Cannabis’ special power to send patients off to slumberland isn't news to anyone. It's so good at it that we connoisseurs have to come up with a lot of special terms like “couchlock,” “heady” and “body high” just to avoid repeating ourselves when we describe its sedative effects. There's a reason they call it “dope.”
But a recent study found that patients are actually using their favorite bedtime buds in place of more traditional sleep aids. According to “Using Recreational Cannabis to Treat Insomnia: Evidence from Over-The-Counter Sleep Aid Sales in Colorado,” published in the journal Complementary Therapies in Medicine, there's a correlation between the amount of over-the-counter sleep aids sold in an area and the distance to the nearest marijuana dispensary.
Researchers from the University of New Mexico and California State Polytechnic University analyzed UPC retail scanner data from Colorado stores and found that the market share of OTC sleep aids decreases when a recreational cannabis dispensary is nearby.
The study's authors measured how store-level OTC sleep aid market shares decreased when a recreational cannabis dispensary opened in the same county. The effect was enhanced as more dispensaries opened in the area.
“Our results show that the market share growth for sleep aids shrank with the entry of recreational cannabis dispensaries by more than 200 percent relative to the mean market share growth in our sample, and the strength of the association increased with each subsequent dispensary,” the researchers concluded.
One cannabinoid that should get some credit here is the under-acknowledged cannabinol (CBN). When weed is exposed to the open air, its THCA converts to CBNA. According to Potbotics, 5mg of CBN is more effective as a sleep aid than 10mg of Valium, a claim repeated all over the internet that we’ve yet to corroborate. Nevertheless, CBN is recognized by a number of cannabis cultivators as one of the cannabinoids that contributes to the “dopey” feeling in many indica strains.
There still isn't much in the way of research to verify whether cannabis is a viable sleep aid, but at this point, it's hard to ignore the incredibly strong anecdotal evidence. It might actually be the one indisputable health benefit associated with the drug—if it's ever substantiated.
It's almost a guarantee that anyone holding this magazine will have been hit by the sleepies while experimenting with marijuana at some point already. If you haven't, do yourself a favor and buy the dopiest indica you can get your hands on and give it a whirl—maybe leave a bowl out overnight so it gets real dry and crispy and CBN-laden. Just make sure to put your jammies on ahead of time.