People have been taking cannabis flower to get to sleep for thousands of years. It worked in India c. 1500 BC, it worked in China c. 1200 AD, and it works for people across the world today.
According to a Consumer Reports survey, about 10 percent of Americans who have tried CBD — one of the main chemical components of cannabis — have done so because of sleep problems. For most of them, it worked.
Many factors contribute to whether cannabis will help you sleep. Some are individual — dosing, timing, interactions with brain chemistry — and others have to do with the strain that you take.
Cannabis Flower 101
There are many different cannabis strains out there, each with a different chemical profile and a different effect on the body and mind. Two primary factors contribute to these differences:
- Whether the plant is THC-dominant or CBD-dominant
- The makeup of the plant’s terpene profile
THC and CBD are cannabinoids. They’re the chemicals in cannabis that interact with the body’s endocannabinoid system, which contributes to the regulation of body functions as diverse as sleep, appetite, and fertility.
Terpenes are the often-overlooked “cousins” of cannabinoids. They don’t interact with the endocannabinoid system, but they do affect certain body functions Whether a cannabis strain is good for sleep depends largely on the terpene profile of its flower.
Sleep-Inducing Strains and Their Terpenes
When you’re looking for a strain of cannabis flower that will help you sleep, keep an eye out for the following terpenes.
- Myrcene, known for its sedative effects
- Caryophyllene, a relaxing terpene with anti-anxiety properties
- Limonene, used to fight anxiety and depression and to improve mood
- Terpineol, a relaxing terpene that may also reduce pain levels
- Linalool, a popular terpene for fighting anxiety. Linalool also encourages the body to release adenosine, a sedating hormone that helps you sleep.
There are a lot of cannabis strains that contain one or more of these terpenes. Here are a few of the most popular to jump-start your search:
- Tahoe OG Kush, or Tok: A THC-dominant strain with limonene, caryophyllene, and myrcene. This is a pretty strong strain that works fast when smoked or vaped.
- Granddaddy Purple: A popular anxiety-fighting strain with high levels of the relaxing terpene myrcene
- 9 Pound Hammer: Another THC-heavy strain, this one features plenty of myrcene and caryophyllene to reduce your stress and quiet your mind before bed
- Remedy: Almost THC-free, this strain contains high levels of myrcene, pinene, and caryophyllene to reduce anxiety and stress and help you sleep
This is only a small sampling of the cannabis strains that might help you sleep better. Ask around and do some research into which strains have worked for other people.
On THC vs CBD
There are a lot of misconceptions surrounding cannabis and sleep, one of the most common, being that CBD is better for sleep. That may be true if your sleep troubles are due to anxiety since THC can cause anxiety to spike.
If not, though, you might want to stick with a THC-dominant flower. These tend to have the strongest sedative effects.
A Final Word
The cannabis flower that helps you sleep might not be the same one that helps your friend. Make note of what strains you try and whether they work, and don’t give up too soon. It might take a few tries to find the right one for you.