Get Your Best Sleep Ever This Weekend, With These Cannabis Strains
Sleep is important. There are dozens of studies indicating that it leads to better health. It can also be deeply pleasurable — who doesn’t like to feel cozy? But at least 30% of adults can’t enjoy these benefits. For a variety of reasons, many of us spend each night working through every position we can comfortably contort our bodies into, with no shut-eye to show for it. Our eyes are red with exhaustion but the minute we lie down and close them our minds begin working through a list of stressors and fears.
As a result, we greet the following day with fatigue, cloudy thinking, and frustration. Which exacerbates the stressors and fears. And on and on.
Whether it’s difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep that plagues you, cannabis is well documented as a natural sleep-aid. Below, we’ve listed ten strains with a good track record for helping people get rest. Still, everyone is different — so hit the dispensary and work through them a gram at a time until you find a few that work. Then take note of their THC and CBD composition as well as their terpene profile. If you see a pattern, you’ll better know what to look for in the future.
When it comes to using weed as a sedative, Purple Kush is one of the most popular strains around. A 100 percent indica variety, it can have a THC composition as high as 27 percent. That means serious relaxation. Users enjoy it in part because they find there is no initial head high that they need to wait out before the body relaxation sets in. Nope. There is an immediate physical ease complemented by a dazed sense of complete wellbeing. It’s great at knocking anxiety, depression, and pain on their asses, too. Expect to fall asleep with a content mind and a smile on your face.
People are also big fans of this strain’s aroma which leans toward the sandalwood musk associated with Afghani strains but also has notes that are fruity and sweet like plump, juicy grapes. The flavor is also a bit fruity with hashy overtones that can get you coughing. However, on the exhale, there is a sugary grape taste that’s a lot like the children’s syrup Dimetapp, but… in a good way.
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Do you like your weed to come with a side of urban legend? Then, this is the strain for you. There are tales about the CIA, FBI, and other agencies gathering the best cannabis strains from breeders across the globe in the late 1960s. They used these strains to begin crafting mega hybrids at a super-secret research facility at the University of Mississippi. A man named Neville Schoenmaker convinced someone to bring him a cutting, and G-13 was chosen because it was the most stable. He then got to growing and distributing this powerhouse to the masses. This strain is generally 70 percent indica and 30 percent sativa with 27 percent THC composition. That’s heavy stuff — perfect for making users lazy and lethargic before knocking them right out for the night.
G-13 isn’t a very sweet strain, so it takes a user with a more mature palate to really appreciate the woody pine flavor and the earthy undertone. It goes over well with people who like a fragrant mug of black tea without any sweetener or cream.
At midnight, a lot of people who can’t sleep find themselves begging God to intervene and help them grab a few hours of Zs before they have to face another day of being a functioning human being. Whether or not this strain is God’s response, we couldn’t say, but we can tell you that this 90 percent indica hybrid has a THC composition of up to 25 percent. Don’t worry; it will knock you out for the night. The high itself comes on strong and quickly replaces all the worry in a user’s mind with a heavenly peacefulness. The relaxation is total, so you might want to smoke in bed. We aren’t saying that using it on the couch before bed means you will wake up on the couch the next morning, but we aren’t not saying that.
A bit of a tasty treat, God’s Gift has a well-developed taste that includes lemon, berry, grape, citrus, and hash flavors. It is for sure a pleasant combination to appreciate before you sink into your pillows and let sleep overtake you. Thanks, God.
9 Pound Hammer
“Why nine pounds of hammer?” you ask. Well, that’s a good question and one that we have also pondered without resolution. However, we can tell you with certainty that nine pounds of sticky, weedy hammer is more than enough to beat the crap out of your sleep difficulties. It is an 80 percent indica hybrid with a THC composition that can be up to 23 percent, and it will beat you over the head with no-nonsense sedation. Smoke or vape a little and feel your shallow breaths deepening as your limbs grow heavy and your muscles go slack. Recreational users may complain about the couchlock that accompanies using too much, but people looking for relief from sleeplessness will be happy to find themselves immobile in bed for a few minutes before they transition smoothly into sleep. Plus, this strain can give you the munchies something fierce so it’s good to find yourself meeting Mr. Sandman before you have a chance to raid the fridge.
