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How Different Forms of Medical Marijuana Impact Sleep

Tossing and turning, waking up in the middle of the night, not being able to quiet your mind enough to drift off—these are just a few common realities for people struggling with insomnia.

Whether you’ve already tried traditional sleep pharmaceuticals or you’re worried about their side effects, you might be desperate for a sleep aid that actually works. Enter medical cannabis.

At TeleLeaf, we’ve seen firsthand how medical marijuana can help people get better, more restful sleep and return to normal sleep-wake cycles. But if you’re planning to use weed for sleep, which method is best: smoking, eating an edible, or using a tincture or oil?

In this guide, we’re breaking down everything you need to know about using cannabis as a sleep aid so that you can choose an administration method that works best for your lifestyle.

#1 Smoking

Let’s start with the cannabis community’s tried-and-true method: smoking. Either smoking or vaping could be helpful tools in your journey to better sleep, but what should you know before you try it?

Onset of Sleep

Patients using medical marijuana generally report that smoking leads to fast results—just minutes after smoking, you’ll start to notice the effects.

If you choose a strain and cannabinoid profile that makes you sleepy, smoking will likely speed up the results, putting you to sleep quickly.

For example, synthetic forms of THC have shown potential for treating obstructive sleep apnea, reducing PTSD-related nightmares, and improving sleep for people living with chronic pain. CBD, on the other hand, may reduce symptoms of REM sleep behavior disorder and excessive daytime sleepiness.

Quality of Sleep

When it comes to sleep quality, patients simply can’t say enough about medical marijuana. One TeleLeaf patient said, “I highly recommend it if you’re looking for pain relief, relief from depression, or want to sleep better.”

Another told us that, after a medical marijuana doctor’s appointment, they’re “On the way to a better, more functional life and a better night’s sleep.”

Overall, people report that smoking weed before bed:

  • Makes them fall asleep faster
  • Helps them stay asleep
  • Provides more restful, rejuvenating sleep

Other Considerations for Smoking Before Bed

People looking to smoke have three choices:

  • Smoking flower – Two of the most popular methods for smoking include rolling joints and using heat-resistant glassware. Both methods are relatively simple, but they do require some prep time (unless you purchase pre-rolled joints).
  • Vaping – Using a vape pen with a cartridge of marijuana oil is a convenient, discreet way to dose—just pull out the pen, take a few puffs, and head to bed.
  • DabsDabs have a long history in the cannabis community. Dabs are smokable resins, and patients will need a dab-specific set of glassware (or a dab pen) to use this method. While it’s an efficient use of product, dabbing with a traditional rig can have a bit of a learning curve (so this isn’t necessarily recommended for cannabis newcomers).

Keep in mind, there are a few considerations to make before you start smoking before bed:

  • Smoke and odors – While vaping can reduce the smoke and odors of marijuana, these are still part and parcel of the smoking experience. If you don’t have easy access to outdoor spaces, smoking might not be a practical method for you.
  • Equipment – All three of the most popular smoking methods require equipment: rolling papers, glassware, a vape pen, and lighters are just a few of the things you might need to smoke marijuana.

Ultimately, in the right scenario, smoking can offer sleep improvement without hassle.

#2 Edibles

Another way to improve sleep with marijuana is by eating edibles. These may include:

  • Baked goods (like cookies, brownies, or even rice crispy treats)
  • Gummies and chews
  • Lozenges and candies

Let’s break down how edibles might help you on your journey to better sleep.

Onset of Sleep

For most patients, edibles can take time to kick in. There are two key reasons why:

  • Digestion takes time – When you eat an edible, it has to travel through at least part of your digestive system. So, to start feeling the effects, your body has to start breaking down the cannabis compounds.
  • Bodies vary – Depending on your individual physiology and physical characteristics (like your weight and your age), your onset time can vary for edibles. While some people feel the effects of an edible in 20-30 minutes, others might wait an hour or more.

Using edibles for sleep will take some experimentation. Once you find your ideal product, tinker with the timing to start feeling the effects as soon as your head hits the pillow.

