Does marijuana affect your sleep?

 If you speak to someone who has suffered from insomnia at all as an adult, chances are good that person has either tried using marijuana, or cannabis, for sleep or has thought about it.
This is reflected in the many variations of cannabinoid or cannabis-based medicines available to improve sleep – like Nabilone, Dronabinol and Marinol. It’s also a common reason why many cannabis users seek medical marijuana cards.

 What makes cannabis effective for one person’s sleep and not another’s?

While there are still many questions to be answered, existing research suggests that the effects of cannabis on sleep may depend on many factors, including individual differences, cannabis concentrations and frequency of use.
Access to cannabis is increasing.
 Research on the effects of cannabis on sleep in humans has largely been compiled of somewhat inconsistent studies conducted in the 1970s.
Researchers seeking to learn how cannabis affects the sleeping brain have studied volunteers in the sleep laboratory and measured sleep stages and sleep continuity. Some studies showed that users’ ability to fall and stay asleep improved.
A small number of subjects also had a slight increase in slow wave sleep, the deepest stage of sleep.
However, once nightly cannabis use stops, sleep clearly worsens across the withdrawal period.

The Research Continues

Over the past decade, research has focused more on the use of cannabis for medical purposes.
Individuals with insomnia tend to use medical cannabis for sleep at a high rate. Up to 65 percent of former cannabis users identified poor sleep as a reason for relapsing. Use for sleep is particularly common in individuals with PTSD and pain.
This research suggests that, while motivation to use cannabis for sleep is high, and might initially be beneficial to sleep, these improvements might wane with chronic use over time.
The researchers were interested in how sleep quality differs between daily cannabis users, occasional users who smoked at least once in the last month and people who don’t smoke at all.

How The Study Was Conducted

 98 mostly young and healthy male volunteers were asked to answer surveys, keep daily sleep diaries and wear accelerometers for one week. Accelerometers, or actigraphs, measure activity patterns across multiple days.
Throughout the study, subjects used cannabis as they typically would.
The results show that the frequency of use seems to be an important factor as it relates to the effects on sleep. Thirty-nine percent of daily users complained of clinically significant insomnia.
Meanwhile, only 10 percent of occasional users had insomnia complaints. There were no differences in sleep complaints between nonusers and nondaily users.
Interestingly, when controlling for the presence of anxiety and depression, the differences disappeared. This suggests that cannabis’s effect on sleep may differ depending on whether you have depression or anxiety.
In order words, if you have depression, cannabis may help you sleep – but if you don’t, cannabis may hurt.

The Study Of Cannabis Continues

Cannabis is still a schedule I substance, meaning that the government does not consider cannabis to be medically therapeutic due to lack of research to support its benefits.
This creates a barrier to research, as only one university in the country, University of Mississippi, is permitted by the National Institute of Drug Abuse to grow marijuana for research.
New areas for exploration in the field of cannabis research might examine how various cannabis subspecies influence sleep and how this may differ between individuals.
One research group has been exploring cannabis types or cannabinoid concentrations that are preferable depending on one’s sleep disturbance. For example, one strain might relieve insomnia, while another can affect nightmares.
Other studies suggest that medical cannabis users with insomnia tend to prefer higher concentrations of cannabidiol, a nonintoxicating ingredient in cannabis.
This raises an important question. Should the medical community communicate these findings to patients with insomnia who inquire about medical cannabis?
Some health professionals may not feel comfortable due to the fluctuating legal status, a lack of confidence in the state of the science or their personal opinions.
At this point, cannabis’s effect on sleep seems highly variable, depending on the person, the timing of use, the cannabis type and concentration, mode of ingestion and other factors. Perhaps the future will yield more fruitful discoveries.

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12 thoughts on “Does marijuana affect your sleep?

  • September 13, 2017 at 7:52 am

    I did not realize that Marijuana could help so many people to sleep better, especially people with depression. I am all for helping someone with a medical problem get better or more sleep. Sleep also does help cure the ailing. I had a neighbor that had cancer, not sure how but she got some marijuana and that seemed to help alleviate some of her pains and allow her to sleep a little better.
    There is a huge movement to get marijuana legalized in many states. There are plenty of benefits to legalization.
    I also have a friend that operates blood draw labs. In the states that have legalized marijuana, she has an extremely hard time finding someone to work in her labs. A person cannot be “high” on marijuana and draw blood or work in a lab where mistakes cannot be made. Legalization has not helped her in any fashion.
    I have never used or smoked marijuana. I thought it made the person that smoked it, sleepy. Is that wrong? Does it make you tired or sleepy even though they do not have depression?
    Look forward to your answer and I will check back with this site to find additional information as the time for voting nears.

