Counting Sheep to Cannabis – What to do When You Can’t Sleep
Not getting enough sleep can cause many long- and short-term health problems. It can even affect your ability to drive safely – AAA claims that losing just two hours of sleep and then driving can be just as bad as driving while intoxicated. However, most Americans are unable to practice healthy sleep habits and get the required 7-9 hours of sleep per day.
Sleep hygiene is a set of practices and habits that are necessary for getting adequate sleep and having full daytime alertness. Sleep hygiene includes avoiding caffeine and nicotine a few hours before bed, getting regular exercise, limiting TV and phone time while in bed, and restricting daytime naps. If you’re practicing good sleep hygiene habits and still can’t get to sleep, you’re not alone.
Insomnia is the habitual inability to sleep. And it affects millions of Americans each year. Up to 30% of Americans have symptoms of insomnia. 10% of Americans experience chronic insomnia, affecting more women than men.
Below are some tricks you can use to try to get yourself to sleep.
If you’re comfortable sleeping naked, then strip off those PJs and climb under the covers in your birthday suit. Dropping body temperature is a body-wide signal that it’s time to go to sleep. So, wearing those warm jammies could be what’s keeping you awake.
Put on Socks
Okay, so maybe you shouldn’t get completely naked. The ideal balance is to keep your core cool and your extremities warm. One study revealed that wearing socks to sleep dilates your blood vessels, allowing for optimal blood flow to keep your body at the optimal temperature for snoozing.
Use the 4-7-8 Method
Many wellness bloggers praise the “4-7-8” breathing technique will have you sawing logs in under a minute. It works by increasing the amount of oxygen in your bloodstream, slowing your heart rate, and releasing more carbon dioxide from the lungs. Follow these steps:
- Put the tip of your tongue against the ridge of tissue just behind your upper front teeth and keep it there.
- Exhale completely through your mouth, making a whoosh sound.
- Close your mouth and inhale quietly through your nose for 4 seconds.
- Hold your breath for a count of seven.
- Exhale through your mouth, making a whoosh sound for a count of eight.
- Repeat the cycle three times for a total of four.
Hide Your Clock (Or Phone)
You’re lying awake and no matter what, you can’t get to sleep. Every time you look at your clock, you mentally tell yourself “I can get x hours if I fall asleep now.” If this scenario sounds familiar, then hide your clock or your phone. Seeing how much sleep you’re not going to get is only heightening stress and anxiety. So, put your clock out of eye’s view.
Try Mental Imagery
Want proof that counting sheep may not be that effective? Look at an Oxford University study published in the journal Behavior Research and Therapy that instructed insomniacs to imagine a serene scene, such as a beach or a waterfall. Those who imagined the peaceful scenery fell asleep 20 minutes earlier than those instructed to count sheep or do nothing at all.
Try to stay awake. This may sound counterproductive, but often our minds want to do the exact opposite of what we tell it to do. Ever tried giving up anything? Sugar? Soda? Notice how the craving immediately kicks in when you tell yourself you can’t have something? The same happens when you try and tell yourself to stay awake.
People have known about the sedative qualities of cannabis for millennia. However, the jury is still out when it comes to the long-term effects of cannabis and sleep. For some, high-THC cannabis might aggravate anxiety and keep them awake. It might take some experimentation but finding the right strain and ingestion method can make all the difference when it comes to finding a cannabis strain to help you sleep.
Vaporizing or smoking cannabis may lead to feeling its effects more quickly, but it also tends to wear off quicker. Eating a cannabis edible can last longer, but could also take much longer to kick in. Finding which method works best for you may take some trial and error, but it will be worth it in the end.
Top Sleepy Strains
- Afghan Kush – Perfected over centuries of breeding, Afghan Kush is well known for its relaxing and sedative effects. Expect a relaxed and happy high that is perfect for getting to sleep.
- Northern Lights – This strain has been around for a long time and has always produced a pacifying, relaxing high that is known to be conducive towards sleep. Northern Lights is relaxing, happiness-inducing, and known for bringing on sleep.
- 9lb Hammer – If pain is the reason for your insomnia, then turning to 9lb Hammer might just do the trick. This indica-dominant strain has heavy and long-lasting effects that include relaxation, pain relief, and sleep.
- Lavender – Sometimes also called Lavender Kush, Lavender lives up to its namesake and busts insomnia, creating a sleepy-time relaxing high while helping to bust pain and stress.
- Bubblegum Kush – With a THC content up towards 18%, those new to cannabis or those sensitive to THC may experience some anxiety, but for frequent users, Bubblegum Kush produces stress- and pain-busting relaxation sure to send you off to dreamland.
- Romulan – Named for the Star Trek race, Romulan delivers a full body calm that is great for busting pain, relaxing muscles, and getting you to sleep. It ranks high on the relaxation and sleepiness scale, so make sure to only use it at night.
There many time-honored ways of getting yourself off to dreamland when you can’t sleep. Try some of these to see if it works for you. Before incorporating cannabis into your routine, speak with a medical professional.