Cannabis for sleep: How can it help?

Having a tough time falling asleep at night? What about staying asleep? You’re not alone. About one third of Canadians say they have problems falling asleep, and at least half say they have issues staying asleep. Luckily, cannabis can offer solutions to your nightly struggle.

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Cannabis might be newly legal in Canada, but it’s been used for sleep for a very long time. Historically, cannabis was used in Ancient India for its sleep-inducing qualities, and written about in several Ayurvedic texts as far back as the 11th century. In 1843, it was used in a tincture by Irish physician Dr. William O’Shaughnessy, who found in many cases cannabis tincture worked better to induce sleep than other medicines, such as opium.

Skip To Dosage Guide

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Using THC for Sleep

Today, cannabis can be consumed in several different ways to help with sleep. Depending on your preference, you may want to smoke an indica-dominant strain high in THC, the cannabinoid known to create a cerebral “high”, and myrcene, the earthy-smelling terpene known for inducing what cannabis consumers call “couch-lock”. Smoking or vaporizing a strain with these components will lead to feelings of relaxation and sedation fairly quickly.

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If, instead, you’re looking for something that might help you stay asleep, an edible, capsule, tincture, or oil containing THC might be a better option. This is because it takes the body longer to process THC and the other ingredients in cannabis when they are ingested. The slow-release will help maintain your sleepy state, preventing inconsistent sleep that leaves you feeling tired and unwell the next morning.

If you are new to cannabis, start with a small dose. This means if you’re smoking or vaporizing, start with a puff or two and wait to see how you feel. Consume more as required until you’re feeling the desired effect. Edibles, tinctures, oils, and capsules require a little more care and attention. New consumers should start at 5 milligrams of THC and move up from there as they see fit. Even if you’re experienced with smoking or vaporizing cannabis, ingesting it can produce a very different effect, so it’s important to start low and go slow.

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Using CBD for sleep

While CBD is not known for the same sleep-inducing qualities as it’s more popular counterpart, THC, it is known for its ability to bring about feelings of calm and relaxation. If you’re the type of person that finds yourself wound up or energetic before bedtime, introducing CBD to your routine might be a good way to readjust your body’s schedule so that you can get to bed at a reasonable hour.

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On its own, lower doses of CBD may cause wakefulness, so opt to use a higher dose (upwards of 50 milligrams). In clinical research, CBD has been shown to induce sleep quite well, however it works best at incredibly high (and thus expensive) doses, up to 600 milligrams. This is why it’s recommended that consumers mix the relaxing cannabinoid CBD with the sleep-inducing cannabinoid THC.

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Best strains for sleep

Indica-dominant strains have typically been suggested as the best for sleep, however, not every cannabis consumer finds truth in this. Some consumers experience the exact opposite. Before you consider using cannabis to help you sleep, it’s important to find out if you respond to the indica and sativa labels as expected.

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Generally, strains that work well for sleep are high in a terpene called myrcene. Kush strains like Afghan and OG are always good options, as well as “purp” strains such as Grandaddy Purple or Grape Ape.

Popular “BC Bud” strains like UBC Chemo and God Bud are also great options with Canadian roots.

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Using THC and CBD for sleep

Combining these two powerhouse cannabinoids is the best way to maximize the quality of your sleep. If you prefer to smoke or vaporize cannabis flower, look for a strain that has close to equal parts THC and CBD.

If you can’t find one, supplement your high-THC flower with some CBD oil, tincture, or a capsule. There are plenty of options that contain both THC and CBD when it comes to ingestible products such as edibles and capsules. These products are available in a wide variety of doses and ratios (for example, two parts THC to one part CBD), making your nightly consumption easier than ever, and taking the guessing out of the game completely.

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Dosage Guide

How many mg of edibles should you eat?

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2.5 mg THC edibles

Effects include: Mild Relief of symptoms like pain stress and anxiety, increased focus and creativity.

Good for first time consumers or regular consumers looking to micro-dose.

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2.5 -15 mg THC edibles

Effects include: Stronger relief of pain stress and anxiety symptoms; euphoria; impaired coordination and perception. Average edible dose increased focus and creativity.

Good for: experienced recreational use; symptoms not addressed by smaller doses; people looking to for a deep sleep.

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15 -30 mg THC edibles

Effects include: Stronger relief of pain stress and anxiety symptoms; euphoria; impaired coordination and perception. Average edible dose increased focus and creativity.

Good for: High tolerance THC consumers; consumers whose GI systems don’t absorb cannabinoids well. 

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30-50 mg THC edibles

Effects include: Strong euphoric effects;
significantly impaired coordination and perception.

Good for: High tolerance THC consumers consumers whose GI systems don’t absorb cannabinoids well. 

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50-100 mg mg THC edibles

Effects include: Seriously impaired coordination and perception; possible unpleasant side effects including nausea, pain and increased heart rate.

Good for: Experienced high-tolerance THC consumers; patients living with serious conditions.

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