Cannabis for Sleep: Why Insomniacs Turn to Cannabis

There are the 50 to 70 million adults in the United States who regularly experience symptoms of a sleep disorder, 10% of whom suffer from chronic insomnia, according to the National Sleep Foundation. 

For decades, the only legal options for treating sleep disorders were hit-or-miss supplements and pharmaceutical sleep-aids. Now that the reins on cannabis are relaxing, adults who suffer from chronic sleep problems and disorders are turning to the natural alternative — cannabis — which may be the most effective option yet.

Does Marijuana Help You Sleep?

The psychoactive cannabinoid THC often acts as a sedative and can induce sleep; however, effects do not apply to all cannabis methods or cultivars. Some cultivars could have the opposite effect and make you feel energized. Do your research and talk to an expert before trying cannabis for sleep to avoid any surprises when you’re ready to call it a night.

Cannabis has been shown to help those suffering from insomnia fall asleep more quickly, and it may also help with other sleep disorders such as sleep apnea, and even restless legs syndrome. Clinical research on the efficacy of cannabis for sleep apnea is limited, however, as legalization paves the way for more research, we remain optimistic.

Benefits of Using Cannabis for Sleep

Sleep deprivation poses a risk to your overall physical and mental wellbeing, and drowsy driving is as dangerous as driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. There are several options for treating these disorders, but many are pharmaceutical and come with a long list of potential side effects. However, cannabis can be highly beneficial for several reasons:

  • Non-drug alternative 
  • Fewer side effects than pharmaceutical options
  • Lower risk of dependency
  • Helps ease chronic pain, which can make sleep difficult

How to Use Cannabis as a Sleep Aid

There are multiple ways to use cannabis as a sleep aid. The effects of inhaling cannabis (smoking, vaping, and dabbing) can set in very quickly, usually within a few minutes. Take a hit and wait 10 minutes to see how you feel. If after 10 minutes you’re not as sleepy as you’d like, take another hit and wait. Continue this until you’ve reached your desired effect. For safety, it’s recommended that you only use cannabis this way when you are in for the night.

Consuming edibles (including cannabis-infused drinks) is a popular method for adults experiencing insomnia or other sleep problems, as the effects last longer than smoking or vaping. However,  edibles also take longer to kick in — sometimes up to 2 hours — so if you eat an edible, do so at least an hour before you want to get to sleep. If you’re a new user, your tolerance will be very low. Upto 5mg of an edible should be more than enough to help you sleep through the night.

Best Strains for Sleep

When it comes to cannabis for sleep, stay away from sativa-dominant cultivars, as they typically increase alertness and boost energy. 

Below, please find five strains that are commonly used to ease insomnia. We’ve focused on the terpene profiles since terpenes enhance the effects of THC and CBD. Check your cultivars of interest to see whether they have any these sleepy terpenes.

Black Triangle

Black Triangle is a pure indica with upto 26% THC and 1% CBD. Limonene, Mycere and Pinene make up it’s terpene profile.

Grandaddy Purple (GDP)

GDP has a very high THC (up to 19%) and low CBD (less than 1%)  ratio, but its terpene profile is a classic collection of what you’ll see in many sleepy cultivars. The terpenes in this cultivar are Myrcene, Pinene, and Caryophyllene.

Jabba’s Stash

This indica-dominant strain has upto 21% THC and 1% CBD. Jabba’s Stash contains Caryophyllene, linalool and Myrcene.

Northern Lights

One of the purest strains, Northern Lights’ THC content ranges from 15% to 22%. Its terpene profile is Myrcene, Caryophyllene, and Limonene.

Purple Kush

With a THC content of up to 27%, Purple Kush has a similar terpene profile to the cultivars mentioned above. You’ll find Myrcene, Pinene, and Caryophyllene in Purple Kush.

Best Terpenes for Sleep

  • Caryophyllene: Responsible for the peppery, clove-like spiciness in some cultivars, this terpene helps alleviate pain, inflammation and insomnia.
  • Limonene: In addition to lending a citrusy scent and zest to cultivars, limonene helps with the treatment of anxiety and depression, inflammation, insomnia, and pain.
  • Linalool: Offering a lavender scent, this terpene is a popular relaxant. It also has anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, and anti-inflammatory properties.
  • Myrcene: The sedative effects of this earthy, herbal terpene and well known. It also has anti-carcinogenic, anti-inflammatory, and antioxidant properties.
  • Terpineol: This piney terpene is believed to offer antibacterial, antioxidant, and sedative benefits.

Use Cannabis to Manage Your Insomnia

Keep in mind that, while the cultivars listed above are great for aiding in sleep, they are not the only options. Overall, broad leaf varieties are going to help you get a good night’s rest, and our Happy Valley Hosts at our East Boston and Gloucester locations can offer recommendations for cultivars and methods of consumption based on your preference and what’s available. 

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