We’ve all been there — you come back from an exhausting day at work, eat a nice dinner, and go to bed, only to stare at the ceiling for hours. Unfortunately, insomnia is more common (and harder to solve) than we’d like.
This is where sleep aids come in handy. Compounds like THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) and melatonin have been shown to help sleep quality significantly, leading to decreased stress and anxiety. Here’s what you need to know.
What Are THC and Melatonin? How Do They Affect Sleep?
THC and melatonin are two of the most popular natural sleep aids worldwide. A survey conducted in 2018 showed that 15% of Americans who took sleep aids preferred melatonin, and 14% opted for marijuana.
However, despite their popularity, few people know how these compounds impact the body’s central nervous system.
Melatonin is a natural hormone closely associated with the sleep-wake cycle and the circadian rhythm. The pineal gland — a tiny part of your brain that regulates sex hormones and bone health — secretes melatonin.
Your body starts producing melatonin when it detects it’s time to sleep. Several factors may cause this, but the most important is a lack of light in your environment. Melatonin makes you feel drowsy and eases the transition into sleep.
However, some people may take exogenous (external) melatonin if they feel their body isn’t producing enough. Evidence strongly supports exogenous melatonin, and experts agree it’s a safe supplement for most people.
THC is marijuana’s primary psychoactive compound. It’s responsible for most of the famous effects caused by cannabis, ranging from heightened senses to snack food cravings. However, this compound’s therapeutic potential has been widely overlooked due to the war on drugs.
But as marijuana’s research studies have grown in number and depth, its connection with sleep has been shown not to be an exception. For example, a 2022 study points out that cannabis oil helped manage clinical insomnia in 60% of the 29 participants. A 2019 review also reached similar conclusions, although it argued that more research is needed.
Experts theorize that cannabis’ properties as a sleep aid come from its interaction with melatonin. In the first study, for example, the authors found that THC could increase melatonin levels by almost 30%.
But that raises an obvious question: Is mixing the two compounds a good idea?
Mixing THC and Melatonin
It’s more than logical to think combining cannabis and melatonin could create the perfect sleep aid. And while anecdotal evidence suggests it mostly does, there’s surprisingly very little scientific research on the combo.
One critical study regarding cannabis and melatonin was published in 2022. During the trial, the authors observed how 20 patients reacted to using a compound based on melatonin and cannabis extracts before going to sleep.
The results were widely successful, with most patients reporting decreased anxiety, paranoia, and depression, along with improved sleep. Researchers claim the combo might compete with synthetic drugs like Ambien and Flurazepam.
However, these results come with a catch: The study used a compound composed of melatonin and CBD (cannabidiol), not THC. CBD is also an essential compound in cannabis, although it differs from THC because it’s not psychoactive.
Unfortunately, there aren’t any studies on the interaction between melatonin and THC specifically. So it’s impossible to know for sure whether THC and melatonin synergize well, although anecdotal evidence supports this.
Is Combining Melatonin and Weed Safe?
Yes, it’s mostly safe to combine THC and melatonin.
There aren’t any known harmful interactions between THC and melatonin, and both compounds have been shown to affect sleep significantly. As such, they should enhance each other when taken in their correct doses.
However, it’s uncertain how this combo will affect every individual user. For example — and especially in older adults — combining the two in high doses could lead to too much drowsiness. This could, in turn, lead to impaired thinking, nausea, and headaches.
To be safe, start slowly, progressively increasing the doses until you reach your desired effects. Using products containing THC and CBD instead of THC-only extracts might also be a good idea.
How To Use THC and Melatonin
If you’re new to cannabis, you might wonder how to implement marijuana and melatonin before bed. Well, the good news is that there aren’t any strict guidelines, so don’t be afraid to experiment and find out what works best for you.
However, a crucial part of using THC for sleep is to relax before taking it. Whether you’re smoking a joint or taking an edible, only use THC after finishing your daily tasks. Imagine laying on the couch, smoking a joint, and letting the sleep slowly settle in as you finish reading a book. Sounds good, right?
As for melatonin, be sure to follow the instructions on the label. Most will indicate that you take them one or two hours before bed. However, if it’s your first time combining both compounds, don’t take them one after the other. Instead, take the melatonin first and wait until it has started taking effect to smoke the cannabis.
An important note of caution: Nothing can replace good sleeping habits, no matter how much melatonin or THC you take. Exercising regularly, staying away from your phone at night, and minimizing stress are all cornerstones of good sleep habits.
If you have trouble managing your insomnia, check with a doctor. Several health conditions can cause problems during sleep, and taking THC, melatonin, or any other supplement may not be the right solution for you.
Key Takeaways: THC and Melatonin
THC and melatonin are two of the most popular sleep aids. Several studies have proven the efficiency of both compounds, but there’s surprisingly very little research to support using them together. However, there aren’t any known harmful interactions between the two.
Start slow and gradually increase your dose to reach your desired effects. If you’re unsure about using THC and melatonin, check with a doctor, as insomnia can have many causes, and these compounds may not be the ideal solution for you.
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