Cannabis and Sleep – 3 myths busted so you can sleep easy

Cannabis and Sleep – 3 myths busted so you can sleep easy

By: Ashley Keenan

Cannabis is considered effective for many sleep disorders, often without the negative side effects of pharmaceutical treatments. For centuries, cannabis has been used in ancient medicine to help with a variety of ailments, including insomnia. Studies have shown that consuming cannabis before bed helps patients fall asleep an average of 30 minutes faster, experience fewer interruptions to sleep, and feel more rested upon waking.

Despite the promising results seen in clinical studies, there are misconceptions around using cannabis for treating sleep disorders.

Myth 1 – Only THC helps improve sleep

The cannabis plant contains hundreds of cannabinoids, the two most commonly known are THC and CBD. Cannabidiol, or CBD, does not have a psychoactive effect on the consumer, meaning it will not get you high. THC has sedating effects, which leads to the common misconception that it is the only cannabinoid that helps with sleep.

CBD may not have the sedative property of THC but it has the potential to regulate sleep cycles, leading to improved overall sleep over time according to a 2006 study. Cannabidiol has been shown to increase daytime alertness, improve sleep cycles, promote mental focus and lessen anxiety.

Myth 2 – There are no risks to using cannabis for sleep

There are no absolutes in any treatment, regular use of any sleep aid can create certain risks for negative effects. In higher doses, THC can contribute to sleep ‘hangover’, where patients experience more wakefulness during the night and feel groggy the next morning. This can be easily mitigated with a lower dose of THC prior to bed and is one of the reasons why doctors recommend that new consumers start with low doses and slowly increase them as your body becomes acclimated. Long term cannabis consumers also experience a risk of disrupted sleep patterns and increase in lucid dreaming when abruptly stopping regular consumption as a sleep aid.

There might be long term risk involved with daily cannabis treatment disrupting a patient’s ability to reach and maintain REM sleep. This can be beneficial for those using cannabis for PTSD, as it reduces traumatic dreams and nightmares. However REM sleep is important for healthy immune system and cognitive functions. A lower dose of THC can help maintain some level of REM sleep, though more clinical studies are needed.

Myth 3 – All cannabis will have the same effect

Not everyone has the same reactions to sedatives and the same is true of cannabis. When using cannabis for sleep doctors are finding that different strains and consumption methods can affect the potency, duration, and onset of the effects. For example, if vaping a strain right before bed you will feel the effects more immediately, as opposed to ingesting an edible or concentrate which will take 90+ minutes before onset and have a longer duration in the body.

In addition to how you consume, what you consume also affects the body. Different strains and terpene profiles will affect sleep patterns differently. Scientists are beginning to question the original theory that indica is the more relaxing and sedative strain, pushing the sativa/indica debate taking the backseat, and resulting in more research and data pertaining to cannabinoids and terpene profiles. Look for cannabis rich in myrcene, linalool, pinene, and limonene when choosing a strain for sleep.


A good night’s sleep can seem unattainable if you are experiencing recurring sleep issues and insomnia. The great news – cannabis can help! Just make sure to consult with your doctor before starting any new treatments to make sure they won’t affect any current medications, especially if you are combining with sedatives. When using cannabis as a sleep aid, be sure to remember that THC isn’t your only option and that dosing matters. It is common to need to experiment with different strains, terpene profiles, and THC percentages while figuring out what works best for your body.


Looking to learn more? Download the Strainprint app or join the Strainprint community