Most of us have been there from time to time – the tossing and turning, the staring at the ceiling, the listening to our spouse loudly snore and subsequently wondering how hard it would be to smother them with a pillow (they have life insurance, right?). Sleep is one of those things that’s never an issue until it proves elusive. While some inability to sleep is normal on occasion, the problem grows in severity when it’s frank insomnia – habitual sleeplessness. Insomnia not only messes up our nights, but our days to a major degree.
The Causes of Insomnia
According to the National Sleep Foundation, insomnia has several causes. It can be caused by underlying psychiatric or medical conditions, unhealthy sleep habits, ingesting certain substances (like coffee right before bed), and genetic factors.
Medications play a role as well. Those taken for high blood pressure, heart disease, asthma, depression, and the common cold can all leave a person wide awake at two a.m. There are a few reports of birth control pills during the same.
Of course, an underlying sleep condition may be the root of the problem. Restless leg syndrome, a neurological condition where a person feels uncomfortable sensations that compel them to move their legs, and sleep apnea, a condition where the airway becomes partially or completely obstructed during sleep (ultimately leading to a drop in oxygen and a pause in breath), are often implicated.
Some people with insomnia have no overt cause – they simply have brains unable to turn off and enter the sleep cycle
How Common is Insomnia?
Per the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, insomnia is common among adults: 30 to 35 percent have brief symptoms of insomnia; 15 to 20 percent have a temporary disorder, manifesting as a condition that lasts less than three months; and 10 percent have chronic insomnia. The latter is diagnosed when it occurs at least three times each week for a period of at least three months.
While some insomnia isn’t likely to affect you all that much, the real danger lies when it’s recurring
Chronic insomnia not only increases your risk of hypertension and depression, but it interferes with your quality of life by disturbing mood, leaving you unmotivated, reducing memory and an ability to focus, and leaving you tired during the day. It makes you more prone to auto accidents (or workplace accidents) too.
It’s estimated that insomnia costs the US workforce about 63 billion in impaired performance each year.
The Treatments of Insomnia
Depending on its severity, treatment for insomnia can be minor or a major life overhaul. It might be as easy as turning off the TV before bedtime or (yes) counting sheep. It might involve popping a sleeping pill or taking a bath. Or it might involve cognitive behavior therapy, a type of treatment that involves changing attitudes and behaviors that negatively impact your quality of sleep.
Or it might involve cannabis.
Strains for Insomnia
More and more people are turning towards cannabis as a way to fall asleep. With many strains producing relaxing effects, it makes sense that it’d be successful in calming the mind as your head hits the pillow.
Some of the best strains for this issue include:
This strain is pure Indica (that’s a big “duh” given its name). It provides a powerful body high and is known for its knockout power, even in people who have tolerance.
It offers some creativity and cerebral stimulation, making it something you want to smoke an hour or so before bed. After the stimulation wears off, it leaves you lazy and tired. This makes it ideal for nighttime use, but a lousy choice before heading to work in the morning.
As an added bonus, it’s sometimes used as an aphrodisiac. So if you still can’t sleep, at least you’ll have something else to “do.”
An offspring of Indica strains, Sandman Sandstorm is described as potent. It’s very relaxing and will make you want to lie down. It’s a common choice for insomniacs as, true to its title, it elicits a visit from the Sandman.
It’s also useful for relieving chronic pain, nausea, anxiety, and stress. Some people use it to induce appetite as well.
Gorilla Glue is Sativa-dominant, which may make it seem like an odd choice for insomnia. But it offers an Indica-like calm. It’s very popular among recreational and medical users and offers what is described as a “body melt.”
It’s uplifting and offers some cerebral effects, but it’s not something good for morning use: wait until nightfall or at least dusk.
Another Indica-dominant strain, Afgooey is well known for its euphoria: if you’re happy and you know it, fall asleep! This uplifting sense that everything is great and wonderful is followed by laziness, the reason it’s recommended only for end of the day use.
It’s sedating, certainly, but it makes people very hungry too: consider having a midnight snack ready to go if you’re likely to imbibe. It’s also used by people who suffer from multiple sclerosis, stress and anxiety, and chronic migraine headaches.
Kryptonite is very potent; you don’t have to be Superman for it to knock you on your butt! The THC is reportedly very high, as high as 30 percent (most Indica strains offer THC levels half that).
The effects last for a while and provide a body buzz that makes you feel sedated and content to lie on your sofa. Some people report feelings of floating and an inclination to engage in creative endeavors, like writing, painting, or meditation and yoga.
Many insomniacs point to Kryptonite as their strain of choice. It’s calm enough to bring about sleep, but enduring enough to keep the effect going. No one wants to fall asleep at eleven p.m. only to wake up at three a.m. unable to fall back into their slumber.