Updated on January 25, 2019. Medical content reviewed by Dr. Joseph Rosado, MD, M.B.A, Chief Medical Officer
As a medical marijuana patient, you may deal with frequent drowsiness due to your medication. Or, perhaps you want to try cannabis medicine, but you worry it will make you too tired to function. Either way, you want to know everything you can about cannabis and tiredness so you can medicate yourself in the best way possible. While marijuana can cause drowsiness, there are of ways to manage it. We’ll give you the low-down.
Just like any other medication, weed can cause unwanted side effects. But, due to its versatility, medical marijuana has some side effects that certain patients consider a benefit. For instance, some folks want marijuana to make them tired so they can get a good night’s rest. Other possibly beneficial side effects include increased appetite and reduced saliva production.
Other side effects generally don’t help patients, but they tend to be mild and easy to handle. These include giddiness, anxiety and memory issues.
Overall, the positive effects of medicinal cannabis are typically worth the potential side effects. Marijuana has low potential for addiction, many ingestion methods and the ability to tackle a lot of symptoms at once.
To understand how marijuana causes tiredness, we have to delve a bit into the chemistry behind it. Cannabis contains numerous components called cannabinoids. When we talk about cannabinoids, we usually look at the two most prevalent ones in the marijuana plant: tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD).
While THC causes the “high” we associate with cannabis, CBD does not. In large doses, THC can make you tired after you feel the initial high. It communicates with the receptors in your body and brain related to your sleep/wake cycle. As it interacts with those receptors, it causes a feeling of sleepiness.
Scientists also think a compound called myrcene contributes to weed’s ability to sedate you. Some studies suggest that myrcene has a sedative effect and relaxes the muscles. It also seems it can enhance the effects of THC, making its sedative effect stronger.
Just about any kind of marijuana product can make you feel sleepy, but some are more likely to do so than others.
The biggest defining factor for sedation is the type of marijuana strain used in the product. Indica strains have a higher chance of making you drowsy than the other type of strain, sativa.
Also, medications that affect the entire body or brain tend to cause sleepiness more than other ones. These include edibles and patches.
If you don’t use marijuana medicine as a sleep aid, you have many options for managing the drowsiness. Patients who deal with sleepiness from weed medication usually don’t have to discontinue their treatment once they figure out how to handle it.
The best way to manage cannabis sedation is simply to pick a strain that doesn’t make you tired. As opposed to indica strains, sativa strains boost your energy levels. If you don’t want that extra lift, you can choose a hybrid strain that balances the effects of sativa and indica strains.
In the case that you must use a medication that causes sleepiness, you can try taking it before your bedtime. You can sleep off the drowsiness. If you can’t take your medication before bed, take the same precautions that you would with any drug that causes sleepiness. Don’t operate anything that can cause harm like a car or heavy machinery.
Marijuana-related drowsiness mostly only impacts your short-term ability to perform tasks. As long as you manage it effectively, you don’t have to worry about its impact after you finish taking cannabis medicine. Patients shouldn’t worry about this side-effect having a long-term effect on their life.
As you can see, marijuana-related exhaustion is nothing to worry about. Check out the benefits of medical marijuana that make up for this side effect, and talk to a doctor who knows about cannabis for more information.