A good night’s sleep. Too many of us seem to need one.
When new customers come in to the Perennial Holistic Wellness Center in Studio City, founder Craig Wald says they aren’t asking “How can I get stoned?”
“They all ask me educated questions,” Wald said at Eaze’s Dawn of Cannabis event. “They want to know what works the best for arthritis, for anxiety.
“And they want to know what works for sleep.”
What does work for sleep?
Research is sparse on marijuana and sleep cycles—that’s changing, as the world’s first cannabis-for-insomnia study kicks off in Australia—but centuries of human experience and a little common sense tell us this much: For some people, cannabis definitely helps.
Rule of thumb: Look for indica.
It isn’t just “sleep-specific” products that people use for night-time. There are many ways to enjoy the relaxation cannabis brings, and Indica-strain products are generally the way to go.
Indica tends to have higher CBD than sativa strains, and CBD—the cannabinoid that doesn’t get you high—is known to influence the effects of THC, usually by toning down anxiety and mental confusion, and on its own can induce a feeling of calm. But effects are not always so cut-and-dried as THC vs. CBD levels.
Some indica strains have little or no CBD, while some sativa-dominant strains have it in abundance. This supports the theory that terpenes—the oily compounds that give all plants their unique smells and tastes—have a hand in steering the effects, too.
In the end, terpenes, THC, CBD, and dozens of other cannabinoid compounds come together to produce what’s called the “entourage effect,” a synergistic imprint that determines how your body will respond to any given session.
In any case, the “good for sleep” label tends to follow indica strains across consumption methods, including vaporizers and edibles. Whatever your preferred consumption method, there’s probably a strain that will help you fall asleep.
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If you want the convenience of vaporizing, the Elite Indica vaporizer cartridge from Select is an excellent choice, paired with a 510-thread (universal) battery. Select extracts its terpenes separately, then adds them back in later, so their delicate molecular structures don’t get muddled in processing. That means the famously sopoforic strain’s full terpene profile is intact.
Trying edibles at night? Use caution
Edibles are a great way to get precise doses, especially micro-doses—enough to get your desired results without feeling too buzzed. This makes them a good night-time option, too, especially if your problem is staying asleep, since edibles have longer-lasting effects.
But be especially careful not to overdo it. It takes the metabolism several hours to synthesize edibles, so taking too much at night can lead to an unpleasant hangover, even for experienced users.
There are either 5 mg or 10 mg of THC in most edible portions. Taking 5 mg won’t get you spun out, but will get you yawning and stretching. Try 10 mg if you’re experienced and a little more adventurous.
Flower holds an intriguing sleep secret
Smoking flower is a wonderful night-time ritual for those who enjoy it, and the right strains can be a powerful sleep aid, either hours before bedtime or even immediately before. In fact, Eaze customers who use cannabis for sleep still prefer smoking flower to any other method, according to the Eaze Insights 2017 State of Cannabis Report.
The best way to know what works for you is to experiment; seek dark-colored indica strains with dank, earthy and skunky aromas—these are more likely to contain sedative-leaning terpenes like Myrcene (also found in hops and cardamom), and are your best shot at hitting a terpene profile that helps you sleep.
Avoid citrus and pine-smelling strains—that means they’re likely to have terpenes like Limonene or Pinene, known for energizing and mood-elevation properties.
But there’s one secret to making extra-sleepytime flower that most people don’t know: Let it age. Flower buds actually secrete the non-psychoactive compound THC-9; only when you burn it does it convert to THC. But left unburned, THC-9 will slowly oxidize into another compound, known as CBN.
If there’s one thing CBN is known for, it’s as a sedative.
The problem is that CBN forms slowly, and in very small quantities, making it difficult to extract. CBN products exist, and more are on the horizon, but they are still very rare.
And unfortunately, flower doesn’t age particularly well. It can turn brown, get dried out and harsh to smoke, and runs the risk of growing mold. We don’t recommend you keep flower for more than as long as it takes you to normally consume it, even if properly stored.
But if you do, just know that it will probably be richer in the deeply sedative CBN. If you find an old jar in the cupboard and you just have to try it, maybe get into pajamas and brush your teeth first.
Cannabis can mean leaving sleeping pills behind.
The global sleep-aid market is valued in the tens of billions and growing fast, and is it any wonder? Our modern lives are robbing us of sleep; in the U.S. alone, more than 50 million people suffer from sleeping disorders.
But pharmaceutical sleeping pills can be habit-forming and mess with your morning. Cannabis can be an alternative.
According to the Eaze Insights State of Cannabis Report from 2017, a significant portion of our customers reported reducing or replacing sleeping pills with cannabis.
As cannabis legalization takes hold, more studies and a broader experience will help us understand its complex relationship to sleep, including its effect on REM and dream cycles—another topic for another day. Until then, everyone from experienced users to first-timers has a wide array of options to try.
Here’s guessing it won’t take you long to find something that works.