What Is The Best Indica Strain For Sleep?

Last Updated on Oct 30, 2022 by Mark Conklin, RN, MHA

Do you have trouble sleeping? You may wonder, what is the best indica strain for sleep? And is indica preferred over sativa for those sleepless nights?

According to recent studies, between 50 and 70 million Americans suffer from insomnia each year. These statistics translate into millions of people losing sleep each night, only to feel grumpy and tired the next day. People with insomnia are also 5 times more likely to suffer from some form of depression.

Despite the importance of sleep in our overall health, there are still high rates of dissatisfaction with conventional pharmaceutical sleep aids, particularly regarding adverse side effects and the risk of dangerous drug interactions.

Fortunately, cannabis is shown to be a safe, natural sleep aid for many sufferers. Provided you’re using the right strain, cannabis has been shown to calm racing thoughts, relieve pain, and relax muscles – sending you into a snoozy slumber.

Here is what we’ll cover in this article:

What is Insomnia?

Insomnia is characterized by difficulty falling asleep and/or staying asleep. It can be caused by stress, anxiety, depression, chronic pain, medications, or other medical conditions. People with insomnia often feel tired during the day and may have difficulty concentrating or remembering things.

Clinically speaking, acute insomnia is defined as the difficulty in falling asleep or staying asleep for at least three nights per week over two consecutive weeks. Acute insomnia is often related to a life event such as an inability to switch off after a stressful day at work, or if you struggle to sleep the night before an exam.

Chronic insomnia is when poor sleep occurs at least three nights a week for more than three months straight. Chronic insomnia can have many underlying causes, such as shift work, poor bedtime habits, and certain medications.

Is Medical Marijuana Effective for Insomnia?

Studies published as early as the 1970s demonstrate that medical marijuana may be an effective treatment for insomnia. One statistically significant double-blind trial involving a group of insomniacs found that the major psychoactive cannabinoid in cannabis, known as tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), facilitates sleep, while also reducing the number of interruptions throughout the night. [1]

More recently, clinical trials have shown that smoking marijuana increases non-REM stage 3 “deep” sleep, which is the deepest form of restorative sleep possible. [2]

Early clinical trials also found that THC-heavy strains can reduce REM sleep, an undesirable phase of the sleep cycle characterized by rapid eye movements and a propensity for dreams, nightmares, and sleepwalking. [3]

People with mood and sleep disorders often spend a lot of time in REM and not enough in “deep” sleep. Due to these connections, neurobiological researchers are now investigating the potential for THC to improve sleep cycles in patients with post-traumatic stress disorder. [4] 

One of the highest-quality studies (a double-blind, randomized controlled trial) demonstrated that nabilone, a synthetic form of THC, significantly reduced the occurrence of distressing nightmares in Canadian military personnel with PTSD. [5]

THC vs. CBD for Insomnia

When it comes to treating insomnia and other sleep disorders with cannabis, it’s important to understand that not all strains are created equal. You’re probably familiar with the two major cannabinoids found in marijuana: tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD).

THC is the major psychoactive cannabinoid known to promote appetite and improve nausea, while also acting as a natural sedative and analgesic. CBD is the main non-psychoactive cannabinoid recognized for its therapeutic effects, including reducing inflammation, anxiety, and depression.

As such, strains that are high-THC and low-CBD provide the user with a “high”, while strains that are high-CBD and low-THC generally don’t. But what type of strain is best for insomnia?

As demonstrated above, studies in humans clearly show that THC has a sedative effect that facilitates sleep. THC acts on CB1 receptors to increase sleep through our body’s endocannabinoid system via an adenosine pathway in the brain. [6]

Evidence surrounding the role of CBD in sleep is less clear. For example, some studies show that CBD has alerting properties [7]. In fact, CBD is shown to activate neurons within the hypothalamus and other regions of the brain responsible for waking. [8] However, other studies have demonstrated that CBD alleviates symptoms of anxiety and inflammatory pain helping many people get a restful night’s sleep. [9]

One study provided greater clarification with results that suggested CBD has different effects on sleep depending on the dosage. Lower doses of CBD have a stimulating effect, while strains with higher doses of CBD have a sedating effect. In the study, insomniacs received three different daily doses of CBD or a placebo. The highest dosage of CBD (160mg/day) significantly increased total sleep duration and decreased the frequency of waking during the night. [10]

Indica Or Sativa For Sleeping?

