Having trouble staying asleep at night? You're not alone. As many as 40 million Americans cope with insomnia every year, and researchers have found that chronic sleeplessness can cause additional health issues and increase the risk of workplace or traffic accidents.
Physicians often prescribe pharmaceutical sleeping pills to treat insomnia, but many of these pills have serious side effects, including risks of addiction. To avoid these risks, many insomniacs have chosen safe, natural sleep aids like valerian, melatonin, and cannabis.
The current research on weed and insomnia is far from conclusive, thanks to federal laws that make it difficult for researchers to access high-quality cannabis. A 2017 study found that a significant number of daily cannabis users suffer from insomnia, but a more recent study reports occasional pot use can indeed help chronic pain patients get quality sleep.
Although the exact science is unclear, people have been using weed to help them relax and sleep for centuries. Traditionally, indica strains are regarded as the ideal choice for relaxation, while sativas are recommended for energy boosts. Recent research has found that the specific balance of cannabinoids and terpenes found in each unique strain of weed is a more important consideration, though.
THC, the uplifting compound in cannabis, is known to produce relaxing, sedative effects, but it can also increase mental energy, inspiration, or even anxiety. Scientists now believe this range of responses is caused by the “entourage effect” that occurs when THC interacts with other cannabinoids or terpenes. On the other hand, CBD is prized for its ability to take the edge off a THC high, and CBN is also believed to have sedative effects when mixed with THC. The individual terpenes found in each strain also play an important role in these interactions.
These guidelines can help you find your own personal favorite, but to make life easier, we've made a list of five cannabis strains that can help you get a great night's sleep.
Northern Lights is one of the most popular strains sold at medical marijuana dispensaries, and for good reason. This old-school hybrid, a cross between Afghani indica and Thai sativa, is often recommended to patients to help with insomnia, stress, lack of appetite, muscle stiffness, and anxiety. The sedative effects of this popular strain are likely due to its medium-high THC content as well as high concentrations of myrcene and pinene, two terpenes that are known to promote relaxation.
Tahoe OG Kush
There are many different kinds of Kush cultivars on the market, but Tahoe OG Kush might just be the best of these strains for helping you sleep. Rich in limonene and packing THC levels of up to 18 percent, Tahoe OG is often recommended to help fight chronic pain, lack of appetite, and – you guessed it – insomnia. The couch-lock vibe of this strain is so strong, in fact, that most budtenders recommend that you wait until bedtime before you take a puff.
An indica-dominant cross of Granddaddy Purple and OG Kush, this fast-acting strain definitely seems like God's Gift to insomniacs. Like Tahoe OG and other Kush variants, the knockout vibe of this strain is so strong that it is only recommended for people who want to stay at home and get some rest. THC levels for this particular strain can reach as high as 27 percent, so anyone who is trying this out for the first time should take it low and slow.
9 Pound Hammer
Ready to crush insomnia once and for all? Try 9 Pound Hammer, a dense indica with THC levels often reaching 17 to 21 percent. People struggling with anxiety are often advised against using high-THC strains, but fans of this particular strain have reported that it can actually help silence racing thoughts. Like other indicas, 9 Pound Hammer is packed with myrcene, pinene, caryophyllene, and other terpenes that can help you catch some Z's.
Sweet and Sour Widow
THC-dominant cannabis cultivars are the most popular weed strains for sleep, but for some people, THC brings on racing, spiralling thoughts that make sleep even more of a challenge. In these cases, a strain that balances THC with CBD is often recommended. Sweet and Sour Widow is an ideal example of a balanced strain with a 1:1 CBD-THC ratio and plenty of myrcene. The low THC content of this strain means that it has minimal psychoactive effects, which is great for anyone who is just beginning to explore using cannabis as a sleep aid.