrimental to our health and overall lifestyle. Research and studies have shown a link between untreated sleep disorders and health chronic diseases, such as diabetes, heart disease, hypertension, depression, and even strokes, amongst many others.

Many individuals are turning to CBD and THC to help them combat their sleeping disorders. But what exactly is the difference between CBD and THC, and which one of the two is more effective for helping to regulate sleeping patterns? Knowing the different ways that each ingredient influences sleep is important in helping consumers make more informed decisions in deciding which of the two ingredients to choose from, as direct effects of each ingredient can vary substantially.

Related: Top 10 Reasons to Switch to CBD Softgels

Types of Sleeping Disorders That Cannabis Can Help With

Insomnia 

Insomnia has to do with the difficulty to stay or fall asleep. It is the inability to complete an adequate amount of sleep, in order to feel rested the next day.

Parasomnias

Parasomnia is characterized as a sleeping disorder in which an individual has abnormal sleeping behaviors, such as sudden movements, abnormal perceptions, emotions, and dreams.

Seasonal Affective Disorder

Seasonal affective disorder is a recurrent mood disorder associated with depression and excessive sleepiness during winter months.

Jet Lag

Jet lag is a temporary sleeping condition that is caused as a result of traveling across intense time zones. Symptoms may include insomnia, fatigue, or nausea, amongst others. What happens during jet lag, is that a person’s circadian rhythm is disrupted, as it is misaligned with current local time.

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What is the difference between CBD and THC?

CBD and THC are the two most important chemicals that are found in the resinous flower known as cannabis, also referred to as marijuana. But what exactly distinguishes CBD from THC? Both CBD and THC have the same molecular formula; however, the two ingredients have one extremely important structural difference. THC, which is the abbreviation for Tetrahydrocannabinol, contains a cyclic ring in its structure. CBD, which stands for Cannabidiol, contains a hydroxyl group. This is what is chemically responsible for the psychological effects of marijuana. But in order to understand how this works, we have to talk a little bit about the CB1 receptor. Your body’s CB1 (cannabinoid receptor 1), is affected by a neurotransmitter that is known as anandamide. Anandamide is a fatty acid neurotransmitter and an endocannabinoid that is responsible for the brain’s dopamine levels, controlling pleasures, motivation, and feeding behaviors. The structure of THC is so similar to that of anandamide, that it allows it to fit perfectly into the CB1 receptor, giving consumers that feeling of “high”. The structure of CBD, on the other hand, does not allow it to fit into the CB1 receptor, therefore, it does not give consumers that same psychoactive effect. Nevertheless, CBD does bind to other receptors in the cannabinoid system which affects consumers in other ways. The specific ways that each ingredient affects the brain is what essentially distinguishes the two.

How Does CBD Affect Sleep?

So how exactly does CBD influence sleep? CBD is not an instant sleeping aid. CBD is shown to respond significantly well with anxiety and sleep. Ultimately, CBD works by helping to regulate sleep by calming anxiety levels, alleviating inflammation and easing the pain. Both anxiety and pain can make falling or staying asleep difficult. Thus, decreasing anxiety and pain levels has the ability to in turn enhance sleeping quality. More specifically, CBD influences our bodies’ serotonin levels, which are known to affect melatonin levels. Let us get into the science of how this works, in order to create a more precise visual picture of how exactly CBD can affect our sleep. 

CBD has properties that could help some people sleep better. Most notably, he says, it appears to ease anxiety and pain, both of which can make it harder to fall asleep or stay asleep. Maroon says he doesn’t see CBD as a treatment for insomnia, but instead as an “alternative natural method to help calm anxious thoughts that often delay or interrupt natural sleep.” Maroon urges those with insomnia to see their doctor before using any treatment. Still, he notes that if you occasionally have difficulty sleeping, CBD is considered a safe, non-habit-forming, natural alternative.

Joseph Marron

Receptors in the human brain, known as 5-HT1A receptors, trigger the release and uptake of serotonin (serotonin reuptake). Our bodies are able to recognize precisely when serotonin is in between neurons and is not being used. When this occurs, our bodies functions grab the extra molecules of serotonin, in order to use them in a more efficient way. CBD triggers 5-HT1A receptors, and this, in turn, makes our bodies more sensitive and more responsive to serotonin. This process makes our bodies more efficient and effective at utilizing serotonin, which means that serotonin can get released at faster rates, leaving us with more control over our anxiety levels.

Marijuana Plant

Serotonin is known as one of our body’s inhibitory neurotransmitters which works more as a filter, rather than as a trigger. Inhibitory neurotransmitters are known to decrease the rate or the likelihood of a neuron firing. Serotonin works to filter messages, such as those creating anxiety, that would usually get to our neurons. If we get excretory messages that are causing us to feel anxious, serotonin comes in and filters those anxious messages to allow only the positive thoughts to be received. Receiving the appropriate serotonin levels at the right time can have great effects. CBD acts of this 5-HT1A receptor and gives our bodies the ability to utilize more serotonin when we need more, and less when we need less.

