Did you know that in Canada, insomnia is estimated to cost $5,010 per person per year, with nearly 90% of this amount attributed to indirect costs such as work absenteeism and reduced productivity?
According to Statistics Canada, insomnia is more prevalent in women, and increased by a shocking by 42% over the eight-year period from 2007 to 2015 among Canadians aged 18 or older. With such an epidemic, it’s no wonder that Canadians are increasingly turning to cannabis as a sleep aid over pharmaceuticals. In particular, Indica strains that are heavy in THC have been the insomniac’s friend for years. New information about how CBD works to reduce anxiety has also helped many an insomniac get some sleep after waking at 3am with a racing mind. But, did you know that it’s really the CBN compound that is primarily responsible for that awesome sleep you get after smoking your favourite Indica right before bed?
CBN is a relatively rare compound that exists only as a result of the chemical breakdown of the cannabis plant. In other words, CBN is not made directly from the cannabis plant, but instead, actually comes from the chemical breakdown of THC.
The process of applying heat to the acidic THC molecules initiates a chemical reaction known as decarboxylation, which converts THC into CBN. The further oxidization of THC can then convert THC into CBN. In other words, if you leave your cannabis out in the fresh air, the CBN should steadily increase. But why is this important?
Like a lot of other compounds that originate from cannabis – including THC – CBN is beneficial as an anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial, anti-convulsant, a pain-reliever, and an appetite-stimulant. In fact, more research is pointing to CBN as being potent bacteria fighter, and has even been identified as a non-narcotic painkiller as effective as aspirin, as well as an agent to help with bone healing. More will be discovered as research continues.
CBN only seems to partially interact with the endocannabinoid system and has very mild psychoactive properties. Even though it’s found only in trace quantities in cannabis, scientists now believe that CBN is the cannabinoid that is most responsible for decreasing heart rate, and causing and maintaining sleep.
In fact, according to Steep Hill Labs, “The consumption of 2.5 mg to 5 mg of CBN has the same level of sedation as a mild pharmaceutical sedative, with a relaxed body sensation similar to 5mg to 10mg of diazepam (Valium).”
What matters to many individuals looking for help with insomnia is finding long-term solutions that have minimal to no side effects. CBN delivers sedative ability without the devestating side effects of popular and addictive drugs such as Ambien, which can include double vision, nausea, diarrhea, loss of sexual desire, painful intercourse, hallucinations and sleepwalking.
If you’re looking to use cannabis as a sleep aid, procure strains that are high in THC, high in CBN, and high in the terpene myrcene. This combination of cannabinoids and terpenes will produce the sedating results you need from the cannabis flower. Licensed Producers will no doubt develop new products such as concentrates that do not require smoking over time, so keep your eyes open for high THC/CBN products.
But for now, if you want the optimal sleep aid, try leaving some of your indica- dominant cannabis out in the air until it gets dry enough to crumble in your fingers, and roll that up just before bedtime. Let us know if that strategy works to help resolve your insomnia. Happy slumbering!