What Makes a Cannabis Strain a Good Sleep Aid?
While international marijuana prohibition prevented significant research into using cannabis as a sleep aid, recent revisions in pot’s legal status have caused that to change in many countries. However, there is some data about how marijuana affects sleep. Most research has been geared towards one of two major components of cannabis: THC and CBD.
Researchers look at two main factors when studying sleep: difficulty falling asleep and issues staying asleep. Restfulness – determining if someone feels tired and sluggish even after getting a full night’s sleep – is also a major consideration in sleep studies.
THC and CBD’s Effects on Sleep
More than 100 cannabinoids occur naturally in weed plants. Two members of this chemical family – THC and CBD – are the most abundantly found compounds in cannabis. THC and CBD also have the most significant effects on the body, including a notable impact on sleep.
Some research shows that CBD can help users achieve more restful sleep. One recent study from the University of Colorado seems to confirm this hypothesis. The large-scale study involved observing 72 adult patients and recording how it affected variables like anxiety and sleep quality. Within a month, two-thirds of the patients in the study (66.7 percent) reported CBD increased their sleep quality without any unwanted side-effects.
Data also suggests that THC can help people fall asleep faster. A 2013 study involving 13 male subjects showed that daily weed smokers experienced lower sleep latency when they took a high dose of THC every afternoon. This means that they spent less time tossing and turning after the lights went out. It’s interesting to note that subjects didn’t spend any more time sleeping – they just fell asleep more quickly.
Other Cannabinoids and Terpenes
THC and CBD have doubtlessly generated the most interest and attracted more research than other cannabinoids. That doesn’t mean other members of this chemical family have insignificant effects on sleep, though. In fact, minor cannabinoids and terpenes may actually play a huge role in weed’s impact on sleep – we just don’t know for sure.
One minor cannabinoid that shows promise as a sleep-promoting agent is CBN. This minor cannabinoid is produced when THC degrades from exposure to air or light and is found most commonly in aged cannabis. While some studies show that CBN has sleep-promoting effects, other researchers dispute these claims. Long story short, we just don’t know.
Additionally, cannabis plants produce flavor compounds called terpenes. Some of these terpenes are found in other plants that are sleep aids in their own rights like hops, chamomile, and lavender. These terpenes may help to amplify the natural sleep-promoting effects of cannabinoids like CBD and THC.
Our Top Strains for Sleep Aid
Below, we listed our four favourite weed strains for sleep: Romulan, Nuken, Violator OG, and Sensi Star. Not surprisingly, all four of them are Indicas, which have low-key, mellow vibes when compared to their high-flying cousins, Sativas.
A nearly pure Indica from the Pacific Northwest, Romulan provides a calming high and chilled-out vibe. Its THC content is slightly lower than other heavy Indicas at under 20 percent. It also features a pungent flavour combining herbal and spicy tones.
Out of more than 600 users surveyed by strain database Leafly, 53 percent reported that smoking Romulan left them feeling sleepy. In addition, just under half of the participants said that Romulan was an effective weed strain for their insomnia.
An Indica-dominant hybrid, Nuken is a cross between Kish and God Bud that was born and bred in Canada. It boasts an extremely high THC content, regularly measuring higher than 20 percent. It features an herbal, piney terpene profile with hints of spice and pepper.
Leafly surveyed 149 smokers and found that nearly a quarter of them reported Nuken helped them manage their insomnia and a third said that it made them sleepy. It’s also effective at mitigating pain, stress, and anxiety.
Despite its intense name, Violator OG is a pure Indica with a relaxing high. It hails from the Netherlands, where breeders Barney’s Farm created it by crossing Hindu Kush with Malana. Violator OG has a THC content comparable to Romulan – it’s not too high, but still potent.
Out of 219 participants that Leafly surveyed, almost half reported Violator made them feel sleepy, and just under one-third said it helped manage their insomnia. It’s also beneficial for instilling a happy and relaxed feeling to help a user settle in for sleep.
Sensi Star, a classic Indica that’s become a household name, rounds out our list of weed strains for sleep. Developed by breeders Paradise Seeds, Sensi Star solidified its place as one of the greats when it won the High Times Cannabis Cups in 1999, 2000, and 2005.
Nearly 500 users reviewed Sensi Star in Leafly’s survey. Nearly a third of them said that Sensi Star helped them manage their insomnia, and 41 percent reported that the strain left them feeling sleepy.
Sleeping Better and Longer with Cannabis
Although research seems to confirm that weed can be an effective sleep aid, there’s more work to be done. The best way to determine which cannabis strains help with sleep is to try them yourself. At BudStars, we’ll ship any of the strains listed on this page directly to your door anywhere in Canada. Check out our full inventory of Indicas to learn more about any of these strains and discover others that may help improve sleep.