Best Cannabis Strains for Sleep and Insomnia

Sophia Delphi May 12, 2022 - 7 min read
Fact Checked
Image of a woman sleeing

Some people get energized and happy when they smoke weed. Others end up so relaxed they’re locked to the couch, where they may sit for hours – or simply fall asleep.

The latter isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It can be a great feeling to drift off into dreamland after an enjoyable smoke sesh. And for many of those who suffer from insomnia, being able to get a good night’s sleep is the primary reason they smoke or enjoy an edible before bed.

Ask anyone who fancies themselves a cannabis connoisseur, and they’ll have all sorts of advice on the strains that can put you down for the count. Some will tell you that indicas are the best bet, others will insist that it all depends on the weed’s THC content, and some will even suggest some sativa strains.

Years ago, it was easier to draw those types of generalizations. Today, most strains are hybrids, possessing characteristics of both indicas and sativas. And different types of pot hit people differently.

So the answer to “what weed makes you sleepy” is more complicated than it might seem.

Let’s look a little deeper, and then suggest a few great strains that should provide you with a restful night.

Why Science Says About Weed and Tiredness

We’ll begin by looking at research that relates to cannabis and sedative effects. Unfortunately, there haven’t been many conclusive studies so far.

But a comprehensive review of the research found several recurring themes:

  • CBD appears to be effective as a treatment for insomnia, helps some people fight excessive daytime sleepiness, and may improve REM sleep (the period when people dream, important for brain development and performance).
  • THC seems to help some people with sleep latency (the ability to fall asleep quickly) but may hurt the quality of their sleep and make them more tired the next day.
  • Indica or indica-dominant hybrids appear to help those with insomnia more than sativa or sativa-dominant strains; pipes and vaporizers seem to be more effective than joints.
  • Regular weed use may harm younger people’s sleep patterns and quality.

That all seems to jibe with conventional wisdom: powerful, high-THC strains can knock you on your butt; indica is better than sativa for sleep because sativa strains are energizing and indica is more likely to provide a strong body high and couch lock; CBD is a good choice for restful sleep if the pain is keeping people awake.

Take all of that with a grain of salt, though. As we’ve already mentioned, different types of pot hit people differently. That’s definitely true when those people want to get some shuteye. And there are other factors that also play a role in whether a strain will make you sleepy.

Weed and Sleep: What You Need To Know

THC and CBD aren’t the only components of cannabis. There are many other cannabinoids, as well as terpenes and flavonoids that determine the plant’s physical characteristics, aroma, and flavor.

That’s not all that terpenes contribute to weed. Many of them are also believed to work together with cannabinoids to affect mood and contribute medical benefits. What’s important to this discussion is that some terpenes may help bring on fatigue or boost alertness. Among them, limonene appears to help insomnia caused by anxiety and stress, myrcene has sedative effects, and linalool boosts the production of a hormone that helps people fall asleep.

In other words, it’s not just THC content, or whether a strain is indica- or sativa-dominant. All of the components of marijuana combine to determine whether the weed will make you sleepy.

Now, add this to the mix. Large amounts of THC can induce or worsen anxiety in some users, so the high-THC strain that will knock one person out in a hurry can keep someone else up for hours, because of heightened anxiety or even panic attacks. And that potent strain may not put an experienced user to sleep; they may simply become more wide awake and creative, rather than fatigued.

So how do you know which strain is best when you want to treat insomnia or just get a restful night’s sleep?

For most people, it means choosing weed that has some CBD content, a moderately high amount of THC, and terpenes that are more “restful” than “energizing.”

If that sounds like a lot of research, no worries. We’ve done it for you.

Best Weed to Make You Sleepy

God’s Gift

You can guess from this strain’s name that it has a special property – and since it’s on this list, you can probably also guess what that property is: it will knock you out in a hurry. God’s Gift is a hybrid that leans strongly indica, has a THC content that can range from 18-27%, and contains two terpenes (myrcene and pinene) that add to the sleep-inducing mix. The relaxing, full-body high hits almost immediately, and will have you down for the count before you know it.

Northern Lights

This legendary strain may have put your parents to sleep too since it’s been a popular insomnia aid for more than forty years. It’s an indica-dominant strain with around 17% THC content (plus myrcene, beta-caryophyllene, and pinene) which is more likely to lull you to sleep than hit you over the head with a sledgehammer. Northern Lights is a very good choice for those being kept awake by anxiety or stress.

Tahoe OG Kush

You’ll likely experience double-barreled action from this very strong indica-dominant hybrid with 20%+ THC content and terpenes like myrcene. The initial hit shows off the strain’s sativa side with euphoria, but it quickly morphs into a relaxing, heavy body stone that will have the desired effect, particularly for those who are having difficulty sleeping because of pain. There’s a very good reason many call Tahoe OG Kush the “stay at home” strain.

Harlequin

When we said earlier that not all weed that makes you sleepy is indica-leaning, we had Harlequin in mind. This strain is sativa-dominant, with equal amounts of THC and CBD (in the 5-10% range); its makeup makes it a good choice for those who can’t handle high levels of THC. It provides a gentle high that relieves anxiety instead of making it worse, and the myrcene and pinene content helps many users drift off to sleep.

Granddaddy Purple

Veteran users won’t be surprised to see another legendary strain close out this list. This 70/30 indica is loaded with stress-relieving and sleep-inducing terpenes, and it boasts 20-28% THC levels and higher-than-usual CBD content – all explaining why Granddaddy Purple is an all-time favorite for its psychoactive effects that are followed by relaxation, pain-relief, peace, and sleep. The strong grape flavor and aroma are terrific to savor as you fall asleep, too.

What Weed Makes You Sleepy FAQ

Q: Why didn’t you didn’t mention (GG4, Bubba Kush, 9 Pound Hammer, your other favorite strain for sleep)?
A: We never said this was an exhaustive (pardon the pun) list. The ones we listed are among the best, but there are thousands of weed strains, and a number of them will probably work for you just as well.

Q: Do the terpenes really make a difference?
A: Absolutely. You’ll find that many of the terpenes we’ve mentioned are also in essential oils that naturopaths suggest for insomnia, and they’re added to many over-the-counter sleep aids.

Q: Any other advice?
A: Yes – try edibles. They take an hour or two to kick in, but their effects can last anywhere from six to ten hours, more than enough to keep you out all night.

Q: Does weed always work for insomnia?
A: Sadly, no. Some cases are caused by serious mental health issues which may require seeing a professional for therapy or different types of sleep medication, and not every user will find a “sedating strain” sedating enough to put them to sleep. For most people, however, one of the strains we’ve suggested will do the job.