Cannabis for Insomniacs

“Night Surface” performance/installation by Anne Davis Mulford. Photo by Ginger Bruner

With the legalization of cannabis in Nevada, we have a whole new world of compounds that can improve our health and well-being. One of things that can be helped most is sleep and the quality of said sleep. It turns out that a little known substance in cannabis that is usually considered a bad thing, a side effect of “old weed,” CBN or Cannabinol, is actually a fantastic sedative. It is produced by the degradation of the usual star at the party, THC. It is also extant in some fresh strains, but is relatively rare as it has been bred out as an “unwelcome” side effect, since it causes sleepiness, while not being particularly psychoactive. 

THC can be found in amounts of up to 30 percent in cannabis, while CBN is usually present up to only 1 percent—but a little goes a loooong way. The best place to find CBN in fresh flower is the Indica world,  which also has higher quantities of terpenes, which can also be beneficial for sleep. CBN has also been shown to help with pain relief and is antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, anti-convulsive and promotes bone growth. Sadly, it’s still difficult to get CBN in a wide range of products, but they are coming—and if you check the labels on flower, it is available in a few Indica strains. The best way to get CBN in bulk is to wrap it up and put it somewhere hot and dry, and in a couple of years it can get up to 3-5 percent, all through the conversion of THC.

Hops (a close relative of cannabis), chamomile and lavender contain terpenes also found in cannabis, so go find that weird old stash, have a cup of tea, or a bath, and the best sleep you’ve had in ages.