Apr 8, 2016 8:00 AM

Marijuana and Sleep: All You Should Know About Weed Nightcap

One in three Americans is said to experience sleep disorders, including insomnia, lack of dreams, and other more serious forms of the ailment. While some patients that suffer from these conditions turn to sleeping medicines to assure a good night's rest for themselves, other are looking for alternative methods to solve the problem. And they often appeal to smoking weed before bed claiming that such a “self-prescribed” sleep aid helps them fall asleep faster than any other pharmaceuticals.

From the medical point of view, using a variety of prescription drugs is neither effective nor advisable in the long run. In its turn, weed can be a powerful sleep aid that is relatively safe if consumed properly. We bet you do not know much about marijuana and sleep yet, so be ready to learn a lot of things about the ways it can help or harm your sleep.

Indica or Sativa?

When it comes to choosing a certain cannabis strain, there are two main varieties—sativa and indica—between which the patients can choose. On one hand, there is the indica strain that tends to be a relaxing and sedative medication. On the other, there is sativa that provides a rush of energy.

Different strains of weed are capable of achieving different goals. The majority of researchers say that indica seems to be the best marijuana strain for those who want to get rid of insomnia. Indica-dominant flowers induce heavier sleepy effects in contrast to sativa known for its uplifting and energizing properties. Thus, if you just need to relax and have some sleep after a crazy working day, your favorite Grandaddy Purple before bed is all you need.


A factor to consider when looking for the best strain for sleep is the presence of cannabinoids—CBD and THC. There is surprisingly little research on how cannabinoids affect sleep. Although chemical and DNA testing have not yet shown why exactly indica strain makes your sleep better, some experts tend to think that indicas contain more of the sedating terpenes than the sativa relatives.

In the 1960s, researchers conducted several lab tests on THC and insomnia. Although experts suggested that different cannabis strains had different effects and chemical composition, scientists also found that the active component of cannabis called THC treated some sleep disorders: a dose of 70 mg of tetrahydrocannabinol a day extended sleep. More recent studies showed that another active component called CBD had opposite effects to THC in the area of sleep: CBD increased mental alertness and wakefulness, while the psychoactive compound led to an increase in slow-wave sleep. It partially explained why marijuana and sleep tests produced confusing results when the entire plant was used.

Just like any other treatment, specific strains and dosages can have either positive or negative effects. For example, too high doses of THC before bed can produce a so-called “hangover” effect, meaning that after smoking too much weed tonight, you will have a throbbing headache and temporal disorganization the next morning.


This cannabis compound is five times more sedating than THC. According to Steep Hill Labs, 1 mg of cannabinol is as effective as 2 mg of diazepam, which is a pharmaceutical sedative.

When THC degrades (oxidizes) over time, it converts to CBN. This process can be caused by exposure to either heat or oxygen. Improperly cured strains are also linked to the higher dose of the “sleepy” component, so there is nothing surprising in the fact that many potheads disdain such high-CBN flowers. You may fall asleep before you even finish smoking your dry bud.

There is one great piece of news for patients that need to receive treatment without getting high: unlike THC, CBN provides almost no psychoactive effects.

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