9 Pound Hammer is one of those strains whose smell isn’t reflected in the taste as much as you might expect. The aroma is citrus and grape with a bit of incense, but the flavor is woodier and more piney — with a hint of lime when you breathe out the smoke. It is sweet and earthy and tasty, but not as berry as you might expect.
Using this strain won’t put you front row for experiencing Aurora Borealis, but it can absolutely make you feel like you are in Norway scanning the stars while you snuggle up in a warm woolen blanket. This is strong stuff. The 95 percent indica strain has a crazy THC composition that can be as much as 33 percent, which is considerably higher than most strains. It won’t take more than a couple of hits before dopey numbness sets in and the dial gets turned way up on happiness and a sense of comfort. Be very careful about returning to the pipe or vaporizer because too much of this can kick in some paranoia and anxiety that will not be helpful in sleeping like a log or sleeping like a baby or sleeping like a baby log.
Give yourself a low dose and go slow. It really won’t take much or take long.
If you can read the term “Christmas tree-flavored candy” without recoiling in horror, you should enjoy the flavor of Northern Lights, which honestly has a sweet pine flavor. There are also floral notes, a bit of earthy goodness, and some lavender taste. It’s not at all a conventionally yummy profile, but it isn’t bad to use at all. It grows on you.
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Though we have gone with the Gorilla Glue name because it is the original moniker associated with the strain, it’s worth noting most dispensaries have taken to calling this weed GG1 or Sister Glue. It turns out that the adhesive company Gorilla Glue wasn’t cool sharing their name with cannabis. We hardly think people were having wacky mix-ups where they bought bud instead of superglue, but whatever. An even 50/50 hybrid, this bud brings the THC hard with a 28 percent composition. Thanks to all of that THC goodness, the high is instant and it lingers, meaning if you typically suffer from wakefulness in the night, GG1 will put an end to it. It will also put the kibosh on chronic pain, depression, and anxiety. Warning: Upon enjoying some of this sedating wonder, you may immediately get dry mouth, so keep water on your bedside table for relief.
Gorilla Glue is a cross between Chem’s Sister and Chocolate Diesel, and it is so, so delicious. The Chocolate Diesel influence makes this weed smell and taste like cocoa and coffee. Be prepared for those flavors to be followed by a sour diesel taste that lingers. There are earthy pine notes as well.
There is a common belief that eating cheese in the night will give you nightmares. There isn’t much truth to it, though if you eat a ton of it, you might end up with a full stomach, which can cause more REM sleep, when dreams are most vivid. This cheese, however, is perfectly safe to have at night, and it will not give you bad dreams at all. It will only give you deep, restful sleep. Blue Cheese is an 80 percent indica strain with a THC composition that clocks in at 20 percent. Clearly, the potency isn’t as high as some of the strains on the list, but that makes it better for people who are new to cannabis and those who are sensitive to side effects like paranoia. You won’t get couchlock right away, though heavy use can certainly trigger it. It’s more likely that you will feel mellow and happy as you slip between the sheets and zonk out.
Do we think a cheesy tasting bud sounds delicious? We do not. Luckily, Blue Cheese owes its name more to its parentage than its flavor. A cross of Blueberry and Cheese, this strain has a tasty berry flavor on the exhale without any pervasive cheese funk.
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Unlike the squares at Gorilla Glue, it looks like the makers of The Great Grape Ape Show are chill with sharing their name with a strain of weed. Although maybe that’s because the two have a common audience in lazy stoners, so the shared name benefits everyone. Insomniacs will appreciate the 100 percent indica strain, especially the THC composition that can be as high as 25 percent. Grape Ape delivers on a profound body high that starts slowly and develops over time to cause a heavy feeling in a user’s limbs. It is a full body stone coupled with a spaced-out mindset that makes falling asleep and staying asleep easy peasy. If chronic pain, muscle aches, stress, anxiety, or depression are contributing to poor sleep, this strain is perfect for replacing them all with a foggy relaxation.
