The Need to Sleep

Wake up! America is in the grip of a silent epidemic of insufficient sleep.

Most Americans will set their clocks back an hour on November 3, gaining a precious extra hour of sleep. They probably need it. America is suffering from an epidemic of sleep deprivation, according to an alarming study published last December in the journal Healthcare.

More than one-third of American adults, or 83 million people, get less sleep than they should (doctors say most adults need seven to nine hours per night); 23 percent of working adults suffer from insomnia. And the effects are literally killing us. According to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, not getting enough sleep increases the risk of coronary heart disease by 35 percent, diabetes by 25 percent, 22 percent for stroke and 21 percent for obesity. More generally, sleep deficit is linked to seven of the fifteen leading causes of death in the U.S., including cardiovascular disease, cancer, cerebrovascular disease, accidents, diabetes, septicemia and hypertension, according to the National Center for Health Statistics.

In addition, fatigue and drowsiness are probable causes of roughly 40 percent of highway accidents, according to the National Transportation Safety Board. Then there are massive impacts on economic prosperity due to bad sleep—a loss of up to $411 billion every year in the U.S. alone.

“Insufficient sleep is a pervasive and prominent problem in the modern 24-hour society,” write the authors of the Healthcare study. “Globally, insufficient sleep is prevalent across various age groups, considered to be a public health epidemic that is often unrecognized, under-reported, and that has rather high economic costs.”

The epidemic is driven by a convergence of factors. A big one is our modern lifestyle, overstressed and overscheduled. The increasing prevalence of screens, smartphones, and electronic devices is often cited as another cause of poor sleep. So what can be done when counting sheep fails?

The Trouble with Pharmaceuticals for Sleep

Like many health concerns, poor sleep doesn’t have a one-size-fits-all solution. But taking the issue seriously is an essential first step to start to solve the problem. Doctors recommend making good sleep a key tenet of wellness, like eating well, brushing your teeth, and getting regular exercise. The American Academy of Sleep Medicine suggests healthy sleep habits. But, for many of us, some of these habits are nearly impossible to stick to—do you know anyone who is able to go to sleep and get up at the same time, day in and night out?

That’s where prescription drugs come in. According to the CDC, between 2005 and 2010, more than one in twenty adults ages 40 and over took a prescription sleeping pill at least once a month. But as insomnia and sleep deficit rates continue to rise, it’s obvious that these drugs aren’t working for everyone—and they come with plenty of significant side effects including next-day grogginess, dependence, and more. There are other, more natural alternatives.

How Cannabis Can Help with Sleep

Here are a few things we know:

  • Cannabis has been used for centuries to help people sleep.
  • 74 percent of cannabis users at legal dispensaries reported taking cannabis to help them sleep, according to a study published in April in the Journal of Psychoactive Drugs.
  • Because of the past century of government prohibition on cannabis, researchers haven’t been able to do the kind of rigorous studies needed to determine optimal dosage, ideal formats of consumption and generally how cannabis aids sleep.

But as legalization expands, that’s beginning to change. A survey of the research into cannabis and sleep says “controlled and longitudinal research is critical to advance our understanding of research and clinical implications.”

While this research is in its infancy, it’s clear there’s still so much to learn about the natural wonders of cannabis and other long-used plant medicines.

At 1906, we regularly receive letters from true believers in our all-natural sleep aid Midnight, a carefully targeted blend of cannabis and corydalis. Time after time, they report that after enjoying Midnight, they had one of the best night’s sleep of their lives. They write things like: “Thank you again for such a life-enhancing product. I count myself blessed.” and “I've suffered from insomnia my entire life. I am blown away by how incredible these work and continue to work.”

We’ve been so impacted by this kind of customer response, we have committed to conduct a clinical study on our 1906 Midnight product with the International Cannabis and Cannabinoids Institute (ICCI) to demonstrate precisely how Midnight works as a sleep aid in adults.

And, to supplement our best-selling chocolate version, we’ve just released Midnight as one of our brand-new Drops. Pro tip: the effects of both Midnight products kick in after 20 minutes or less, making them (like all our products) the fastest-acting edibles on the market. So be ready to drift off into dreamland as soon as you’ve taken Midnight. Jammies advised.

The 1906 Midnight products are currently available only in licensed dispensaries in Colorado, but we hope to share our sleep magic with other states soon. Stay tuned! And in the meantime, enjoy that extra hour of sleep on November 3. It’s one of the best things you can do for your health.