Updated on January 21, 2020.
Medical content reviewed by Dr. Joseph Rosado, MD, M.B.A, Chief Medical Officer
In our never-stop modern world, sleep is a precious resource—and at least one in three Americans do not get enough. New parents, for example, get less than half the recommended amount, while for everyone else, caffeine and sleep-damaging blue light from our digital devices make even getting the recommended seven hours of sleep per night a daily struggle.
For some, having trouble falling or staying asleep is an occasional problem. For others, it’s chronic. Over time, lack of sleep can lead to focusing problems and irritability and can even contribute to larger health issues.
Cannabis can be an effective sleep aid for those suffering from insomnia, by helping relax muscles, slow racing thoughts and ease pain. Once in dreamland, cannabis can even help you stay there.
However, not all cannabis strains are created equal. While some can help you relax and fall asleep, others have the opposite effect. Sativa-dominant strains can be very energizing—and for some, even anxiety-provoking. If you’re sensitive to those effects, go easy on high THC strains. A light dose is best, or try a strain with higher levels of CBD.
You also have a choice about how to ingest cannabis. While inhaling it will yield the fastest results, taking effect within 15 minutes or so, edible marijuana’s effects last longer, and could therefore help you stay asleep for longer. Every person is unique when it comes to cannabis, so experimentation is always best.
As a general rule, look for indica-dominant strains with high THC content, such as the following tried ‘n true for sleep and relaxation:
9 Pound Hammer: This appropriately-named strain is great for knocking out just about any insomniac, with a fruity aroma and taste to boot.
Afghan Kush: This earthy, pine-y, and almost 100% indica strain is almost hash-like in both its taste and sedative effect.
Big Bud: Known for its big buds and high crop yield, some swear by this strain for delivering a fast, heavy sleep.
Granddaddy Purple: A fairly ubiquitous, classic berry-grape strain with high levels of the terpene myrcene (known for relaxation), this strain is recommended for insomnia, pain and anxiety.
Godfather OG: Just like many “OG” indica strains, Godfather is popular for its strong sedative properties, and is used widely for treating both sleep problems and pain.
God’s Gift: Fans of this strain say it delivers an uplifting high while helping them ease into a long, peaceful night’s sleep.
Ogre: This sweet and sedating hybrid is lemony and high in THC, a great option for those looking for stress-relief coupled with a numbing body high.
Purple Urkle: As with many heavy indicas, this strain’s fruity-licious effects can be quite relaxing, making it excellent for sleep.
Tahoe OG Kush: A bit heavier than your average OG Kush hybrid, Tahoe OG yields fast results, and a deep “couch lock” effect that lets muscles relax and the body slow down.
Sweet and Sour Widow: This balanced THC/CBD strain avoids the more anxiety-producing effects of THC, while it’s high CBD content helps curb racing thoughts that can make dropping off to sleep difficult.
Northern Lights: An old-school indica strain going back decades, this sleep-inducing and pain-relieving strain can be heavy-handed and uplifting at the same time.
Skywalker: Best for nighttime use, Skywalker is a 50/50 hybrid known for its fruity aroma and mellow, almost lazy or sleepy, indica-style high.
Remedy: Try this CBD-dominant strain if you’re wary of getting high, but interested in how cannabis can help with pain, stress or other symptoms that might be getting in the way of your sleep.
About the Author
Sarah A Lybrand is a writer specializing in lifestyle, health, finance, cannabis—and fun. She’s written for Bust, Juno, Yahoo, MarketSmiths and Toast Media, among many others.