A Guide to "Lifted Layering": Getting to Sleep & Staying There with Cannabis.

We know poor sleep leads to a myriad of unpleasant ripple effects like daytime sleepiness, fatigue, headaches, unwanted mood shifts, inattention, increased susceptibility to accident, and other health problems that delightfully snowball into daily livin’. I’ve been struggling with getting to sleep and staying there, as well as feeling refreshed when I awaken as opposed to a zombified extra on The Walking Dead. In addition to dealing with old soccer injuries, identifying & reflecting on my stressors (hello parenting in the day of active shooter drills), I’ve been experimenting with “layering” techniques for enhancing my sleep integrating, but not depending upon, THC and CBD

“Lifted Layering” is a term I coined for a self-care equation I’ve been honing - a strategy anyone can use to cobble together relaxing, ritualistic activities to either establish or enhance your self care regimen according to your budget of time, money, and needs. While not wholly reliant upon it, Lifted Layering involves integrating cannabis with other tools of relaxation in an intentional way. This isn’t earth shattering stuff, but more of an example of things I’ve implemented in my own life which complement one another beautifully. Self-care IS healthcare, friends, and unfortunately, consider this a gentle reminder this isn’t a luxury, or stuff you earn, friends, you are entitled to caring for yourself: human beings need rest to live, period.

Sure, some weed will knock you out - hello, Academic: a solid Indica flower with high THC and really sleepy terps (think linalool, a floral sedative terpene also found in Lavender, and is known to calm the mind and body and induce sleep). But, I found that after my initial pajama-clad smoke sesh, I tended to wake up after a couple of hours and proceed to exemplify that Squidward-visiting-the-bong-at-midnight-meme. *Not* that there’s anything wrong with midnight tokin’, but mama needs a solid eight hours of sleep. I’m so interested in this space that I’ve framed a bunch of my time around it, including my recent #WomensWeedNight and in most, if not all, of the consulting I do with clients. Americans have a biiiig sleep issue. Here I’ve articulated some helpful practices with which I’ve been experimenting - try some adaptation of them in your routine and let me know how it goes! Do not feel pressure to do all of these all the time; really, it’s like choosing a few cards from a deck - selfcare need not be lockstep uniform, but a fluid regular activity you relish in and are called to do consistently. I do some combo of these things each night of my life, but that doesn’t mean you need to do the same.

Prep for success by building this time into your schedule. Dedicate 30 minutes to an hour to this routine after your responsibilities for the day are met (or even if they aren’t, frankly, if it can be done tomorrow, let it be). So charge your crystals, grab some herb, a scented candle, and treat yo’ self along these lines, ladies (and gents).

Step 1. Find a quiet area to chillax uninterrupted, find your happy place, your “lady lair” as I call my spot. I don’t care if it’s Harry Potter's under-the-stairs hovel. Make like Liz Lemon and go to there and (politely) tell those in your household to leave ya be!

Step 2. Smoke or vape an Indica-leaning strain, you have to get into your “me time” headspace immediately, amirite? Remember, Indica cannabis varieties are known to abate anxiety and relax the body moreso than our Sativas. Pay attention to where you carry your stress physically, and when that area starts to relax you’ve found medicine which suits you. If you’re more of a mental stress person, the next step is for you. I can always tell when I’ve medicated adequately when my shoulders drop involuntarily because this is where most of my stress manifests physically. My absolute favorite concentrate before bed comes from my friends at Craft1861, their SLEEP formula is outstanding - I and my clients clamor for it. Some of my fave flower strains that are widely available: Northern Lights, Gelato, Granddaddy Purple, and Skywalker; no worries if this list doesn’t match your local weed inventory - just ask your supplier for an Indica with a moderate to high amount of THC (18%+) and maybe even some CBD in there, if you can find it.

Also, interesting tidbit: old cannabis has been shown to help aide in sleep issues thanks to the development of Cannabinol or CBN, a lesser known cannabinoid that slowly develops as the others degrade over time and is known to be a very sleep-inducing compound. Only problem? There aren’t a lot of CBN-heavy strains on the market (yet) and we know there isn’t a demand for old weed, so good luck finding CBN flower; some people make their own by basically leaving a jar of herb in the garage. For a year. Yeah, not so appetizing, but read on for a product suggestion featuring CBN.

Step 3. You’re stoned now so we’ll keep this short, but I promise, skipping this step is a mistake. Do a 4 minute journal entry/scribble in a notebook or phone (though I think there’s more tactile benefit to putting pen to paper). Use a sharpie to resist drilling down too far - just mind-blurt out the things that are on your mind, bothering you, or stressing you out. Simply getting it out helps calm your brainwaves into a state that’s far more conducive to relaxation. Set a timer and try this: Take ONE minute to think about your worries, take ONE minute to write them down, ONE minute to write the simplest actions to address each, and ONE minute to write down 4 things for which you’re grateful. This exercise lowers your heart rate almost immediately and cumulatively over time will help you feel more balanced and happy. Perfect for us mental stress cases. Bonus? Your to-do list for the next day is started.  

