Cannabis and sleep

Cannabis and sleep

Q: What works best for sleep issues, THC or CBD?

Well, it depends on who is taking the medicine and how it is being used. A better question to ask would be: How are CBD products used by those with sleep issues? Here are a few ideas based on client input and the available publications.

  1. Compared to traditional THC products, high CBD products tend to be more effective at inducing sleep for those with less severe sleep conditions and those without a history of cannabis use, with dosages ranging from 5-20 mg consumed in edible form.
  2. Those with a high tolerance for THC and those facing more serious sleep issues also report using CBD effectively for sleep, but more so at low dosages that are accompanied by high amounts of THC (20 mg+).
  3. Purified, or “isolate” CBD products that do not contain even trace amounts of THC, terpenes and other cannabinoids, are not usually very effective at inducing sleep. CBD in itself has virtually no psychotropic effects but rather modulates the effects of other cannabinoids and terpenes. That being said, most CBD products do contain trace amounts of other cannabinoids/terpenes which can cause severe drowsiness and even the more traditional euphoria associated with regular high THC products in some.
  4. CBD products can cause wakefulness at lower dosages (under 20 mg), particularly in those who consume THC regularly.
  5. CBD strains and concentrates can also be inhaled to induce sleep, often in the form of a high CBD flower but the effectiveness is reportedly low for those with heavy and frequent THC use.
  6. Can be used as a sleep aid a few minutes before bedtime by those who find it effective.
  7. If CBD products are over-consumed, it can cause severe drowsiness and a groggy “hang-over” feeling that can last for days.
Now let’s talk about traditional high THC products – how are they typically used for sleep?
  1. THC products are reported to be particularly effective at inducing sleep when used a few hours before intended sleep time, rather than right before sleep, as in the case of CBD.
  2. The effects of high THC indicas (20% and above) come with what many would qualify as the heaviest “burn-out” out of any strain, making these varieties particularly well prone to help those with sleep issues.
  3. Those with high tolerance to cannabis tend to choose “dabbing” or eating large doses of edible (20mg+) THC dominant products for sleep..
  4. THC dependence can cause insomnia rather than help prevent it. Lower dosage levels at low frequency tend to report higher efficacy.
Finally, here are some lesser known pieces of expert advice for those facing sleep conditions:
  1. Edible products are usually the best out of any product choice for inducing sleep.
  2. Capsules, tinctures, and decarboxylated oils (phoenix tears) are usually the cheapest, healthiest and most reliable way to achieve a consistent dosage. $1-$4 a day can cover the daily needs of an average user, while the unhealthy sugars and fats associated with traditional cannabis edibles can be avoided.
  3. When cannabinoids are consumed with fats, their effects are magnified, particularly when it comes to the sedative effects. Buy oil capsules or oil based tinctures. Consume dry powder capsules with a small fatty snack in order to get more out of the same dosage.
A quick review of the research that has been done on cannabis use and sleep shows that:
  1. Human subjects facing a wide variety of illnesses and sleep issues have overwhelmingly supported the claim that cannabinoids improve their ability to sleep.
  2. One study found an ideal dosage range for inducing sleep with THC at 20 mg of edible product (for those without a history of heavy use).
  3. One academic publication conclusively demonstrated that CB1 receptors in mice are involved in sleep regulation, with mice regularly achieving better sleep through the use of THC.
  4. The endocannabinoid system likely has a very important role in regulating sleep.



  1. Around-the-clock oral THC effects on sleep in male chronic daily cannabis smokers
    David A. Gorelick MD, , Robert S. Goodwin DO, Eugene Schwilke, Jennifer,R.Schroeder, David M. Schwope, Deanna L. Kelly, Catherine Ortemann-Renon, , Denis Bonnet  and Marilyn A. Huestis  (2013)
  2. Cannabis species and cannabinoid concentration preference among sleep-disturbed medicinal cannabis users.
    Belendiuk KA, Babson KA, Vandrey R, Bonn-Miller MO. (2015)
  3. Cannabinoids for Medical Use: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis.
    Whiting PF, Wolff RF, Deshpande S, Di Nisio M, Duffy S, Hernandez AV, Keurentjes JC, Lang S, Misso K, Ryder S, Schmidlkofer S, Westwood M, Kleijnen J. (2015)
  4. Efficacy, tolerability and safety of cannabinoid treatments in the rheumatic diseases: A systematic review of randomized controlled trials.
    Fitzcharles MA, Ste-Marie PA, Häuser W, Clauw DJ, Jamal S, Karsh J, Landry T, LeClercq S, McDougall JJ, Shir Y, Shojania K, Walsh Z. (2015)
  5. Cannabis withdrawal and sleep: A systematic review of human studies.
    Gates P, Albertella L, Copeland J. (2015)


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