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 tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), cannabinol (CBN), and terpenes like myrcene may be the best marijuana strains for falling asleep. 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 send some people into a deep state of relaxation. 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 (cultivar). 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: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 your risk of insomnia if used in too high a dose. 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 like 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.
Sweet and Sour Widow
This indica-leaning strain (70%) is a good place to start for those seeking somewhat balanced levels of CBD and THC. CBD slightly dominates this strain’s cannabinoid content at 9% versus 6% for THC, and myrcene rounds out Sweet and Sour Widow’s reportedly sleepy effects.
High in THC (more than 30%), this classic strain has a long-established reputation for relaxing people. Northern Lights is strongly indica-dominant, with 95% indica lineage and just 5% sativa roots. If you’re looking for a CBD-rich strain, though, look elsewhere, as Northern Lights contains virtually none.
Tahoe OG Kush
Tahoe OG Kush is THC-dominant and contains rich amounts of myrcene and limonene. The terpene limonene has a citrus aroma and flavor profile that could help you fall asleep. Citrus scents like lemon have been shown in some research to have stress-relieving properties.
This high-CBD strain (up to 20%) contains comparatively lower levels of THC (6% maximum). 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.
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, and equivalent concentrations of CBD temper any uplifting effects of THC.
For experienced cannabis consumers only, Pink Kush contains as much as 35% THC and virtually no CBD (less than 1%). If your body is accustomed to the effects of THC, then this indica strain could help you sleep like a rock. But if you’re new to cannabis, go with a less THC-dense strain for the safest experience.
This CBD-dominant strain’s name says it all. The flip side of Pink Kush, Remedy contains almost no THC and high levels of CBD. Terpenes of myrcene and caryophyllene complement Remedy’s reported anti-anxiety effects, working in tandem to beat insomnia.
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.
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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.