Article written by
Tina MagrabiSenior Content Writer
Content reviewed by
Dr. Lewis JasseyMedical Director - Pediatric Medicine
Table of contents
Certain cannabis strains may help you get a good night’s rest, especially those with higher concentrations of cannabidiol (CBD). Indica-dominant hybrids with high CBD, moderate levels of THC, cannabinol (CBN), and terpenes such as myrcene may be the best marijuana strains for sleep.
Sedation is usually associated with CB1 receptor agonism, so low to moderate doses of THC may help manage insomnia. Explore the best cannabis strains for insomnia and how the cannabis plant may help you get more restful REM sleep.
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How Cannabis Affects Insomnia
The cannabinoids in the cannabis plant have different therapeutic effects on the body. Both THC and CBD are useful in treating many conditions, including chronic pain and insomnia.
All cannabinoids work by connecting with receptors in your unique endocannabinoid system (ECS). The ECS regulates many of our bodies’ most crucial functions, including the ability to fall asleep.
As the main psychoactive compound found in cannabis, THC has myriad effects on insomnia. High THC levels may help some people fall asleep faster. But for others, too much THC can trigger anxiety and make falling asleep more difficult. CBD has also been shown to exacerbate anxiety in some people, but not to the same extent as THC.
So, which cannabinoid is better for insomnia, THC or CBD? The answer depends on your body chemistry, ingestion method, and choice of strain (i.e., chemovar).
The cannabinoid connection also depends on consuming a well-balanced blend of botanical compounds. These organic compounds include not only cannabinoids but also terpenes and flavonoids, all of which work together through the entourage effect to optimize therapeutic benefits.
For example, low doses of CBD alone might keep you awake, but an equal 1:1 ratio of THC to CBD could help you drift off to sleep. Mix in some relaxing terpenes like myrcene and linalool, and you could have the right cannabis recipe for a good night’s sleep.
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Best Ways to Use Cannabis for Insomnia
Consuming the right strain of cannabis within a few hours of bedtime could help your insomnia. If you’re able to take a nap during the day and want to catch up on sleep, you can also consume cannabis in the morning or afternoon.
CBD-rich edibles are potent and have trance-like effects on some users, while THC-heavy edibles can produce anxiety and increase the risk of insomnia if used in high doses. If you want to use edibles as a natural sleep aid, eat them at least two hours before bedtime to allow your body time to metabolize the ingredients.
Low to moderate doses of THC are ideal for sedative effects without anxiety. Utilizing cannabinoids and terpenes like CBN, myrcene, linalool, and pinene may help induce relaxation and reduce the amount of THC needed for sedative effects.
Other CBD products that may work well for insomnia include topical creams, CBD oil, gel, and lotion. There are also CBD bath products, such as scented bath bombs, that help some people relax before bedtime.
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Best Strains for Insomnia
As sleep starts in the brain, the best medical marijuana strains for insomnia have soothing effects on the mind. Here are Leafwell’s favorite nighttime strains for insomnia.
Blackberry Kush has a berry, earthy, and sweet flavor profile. Medical cannabis patients love this chemovar for its powerfully sedative high that produces a euphoric and uplifting high. Blackberry Kush helps stimulate appetite and can help patients combat stubborn insomnia.
This high-CBD strain has an earthy, spicy, and sweet flavor profile. It delivers relaxing and sleepy effects with minimal intoxication. ACDC is good for people who have previously used CBD products and found them useful for insomnia. For others, this much CBD could produce alertness and make a sleepless night more likely.
Lavender has a sweet and floral flavor profile. Medical patients report using Lavender for anxiety, insomnia, and chronic pain. Lavender’s most dominant terpene is linalool. Studies suggest linalool may reduce anxiety levels and prevent the damaging physiological effects of stress.
This strain has a fruity grape flavor profile and is rich in myrcene. Due to Grape Ape’s relaxing effects, it’s a popular nighttime strain and can be used to help people switch off after a long, stressful day. Many medical patients claim that it is a valuable strain to help them sleep.
With a citrusy, earthy flavor profile, Bubba Kush is a strain rich in myrcene and perfect for a restful night. It’s an indica strain ideal for nighttime use and has sedative and relaxing effects, which can help alleviate symptoms of chronic pain, insomnia, and stress.
Northern Lights has an earthy, piney flavor profile. Its euphoric and relaxing effects make it an excellent strain to add to your nighttime routine. It is ideal for managing stress, anxiety, insomnia, and chronic pain.
The flavor profile of Granddaddy Purple is a delightful mix of sweet, fruity, and earthy notes with a distinct grape taste. Its uplifting qualities can help alleviate stress and anxiety, while its deeply relaxing effects can aid in combating insomnia and promoting restful sleep.
Harlequin is a prime example of a well-balanced 1:1 strain. Containing nearly equal levels of CBD and THC, Harlequin makes many users feel mellow. Equivalent concentrations of CBD temper any uplifting effects of the THC.
The only way to know if CBD strains or THC strains work better for your insomnia is to try both. Start with CBD strains and slowly progress to higher THC levels to avoid unwanted side effects.
Experience the potential benefits of medical cannabis for insomnia and many other conditions with your own MMJ card. Connect with Leafwell’s doctors, and we’ll help you apply for a medical marijuana card through our 100% virtual clinic.
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Published: July 2022
Updated: February 2024
Frequently Asked Questions
Is indica or sativa better for insomnia?
Indica strains are usually classified as relaxing and may be better for insomnia, and it’s a generalization rather than a set rule. Some people may feel uplifted with indica strains. Bursts of energy are more likely with sativa strains, some richer in tetrahydrocannabivarin (THCV, which opposes THC in low doses), terpinolene, and limonene.
Which cannabinoid can help insomnia?
Cannabidiol (CBD) has been shown in some research to be beneficial for getting a good night’s sleep. Less addictive than prescription and over-the-counter sleep aids, CBD has also been linked to lower levels of anxiety and depression in some people, making the cannabinoid helpful in battling insomnia. Finally, CBD has some pain-relieving properties, and a pain-free body is one factor in making deep sleep more attainable. THC also has beneficial effects on sleep.
Do terpenes help with insomnia?
Some terpenes have calming properties and may help with insomnia. Examples of relaxing terpenes include myrcene, linalool, and humulene. But the way these terpenes function in cannabis largely depends on the strain. Pure indica strains are the most likely to help with sleep disorders, while pure sativa strains are the least likely to combat chronic insomnia.