The Grape Ape name has to do with the purple that can be seen on the bud rather than the flavor. However, it legit does have a fruity flavored smoke with grape and berry notes. A nice bonus is the sweet sensation that lingers after you exhale. Think of it like a grape-flavored hard candy.
The film L.A. Confidential was a winner at the Academy Awards, Golden Globes, and Screen Actors Guild Awards. And the strain L.A. Confidential was similarly lauded, including the award High Times Strain of the Year in 2006. Where the two part ways is that the weed will make you fall asleep, and the movie will not. Ideally. As a pure indica strain with a THC composition that can be as high as 26 percent, the L.A. Confidential will numb the body and trigger waves of relaxation that roll gently across a user’s muscles. Most folks find themselves asleep after an hour or two, so this strain does need to be used with a head start. Don’t wait too long and find yourself smoking more and more to bring on immediate sleep. You will end up with a headache and a heaping helping of anxiety.
Like a camping trip, this strain’s flavor profile is earthy and woody with a lot of pine. There is a bit of a citrus tang that rounds things out well. Who doesn’t like things a little sweet and dirty?
Ace of Spades
When the creators of Ace of Spaces designed the strain, they crossed Black Cherry Soda with Jack the Ripper as a way of making weed that was a bit sweet and sour. It worked. It also created a 60 percent indica leaning hybrid with a THC composition as high as 20 percent. Because it is both an indica and a sativa, the high affects both body and mind, but it certainly leans toward the physical. Along with intense relaxation, the effects also include a euphoria that can cause giggle fits, so users should be prepared for intense happiness before sleep arrives. This joy is especially beneficial for people whose sleeplessness has led to anxiety about going to bed. It makes the time between smoking and snoring feel safe and pleasant.
Think of a strain that mimics someone reading the best bedtime story ever. Forget Audible, get high.
There is a genuinely sweet and sour flavor mashup that also includes citrus and spice. It’s even a bit peppery, which shows up as part of an herbal sweetness on the inhale. Some users might even find it a bit like Dr. Pepper, and that’s fun in a cannabis strain.
Whether the problem is falling asleep or staying asleep, these weed strains offer a safe and fun solution.
Thinking About Using Cannabis For Sleep? Here Are Some Things To Know
I’ve had a lot of patients and others of you ask me about using cannabis for sleep. I thought I’d take some time to go over some information that may be helpful in understanding how cannabis can affect sleep and sleep-related issues, and whether cannabis is something to consider for your sleep problems, in consultation with your physician.
Cannabis helps insomnia and other sleep problems
The cannabis plant has been used for centuries as a sleep aid. Contemporary scientific research has measured what people have known and experienced since ancient times: cannabis has relaxing and sedative effects. In particular, cannabis makes falling asleep easier. One recent study found that cannabis shortens the time it takes to fall asleep , both for people with sleep problems and people who fall asleep without trouble. Among people with active difficulty falling asleep, cannabis use resulted in an average of 30 minutes less time in falling asleep. The study also included a group of people who were able to fall asleep without difficulty. Among this group of strong sleepers, cannabis helped them fall asleep even faster, by 15 minutes.
This research falls aligns with other studies that show cannabis use reduces the time it takes to fall asleep , and lengthens time spent in deep, slow wave sleep. Cannabis also appears to shorten time spent in REM sleep, likely as a result of one of its primary active ingredients, THC (more on this important component of cannabis in a minute.)
Cannabis contains many different natural chemicals that affect sleep
Cannabis has dozens of different natural chemical compounds that have effects on sleep, and sleep cycles. There are two main components to cannabis I’ll focus on today that are important to sleep: cannabinoids and terpenes .
Scientists have identified more than 100 cannabinoids in the cannabis plant . Many are being studied for their benefits for sleep and other health conditions, including psychological conditions like depression and anxiety, neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s, seizure disorders, different forms of cancer, and chronic pain.
Three of the best-known cannabinoids all have effects on sleep.
