When I was in college, my friend ate a whole pack of Cheeba Chews for breakfast, then almost immediately went missing. I searched high and low, only to find him sound asleep in his dorm room seven hours later. Apparently, he’d been there the whole time. That was the day I realized weed is the ultimate sleeping pill.
Many years and several marijuana legalization bills later, sleep edibles have taken over the legal cannabis market. They claim to contain unique blends of cannabinoids that are powerful enough to end a coke binge. But can they help a guy like me, who already sleeps relatively well, hibernate like a bear? Which combination of cannabinoids is the best? And will they make me sleepwalk to the fridge?
These are all questions I’ll be answering as part of my quest to snooze like I’m dead with the help of sleep edibles. Follow along, and bring some Cheeba Chews — just don’t eat the entire bag.
Generally speaking, sleep edibles contain a combination of THC, CBD and CBN. While you’d hope these combos would be backed by science, my sources say they’re largely based on anecdotal reports. “We hear from users that CBN is a key cannabinoid for sleep, but we still have so much work to do on the research side of things to figure out how to optimize this cannabinoid,” says chemist Tony Ferrari, chief science officer at SunMed CBD.
That said, there are at least studies that show high levels of CBD and any amount of THC can promote sleepiness and benefit certain conditions — like chronic pain — that would otherwise keep someone awake. This is believed to be because weed can have a calming effect on the central nervous system.
The reason why edibles are more commonly used than smokeables for sleep is because they’re slower to be absorbed by the body, meaning the effects last longer. Pharmacist Elizabeth Ardillo, director of medical education at Green Thumb Industries, says the influence of vaped or smoked cannabis lasts for only two to three hours, whereas Ferrari says you can feel the impact of edibles for up to eight. As such, they’ll keep you asleep for longer.
When it comes to dosing, both of my sources have the same advice: Start low and go slow. As Ardillo explains, “It’s a highly personal experience,” but you’re better off seeing how small doses affect you than eating a whole pack of Cheeba Chews and falling asleep for 72 hours (unless you have the time for that).
Likewise, Ferrari says sleep edibles work best when taken consistently. “Cannabinoids aren’t an instant fix,” he explains. “Try to take the same amount at the same time daily to optimize results.”
All of this comes with a caveat, however. A few studies show that heavy marijuana users (anyone who’s developed a substantial tolerance) have trouble staying in the N3 sleep stage, a regenerative period where your body heals and repairs itself. It’s also true that weed withdrawals can significantly worsen your ability to sleep. All of this is another reason to start low and go slow.
Because I wanted to start with a clean slate, against all odds, I didn’t ingest any weed whatsoever for 55 days, and I’ve been doing an okay job of sleeping during that time. However, racing thoughts occasionally keep me awake at night, and I sometimes rise earlier than I’d like to. If sleep edibles can solve those problems, I’d appreciate it.
Over the course of several days, I put six different sleep edibles to the test, eating one at 9:30 p.m. every night. Here’s my analysis of each:
PLUS (Lychee): These contain 1 milligram of THC, 2 milligrams of CBN and 3 milligrams of CBD per piece. While it didn’t make me feel genuinely high, it made me yearn for the coziness of my bed, which would seem like a success. I passed out quickly and woke up feeling unusually cheerful. Altogether, it made me spend 8 hours and 21 minutes in bed.
PLUS (Cloudberry): These have 5 milligrams of THC, 1 milligram of CBN and 1 milligram of CBD per piece. Due to its heightened THC content, it got me slightly buzzed. It even eliminated a headache I had before bed. However, I woke up twice before my alarm, but I didn’t want to get out of bed. I ended up staying under the covers for 8 hours and 30 minutes.
Incredibles Snoozzzeberry: These deliver 10 milligrams of THC and 2 milligrams of CBN per gummy. On the one hand, the high THC content made it hard to keep my eyes open, which was a good thing. It also helped me make friends with a baby lizard I found in my apartment. On the other hand, it had me thinking about the meaning of life while I was lying in bed, which kept me up later than usual. Worse yet, I woke up feeling groggy. As a result, I spent a whopping 8 hours and 45 minutes in bed, but I wasn’t asleep that whole time.
+PlusCBD Reserve Collection (Sour Watermelon): These sport 2.5 milligrams of THC and 25 milligrams of CBD per gummy. I woke up a whole hour before my alarm, and my girlfriend said I was snoring, which must have meant I slept well. Despite waking up early, I didn’t leave my bed until a good while later — I stayed put for 8 hours and 47 minutes.
+PlusCBD Reserve Collection (Peach): Flavor aside, these have the same THC and CBD content as the above gummies. But strangely enough, I didn’t sleep as well on them. I couldn’t fall asleep, and I woke up several times throughout the night. Regardless, I stayed in bed for 8 hours and 48 minutes.
Kanha NANO (Mystery Flavor): These aren’t necessarily branded as sleep edibles, but I figured I’d put them to the test as control gummies. They boast 10 milligrams of THC and “less than” 2 milligrams of CBD (which could mean hardly any at all). They made my brain feel warm and fuzzy, but I couldn’t fall asleep because my mind was racing. I also woke up especially groggy, which I attribute to the higher levels of THC. I only stayed in bed for 8 hours and 20 minutes.
Compared to the week before my experiment, I spent one more minute in bed on average when I was eating sleep edibles, which is a slightly disappointing result. However, it’s possible that I simply didn’t need much help sleeping. After all, Ardillo says patients who see the most benefit from sleep edibles suffer from issues like chronic pain, which I don’t have. I also didn’t exactly follow Ferrari’s advice of taking them for many weeks and months.
It’s also fairly obvious to me that sleep hygiene involves much more than simply taking an edible. For example, my second dose of the +PlusCBD Reserve Collection gummy, which preceded a not-great night of sleep, was taken on a night where I also stared at my phone before bed.
What I can also safely say is that, for me, sleep edibles with higher amounts of THC and lower amounts of CBD and CBN are more likely to result in trouble falling asleep and next-day grogginess, which is a sentiment that both of my sources relayed. Likewise, Ardillo suggests taking sleep edibles earlier in the night so that the effects are sure to wear off by morning.
All of that said, if my college buddy taught me anything, it’s that a whopping 100 milligrams of edible THC never fails to send you straight to sleep — so long as you don’t care about feeling like a baked potato the next morning.