How to Use Cannabis for Insomnia

Struggling with sleep can be a frustrating process. When you’re not rested, you feel like a zombie, and even the smallest tasks can feel exhausting. Sleep deprivation can cause everything from mood swings to — on the more extreme end of the spectrum — hallucinations. Sleeping pills are controversial, and besides melatonin, there aren’t too many natural sleep aids available that actually work. Except for cannabis.

If you have racing thoughts at night or other forms of anxiety or stress, specific kinds of cannabis can help ease those thoughts and lull you into dreamland. Marijuana is effective for insomnia because it helps restore the natural sleep cycle which is frequently absent in busy modern lifestyles.


Unlike sleeping pills that contain man-made chemicals, cannabis contains natural compounds known as “terpenes” and “cannabinoids.” Terpenes can be found in foods as well, and are responsible for the different moods that various strains of cannabis can cause. Cannabinoids are what help with sleep, stress, and anxiety. There are over 100, but the most popular is Cannabidiol or “CBD.”

REM Sleep and Insomnia

The higher the THC levels you ingest via your cannabis, the less REM sleep you’re likely to get. That means a generally deeper, more restorative sleep. If you’re prone to waking up during the night this is especially useful. REM sleep means fewer dreams, which is extremely helpful for those with night terrors, PTSD, or regular ol’ nightmares.

Even though cannabis helps you sleep more deeply, a regular lack of REM sleep can lead to a decline in immune and cognitive function, so stick to low or moderate THC levels and at least some CBD, if possible.

Strains that can help with insomnia

There are specific strains that can help you with sleep. These are known as “indica strains.” Indica strains are relaxing and soothing, with a tendency to impart a body high and natural sleepiness. Sativa strains, on the other hand, cause energy and excitement, so avoid those close to bedtime. Many stronger Indica strains contain THC, which makes their effect hit more rapidly and intensely. However, you can find plenty of CBD strains that help with insomnia, if you prefer not to get “stoned.”

Northern lights – Known for inducing relaxation, this indica-dominant strain isn’t overwhelming if you start in slow doses. It’s also known for being fast-acting.

Grandaddy Purple – This moderate to high purple strain is naturally high in myrcene, which is one of the most relaxing terpenes out there. It tastes like sweet grapes, which isn’t bad to fall asleep to.

Blue Dream – If you don’t want a super intense indica, this indica- dominant hybrid is a fantastic way to slowly ease into tranquility without overdoing it

Charlotte’s Web – This 60/40 indica-dominant strain is soaring in CBD levels- up to 20%. It’ll relieve pain and anxiety but won’t put you into a stupor. People frequently consume this in oil form.

Time your intake

Depending on the strain you choose, the effects could arrive in 20 minutes, or take over an hour. Educate yourself on whether the strain you choose is a “creeper” (takes a while to kick in) or if its potency is noticeable within minutes.

How to ingest cannabis for insomnia

Edibles and THC tinctures: These are ingested orally and placed under the tongue. They’re also available in sprays. For edibles, it’s mostly in sweets, but you might be able to find a few healthier options.

Bong, joint, or pipe: Start with a few puffs and do it on a weekend night because, the first few times,  you might feel a bit of grogginess when you wake up. If you choose to roll a joint, make it a small one.

Vape: With vaping, it’s smoke-free and easy to control your dosage. Plus, if you frequently wake in the middle of the night and need a hit or two, it’s convenient.

Final tips to remember: If you build up a high tolerance to cannabis, it won’t be useful for sleeping. In fact, some studies show that in the long run, doing this can actually cause more problems falling asleep. So dose carefully, and use it only when you need it.

-Naima Karp

Photo: Pexels


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