Cannabidiol, or CBD, is a non-mind-altering cannabinoid that promotes relaxation.
Last week, I talked about the latest scientific evidence illustrating many of the benefits of CBD , including for sleep. (I’ve written about CBD before: you can read about it here , and here .) CBD has no psychoactive effects—that means there’s no “high” associated with this compound. Scientists think instead that CBD works to balance or counteract the high that’s delivered from another cannabinoid, THC.
CBD has gained a lot of attention for its ability to reduce anxiety, relieve pain, promote mental focus and clarity. CBD also has the ability to reduce daytime sleepiness and promote alertness. Studies of CBD show that it reduces anxiety without affecting sleep-wake cycles.
Cannabinol, or CBN, is a less well-known cannabinoid than CBD. It appears to have powerful sedative effects, which may be enhanced when its combined with THC. CBN also has pain-relieving, anti-inflammatory properties. Studies suggest CBN stimulates appetite. (CBD, on the other hand, appears to suppress appetite.) CBN is found in aged cannabis, when, over time, THC converts naturally to CBN.
I’ve written recently about the emerging research about how CBN helps sleep and pain .
Tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, is the main psychoactive cannabinoid in cannabis. THC is what gives the high that’s associated with cannabis use. THC can provide pain relief, and is also useful in reducing nausea. Research shows THC has sedative effects , and can make it easier to fall asleep. There’s also emerging evidence suggesting that THC may improve breathing during sleep , which makes THC a potential therapy in the treatment of obstructive sleep apnea .
THC appears to alter time spent in stages of sleep. Specifically, THC has been found to reduce time spent in REM sleep and increase time spent in slow-wave sleep.
Because of this diminished time in REM, THC reduces dreaming . That can be helpful to people who have conditions such as PTSD that involve frequent, disturbing dreams and nightmares. People may experience fewer dreams when using cannabis regularly. After stopping, its common to experience a burst of dreaming. That’s part of what’s known as REM rebound—an increase in REM that happens after REM has been suppressed.
Changes to sleep cycles are one factor to consider when evaluating whether, and how long, to use cannabis. All sleep cycles are important for healthy rest and functioning. Alterations to our nightly sleep architecture, especially over the long-term, can deprive us of the full restorative effects a night of sleep is biologically designed to provide.
Cannabinoids have gotten a lot of attention for their potential benefits for sleep, mood and pain, as well as other health issues. But terpenes also appear to play a pretty significant role in the effects of cannabis, including its ability to affect sleep. We’re still learning about how terpenes affect the body and mind. But scientists think they may work to enhance the effects of different cannabinoids, as well as affecting the body directly in a range of ways.
Terpenes are tiny, aromatic molecules in cannabis that create its smell and taste. Terpenes aren’t only found in cannabis—they’re found in many natural plants, fruits and flowers. There are more than 150 different terpenes that have been identified. Different combinations of terpenes in different strains of cannabis create distinctive tastes and smells. They also contribute to different strains having different effects when we consume them.
Science shows terpenes have effects on energy, mood, sleepiness and alertness. Some of the most common terpenes identified as helpful to sleep are:
Myrcene . Commonly occurring in cannabis, this terpene is also found in a lot of fruits and herbs, including mangoes, basil, thyme, and lemongrass, as well as in the sleep-promoting plants hops and ylang ylang. Myrcene has been shown to have sedative effects . It also functions as an anti-inflammatory.
Caryophyllene . This is a stress, anxiety and pain-relieving terpene that may also promote sleep, thanks to these relaxing, anxiolytic and analgesic properties. This terpene has a peppery, spicy scent, and is also found in cloves and black pepper.
Limonene . This citrus-flavored terpene, which is found in citrus peels as well as in cannabis and other plants, has been shown to reduce anxiety and stress , according to research. Limonene may also have anti-depressant effects . And research shows it may reduce OCD behaviors. Scientists think its calming, mood-lifting effects come from limonene’s ability to elevate serotonin levels in the brain . That may also make this terpene a sleep-promoter. Studies have shown that limonene may help reduce insomnia symptoms .
