Insomnia is one of the top-reported reasons that individuals seek out medical cannabis. Even the CDC admits that sleep deprivation is a top health concern among people in the United States.

I, for one, remember struggling with insomnia for most of my life up until college, when I finally became a card-holding medical marijuana patient.

What is it exactly in the cannabis plant that helps the mind and body shut down for the evening?

The terpene profile of each particular strain has some effect on this. Linalool, the primary terpene found in the Lavender plant, has an instantly relaxing effect, as does the terpene bisabolol, found in Chamomile, a popular herb for making relaxing hot teas. Both terpenes, among many others, can also be found in varying levels in different strains of weed.

Apart from terpenes, cannabinoid content obviously plays a major role in the sleepiness of a particular strain. Researchers have found that CBN, or cannabinol, is the main cannabinoid responsible for sleep aid in patients. CBN is created when THC oxidizes, so you may fall asleep faster by smoking some dry flower that has been out for awhile – though so far, it’s been tough to find a flower with more than 1% CBN.

Just like any other cannabis treatment, the specific strain of cannabis and the dosage you imbibe will have a lot to do with the side effects you feel – positive or otherwise. There are some strains that can give you energy or cause the mind to race, and too much THC can speed up the heartbeat and make it even harder to go to bed.

Though the indica, sativa and hybrid classifications for cannabis strains are loose descriptors at best, typically an indica-dominant flower will be the best choice for bedtime. Here are some strains that are widely recognized for their sleep-enhancing effects:

  • Strains with “Blue” or “Purple” in the name. They’re most likely crossed with Blueberry, one of the heaviest strains for sleep.
  • Almost any variety of Kush. Hailing from the Middle East and surrounding regions, Kush genetics yield some of THE most potent flowers on earth.
  • Heavier hybrids like Blue Dream, Girl Scout Cookies, White Widow, Trainwreck and Headband – often great psychoactive strains crossed with a Kush.

If you’ve been medicating for awhile and have a high tolerance, or suffer from extreme insomnia, an edible formula could be an option. Many sleep-specialized products (like medicated Chamomile teas) are gaining in popularity due to this common symptom, and the effects of a strong edible can often last longer and feel more intense than a flower high.

Concentrates are also a fantastic option for problem sleepers – anyone who’s taken a fine indica dab knows that the couchlock onset is quick and super effective. Just ensure you choose the correct strain for sleeping, just as you would for flower, as the headchange will be dramatic!

Like many others, I used to spend my precious late-night hours surfing the web or just walking aimlessly around the neighborhood for lack of sleepiness. Regular medical marijuana use has all but cleared up my insomnia – in fact, I now find it harder to actually wake up in the morning because I sleep so deeply.

My absolute favorite strain to relax or go to sleep is Granddaddy Purple. What’s yours?