Can You Use Cannabis to Restore Your Natural Sleep Cycle?
Insomnia isn’t that uncommon
Sleep is essential for maintaining our mental and physical health, yet it eludes many adults.
According to the National Sleep Foundation, 50 to 70 million U.S. adults experience symptoms of a sleep disorder. About 30 to 40 percent of the population will experience insomnia at some point in their lives, and about 10 to 15 percent of adults will deal with chronic insomnia.
So if getting shut-eye is becoming harder and harder, you’re not alone.
With so many people experiencing sleeping disorders, there’s been a rise of interest in one controversial cure: cannabis. Many in the medical marijuana community refer to cannabis as an effective treatment, with little to no side effects, for a range of sleeping disorders.
“Marijuana is an effective sleep aid because it restores a person’s natural sleep cycle, which so often falls out of sync with our schedules in today’s modern lifestyle,” says Dr. Matt Roman, a medical marijuana physician.
Whether you have a sleep disorder or you’re having difficulty sleeping after a stressful day, cannabis might be a choice for you. Marijuana’s analgesic properties might provide some relief for those with chronic pain, while the anti-anxiety properties can soothe a stressed out mind and body.
There are different strains of marijuana. Some are more energizing, and some are calming and sedating depending on the balance of the different cannabinoids.
First, here’s a quick primer on the science behind marijuana. This herb works because it contains different cannabinoids, two of which you’ll see most often:
- Cannabidiol (CBD). CBD has a number of health benefits, and is nonpsychoactive, meaning it doesn’t cause you to feel “high.”
- Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). THC, a psychoactive cannabinoid, is primarily responsible for that “high” feeling.
Something else THC is responsible for? Inducing sleep . So you’ll want a strain that contains more THC than CBD.
According to a 2008 study , ingesting marijuana strains with higher levels of THC typically reduces the amount of REM sleep you get. Reducing REM sleep means reducing dreams — and for those who experience PTSD, it could mean reducing nightmares.
So the theory is that if you spend less time dreaming, you’ll spend more time in a “deep sleep” state. The deep sleep state is thought to be the most restorative, restful part of the sleep cycle.
Still, REM is important for healthy cognitive and immune functioning, and marijuana with higher THC levels could impair your sleep quality if taken long term.
But this isn’t true across the board. Some studies have found that sleep can actually be impaired by regular use of marijuana. It’s clear that marijuana changes sleep cycles.
Smoking of any kind is a known health risk and should be approached with caution. Also, medicinal use of marijuana is still illegal in many areas.
Talk to your doctor about your sleep cycles. There may be long-term health consequences with interrupted REM, because much of the immune function repair takes place in deep sleep.
Please use marijuana responsibly. As with all forms of smoking, your risk of COPD can increase. Smoking marijuana is hazardous to the lungs, especially for those with asthma or other respiratory conditions. The use of marijuana while pregnant or breastfeeding isn’t recommended.
Long-term marijuana use has been shown to have changes on the amount of gray matter in the brain. For teenagers, marijuana seems to have even more profound long-term and lasting effects on the brain and isn’t recommended.
Marijuana use isn’t recommended for anyone under 25 years of age because of the long-term effects on learning and recall.
More research on marijuana for medicinal purposes as well as the risk of COPD is still needed.
Is cannabis an answer to entering the land of sleep? From strains to timing, here’s what you need to know about cannabis as a nightcap.
The Best Cannabis Strains for Insomnia
My friend struggles with insomnia.
To the point that he has to call in sick to work with some frequency.
He knows that the lack of sleep is affecting his career and his health, but nothing he’s tried in the past seems to work. Sleep masks, no TV or phone before bed, changing his diet, taking natural supplements, even sleep hypnosis.
He still can’t get a good night’s rest—at least not consistently.
Even when he is able to fall asleep quickly, he has a hard time staying asleep.
So when he asked me about the best cannabis strains for insomnia, I was all too happy to help.
In this guide, I highlight nine (9) of the highest-rated recreational cannabis strains for insomnia. This list focuses primarily on indica strains, but you will find a few hybrids known for their stress-busting, calming high perfect for right before bed.
Even better, we grow many of these strains in our own garden using organic methods.
A great night’s sleep could be a short drive to the dispensary away.
Are Indicas Best for Insomnia?
Indicas are known for delivering a relaxing body high ideal for evening use. This has led many cannabis consumers to assume any indica strain will always be better than a sativa or hybrid for treating insomnia.
And while you’re more likely to find indicas touted as “sleepy” strains, that doesn’t mean you should avoid sativas or hybrids entirely. One factor that contributes to sleepless nights for many smokers is an increase in stress or anxiety. And that’s where select hybrid strains—even sativa-leaning hybrids—can be just as effective as some indicas.