When it comes to treating insomnia with cannabis, it’s important to understand that no two strains are created equal. So should you use indica or sativa for sleeping?

Indica and sativa are two subspecies of the cannabis plant with different origins and effects.

Many dispensaries will tell you that indica strains are more relaxing and sedating due to the higher concentrations of CBD, while they will recommend sativa strains for daytime use due to the uplifting and awakening effects of THC. You can also find many hybrids strains that take advantage of both indica and sativa properties to create a balanced effect.

With that said, the indica or sativa distinction is not the most reliable way to predict the effects of any given strain. It’s much safer to ask about the cannabinoid content. Most medical marijuana professionals will recommend strains with less than 20% THC. High doses of THC can cause hallucinations and mild “hangovers,” in which you may experience residual drowsiness that leaves you feeling lethargic and dehydrated the next day.

However, indica is generally the choice for the best strains for sleep because it has higher levels of CBD. CBD has been shown to reduce anxiety and pain, two common conditions that can keep you up at night. Indica also tends to have a more “full-bodied” high that is perfect for relaxation.

What Is The Best Indica Strain For Sleep

We’ve compiled a list of particularly sedative strains to guide you on your next visit to the dispensary. Some are indica, while others are a hybrid that lean indica.

However, keep in mind that individual strains affect each person differently, and finding the solution for your insomnia may require some trial and error. So what is the best indica strain for sleep? Here are our top 11 for you to choose from:

Grandaddy Purple

Offering a mellow descent into dreamland, Granddaddy Purple is arguably the best indica strain for sleep, especially if pain keeps you awake at night. Cherished by insomniacs for its high levels of the sleep-inducing terpene myrcene, this indica analgesic produces a powerful cerebral high along with whole-body sedative effects that dissolve pain and anchor your body for sleep. Individuals report using Sativa strains to reduce nightmares. [11]

Tahoe OG Kush

Described by patients as a “true replacement for prescription sleep meds”, Tahoe OG Kush has sedative effects that tend to be stronger and faster-acting than your average hybrid strain. It rapidly reduces muscle tension, leaving you with a heavy body sensation that eases you into a deep sleep. It features an earthy, lemony taste, and is a must-try for anyone in need of a good night’s sleep who doesn’t want a hangover the next morning.

God’s Gift

The child of Granddaddy Purple and OG Kush, God’s Gift is a true “gift” for insomniacs. With high-THC content (up to 27%) and a low-CBD content (1%), this hybrid strain wipes away all your worries in one foul swoop. It’ll leave you feeling euphoric and relaxed so that you can ease off into peaceful sleep. However, due to the high THC-content, God’s Gift is not recommended for beginners. Individuals prone to anxiety or panic attacks with high THC-strains should approach God’s Gift with caution.

Northern Lights

Picture yourself on a cold winter night curled up in a blanket beneath a sky of green lights. This isn’t distinctively dissimilar to the experience delivered by Northern Lights, a traditional indica strain that’s been sending people to sleep since the mid-1980s. With its high THC content, Northern Lights dissolves pain and sends you off into a deep sleep. However, novice cannabis users should also approach this potent strain with low dosing to avoid the potential THC hangover.

Afghan Kush

Afghan Kush is a pure indica strain with roots tracing back to the Hindu Kush mountain range, near the border of Afghanistan and Pakistan. It’s a typical Afghani indica, meaning it has heavy, body-focused effects that pacify pain, hush anxious thoughts, and move the body into bed. Due to an abundance of CBD, Afghan Kush is one of the best strains for insomnia with people that tend to experience anxiety associated with high-THC products.