Serotonin is a precursor to melatonin. Melatonin is a hormone that regulates sleep and wakefulness. Serotonin helps create that natural in your body, and melatonin helps to regulate your sleep-wake cycle. When melatonin levels are increased, they can help to regulate when you fall asleep and when you wake up. When serotonin is more prevalent in your body, it means that melatonin is more prevalent as well.

Studies have shown that CBD has the ability to enhance sleeping quality. Did you know that if you are dreaming, you are actually not as deep in sleep as you should be? The lower the dream recall, the better the sleep you have obtained. 

CBD has more of a profound effect than other sleeping aids. Joseph Marron, a clinical professor and neurosurgeon at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center states that CBD is safe if you are using it properly. It helps with pain, helps with sleep, and helps to decrease anxiety levels tremendously. In essence, it helps your body to utilize its own resources more effectively.

Studies have hinted at the ability of CBD to affect sleep directly. The way that this occurs, is that CBD interacts with receptors in the brain that control our body’s everyday sleep-wake cycles.

Ultimately, if you are looking to enhance your sleep quality without experiencing any psychoactive effects, then CBD is a good option, as it acts as a sleeping aid, without giving users that feeling of being “high.”

Related: CBD Isolates Vs. Full-Spectrum CBD: What’s the Difference?

How Does THC Affect Sleep?

THC is a psychoactive chemical. It alters your mind and does this by attaching to neurons in your brain and activating them. This disrupts normal functioning. THC may help with disorders such as nightmares that occur due to post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and obstructive sleep apnea. 

At low doses, THC is able to provide users with a calming effect; however, high doses can sometimes cause intense anxiety, especially for non-usual users. Aged THC strains may be able to provide more of a sedative effect.

THC has strong sedative properties. The way it interacts with cell receptors in the brain has a profound effect on the body’s sleep/wake cycle, and oils and capsules that contain a high concentration of THC will typically make the user feel drowsy and ready for bed. These anecdotal findings are backed by a study published in the Journal of Clinical Psychopharmacology, in which investigators tested the effects of cannabis extracts on certain sleep elements. Researchers found that the use of 15 mg of THC was associated with reduced sleep latency and increased sleepiness. It was found that memory was impaired, sleep latency was reduced, and the subjects reported increased sleepiness and changes in mood.

Perhaps the most important factor in choosing between CBD and THC is to understand how the two cannabinoids actually affect your sleep. While both can improve your ability to get some shut-eye, the way they achieve it is quite different.

Man rolling marijuana

The Medical Benefits of THC for Sleep?

CBD vs THC: Psychoactive Effects

THC is generally superior to CBD when it comes to directly induce sleep. THC, however, is known to be a psychoactive compound. What this means, is that THC gives consumers a feeling of “high”, and overconsumption could potentially lead to risks. Users who are not used to consuming THC could easily overmedicate; something that could be more of a burden than a solution for sleep. Overmedicating THC could lead to increased levels of paranoia and anxiousness for users, which could ultimately hinder rather than facilitate sleep.

CBD, on the other hand, is a non-psychoactive compound. This means that CBD does not leave consumers feeling “high”, and has a very limited impact on bodily day to day functions of users. This grants patients with therapeutic benefits of cannabis, without being subjected to its psychoactive effects, which could be detrimental rather than helpful for some users’ sleep.

The Final Verdict: Is CBD or THC Better?

When it comes to CBD and THC, it is hard to say that one is specifically better than the other at helping with sleep patterns and sleep quality. There is really no “one size fits all” answer to the question: CBD vs THC, which is better? The decision in regards to which ingredient individuals should use when consuming CBD based medicine versus THC based medicine truly depends on the individual’s own preferences and specific circumstances. What is the consumer more used to? Is the consumer used to consuming high levels of THC? If the answer is yes, it is possible that THC will work on him or her better than it would on a user who does not commonly consume THC.

Overall, the absence of psychoactive effects generally makes CBD a more available and better option when it comes to reliability. If you are not comfortable with experiencing levels of “high” when consuming your sleep aid medicine, perhaps this is a better option for you.

On the other hand, however, perhaps you prefer to use medication that is able to induce your sleeping levels directly. If you prefer this and are also comfortable with handling the “high” effects that THC provides, then perhaps THC is a better choice for you. Don’t forget to consult your doctor before initiating any medication that you are starting for the first time.

Related: CBD Oil Effects, Benefits, and How to Take it

This article is not intended to be medical advice. Our products are not cures for any of the ailments listed in this article. We highly recommend everyone speak with their physician and understand the limitations and use of hemp-derived products.