Cannabis Science

What is Couch Lock?

a couple smoking joints on couch and feeling couch locked

Many stoners will report that after or during a smoking sesh, they would experience couchlock. As a matter of fact, couch lock isn’t unique to smoking weed but also eating an edible, taking a dab, or using cannabis in any form. If you’ve never experienced this, you may be wondering, “What is couch-lock caused by and what does it feel like? Here’s what we know. 

Photo: Pexels

What Does Couch Lock Feel Like?

Before we get into what it feels like, let’s talk about what it is. 

It is exactly what it sounds like, it’s feeling locked into your couch or wherever you are and not wanting to move. You may be thinking that sounds like you when you have snacks and are watching a good movie, but it’s a little different.

To be more specific Winston Peki, cannabis expert and owner of Herbonaut says, “What we refer to as ‘couch lock’ is a lethargic feeling and the feeling of not wanting to do anything but stay glued to your couch.”

This phenomenon can feel different for everyone and can even vary between bong sessions

Reddit users had a lot to say about their experience with couch lock, One user described it as, “I can move if I want to, but I don’t want to because I feel great and melty.” However, the same user had a different experience on another day. The same user said, “I felt like my joints and muscles were contracting so hard that I literally felt stuck in position and could not move even if I wanted to.” Another user responded to the comment by saying, “I couldn’t move my legs anymore.”

While couch-lock can be scary for some stoners, others love it and have more positive experiences. One Reddit user said, “I just kinda lay there as my soul temporarily ascends to another dimension” and another said, “couch lock is always the goal”.

You are probably wondering what causes this phenomenon, here’s what we know. 

What Causes Couch Lock?

According to Peki, we know it has to do with the interaction between various cannabinoids and terpenes. 

You may notice that depending on the strain you smoke, you may or may not experience couch lock. Think about the last time you experienced it did you use an Indica or Sativa strain? Chances are it was an Indica dominant strain. 

Peki told us, “Sativa-dominant strains rarely produce couch-lock, while Indica-dominant strains are notorious for producing that effect.”

Remember, Sativa is said to give a stimulating head high that typically boosts energy. Indica, on the other hand, is most commonly thought to give a relaxing body high.

The science behind this phenomenon involves the difference in cannabinoids present and especially the difference in terpene profiles of Sativa and Indica strains.

Peki explains that the main sedation terpenes that contribute to couch lock are myrcene, linalool, and α-terpineol. These are found in greater abundance in Indica dominant strains. Sativa dominant strains, Peki explains, “tend to be high on limonene, and different types of pinene, both of which have uplifting effects.”

The Role of CBN

Cannabinol (CBN) is a cannabinoid that may contribute to the couch lock effect. WebMD describes CBN as slightly psychoactive, about 25% as effective as tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). CBN is actually a by-product of oxidized THC. Peki says, “when cannabis gets exposed to oxidative elements (light, air, heat), part of THC can degrade and produce CBN.”

While there needs to be more research done on CBN, it’s believed to have sedating effects but isn’t unique to Indica. Peki explains, “CBN is thought to be one of the most sedative cannabinoids. But CBN can be present in both Sativa- and Indica-dominant strains. If your cannabis is high on CBN, it can contribute to couchlock.”

He continues, “If you have an Indica-dominant strain with sedating terpenes AND CBN, chances of couch lock exponentially increase.”

How Can I Experience Couch Lock?

If you’ve never experienced it and would like to, you can simply opt for Indica dominant strain. Everybody is different and so you may not experience it. However, a strain that promotes relaxation is your best bet. 

Healthline provides a list of Indica dominant strains that promote relaxation and sleep:

  • Ice cream cake
  • Purple punch
  • Grandaddy purple
  • Northern lights
  • Bubba Kush (This one is known for its “melt-into-the-couch” effects specifically)
  • Mendo breath

How Can I Avoid Couch Lock?

If couch lock isn’t something you enjoy, you’re not alone. You can avoid it by opting for Sativa strains, preferably those with lower THC. Not only does this reduce the amount of CBN that you can be exposed to, but this could also reduce its relaxing effects. THC is believed to alleviate insomnia therefore it has relaxing properties too. 

In addition to that, you can have some caffeine with your blunt which should reduce your ability to relax enough to experience couch lock. However, having caffeine with weed could cause shaking. 


Couch lock is an effect of using marijuana that leads to the intense relaxation and not wanting to move. It can be a pleasant experience for some stoners while others may be a little scared. If you enjoy a couch lock, opt for Indica dominant strains, and if not stick to Sativa. There’s no guarantee but that’s our best suggestion. 


About Trevann

Trevann is Stoner Rotation’s Jamaica-based lead writer for the Science section of our cannabis blog. She graduated with honors receiving her Bachelor of Science degree in Molecular Biology from the University of West Indies, Mona. For the last three years, she has covered some of the biggest questions around cannabis and health underpinned with research from supporting studies, medical journals and scholarly articles. Got something on your mind? You can reach her at [email protected].