These are stressful days. A good night’s sleep is hard to come by, which leads many to ponder the following. Marijuana vs melatonin: which one of these sleep remedies will help you sleep throughout the night? A good night’s sleep is a key part of a healthy lifestyle. Sleep is your body’s time to recharge and recover from daily activities that it encounters throughout the day.
For those suffering from a sleeping disorder, such as insomnia, the act of sleeping can be a difficult process. Many who struggle with getting a good night’s rest have tried to remedy their problem with melatonin and cannabis. Some may prefer the supplements, while others will choose the more natural route. Which works better? Here’s what the professionals say.
The first question we will cover in our marijuana vs melatonin argument is what exactly is melatonin? Before we can understand the supplement that is taken to help sleep, we must understand the hormone that is produced in our bodies itself. According to WebMD, “melatonin is a hormone made by the pineal gland, a small gland in the brain.” Its purpose is to help control your sleep and wake cycle.
“Normally, melatonin levels begin to rise in the mid- to late evening, remain high for most of the night, and then drop in the early morning hours,” WebMD reads.
The Sleep Doctor, Michael Breus, is a Clinical Psychologist and both a Diplomate of the American Board of Sleep Medicine and a Fellow of The American Academy of Sleep Medicine.
According to Breus, “disruption in natural melatonin levels can go hand-in-hand with sleep problems.”
This is where melatonin supplements come in. When taken as a supplement, the function of melatonin is to copy the effects of the natural hormone. As stated by Drugs.com, drowsiness usually occurs within 30-minutes of taking the supplement.
“However, taking melatonin right before bed may not be the best strategy for all sleep disorders,” the site writes.
Breus writes in his blog that “melatonin treats Circadian Rhythm Disorders (where you sleep the right amount of minutes but your body clock is at the wrong time), Shift Work Sleep Disorders and early morning awakenings – all things that deal with the timing of your need to sleep.”
Melatonin supplements may help in these specific cases. But Breus states that it is not an effective treatment for insomnia.
The correct dosage of melatonin can also be a problem when it comes to its effectiveness. According to research done at MIT, the correct dosage of melatonin ranges from 0.3-1.0 mg. Breus explains that many commercially available forms of melatonin usually contain 3 to 10 times the amount that your body actually needs.
According to Breus, “there is some evidence that higher doses may be less effective.”
High doses of melatonin can cause side effects such as headaches, nausea, next-day grogginess, vivid dreams and nightmares.
Katlin Parrish, a college student who struggles with sleep deprivation, told us that she used to take melatonin but never saw any lasting results.
“I found it made me feel very groggy the next day and never actually started to regulate my sleep. I took it every day before bed for a 3 month period (advised by my doctor) and while it helped me fall asleep, I couldn’t sleep through the night,” Parrish said.
“I’d have really vivid dreams and often startled myself awake and end up with zero quality sleep.”
Although melatonin supplements may not work properly for certain individuals, it does seem to help those who are wanting to catch some rest at difficult parts of the day.
Our next step in the marijuana vs melatonin argument is examining cannabis as a sleep aid. After all, people use cannabis medicinally in multiple ways.
According to Terry Roycroft, the president of the Medicinal Cannabis Resource Centre Inc. (MCRCI), cannabis can be used as a pain reliever, can treat muscle spasms caused by caused by such diseases as multiple sclerosis and can help treat those with epilepsy. Roycroft also says that it can work wonders for those who struggle with sleep.
“When using cannabis for sleep, it allows your body to relax,” Roycroft said.
According to Roycroft, “marijuana influences the bodies endocannabinoid system, which is a series of relative nerves and receptors. Its main goal is to maintain homeostasis.”
Cannabinoids, such as CBD (cannabidiol), help maintain a balance homeostatic balance. Cannabinoid receptors play an important role in regulating your anxiety, which calms the body enough to fall asleep.
Research suggests that cannabinoid signaling can directly benefit sleep.
THC, the psychoactive ingredient of cannabis that creates the “high”, has been proven by research to help with sleep. Another study suggests that THC “significantly decrease the time it takes to fall asleep in physically healthy insomniacs.”
However, THC makes you sleepier the next day and can cause something known as a “weed hangover.”
Most professionals do agree that marijuana will help you sleep, but try to stick to an indica. Indica strains are very relaxing, while sativas are more energizing.
Although there may be benefits to using marijuana as a sleep aid, there are also downfalls to its use as well.
In 2008, a Penn Medicine study found that marijuana may impair sleep quality for those who consumed it throughout their teenage years.
According to the study, “any history of cannabis use was associated with an increased likelihood of reporting difficulty falling asleep, struggling to maintain sleep, experiencing non-restorative sleep and feeling daytime sleepiness.”
It is also recorded that marijuana users who try to decrease their usage of cannabis as a sleep aid may experience a rebound in REM, creating more vivid dreams and other sleep disturbances.
To conclude our marijuana vs melatonin argument, it all comes down to an individual’s personal perception. Marijuana seems to have more benefits when it comes down to it. But it really depends on what type of sleep you want.
Melatonin may help with the initial challenge of falling asleep. And it will not leave you feeling groggy or tired when waking up in the morning.
But, marijuana will not only help you get to sleep, Roycoft says its effects will usually last “6 to 8 hours,” lasting you through the night. You may just have to deal with a “weed hangover” in the morning.
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