Quality of Sleep

The effects of edibles typically outlast smoking—edible effects can last for multiple hours depending on the dose and other factors.

So, for people who have trouble staying asleep, edibles could be particularly useful. As far as sleep quality is concerned, the effects are similar to smoking. Patients using medical marijuana edibles for sleep:

  • Fall asleep faster
  • Find it easier to stay asleep
  • Get deeper, more restful sleep

Other Considerations for Taking Edibles Before Bed

When it comes to edibles, timing is everything. If you try to keep a strictly scheduled lifestyle, you’ll have to experiment with products, timing, and dosage to find your perfect drowsy draught.

Timing could also impact people with dietary restrictions related to:

  • Ingredients – If you have food allergies or sensitivities, read the ingredients lists on store-bought edibles closely. Since legal marijuana products are well-regulated, you can always trust the ingredients list and nutrition label. If you’re highly sensitive to a wide variety of foods, consider purchasing an oil from the dispensary and using it to make your own edible treats at home.
  • Meal timing – If you try to avoid eating before bed, it might be challenging to accommodate eating edibles for sleep.

#3 Tinctures and Oils

Two other marijuana forms that could help people looking to get better sleep are:

  • Tinctures – Alcohol-based solutions containing cannabinoids
  • Oils – Oils either extracted directly from the cannabis plant or infused with cannabinoid isolates

What could using these products look like on your sleep journey?

Onset of Sleep

Depending on how you administer a tincture or oil, your time to onset can vary:

  • Dropping under the tongue – Some patients choose to place a few drops of a tincture or oil directly underneath their tongue. This method can produce results that are quicker than eating an edible but slower than smoking.
  • Stirring into a drink – If you stir a few drops of oil or tincture into a glass of water or a cup of calming tea, the effects may take slightly longer than sublingual drops (but not as long as eating an edible).

Like other methods, finding the right tincture routine is all about experimenting with products, timing, and dosage.

Quality of Sleep

Like other marijuana products, patients using tinctures and oils for sleep generally have positive experiences: these products can help you fall asleep, stay asleep, and sleep more deeply.

In terms of duration, tinctures and oils are a happy medium between smoking and edibles. Results typically last for at least an hour (if not more), so they should help you drift into deep sleep without interruptions.

Other Considerations for Taking Tinctures or Oils Before Bed

Tinctures and oils are convenient, discreet, and versatile: you can get creative with administration, timing, and dosages.

However, it might be easier for cannabis newcomers to take more than they expect. Since you’re not smoking or eating the product, it might feel like one drop isn’t enough to produce results—but some products are highly concentrated.

We recommend starting small and increasing your dose slowly; this is especially true if you’re looking to use marijuana tinctures and oils for sleep.

Which Form of Medical Marijuana Is Right for You?

With all of the above in mind, which administration method is right for your lifestyle?

  • Smoking is an excellent choice for people who already have smoking essentials (or are willing to purchase some), are comfortable with smoking, and live in an environment where smoking is convenient. But people who struggle to stay asleep might need a longer-lasting option like edibles.
  • Edibles are an all-around favorite for people looking to get better sleep. They’re long-lasting and you’ll find tons of product options at your dispensary or pharmacy. However, edibles can be tricky to time, and people with specific food sensitivities might need to make their own at home.
  • Tinctures and oils are simple, convenient, discreet, and customizable. They offer relatively fast results that typically last longer than the effects of smoking. But newcomers should start low and slow—oils and tinctures can be strong.

TeleLeaf: Discover Holistic, Plant-Based Healing

You don’t have to accept a life of restless sleep and groggy mornings. Whether you’ve already tried pharmaceuticals or you want to skip right to plant-based solutions, medical cannabis can offer the sleep breakthrough you’re looking for.

At TeleLeaf, we’re passionate about connecting people to the natural healing options they deserve. If you’re ready to start your medical marijuana journey, or you have more questions about cannabis, start a conversation with our expert team today.


Sleep Foundation. Using Cannabis as a Sleep Aid.

Healthline. CBD Oil vs. Tincture: What’s the Difference?.

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