Cannabis and sleep

Date: 16.04.2020

''Research shows that the endocannabinoid system regulates the secretion of serotonin and other neurotransmitters, including melatonin, and that prolonged stress disrupts this system, which may show as insomnia.''

Kon. in Spanje

Retired biology teacher

I am a retired biology teacher. For most of my adult life, I have strived to live healthy. I educate myself on healthy eating, buy organic and local food when possible, im active, i go to the mountains, do yoga, and more. And I can brag a little bit with very solid health and feeling good most of the time. My problems started when I retired. I thought a more peaceful period was about to start, but soon after retirement I found myself in a vortex of divorce after 35 years of marriage, which was very stressful and painful for me. Despite my efforts to take care of my health, I was becoming increasingly ill with viruses, sore throat, and caught almost every seasonal illness. At the same time, insomnia began. At first I woke up often, later I had a hard time falling asleep and after a year I barely had two hours of sleep a night. I went to a doctor who prescribed me sleeping pills, which helped to some extent but I woke tired, tight, lacking energy and willpower. When I was taking prescribed sleeping pills I noticed that I was having a hard time focusing, remembering and I was feeling somehow not present during the day. After a few months of using the prescribed medicine, I tried without and found that I already got used to them and was not able to sleep at all without them. This upset me very much, as the doctor assured me these medication were not addictive.

After careful consideration, I decided to take my health and well-being into my own hands and began reading the literature on sleep cycles, circadian rhythm, hormones and neurotransmitters… I found that science has taken a huge leap forward in understanding sleep and inner balance. While reading the articles, I also came across articles about the endocannabinoid system and its importance in regulating sleep. Research shows that the endocannabinoid system regulates the secretion of serotonin and other neurotransmitters, including melatonin, and that prolonged stress disrupts this system, which may show as insomnia. This seemed very sensible to me and also overlapped well with what I observed in myself. The next question, of course, was: how can I restore the proper functioning of this  endocannabinoid system? I have read that omega-3 fatty acids and healthy gut flora are very important because that's where most of our cannabinoids are produced. So I started introducing several different cold pressed oils into my diet: walnut, flax and hemp were the best suited for me, and I started fermenting food at home to get as much of the beneficial good bacteria as possible. Today, there are fewer flowers on my window shelfs and more bottles of kombucha, kefir, kimchi, sauerkraut, and many other interesting things. With these changes I made good progress in about a month, I slept better, I no longer caught seasonal viruses, and I felt calmer, but I still couldn't sleep without the medication. I wanted to get a better understanding of this balance system of ours, and I was curious how to support it even more. So I came across articles about CBD and other cannabinoids from the cannabis/hemp plant and found that they straight with our endocannabinoid system and help the body to restore balance. The only thing I knew about cannabis was what I was teaching my students - it was a dangerous drug. After reading tens of articles, I have learned a lot about cannabis being much more then just THC. THC is really just one of more than 140 cannabinoids and many cannabinoids have very well-studied positive effects, including on sleep, stress, burnout, what were my issues. It seemed like CBD might be the answer to my problems. Enthusiastic about what I read I went to my doctor and explained to her what I had learned. Unfortunately, because of her lack of knowledge, she couldn't help me. Since the sleep medication had many side effects and caused addiction, I decided to try CBD. Very carefully, as a teenager looking for cigarettes or beer for the first time, I went to a local health store to ask if they had CBD. The clerks noticed my awkwardness and showed me a whole showcase of CBD products with a smile. I knew it was important to use organic CBD and whole plant extract, so  with that in mind, I chose one product. I started with very low doses and didn't notice any immediate effects. I was aiming for a long-term balance of my body, so I took the time and slowly and carefully dosed CBD drops. After two weeks, I noticed that I had more energy and felt better. I found that I wake up more rested, even if I haven't slept for the full 8 hours. I easily went off the sleeping pills, in fact, I forgot to take them a few evenings and found that I no longer miss them. Previous attempts to quit were awful: I was restless, nervous, with headaches and terrible insomnia. This time it happened smoothly and effortlessly. After one month of taking CBD, I started sleeping very well, I started dreaming too, I haven’t remembered my dreams since the divorce began. At first the dreams were horrible nightmares, probably the events of divorce were stored in my subconscious and were now somehow processed through dreams. This lasted about a week and then beautiful dreams,  solid sleep and feeling good during the day began. And that is how it has been for the past six months. I still take CBD, a few drops at bedtime. If I ever forget to take them, I sleep well nonetheless.

I told my doctor about my experience and also brought her some articles on the subject. She was very positively surprised by the effects she observed. She told me that she could not prescribe CBD, because in Slovenia no prescribing guidelines are set, and since it worked so well for me, I should continue taking it. With the help of cannabinoids, I really so live a quiet retirement life today, I can do yoga again, I go to the mountains, I even went on a trekking tour to Tibet. Because I sleep well and have a lot of energy during the day, I enjoy playing with my grandchildren again, my little rays of sunshine.


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