Ever smoke a bit too much weed and end up crashing on your couch? It is no secret that marijuana is an excellent sleep aid, even if you don’t need help sleeping. In the past, there were prohibition ads that exaggerated the fatigue caused by smoking weed. They also had commercials of stoners melting into their couch. But whether it is the weed in total or THC making you tired is an entirely different story.
Nowadays, we see the medical benefit from an all-natural and organic sleep-aid like marijuana. What do we not know is, what in cannabis causes consumers to get tired? Most consumers believe THC makes them tired. However, with all the different types of strains, cannabinoids, and terpenes found in cannabis, it is tough to pinpoint the exact reason as to why or how marijuana can make you tired.
What Happens When We Ingest Cannabis?
Let’s start by explaining what happens to our bodies when we ingest cannabis. Every human being has an endocannabinoid system. This system contains hundreds of receptors throughout our bodies and mind. We have cannabinoid receptors in our organs, immune cells, tissue, muscles, and even in our brain. Each receptor has a unique purpose and effect on our body.
All these receptors are working in harmony to maintain a stable and healthy system.
When we ingest cannabinoids, such as THC, our receptors begin to communicate with each other. They send little signals or messages, called neurotransmitters, to other cells, receptors, and even other body systems. When the endocannabinoid system begins to work, there are chemical reactions caused by the receptors that have a wide range of beneficial effects on both our body and mind.
By studying this system, we can start to understand why certain cannabinoids can be used to treat depression, stress, and loss of appetite. Additionally, research has been able to highlight differences between cannabinoids, allowing us to find out once and for all if it is the THC making you tired or a combination of factors.
Is It Exclusively THC Making You Tired?
Now that you know how our bodies process cannabis, we can now look at how different cannabinoids cause different effects. The most common and abundant cannabinoid found in marijuana is, THC.
Also known as Tetrahydrocannabinol, THC is the psychoactive cannabinoid that is known for causing the “high” effect that consumers love. What many consumers do not know is that THC has a direct connection to our sleep cycles.
When THC is ingested, it has an immediate reaction to the receptors in our brain. There are higher concentrates of cannabinoid receptors found in specific sections of our mind. The basal ganglia are the part of our brain that directs unconscious muscle movements, among other things.
When THC reaches this portion of the brain, we begin to feel relaxed and may even feel a slight decrease in motor coordination. Due to the chemical reaction of THC with our minds, it is safe to say that THC is undoubtedly a part of the reason why THC makes us tired.
Other Cannabinoids That Cause Drowsiness:
CBD ? Cannabidiol is a non-psychoactive cannabinoid that has been found to relax the body and the mind. It is used around the world to help patients treat cancer, seizures, stress, depression, and even migraines. One of the main symptoms for many patients is trouble sleeping. CBD helps to relieve the mental and physical stress on our bodies which, in turn, help us to sleep.
CBN ? CBN, Cannabinol, is also a non-psychoactive cannabinoid that has been linked to being the most sedative cannabinoid found in marijuana. CBN does not form in cannabis until it begins to age. That is why it is tough to find concentrated forms of CBN or flower that is potent in CBN. While some believe CBN is a degraded compound, it is a synergistic cannabinoid with THC in many treatments.
Is it the terpenes or the THC making you tired?
As we continue to learn more and more about cannabis and its effects, we are starting to understand that it is not all about whether a strain is indica or sativa. A significant factor of why certain strains cause consumers to feel a certain way is due to its specific terpenes. What are terpenes?
Terpenes are the natural flavors and aromas found in all plants and fruit.
Cannabis alone has hundreds of different terpenes. We are beginning to see a correlation between individual cannabis terpenes and specific effects. In fact, it has been discovered that various terpenes cause cannabis to have sedative effects.
Terpenes such as Myrcene, a-Pinene, Phytol, and Terpinolene are directly found to help induce sleep, suppress locomotive activity, and reduce motor coordination. Myrcene has been found to have the most potent sedative effect over most terpenes. It just so happens that Myrcene is more abundant in indica-dominant strains than sativa-dominant.
Cannabis terpenes are like essential oils. The specific flavors and aromas cause us to become uplifted, creative, relaxed, or even tired. Think of why we drink orange juice in the morning. Its citrus and tangy flavors are perfect for helping our bodies wake up in the morning. It makes perfect sense that cannabis terpenes would have the same effect on us that natural terpenes do.
In fact, this is known as the entourage effect: where the cannabinoids and terpenes work together towards a therapeutic end.
Do Certain Methods of Ingestion Cause More Fatigue?
The growth of the cannabis industry has given us a wide range of consumer options. Instead of just smoking a bowl, we can now eat edibles, take dabs, or even apply topicals. There are more potent methods than others, and they all tend to have their pros and cons. When it comes to what products are better sleep-aids than others, it is tough to decide what is the best method for you.
When we consume the full cannabis plant, we get more than just the THC. Any time you smoke the actual plant material of cannabis you receive a range of different cannabinoids and strain-specific terpenes. When our bodies obtain the synergistic effect from the full cannabis plant, the sedative effects tend to be much stronger.
As discussed above, it is not just the THC that makes us tired. So, when you combine all the compounds found in marijuana that have a sedative effect, the results are much stronger.
The new and improved way of smoking weed is dabbing concentrates. Concentrates are an extracted and purified form of cannabinoids found within the plant. We have discovered how to obtain the pure form of THC and CBD without having any residual compounds.
While concentrates tend to come in a higher potency, they do not have the full spectrum of cannabinoids and terpenes that the marijuana buds have. In fact, many concentrates do not even have the original cannabis terpenes. Concentrates in large dosages will still put you to sleep, but it is not as effective as smoking flower.
Eating Marijuana-Infused Edibles:
Cannabis-infused edibles are a very potent and effective method of ingesting marijuana. When we ingest an edible, our bodies break down the THC through our liver and produce a compound called 11-hydroxy THC. 11-hydroxy-THC is 10-15 times stronger than regular THC. With such a potent product, marijuana-infused edibles are a great sleep-aid.
Even though it lacks in strain-specific terpenes, some edibles have a ratio of THC: CBD to give some synergistic effect. Edibles are a solid choice for anyone looking to get a good night sleep!
The Rest is Up to You
Overall, there is not one single factor that causes THC to make us tired. There are multiple cannabinoids, terpenes, and products that can be directly correlated to helping with insomnia. THC is the most common cannabinoid, but it is the entourage effect of the full-plant that gives cannabis its sedative qualities.
Pay attention to the specific terpenes in your strains, and whether, or not, their cannabinoid profile goes beyond just THC. These are excellent ways of pinpointing what type of products, or strains, will give consumers their desired effects. Maybe with education, we can get rid of the stereotype that THC makes us tired!
Check out more information on the effects of cannabis here!