Cannabis is a famous for being a potent natural sleep aid. But, why does weed make you tired? As it turns out, there is more than one reason why the plant causes heavy eyelids. Various chemical compounds in the herb engage with cells in the human body. It’s through this interaction that cannabis produces sedative effects. Sound confusing? It’s not. Here are three reasons why cannabis makes you tired.
One reason cannabis might make you tired is because of the plant’s primary psychoactive chemical, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). THC connects with cell receptors in the brain and body that help control the sleep/wake cycle.
Many find that in concentrated forms, such as dabs, THC can have more of an energetic, uplifting effect in moderate doses and a sedative effect in large doses. With dried flower, you’re more likely to experience the sedative effects of the plant.
Though a dose of pure THC may cause an energetic or uplifted effect at first, it’s not uncommon to feel more tired and sluggish than normal as the experience winds down. It’s also not uncommon to experience a “cannabis hangover” after consuming large amounts of the herb.
Unlike alcohol, the cannabis hangover simply means that you might feel a bit lethargic or slowed down after a heavy night of smoking. However, after some decent rest and a healthy meal, this fatigue will wear off.
Myrcene is of the most common aromatic compounds in the cannabis plant. This little molecule provides the musky, mango-like aroma to some cannabis strains. It’s also found in bay leaves, lemon grass, and hops.
Recently, myrcene has been touted as one of the reasons why some cannabis strains have sedative and motor relaxant effects.
In a 2002 study, researchers tested the effects of myrcene and two additional terpenes on mice. When treated with myrcene extracted from the Lippa alba plant, the mice slept an average of 2.6 times longer than untreated mice. The rodents were given 200 mg/kg of the terpene.
The same study also found that a dose of myrcene 10 mg/kg seemed to relax motor function. In high doses, however, the terpene did show a slight potential to cause anxiety in the rodents, a quality that is also present in potent cannabis strains.
Some evidence suggests that myrcene may also boost the potency of THC. It does this by helping the cannabinoid cross the blood-brain barrier more easily.
As a result, it’s possible that the sedative effects of THC are enhanced by the presence of myrcene. This is why some cannabis strains make you tired.
Other terpenes may also cause feelings of sedation as well. The 2002 study found that limonene, the molecule responsible for the lemon aroma in some strains, may also cause sleepiness and motor relaxation.
Linalool, a terpene with a lavender scent, also has been shown to produce sedative and anti-anxiety effects.
Some argue that myrcene is part of what distinguishes indica plant varieties from sativas. In general, indica strains contain higher levels of myrcene.
According to Steep Hill Labs, cannabis samples which contain over 0.5 percent myrcene produce the “couch-locking” effects of sedative indica varieties.
Samples with low myrcene levels produce a more energetic high, an experience most often associated with sativa and hybrid strains. While not all cannabis suppliers test and list myrcene levels, you can make the assumption that a musky-scented, sleepy indica bud contains a decent dose of myrcene.