In the end, the best strain for a better night’s sleep depends on why you feel so awake in the first place, and how your body responds to different cannabinoids.
Now, let’s look at the best cannabis strains for treating insomnia.
9 Cannabis Strains to Help You Fall Asleep Faster (and Stay Asleep Longer)
Granddaddy Purple (Indica)
A potent body high and pleasant, dreamy cerebral buzz have made Granddaddy Purple a popular nighttime strain praised for its ability to combat pain, insomnia and loss of appetite.
As one Leafly reviewer puts it, “Unless your daytime gig involves watching the Deadpool trailer 19 times, you probably don’t want to try this when you need to be productive.”
Extremely potent and highly resinous, Afghani delivers sedating relaxation and a sleepy euphoria that will leave you smiling until you can’t keep your eyes open.
Northern Lights (Indica)
A descendant of Afghani (another insomnia-fighting strain on this list), Northern Lights combines many of the effects that you look for in a nighttime strain. Let the day’s stress and frustration wash away with the lazy, muscle-relaxing body high and a dreamy sense of mellow euphoria.
Grape Ape (Indica)
Another descendant of the stress-busting, sleep-inducing Afghani strain, Grape Ape provides soothing relief from pain, stress and anxiety—three of the primary factors that keep many people awake at night.
Death Star (Indica)
Like a Sith plan to take over the galaxy, Death Star’s potent effects can take a little while to kick in. But when they do, they hit you like a superlaser. An extremely relaxing full body high that disintegrates stress, it’s what Darth Vader smokes when he needs to sleep before a big battle with the rebels.
Don’t let Lavender’s sweet, flowery aroma fool you: this indica packs a serious punch. Known for delivering relaxing relief from stress, pain, muscle spasms, inflammation and insomnia, it may be one of the lesser-known strains on our list, but it’s just as effective in combatting insomnia and many of the factors that play a role in difficulty falling or staying asleep.
OG Kush (Hybrid)
One of the genetic originators of “West Coast” cannabis, OG Kush delivers heavy, relaxing euphoria that knocks out stress and helps you drift off to sleep.
Tahoe OG Kush (Hybrid)
A phenotype of OG Kush, Tahoe OG is a powerhouse of relaxation and stress relief, offering an extremely heavy body high with the euphoria of a sativa.
Chemdawg 4 (Hybrid)
Unlike other Chemdawg phenotypes you may have tried, Chemdawg 4 is a fast-acting, indica-dominant hybrid with a relaxing, full-body high and potent stress relief perfect for starting your sleep routine.
Additional Tips for Using Cannabis to Sleep Better
You might be wondering what options you have to get a better night’s rest if you can’t find any of these strains available at your local dispensary.
So let’s consider a few general tips you can use to get some Z’s with THC.
Try edibles. It takes longer for the effects from edibles to kick in, but those effects also last longer. So while this might not be your best option if you’re trying to fall asleep in the next 5-10 minutes, edibles are a great way to help you stay asleep.
Smoke aged cannabis. If you find a bit of bud you never got around to smoking, save that for evening use. Cannabis that isn’t as fresh has actually been shown to have higher levels of cannabinol (CBN), a cannabinoid known for its sedating effects.
Watch THC levels. A strong indica is a great way to get high. Too much THC, however, can cause an increase in anxiety for some cannabis consumers. This won’t apply to everyone, but if you’re struggling to sleep after smoking a bowl of 27% THC indica, try something a little closer to 17-21% and see how you respond.
Increase CBD levels. CBD can help reduce pain, stress, inflammation and a range of issues that contribute to sleeplessness. It can also help manage the psychoactive effects of THC, which may cause anxious thoughts in some smokers and strains.
You’re Getting Sleepy
We hope this list of the best cannabis strains for insomnia helps you get a better night’s rest.
And we’d love to hear about your favorite nighttime strains in the comments—your recommendation could help a fellow bud-lover get to bed sooner and wake up feeling recharged.
Stop by Karing Kind in North Boulder to stock up on top-shelf flower, CO 2 extracted concentrates, and some of the highest-rated edibles in Colorado. We grow many of the strains in this list in our very own garden using organic methods.
While we carry a variety of strains, concentrates, edibles, salves and tinctures, inventory and stock levels fluctuate from week to week and month to month. Check our menu and follow us on Twitter for an up-to-date list of edibles, concentrates and buds available.
Nine of the best recreational cannabis strains for insomnia for a better night’s sleep. Wake up feeling rested—many available at Karing Kind.