Does Cannabis / Marijuana Work Better For Sleep Instead of Pills?

Does Marijuana Work Better than Sleeping Pills for Insomnia?

Cannabis is still a medical mystery, as most of the medicinal qualities associated with hemp and other cannabis products are only recent discoveries. However, the plant has long had links to helping people deal with chronic pain, insomnia, appetite loss, and even anxiety.

Historical findings (from as early as 2900 BC) acknowledge that cannabis use was prevalent in the past to help deal with such issues. However, with the progress and inventions made in modern medicine, coupled with the criminalization of the plant during the last century, doctors and other health experts diverted to other means of dealing with common psychological issues. (source).

For instance, individuals suffering from constant stress had to contend with sleeping pills for a long time (consistent use of pharmaceutical pills leads to dependency and can be quite dangerous in the long term).

However, things are much different today. Using medicinal cannabis continues to grow more popular among the populous. Some consider the option as a much safer, more natural choice when compared to over-the-counter drugs, but which is better?

Overview: The article compares the use of common sleeping pills and cannabis products. It offers an in-depth and unbiased review of both products as adequate treatment of insomnia and compares the results for both in the long term and short-term use.

A Little About Insomnia

Insomnia is a fairly common sleep disorder that affects millions of people around the globe. The condition has close links to stress, chronic illnesses, medications, and other psychological conditions prevalent in today’s fast-paced world.

Victims suffer from sleeplessness (especially during the night), fatigue, concentration lapses, mood swings, etc. (Source). Medical practitioners recommend several methods to help individuals deal with the condition. Some recommend minimizing caffeine use before bedtime, regular exercise, and sticking to a specific routine during the day.

Doctors may recommend sleeping pills for extreme cases of insomnia (although some medications often have consequences after long-term use). CBD and other marijuana products have also had positive results in dealing with insomnia, anxiety, and several other disorders.

The Causes of Insomnia
Causes of Insomnia (Lack of Sleep)

How Sleeping Pills Work to Regulate Sleep

Sleeping pills are an effective short-term treatment for insomnia and other sleep disorders. Most pills take about an hour before one can fall asleep. Examples of common sleeping pills include benzodiazepines, Zalepon, eszopiclone, and others.

 Most sleeping pills act as melatonin receptors (Melatonin is a naturally occurring sleep hormone triggered by darkness and inhibited by light, which explains why it’s easier to fall asleep with the lights off).

However, studies show that continuously using sleeping pills can affect the quality of sleep by reducing the average time in REM during the body’s sleep cycle. Besides, sleeping pills have unwanted side effects for both short-term and long-term use. (Source)

 For instance, individuals sometimes complain of drowsiness, dry mouth, metallic taste in their mouth, and recurring insomnia once one reduces or stops taking the pills. Long-term effects of taking the pills include an increased risk of dementia, reduced effectiveness after continuous use, and memory disturbances.

How Marijuana Works to Regulate Sleep

The recent legalization of marijuana across various states presents an opportunity for scientists and researchers to study the medicinal qualities of the plant and its products on a more detailed level.

Cannabis can help people to deal with a myriad of problems including anxiety, chronic pain, stress, and to some extent insomnia. Medical cannabis users insist that using cannabis products helps them to sleep longer, better, and more peacefully. Some tout the products as a natural alternative to common pharmaceutical products while insisting that its products pose minor side effects (if any).

Consuming cannabis before sleep affects an individual’s sleep cycle. Studies suggest that the chemicals in cannabis influence and regulate REM sleep. The downside to reducing REM sleep means fewer dreams (nightmares included) and more time spent in the 4th stage of the sleep cycle, commonly referred to as the deep sleep phase.

Another factor to consider involves the role of THC in sleep induction. Several studies suggest that cannabis strains with high levels of THC are more effective at inducing sleep compared to the latter. (Source).

 Cannabis strains rich in THC include the Sativa, Indica, and hybrids. Maintaining a THC concentration of less than 20% is supposedly more effective than when taken in higher doses.

Verdict: Does Marijuana Work Better Than Sleeping Pills to Regulate Insomnia?

A majority of insomnia patients disagree on the best treatment methods for insomnia. On one side, sleeping pills have public acceptance, are acknowledged, and are readily available in most of the country. The counter medications make it remarkably easy for anyone to access the drugs, even without a prescription.

However, there are negative effects associated with sleeping pills. Doctors don’t recommend the use of pills as a long-term solution to insomnia and other sleep disorders. Instead, they recommend a change in diet, sleeping patterns, and drug intake, especially before sleep.

Cannabis research continues to undergo development and is still in its infancy. However, positive signs are hinting at the medicinal capabilities of the product. Another issue to consider includes the negative effects linked to consuming cannabis, if smoked, cannabis use can cause secondary difficulties (although there are much safer alternatives to consuming cannabis other than smoking).

The choice of the best treatment option may not be straightforward, as most people like to think. It all boils down to the patient, underlying conditions, and repercussions. It is best to first confirm with a qualified medical expert before settling on a specific method of treatment.

 For instance, while cannabis may not leave one feeling groggy every morning, one has to contend with the psychoactive effects associated with THC.


Sleeping pills and cannabis can positively affect one’s sleep cycle. However, both have their trials. It is crucial to consider each aspect before deciding on a viable option.

A better alternative would include adjusting one’s schedule to accommodate more sleeping hours and eating foods that support the development of an elaborate sleep cycle.

CannaCook offers some exciting recipe options for anyone looking to spice up their diet options for a healthier lifestyle.

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