    • September 13, 2017 at 1:29 pm

      Thanks for the comment Bobby.
      marijuana has come a long way since the days of hidden use and the stigma surrounding it. Legalization will not only keep the money out of the cartels hands, but will open up access to so much more research for medical reasons. The help it offers so many people with chronic conditions such as cancer, depression, PTSD, and sleep disorders.
      Marijuana affects every person differently. Some have a euphoric high and a sense of well being, while others have episodes of paranoia. It just depends on the person and how much they have ingested. I know a lot of people that like to smoke some medical marijuana just before going to bed as it does make them sleepy and does give them a better nights sleep. the only real way to out how it will affect is to actually try some-either by smoking or ingesting oils or edibles.
      I hope this answers your questions and look forward to having you along to learn.

  • September 12, 2017 at 4:36 pm

    I really didn’t know that so many people use medical marijuana as a sleep aid. Seems like you can get caught in a circle where the benefits and drawbacks play against each other. Interesting article and maybe with additional research, the right balance will be found.

    • September 12, 2017 at 7:38 pm

      Thanks for the comment Jackie.
      I can appreciate your concern over over people using medical marijuana as a sleep aid and perhaps being caught in a circle, but really is any different than OTC sleep aids, herbal remedies or a prescription sleep aid. I know many people who are dependent on these, but know not one person addicted to marijuana. I at least know that this is a plant that has been used for centuries for medical reasons, but due to laws passed back in the seventies, research was virtually cancelled. Now that it has become mainstream and science is starting to discover it’s potent healing properties, the skies the limit.

  • September 12, 2017 at 3:59 pm

    Does medicine based on marijuana can cause addiction? And if it does, is it worth it to use? I know marijuana can be very helpful with some health problems, like a little kid that used to have epileptic seizures and with a marijuana based medicine the seizures almost stop or old people that use an infusion of marijuana to apply to the joins of their bodies for pain relief from rheumatic issues.

    • September 12, 2017 at 7:48 pm

      Hi Ruben and thanks for the comments.
      In answer to your question-no!!
      The controls that are put on the amounts of either THC or CBD compounds in prescribed medicines prevent this. But as with all drugs, abuse and over medicating will effects.
      I don’t know of any recorded deaths from overdosing on marijuana, but with the advancements of potency of certain strains, this might one day happen. But I think it will be highly unlikely.
      The advancements in science for medicine are exploding, and it use is covering so main ailments, but in particular chronic pain and CBD oils for seizures. It’s amazing stuff!!

  • September 12, 2017 at 3:29 pm

    I just wanted to leave you a note and say you are spot on! I have experienced two Brian surgeries for a rare disease and this site has a lot of information I am looking for! A friend of mine just was diagnosed with bladder cancer actually a carcinoid and is using this very method! He told me to check it out!

    • September 13, 2017 at 1:38 pm

      Thank for the comment Tammy.
      Sorry to hear about your brain issues and hope you are progressing to be well. The use of marijuana to ease the side effects of chemo and such is well known. It really does make a difference when used properly and under the guidance of a doctor. The uses for chronic pain are widely used by patients in the medical marijuana form, and as I myself suffer from CRPS, I know for a fact that it does help.
      Please come back soon and check out many other posts that I have done on just this subject.

  • September 12, 2017 at 2:32 pm

    Interesting stuff. I’ve been reading on all the latest legalization – like in Nevada – and I’ve been interested in the various medical aspects of marijuana and how it can be beneficial or detrimental. Based on what you’re saying, I would assume that someone who uses it once in a while – like once a week or month -would not have any issues with sleep?

    • September 13, 2017 at 1:45 pm

      Thanks for the comment Ben.
      Anyone using medical marijuana for sleep issues would be using on a regular basis, if not daily. It just depends on the condition the patient has, and how effective the marijuana is in helping them achieve better sleep. I know it sure does help mine. Control and moderation are the best to get the best results.
      Leqalization is under way here in Canada. We will be the first of the G7 countries to legalize marijuana and so will be setting a president for other to follow. I know that individual states have legalized, but not as yet recognized federally. I think it may be a while before it is legal overall in the US. But am sure glad to see so many states getting on board and I would imagine that down the road the federal government of the US will have to bow down and recognize the importance of legalization.. Not sure if this will happen under Trump as he seems to very opposed. Sure would help to fund his wall if it was!!!

  • September 11, 2017 at 7:05 pm

    To be honest I do not like the marijuana and I hate the smell. I am agree that it help for some illness but I am not agree for it to become legal.

    Was interesting to me to learn about how it is affect the sleep.

    • September 12, 2017 at 1:34 pm

      Thanks for the comment Gayla.
      I know there are many people who are opposed to the legalization, but think of the revenue that will be generated that will go back into the community rather than into the pockets of the drug cartels. Millions and millions of dollars everyday!!
      Medical marijuana is not for everyone, but for those that are using it for treatment, and are having success then it makes me glad that we have it, and perhaps one day may be a cure all!! Wouldn’t that be great?


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