 Medicated bath bombs: worthy of the HIGHpe. This is my set-up for bathtime.

Medicated bath bombs: worthy of the HIGHpe. This is my set-up for bathtime.

Step 5. Run (and style) your bath! Layer your Lair! One of my BFFs literally drags her plants into her bathroom to achieve the vibe - like a 5 foot palm tree, ya’ll. I put crystals around and light candles just to gussy it up. I’m also a fan of adding an infused bathbomb (KushQueen makes wonderful products); No, you will not get high from such a thing, essentially you’ll leave the bath uber-moisturized and noticeably more relaxed, sorta like you’ve had a massage in addition to a warm bath. Sometimes I cut the bombs in half, too, for future tub time. Make your bath HOT so you can stay in there longer than you think you should. Spoiler alert: you should stay in there longer than you think you should. Our epidermis is literally our largest organ thus soaking yourself in a CBD and THC-laden bath relieves inflammation at the skin and superficial muscle group levels outstandingly.

Step 6. Hydrate. While your bath runs (mine takes foreverrr) grab a drank. There is research showing a connection between mood and dehydration, think hangry but for water (#HydRage?), and you lose a lot of H2O while you soak your body into raisinity. I like to chug a glass of water then steep some cannabis tea to enjoy in the bath - I make my own cannacoconut oil (here’s an easy DIY recipe) and my dose is roughly around 20-30mg. You can also find medicated teas on the market, Kikoko makes a sleepytime version with CBN in it, it’s on my list to try.

Step 7. Throw on a facemask, pack a bowl and Tune. The. Eff. Out. Not enough people smoke in the bath for some reason. Do it. If quiet solitude is your thang, do it, if you wanna binge on The Real Housewives of Any City, do it. I tend to listen to music, puff, and revel in how awesome I feel while sippin’ my tea TOTALLY ALONE. Now lay there...for as long as you’d like. Warm the bath up once or twice.  

Step 8. Here’s where things get interesting. So yes, I’ve smoked by this time probably twice and my tea is settling in and I’m feeling good *how-ev-er* I’ve discovered that my body needs more layers to help me sleep all night. Post-bath is when I’ll take my fave Charlotte’s Web CBD and THC extracts; I usually take one dose but may double up if I’m sore from a workout or something. It sounds like a lot, but remember that CBD actually disrupts THC, dampening it’s cognitive effects, while holding the medicinal benefit in place. Even given that, still be sure to titrate (aka adjust dosage) conservatively and use ratios aligned with your tolerance - you can always take more. Start with the dose on the package, give yourself a few minutes to allow it to spread into your bloodstream (15-20 should definitely do it when using a sublingual), and when you feel good, stop.

 My favorite products from Stanley Brothers and Charlotte's Web, these are my staples. 

My favorite products from Stanley Brothers and Charlotte's Web, these are my staples. 

Step 9. Ever heard of Self Massage? I can almost hear the dirty jokes being typed. Seriously, who can get a massage every time s/he needs one? I certainly cannot and have devised a little technique, with the help of topicals, a tennis ball, and my foam roller. I really like Papa & Barkley’s topical line but I’ve also made my own and it was outstanding. This is usually my last stop before hittin’ the actual sack - and sometimes I just do 5 minutes of bed yoga - but these two techniques relax my spine and hips better than others and are adaptable to almost any body part. I slather any achy muscles or joints in a medicated salve then do 5 minutes of stretching, that’s it. Here’s a nice set of tennis ball massage moves and here’s my absolute favorite move EVER using my foam roller, the Spine Roll Release. *squeal* Seriously, be prepared to be obsessed. And if you have a partner who doesn’t massage you like Skeletor (I’m looking at you, husband), ask them to work ya over.

 Just a casual foam roller moment between friends: here I am leading my friend Laura of @Queen_Canna in the spine release move I adore.

Just a casual foam roller moment between friends: here I am leading my friend Laura of @Queen_Canna in the spine release move I adore.

Step 10. Do you! Some of my clients feel like they “shouldn’t” medicate in the middle of the night for some reason. Do not feel a modicum of guilt if you wake up and have a toke. Like, would you feel guilty taking an Advil in the middle of night for a gnar toothache? NO. Do what it takes to get the rest you need, but really, don’t resort to Ambien - it’s addictive and makes for some weird sleepwalking/driving/shopping tales. Ask Chelsea Handler. And word to the wise: if you tend to wake up in the middle of the night within 4-6 hours of your alarm, you probably do NOT want to ingest edibles so close to wake-up, you’ll proooobably still be high when the buzzer goes off; In this case, opt to smoke or vaporize a little something and hook up some white noise or instrumental music to lull you back into REM sleep.

Happy Layering! Let me know in how these tools and strategies work for you or if you have your own rituals you rely on, cannabis-related or not. XO - TC