It’s the weekend - finally! - and you’ve got your streaming watchlist nagging away at your tired mind. You’ve also got a table full of munchies and goodies, and to top it all off your bowl is packed, your blunt it rolled, and a fresh dab awaits for you to ignite your weekend weed-fest. After a few hits of your chosen stoner implements you sit back and eagerly anticipate your relaxing body while your brain soars into the starry skies above. Just before your next binge-worthy show is even getting started, you suddenly feel yourself freezing up, melting into the couch and locking down…
Uh oh, you’ve got couch lock! It happens to the best of us, it happens to even the most experienced stoner, and it happens to be something you can’t always predict. Couch lock isn’t always a bad thing - some of us could use some forced relaxation (emphasis on the forced!). Nonetheless, when couch lock happens it’s not always an enjoyable experience, especially if you had plans while you were planning on being stoned.
Have you ever smoked one of those famous couch lock strains? Do you even know what a couch lock strain is? What is couch lock exactly? How can you prevent it or reduce its impacts? Let’s get comfy on our couches, but don’t light up just yet, as we review the happenings of this weed-wide phenomenon.
Couch lock doesn’t really have an official definition because it’s simply a term used by the cannabis community. Scientifically, there are certainly explanations for what/how/why cannabis can cause couch lock to occur, but a lot of this research is still on-going or hasn’t published much in the way of “definable results”. So, for the purposes of this article we’ll give you the general picture of couch lock as it's known in the weed-wide world today from those reliable people you know & love that love to get high.
What would we define as ‘couch lock’? Some of the signs and symptoms of couch lock that you should be aware of are:
Inability to move, get up
Sudden drowsiness, sleepiness or ‘foggy brain’
Fuzzy visual perceptions, hallucinations or an inability to focus
Intense tiredness, lethargy, fatigue
Intense introspection (it’s all in your head!)
Noticeable warmth throughout the body
Heaviness of the limbs, head and neck
The unmistakable feeling that you’re “melting” into the couch or chair that you’re lounging in is the dead giveaway for this kind of cannabis condition. The reason it’s called couch lock is because that’s exactly what happens to you - you become one with the furniture, unable to move, mind racing or senses alight.
Paranoia, anxiety and fear are common occurrences when couch lock first takes hold of your mind & body. We’ll talk about how to defend yourself from falling too far down the rabbit hole when couch lock happens, but for now we’ll focus on the causes & effects.
Couch lock isn’t really something to fear because it’s just a symptom of the sedative effects that some couch lock strains can have on us. Even if you’re a long-time cannabis consumer, couch lock can take hold of the highest tolerances (pun intended). Cannabinoids and terpenes can have an untold variety of effects on our brains and bodies, so trying to categorize or predict what will happen can be like doing calculus while hanging upside down.
That being said, there are some cannaseurs that are adamant about indicas and indica-dominant hybrids being the most likely culprits for couch lock. Across the board, many indica-dominant strains are very sedating, sleep-inducing or body-relaxing. This isn’t exclusive to indicas however, as a number of sativas can accomplish the same kinds of mental/physical effects.
So, if it’s not the strain itself, then what can we look to for predicting the onset of couch lock? Terpenes, like with many cannabis related things, likely hold the ultimate answers to the questions we are asking. Myrcene is one terpene that is closely associated with couch lock. Myrcene is very common in many indicas - hence the phrase for “in-da-couch” - that has a musky, spicy, clove-like aroma and flavor.
Myrcene is the consensus pick for “couch locking terpene” amongst many in the cannabis community, but like with most research surrounding this mysterious plant in all its varieties, we’re just getting started. There are hundreds of cannabinoids inherent in the thousands of cannabis cultivars, and hundreds more terpenes that we’ve yet to fully map out and understand. Until more studies are done on terpenes and the complexities of their effects on our minds & bodies, we’ll just have to go with what is known in the cannabis community for now.
Maybe you were a bit overzealous on how much weed you just smoked, or perhaps you thought you picked a strain you were familiar with but now you’re feeling the lockdown of the couch looming. Don’t be afraid, and don’t fall prey to your paranoia! Even if couch lock puts a clamp on your plans one of the worst things you can do anytime you feel too high is to feed into your anxiety. So, the first and most important step in fighting off couch lock is to RELAX. This might sound funny, since couch lock is essentially “too much relaxation, all at once”, but allowing yourself to dwell on your anxieties, fears and paranoia will undoubtedly lead you down a worse path.
Once you’ve collected yourself and staved off the initial anxiety, what else can you do to climb out of the couch-pit? Here are some helpful tips & tricks assembled by our team of very savvy stoner experts at Haute Health:
If you’re experiencing some mind-melting and body-locking from the weed you just smoked, try to force yourself to jump up out of your seat and do some physical exertion. Getting your blood flowing, focusing on a certain exertive task or activity always works wonders for fighting off that feeling of being “too high to handle”.
As we mentioned earlier, high volumes of sugar can boost you through the fog of a couch lockdown before it has a chance to get you. Chugging energy drinks, soda, juice, smoothies or some other sweet concoction (as long as it’s not alcohol!) will certainly help you to shake off the couch lock.
Coffee or tea are always there for us when we need them most, and moments of couch lock are no different. Remember all the insane times you stayed up all night partying but were able to function at work or an important event the next day, thanks to caffeine? Too much caffeine isn’t good for you, but in times of crisis downing a few cups of coffee - or heck, the whole pot! - an energy drink or two, or brewing an especially intense cup of tea can unlock you from the couch.
Cannabidiol is always getting us out of trouble, it seems. CBD is known to reduce the psychoactive effects of THC and other cannabinoids when taken in certain ratios. How much CBD you’ll need to ingest to counter the onset of couch lock will depend on your tolerance, the strain you consumed and a multitude of other factors. That being said, the main takeaways are to consume a high dose of CBD if couch lock occurs, wait a bit to see if it lessens, and repeat the process if not.
Pro Tip: Many long-term cannabis users keep a vial of very high dose CBD oil in their weed cabinets in case they “green out”. This is an excellent idea, as you never know when couch lock or the dangers of getting overly high can strike. Just make sure that the CBD in question doesn’t also contain a far amount of THC!
Sometimes the only answer to getting mixed up with the wrong kind of weed is… well, more weed! Strains that are associated with euphoric, uplifting and enervating effects can sometimes counteract the lockdown of some sedating strains. As always, be extremely careful with your doses when you’re mixing different strains for different reasons. A simple way to try to counteract couch lock with an uplifting strain, for instance, is to take a quarter of the amount you consumed of the sedating strain, see how you feel after 30-60 minutes and take another quarter if couch lock persists. Cannabinoids and terpenes are important to know when you’re doing this, so be careful that you’re not trying to put out a THC fire with some Diesel strain THC fuel.
Not that we’re saying you should avoid certain strains because of couch lock, but if you have important work to do or you don’t want to get overly stoned then avoiding some of these well-known couch lock strains can help. Conversely, if you’re looking for a brain shut-off valve and you want to get couch locked for some ultimate relaxation & hallucination, then these strains are great choices too: