What You Need To Know About Cannabis and Sleep

What You Need To Know About Cannabis and Sleep

You and a lot more people just like you may use cannabis as a rest aid. It's safe, natural (non-pharmaceutical) and best of all, it works…well so long you may already know any risk of strain you utilise works best for you.

This can be quite a tough under our current prohibition driven legal circumstances, but have no fear we are here to greatly help rest easy. Shortcomings of the hypocritical policy aside, when one delves deeper into genetics and cannabinoid and terpenoid concentrations, it will come as a shock that some strains do the precise opposite of the “sleepy stoner” stereotype (i.e. keep one awake).

Then, there are a few strains that may have an “alert” effect followed by a sleepy effect, or vice-versa. To make things a lot more confusing, one strain might have different phenotypes with a variety of effects.

To make sense of this, we shall explain why cannabis might help a person sleep, and a little about the strains that might assist you to do so. Some of this might seem elementary to the seasoned user, however the deeper we go the more mysteries we will unlock.

Indicas, Sativas and Hybrids

Ask a person what among the ramifications of using cannabis are, and among the answers is likely to be “sleepy” and “relaxed”.Whether that is through personal experience, seeing its effects on others or through media depictions. You will also read or hear of cannabis enthusiasts from the 60s or 70s writing or talking about the strains of yesteryear – ones that made a person more energetic or focussed.

There is one valid reason for this vary from “awake” to “asleep”: more and more folks started to grow cannabis in their very own homes, and more and more indica strains or Sativas bred with Indicas grew to become released in order to accommodate this trend. Growing small plants indoors and out-of-public-view became a possibility. 

Indicas also have a shorter flowering time, making the complete cultivation process a great deal quicker. Add to this the fact pure, landrace sativas may be difficult to grow when out of their native environment, and you've several good explanations why people started to grow indica more and more often.

However, many people still enjoyed the sativas of their youth, and many individuals who weren't around in the 60s/70s were interested in these old sativas. Growing these in the home is not any easy task, so breeders around the world tried to perfect the art of hybridizing, adding indica genetics to sativas in order to have the shorter flowering time, improve yield and benefit from hybrid vigor, though wthhold the sativa effects. The 80s were a cornerstone decade in the development of several of today's strains, and it is arguable that these experiments may also have helped us discover how to start breeding for specific cannabinoids like CBD as well.

There have arguably been some successful hybrids that just this, with Jack Herer and Super Silver Haze (SSH) being two of the very prominent examples. Yet, these two strains are still hybrids, and therefore there it's still phenotypes that lean towards indica effects. Also, the indica will exert its influence on phenotypes that lean more towards the sativa side (and vice-versa), and therefore using Jack Herer or SSH will make you're feeling awake for an hour or so or two, then sleepy!

People also started to locate that hybridising strains may possibly also alter and even improve on a particular strain's effects. The results of a sativa often elongate when crossed having an indica, and vice-versa (more on this later). This allowed for breeders to start “tailoring” strains to this flavour and effect profiles individuals were looking for. People also liked hybrids for the choice in effect it gave them. People could choose a few phenotypes of a strain that treats them particularly well, and then utilize the different effects for different occurring times of day! For instance, a person may have three SSH plants, one indica-leaning for night time, one sativa-leaning for day time and one hybrid for other times.

This variation in cannabis leads nicely onto the next two sections …

What Makes an Indica “Sleepy”?

This really is an appealing question. Sativas, using their tendency to be saturated in THC and reduced in CBD, are said to keep one awake. Indicas are usually saturated in both THC and CBD, and are said to keep one asleep. Many postulated that this was because CBD inhibited what of the enzyme fatty acid amide hydrolase (FAAH), which breaks down THC and the natural endocannabinoid anandamide, thus providing a less “high” feel and a more “couchlock” one. This is also one of the reasons given as to the reasons indicas tend to prolong the results of a sativa when hybridized.

However, this is not entirely accurate, as fatty acid-binding proteins (FABPs) would be the intracellular carriers for THC and CBD in humans. Rather, it would appear that CBD “competes” with THC, and the THC:CBD ratio determines from what extent those two cannabinoids compete for FABPs. However, CBD does inhibit THC, but the machine of modulation might be competitive rather than cooperative! This might also explain why indicas boost the duration of a sativa's effects when the two are crossed – the THC essentially stays in the machine for longer! CBD inhibits FAAH in mice, not humans! There's also the truth that CBD can also increase anandamide levels, meaning the whole CBD = sleepy formula pretty inaccurate.

However, one of the significant reasons why people might associate CBD with sleep is because it may and does help lots of people feel relaxed and less anxious. So, whilst the CBD isn't necessarily making you're feeling sleepy in and of itself due with a inherent property of the phytocannabinoid, the fact that you are getting relaxed and feeling less anxious does.


More than simply the taste and smell, terpenes have their very own effects in and of themselves, and it's these terpenes that might be helping induce sleep, rather than just the cannabinoids in and of themselves. Moreover, terpenes also help subscribe to the entourage effect, and have powerful effects all their own. You will find three particular terpenes in cannabis that can aide sleep. They're:

  • Myrcene – often present in hops and mangoes, myrcene features a powerful sedative effect, and most strains saturated in this terpenoid will likely have sleepy effects. Unsurprisingly, myrcene is present in a lot of indicas, and crossing with sativas ensures that some often eventually ends up in those too. However, myrcene is one of the most abundant terpenoids in cannabis, aside from strain. Myrcene appears to exert a sedative influence on THC, suggesting why sometimes high-THC sativas will often have sleepy effects, e.g. some phenotypes of Jack Herer. Warlock CBD and Pink Kush are two other types of high myrcene strains.
  • Bisabolol – often found in chamomile, and has anxiolytic and analgesic properties. Though bisabolol doesn't induce sleep, it might aid in increasing other terpenoids'ability to do this due to the pain-killing and stress relief properties it has. ACDC, Master Kush and Harle-Tsu all have high amounts of bisabolol in them. Bisabolol could also help people get a better quality of sleep.
  • Linalool – linalool, like myrcene, also has sedative effects. Linalool even offers analgesic, stress-busting and antidepressive effects, meaning so it is a good help in those individuals who have trouble sleeping. OG Shark, Lavender and LA Confidential have high amounts of linalool in them.

For anyone trying to find specific genetics, it would appear that strains that are based on Afghani – an indica strain – are most helpful for sleep. Afghani constitutes the back ground of numerous classic sleepy “couchlock” indicas like DJ Short's Blueberry, Northern Lights and Mr. Nice's Medicine Man. However, Northern Lights is interesting, as it has pinene and limonene inside it, meaning so it may have a more uplifting, focussed effect minus the overbearing “rushy” effects sativas will often have (whilst still being best for sleep). This just goes showing that cannabis's effects aren't just right down to THC:CBD ratios, but their entire cannabinoid-terpenoid profile.