Terpineol. This terpene has relaxing, pain-relieving, and sedative effects. In addition to being found in some strains of cannabis, terpineol is also found in lilac, pine, and eucalyptus.
Linalool . This lavender-scented terpene is found in hundreds of plants, including cannabis. You probably know about the benefits of lavender for sleep, which I wrote about here . Studies show linalool lowers anxiety and depression symptoms , as well as help g uard the immune system against damage from stress . Particularly important for sleep: linalool increases adenosine , a sedating hormone that helps us fall asleep.
Different types of cannabis have different types and amounts of cannabinoids and terpenes
Always consult your doctor before you begin taking a supplement or make any changes to your existing medication and supplement routine. This is not medical advice , but it is information you can use as a conversation-starter with your physician at your next appointment.
For people considering using cannabis, it can be a little intimidating and confusing to figure out what type of cannabis is best. There are many different strains of cannabis available. How do you know which one to choose?
Working with a knowledgeable medical provider and dispensary is essential. You can also use this basic knowledge of these natural cannabis compounds to identify the strain of cannabis that’s right for you.
Here are a few key things to know:
The most common cannabis strains are Indica and Sativa. There are also hybrid strains that combine the two. Indica is generally considered to be relaxing and sleep promoting. Sativa is generally regarded as more energizing and invigorating.
However, some scientists who study cannabis say that these generalizations of indica and sativa aren’t particularly accurate or useful. More important, they say, is the composition of cannabinoids and terpenes. When considering using cannabis for sleep (or other health conditions), these scientific experts say we’re better served by using an understanding of the effects of cannabinoids and terpenes to choose the particular strain that’s most suited to our individual needs.
When it comes to sleep, generally that means identifying a strain that contains relaxing terpenes, and a balance of CBD and a not-too-high concentration of THC. In addition to increasing the euphoric and mind-altering effects, higher concentrations of THC can make you feel sluggish the next day .
Don’t be shy about asking a lot of questions, and working with your physician and dispensary to make an informed choice you’re comfortable with.
Know potential side effects of cannabis for sleep use
Cannabis can be helpful in bringing about sleep. It does have side effects that you should know. They include:
- Next-day grogginess, especially with overuse and/or a high-THC strain.
- Overuse and high-THC strains can also produce dry mouth, euphoria, and increased appetite after ingestion
- After extended use, possible withdrawal symptoms that may include changes to mood (feelings of anxiety or depression) and changes to sleep (trouble falling asleep, vivid dreams)
Where you live affects how you can use cannabis
The state laws governing cannabis for medical and recreational use are changing often these days. As of this month, 10 states have now legalized cannabis for recreational use. (Michigan became the latest to legalize cannabis in our most recent election.) In 33 states, medical cannabis is currently legal.
Even if you live in a state where cannabis is legal without a prescription, I recommend talking with your doctor, as you would before using any sleep aid or supplement.
Keep in mind, there are different ways to ingest cannabis besides smoking, which obviously carries health risks. If you’re considering cannabis for sleep, I recommend using a tincture or vaping, so you don’t expose yourself to the health hazards associated with smoking.
And remember, you can use many of the natural compounds found in cannabis on their own, in isolated form or combined with other natural ingredients. Many of the sleep-encouraging terpenes found in cannabis are also present in sleep-promoting essential oils and natural supplements, including hops, ylang ylang, and lavender.
CBD is fast-growing in its popularity as a therapy for sleep, anxiety, and cognitive performance. The benefits of CBD are so promising, I included CBD in my own sleep formula, Aktive Sleep Booster, along with other natural sleep-boosting ingredients including valerian and hops.
I hope this has been a helpful primer on some of the basics of cannabis and its influence over sleep. There’s lots of emerging scientific evidence about cannabis and its potent natural chemical compounds. I’ll be sure to update you as we learn more about how cannabis works and what it may be able to do for our sleep and health.
Thinking About Using Cannabis For Sleep? Here Are Some Things To Know I’ve had a lot of patients and others of you ask me about using cannabis for sleep. I thought I’d take some time to go over