Cannabis has been used as a treatment option for chronic pain, epilepsy, ADHD, and other conditions. In recent years, its use as a sleep aid has been the focus of several studies around the world. In order to help with their sleeping problems, patients flock to dispensaries that offer a wide array of tinctures, vapes, and cannabis flowers that may help them induce (and maintain) better sleep quality. While cannabis has different effects on users depending on the strain, its sedative effects can’t be disputed.
Insomnia is a common sleeping disorder that affects more than 50% of people with 10-30% of adults who suffer from chronic insomnia. To treat it, doctors often prescribe benzodiazepine sedatives and non-benzodiazepine sedatives that aim to help induce deep sleep. However, in recent years, more and more cannabis users are turning to the cannabis plant as a natural sleep aid. Certain cannabis strains affect our sleep more than others, and in this article, we’ll focus on those particular strains. But first, let’s see why cannabis makes you sleepy.
Why Does Smoking Weed Make You Tired and Lazy?
What some cannabis users consider a side effect of marijuana, others think of as a blessing. One of the main effects of cannabis on the body is the sedative effects (like sleepiness and drowsiness) that have resulted in a lot of recreational and medical marijuana users trying marijuana as a sleep aid.
Medical Marijuana and Insomnia
While a lot of research has been done into using medical cannabis in order to sleep better, most of the studies have small focus groups. On the quest for deep sleep, patients who suffer from insomnia, REM sleep behavior disorder, and other sleep-related conditions, will do anything to improve their quality of sleep.
According to a 2008 study by the Palo Alto University, marijuana strains with higher levels of CBD may help with REM sleep behavior disorder and excessive daytime sleepiness.
On the other hand, a 2014 study has found that regular use of marijuana can lead to sleep impairment in young people. In order to reach a definitive conclusion, more research needs to be done on the subject, although it’s a fact that marijuana has sedative effects on the human body.
THC vs CBD in Cannabis
Cannabis is a complex plant with more than 400 chemical entities and around 60 cannabinoid compounds. Even though each compound has its own effect on the human body, the main cannabinoids that have been of interest to scientists are THC and CBD.
Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is the cannabinoid that has psychoactive effects on users and produces the “high” effect, while Cannabidiol (CBD) has anti-inflammatory and sedative effects. Hence, some cannabis users are consuming weed to help with their sleep problems.
The cannabinoids in marijuana interact with the CB1 and CB2 receptors in the body and affect neurotransmitters like dopamine, norepinephrine, and even serotonin. CBD binds with these receptors, and as a result of that, it helps with inflammation, chronic pain, decreased appetite, and other conditions.
As weed ages, THC converts to a lesser known cannabinoid, CBN (Cannabinol), that produces a more sedating, couch-lock high, and because of that, more and more studies are being done on the effects of CBN.
The Importance of Terpenes in Cannabis
Terpenes, the aromatic compounds found in cannabis, create the scent that users associate with distinctive weed strains. They help cannabis breeders improve the chemical composition of cannabis plants and create new variations of old weed strains.
Myrcene is one of the most abundant terpenes in cannabis that gives weed the smell of musk, cloves, and fruits. Limonene, on the other hand, has a citrusy smell that resembles lemons, and it also improves mood and reduces stress. Linalool is the most recognizable marijuana smell that has spicy and floral notes.
Other wide-spread terpenes like Caryophyllene, Alpha and Beta-pinene, Humulene, Geraniol, Eucalyptol, give cannabis the smell of pine trees, eucalyptus, pepper, and spices. A well-balanced terpene profile creates a unique marijuana strain that’s one of the main focuses of marijuana growers.
Do Sativa or Indica Cannabis Strains Make You Sleepy?
Today, the lines between Sativas and Indicas are blurred as a result of years of cross-breeding. However, in the past, there were huge differences between pure Indica and pure Sativa strains.
Cannabis breeders now focus on mixing the Sativa and Indica genetics to create hybrid strains that possess the effects of both strains, although one is generally more dominant than the other.
Pure Sativa marijuana strains, and Sativa-dominant strains, are known for their “head high” cerebral sensations, and energizing and uplifting effects that help increase creativity and focus, while also reducing anxiety and stress. Generally, they’re strains with high THC levels and lower CBD levels which users consume in social environments.
On the other hand, pure Indica strains and Indica-dominant strains produce “body-high” or couch-lock effects that help users relax their body and mind, which, in turn, helps them sleep better. They’re strains that have higher amounts of CBD and lower THC levels (that also decrease nausea and pain). Indicas are often consumed as a night-time ritual by people who are having sleep problems.
Popular Indica-dominant strains include Girl Scout Cookies, Gorilla Glue, Blueberry, Cookies Kush, Sour Kush, Bubba Kush, Northern Lights, and others.
Final Thoughts on Marijuana Strains That Improve Sleep Quality
Not all cannabis strains are made equal, and while some are more energizing, others are more sedating (depending on the ratio of cannabinoids in the strain). Indica-dominant cannabis strains that have higher CBD contents are the go-to natural sleep aid for a lot of people.
Marijuana isn’t recommended as a sleep aid by healthcare providers around the world since the only countries where it’s completely legal for both recreational and medical use are Canada and Uruguay. However, it’s a fact that a lot of people have been swapping the use of Benzodiazepines with cannabis in search of better sleep. Deep sleep is essential to maintaining a healthy sleep cycle and promoting overall well-being, and for that reason, sleeping problems may affect other aspects of your life.
If you’re thinking about using cannabis to solve your sleeping problems, be sure to consult your healthcare provider if medical marijuana is legal where you live. A licensed professional will be equipped to give you proper dosages that are tailored to your needs, which you won’t get by just buying weed from a local dispensary.