Wedding Cake

Wedding Cake is a hybrid strain that leans indica, created by crossing Cherry Pie and Girl Scout Cookies. It gets its name from its sugary taste and smell of vanilla and cake frosting. The high THC content produces relaxing effects throughout the body while the CBD works to reduce anxiety, making it perfect for those who need to calm their minds before sleep.

Purple Punch

Purple Punch is a sweet and sedating indica-dominant hybrid created by crossing two classic strains, Larry OG and Grandaddy Purple. It gets its name from its grapey flavor and has high levels of the sleep-inducing terpene myrcene. Purple Punch is perfect for those who need help falling asleep and staying asleep through the night.

Blue Dream

Blue Dream is a popular hybrid strain that’s perfect for those who need help falling asleep but don’t want to be completely knocked out. It has a sweet berry flavor and produces gentle cerebral effects along with full-body relaxation. Blue Dream is a good choice for those who are new to cannabis or those who need a little extra help getting to sleep.

Skywalker OG

Skywalker OG is a potent indica-dominant hybrid that gets its name from its parent strains, Skywalker and OG Kush. It has a dank, earthy flavor and produces heavy body effects that can help you relax and fall asleep. Skywalker OG is also a good choice for those who need help falling asleep and staying asleep through the entire night.

Bubba Kush

Bubba Kush is a classic indica strain that’s perfect for those who need help falling asleep and staying asleep through the night. It has a sweet, earthy flavor and produces heavy body effects that can help you relax and drift off to sleep. The terpenes within Bubba Kush, like delta-limonene and beta-myrcene also help aid in falling asleep.

Ogre

With sweet, citrus flavors, Ogre contains the terpenes myrcene and limonene, which have both been shown to improve sleep quality. This indica-dominant hybrid is another perfect choice for those who need that little bit of help getting to sleep and staying asleep.

Working with Your Medical Marijuana Physician for Sleep Ailments

Now that you know the best indica strain for sleep (well, 11 of them!), it’s essential to know what’s for you and how to get it. If you seek an effective medical marijuana strain for sleep, work with your medical marijuana physician to get the recommended dosage and strain. From there, your physician will be able to make a recommendation to your dispensary so that you can pick up your products and try them out.

Note that not all dispensaries will have every strain mentioned above, so you may need work within the confines of your medical marijuana doctor’s recommendation along with the supplies of your local dispensary.
If you are located in New York or Florida, contact THC Physicians today.

Best Strains For Sleep FAQs

  1. Should you use indica or sativa for sleeping?

    Indica strains tend to be more effective for sleep as they produce heavier, full-body effects. However, some sativa strains can also be effective for sleep if they contain high levels of the sleep-inducing terpene myrcene.

  2. Why does indica make you sleepy?

    Indica strains tend to make you sleepy because of their high CBD content, which produces relaxing effects throughout the body. The CBD in indica can also help to reduce anxiety, making it perfect for those who need to calm their minds before sleep.

  3. What is the difference between indica and sativa for sleep?

    The main difference between indica and sativa for sleep is that indica produces more sedating, full-body effects while sativa tends to be more energizing. Indica is typically the best choice for those who need help falling asleep and staying asleep through the night.

  4. What terpenes are best for sleeping?

    Myrcene, limonene, and beta-caryophyllene are all terpenes that have been shown to improve sleep quality. These terpenes are often found in indica strains, which makes them a good choice for those who need help falling asleep and staying asleep.

References

  1. https://www.researchgate.net/
  2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/
  3. https://ascpt.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/
  4. https://www.sciencedirect.com/
  5. https://www.sciencedirect.com/
  6. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/
  7. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/
  8. https://core.ac.uk/download/
  9. https://www.med.upenn.edu/
  10. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/
  11. https://www.sciencedirect.com/

Howard Seth Meiselman, DO

Medically reviewed by Howard Seth Meiselman, DO — Written by Mark Conklin 

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Mark Conklin, RN, MHA

Mark Conklin is the founder and CEO of Tierra Healthcare Concepts and is also part of the medical team. He has over 25 years of experience in the healthcare field working at the executive management level and as a medical professional. Education RN, BS Biology, and Master of Health Administration course curriculum.

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