Sleep is a natural state of rest and regeneration. The body goes through different sleep cycles throughout the night, such as light, deep, and REM (rapid eye movement).
Sleep helps us feel refreshed and replenished in the morning, so it is important to get enough of it. If you suffer with insomnia or other sleep disorders, cannabis may, but not always, be able to help you get a better night's rest.
How cannabis helps with sleep
It's normal to wake up in the middle of the night. For some, it happens more often than others. While tossing and turning is a common occurrence, it can be hard to get back to sleep after waking up during the night.
Cannabis can be known as a sleep aid because it may help you fall asleep faster, stay asleep longer and wake up feeling rested. The cannabis plant contains over 60 active compounds called cannabinoids that interact with your body’s receptors in different ways depending on what kind of effect you want from them.
The main psychoactive component of cannabis is THC (tetrahydrocannabinol). THC has been shown to increase both stage 4 non-rapid eye movement (NREM) sleep and REM sleep at small doses.
What type of cannabis is best for sleep?
There are two main types of cannabis, broad leaf marijuana (indica) and narrow leaf marijuana (sativa). Indica is known for its relaxing and sedative effects, while sativa tends to be more energetic and uplifting. When it comes to sleep, CBD forward products are the best choice because of its muscle relaxing qualities.
THC has been shown to negatively impact sleep quality at high doses though, so if you're looking for a strain with a lot of THC content then you may want to reconsider using it right before bedtime. However, some studies have found that low doses of THC can improve sleep quality in some people. If you want to try using cannabis before bedtime but do not want any psychoactive effects from the THC then look into other alternative methods like edibles/oils/vaping with no psychoactive compounds at all.
How to use cannabis for sleep
When you're ready to use cannabis, you don't have to smoke it. There are plenty of other ways to consume cannabis if smoking is not your thing. Some people enjoy cannabis-infused edibles/beverages or oils, for example, which give users more control over how much they ingest and when.
You may feel the effects of THC within 25-45 minutes of taking a small dose. These effects can last four to six hours after ingestion (and will likely be strongest two hours after). If you aren't feeling anything from your edible yet and need more immediate relief from sleep issues, there are alternative ways to ingest THC that can provide faster results:
Vaping - Vaping offers an enjoyable sensory experience when used with a vaporizer pen or similar device designed specifically for inhaling cannabis vapor rather than smoke. It also delivers cannabinoids more quickly than other methods
CBD vs THC and Sleepiness
The two most popular cannabinoids in cannabis, THC and CBD, have different effects on your body.
CBD is the most popular non-psychoactive cannabinoid because it doesn’t get you “high” like THC does. It’s also known for helping with sleep by calming your body down and relaxing muscles. However, this isn't always the case: some people report that CBD makes them feel more alert instead of drowsy.
THC is known for causing a “high” feeling because it activates your brain receptors (called CB1 and CB2 receptors) that provide pleasurable sensations such as euphoria or relaxation. While this can help with anxiety, chronic pain relief and other ailments that affect sleep quality—sometimes too much THC can cause paranoia or anxiety about being awake at night.
What Science Says About Cannabis and Sleep
There is a lot of evidence to suggest that CBD can help with sleep. In one study, for example, researchers gave healthy participants a high dose of CBD before bedtime and found that it reduced their time to fall asleep by 8 minutes on average.
Another study conducted at Harvard University looked at the effects of CBD on insomnia sufferers who were given 600mg or 900mg doses of the cannabinoid every night for 6 weeks. The results showed “significant improvements in subjective quality of sleep” as well as a decrease in anxiety and depression symptoms when compared to placebo groups.
The best-known terpene for promoting relaxation is linalool.
It's found in many plants and flowers, including lavender and cannabis, and it's also produced by the body naturally. Linalool has anti-anxiety effects when consumed via inhalation or through topical application. It's also known to help reduce inflammation and act as a sedative, making it a good choice for people who are looking for relief from insomnia or anxiety.
Linalool can be found in different strains of cannabis depending on their genetic makeup; some strains have high amounts of this terpene while others do not.
Other useful terpenes for promoting relaxation.
The terpenes myrcene and nerolidol. Myrcene is a monoterpene that has been shown to have sedative effects, helping with relaxation and sleep. It is commonly found in mangoes, hops, basil and thyme.
Nerolidol is another monoterpene that has been shown to have sedative properties that can aid in promoting restful sleep (and may even improve sleep quality). The most common sources of nerolidol are jasmine flowers as well as grasses like lemongrass and citronella oils.
In short, there is a lot of evidence to suggest that cannabis can help with sleep. It’s also worth noting that the effects of different strains will vary depending on their terpene profile as well as their THC and CBD content. If you are interested in using cannabis for sleep, we recommend starting with an Indica-dominant strain with high levels of myrcene and linalool terpenes.