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ARTICLE | What you need to know : Marijuana and sleeping

by Bill Kovski October 05, 2016 0 Comments

ARTICLE | What you need to know : Marijuana and sleeping


1964: THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), the main active component in marijuana was isolated. 

1970s: Several studies examined the effects of smoked cannabis on sleeping patterns. The results were varied; some fell asleep faster while others didnt.  The most consistent finding across these studies was that marijuana was associated with a reduction in rapid eye movement (REM) sleep, the stage in which most of our dreaming occurs.

1973: A small study reported that THC reduced the time it took for 9 subjects with insomnia to fall asleep by over an hour on average. However, the researchers noted that too high of a dose could counteract the effect. Higher doses of THC have been reported to cause a “hang over” feeling in some subjects when they woke up, while the feeling was not present at lower doses.

21st Century: 
Cannabidiol (CBD), is an important component thought to have muscle relaxant, anti-inflammatory and analgesic effects and is now being combined in specific doses with THC.

Stage 3: slow-wave” sleep cycle, during which your body repairs itself

According to Dr. Perry Solomon, chief medical officer at HelloMD, smoking before bed extends the duration of stage three, resulting in a more restful sleep.

He explains,

[Stage three is] the most sensitive to cannabis. Marijuana seems to make that stage last longer, and people get a more restful sleep when [slow-wave sleep] is longer.

Stage 4: REM sleep, is what refreshes your brain. Weed potentially makes that brain-refreshment stage less effective. 

Dr. Kevin Hill, director of McLean Hospital's Substance Abuse Consultation Service, Division of Alcohol and Drug Abuse, disagrees. He says it's the fourth stage that matters most, explaining,

The key sleep state is the REM sleep. That's the restorative stage for your sleep. Evidence suggests that's lowered by marijuana.

Dr. Hill does, however, concede marijuana may improve the quality of sleep in the stages prior to REM sleep.

So, stage 3 repairs your body the most, while stage 4 repairs your brain the most. 

The Take away?

The experience of sleep is a subjective and personal thing, and all the reports of people’s improved sleep with cannabis cannot be discounted. 

When cannabis is stopped after regular use, poor sleep is likely to occur, including more stage REM accompanied by weird dreams. 

In order to better understand the effects of marijuana on a physiological level, the DEA needs to reschedule marijuana to reflect its potential for medical use. 


Insomnia is a sleeping disorder that tends to be a symptom of a larger condition, such as depression or nervous tension. It is rarely a condition on its own. It causes those who suffer from it to have extreme difficulty falling into and maintaining sleep. It is thought that 10-30 percent of all adults have suffered from insomnia, and of those diagnosed with it, 95 percent are prescribed sleeping medication to deal with it. 
These cannabis strains have been recommended by for helping aid in insomnia. 


CBD Shark Shock

From the medically focused minds of CBD Crew comes Shark Shock, an indica dominant hybrid that boasts a high CBD content, perfectly mixed with THC to help treat a myriad of ailments – including insomnia and other sleep related disorders. If you are serious about getting to sleep, then you might give Shark Shock a look – it’s relaxing and will go a long way to making you ready for sleep. When smoked, it has a sweet, fruity taste.


Bubba Kush

Bubba Kush is a near pure indica strain that is the result of breeding Bubble Gum and Kush. Whilst not as strong as some of the other Kush strains on the market in terms of THC, this well balanced strain make it an ideal choice for those who lack sleep. The high is one of relaxation and ease, which can be taken further into a couch-lock if desired. If smoked, has a sweet yet earthy taste, with lemony Kush undertones.


CBD Critical Mass

Another strong contender from the breeders at CBD Crew is their take on Critical Mass, simply named CBD Critical Mass. Much like all of their other strains, the emphasis on CBD Critical Mass is the high CBD content, which works in tandem with THC to offer and route to slumber. This relaxing and potentially couch-locking indica dominant strain has a citrusy sweet taste and a cannabinoid content that will not disappoint those looking for a sleep focused medical strain.


Vanilla Kush

Vanilla Kush is an indica dominant strain that both tastes good and has a strong cannabinoid content. The combination of the subtle yet highly enjoyable vanilla flavours and its ability to take you in to the depths of a far reaching stone makes it the ideal choice for those needing to lose the tension within their body and mind, aiding them in drifting off to sleep.


Blue Mystic

Blue Mystic is an indica dominant strain that has a short flowering period and a decent yield. It has a herbal and fruity taste that delivers a comfortable body buzz for general relaxation. It is a good starting point for insomniacs starting out with weed, as it is not as overwhelming as some of the other strains on this list. It give you the option to slowly and comfortably lower yourself into the depths of sleep.

The information presented is not to be considered medical advice and is not intended to replace proper medical care. This information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.


When dealing with insomnia, indica is going to be your choice. Sativa strains are typically more energizing and heady in effect and since they are commonly bred to be high in THC, it‘s easy to end up getting a little too spacey so that means that high doses of THC can counteract sleepiness.

Conversely, indica strains tend to induce a more profound body-centred stoned effect which can be due to their wider range of cannabinoids, often also higher levels of CBD, which goes hand in hand with THC to induce and maintain good sleep. Even when you have an extremely powerful strain with high THC, the CBD also contained within it can take off the edge.


Although smoking cannabis is the most popular way to consume it, if you are looking for the medical effects, you should consider eating it but be careful. When you eat cannabis, the liver converts the cannabinoids into a much more potent and longer lasting form. As a consequence the sleepy effects are stronger and they last much longer through the night – improving the chances of uninterrupted sleep. 

Another good way to take cannabis is through a tincture, which is both simple to take and easy to prepare. The advantage of a tincture is that the preparation stays potent for many months, and it is very easy to find the right dose in the form of drops. It‘s a bit of an effort to make one the first time, but once done, it remains viable for months. Here is a compressive article regarding tinctures that contain a recipe


Bill Kovski
Bill Kovski