Does Marijuana Affect Your Sleep?


Published:

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.

I am a sleep psychologist who has treated hundreds of patients with insomnia, and it seems to me the success of cannabis as a sleep aid is highly individual. 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.

Cannabis And Sleep

Access to cannabis is increasing. As of last November, 28 U.S. states and the District of Columbia had legalized cannabis for medicinal purposes.

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.

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.

Does Frequency Matter?

We 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.

We asked 98 mostly young and healthy male volunteers 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.

Our 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.

Future Directions

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.

Dr. Conroy is a Clinical Associate Professor in the University of Michigan Department Of Psychiatry. She is board certified in sleep disorders medicine by the American Board of Sleep Medicine, in behavioral sleep medicine by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, and in cognitive behavioral therapy by the American Board of Professional Psychology. Dr. Conroy’s research focuses broadly on sleep and psychiatric disorders and specifically on sleep disturbance in alcoholism, insomnia in adolescent depression, and sleep in marijuana users.

This article was republished from The Conversation.

See also:
How To Sleep Like A Baby Even When Every Sleep Aid Has Failed
Want Better Sleep? Spend Face-To-Face Time With Your Friends And Family

Edit Module
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit Module Edit ModuleShow Tags

Daily Astrology

January 24, 2018

Obsessive personalities bear down under the conjunction of Mercury and Pluto. People, situations and things are subject to intense scrutiny. What we focus on is magnified so use your mind wisely. Concentrate on solutions rather than insurmountable…
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Alternative Health Directory

Browse all listings »

Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Calendar

January 2018

Note: Tickets must be purchased here: http://bit.ly/2j2U7C4 Do you desire more emotional and physical connection? Does fear of being rejected or looking foolish hold you back from initiating...

Cost: $127/person; $247/couple

Where:
Watertown Center for Healing Arts
22 Mount Auburn St
Watertown, MA  02472
View map »


Sponsor: Conscious Intimacy
Contact Name: Brynn Bishop
Website »

More information

A 3-week Course Taught by Melissa Fountain, CSYT Sundays: 10:30am–12:15pm January 21, 28 and Feb 11 Meditation is a sacred gift you give yourself, and brings new vitality and focus...

Cost: Early Bird Pricing (until Jan 20): $140 for all 3 sessions ($155 after Jan 20)

Where:
Sohum Yoga and Meditation Studio
40 Lyman Street, Suite 108B
Westborough Shopping Center
Westborough, MA  01581
View map »


Sponsor: www.SOHUM.org
Telephone: 508-329-3338
Contact Name: Ritu Kapur
Website »

More information

Are you curious about yoga but don't know where to begin? The Intro to Yoga Series is a great place to start your practice. This series will provide a safe, non-competitive and welcoming...

Cost: $90 for series

Where:
YogaLife Institute
6 Chestnut St, Suite A
Exeter, NH  03833
View map »


Telephone: 603-969-8968
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Qigong and tai chi are 2500+ year old healing arts originating in China. These moving meditations offer unique health benefits that western medicine is...

Cost: $11-$15 per class

Where:
Chelmsford Wellness Center
3 Littleton Road, 2nd Floor
Westford, MA  01886
View map »


Sponsor: Cultivating Qi
Telephone: 978-856-8118
Contact Name: Dave Crocker
Website »

More information

January 8 - February 12, 2018 Intuition + Energy Medicine + Energy Psychology = The REAP Healing Method This 6 week certification training course provides you with the understanding and the...

Cost: $695

Where:
Live Online
Comfort of Your Home
, MA
View map »


Sponsor: The REAP Healing Method
Telephone: 978-877-8651
Contact Name: Pamela Dussault
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

3 Hour Introduction Diet and exercise play a role in managing your weight, but; that isn’t the whole story.   80% of dieters weigh the same or more within three months of starting...

Cost: $49

Where:
The Center for Resilient Living Clearly Coworking
474 Grove St.
Worcester, MA  01605
View map »


Sponsor: The Center for Resilient Living and Adventure Boot Camp
Telephone: 508-963-4786
Contact Name: Ginny Wholley
Website »

More information

Experience the power of singing gospel music with more than 250 others as part of the Mystic Chorale, led by award-winning director and composer, Jonathan Singleton. Join Mystic as we prepare...

Cost: $105

Where:
First Parish Unitarian
630 Mass Ave.
Arlington , MA
View map »


Sponsor: The Mystic Chorale
Telephone: 781-738-1920
Contact Name: Jai Kaur Annamaria
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...
No Events

Qigong and tai chi are 2500+ year old healing arts originating in China. These moving meditations offer unique health benefits that western medicine is integrating into treatment plans. By...

Cost: $12-$17 per class

Where:
Dragonfly Wellness Ceneter
176 Jackson Road
Devens, MA  01434
View map »


Sponsor: Cultivating Qi
Telephone: 978-856-8118
Contact Name: Dave Crocker
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

January 26 - 28, 2017 Journey to the heart, a shamanic sound healing training level 1 Join David Kuhn shamanic sound healer for a transformational weekend. David will share the basics of...

Cost: $222

Where:
Sound
31 Hawleyville Road
Newtown, VT  06479
View map »


Sponsor: David Kuhn
Telephone: 802-579-5771
Contact Name: David Kuhn
Website »

More information

6 Week Series with Sherri Snyder-Roche Start your year with greater awareness. In Kundalini Yoga, we harness the mental, physical, and nervous energies of the body and put them under the...

Cost: $90

Where:
State of Grace Yoga and Wellness Center
104 East Hartford Ave.
Uxbridge, MA  01569
View map »


Telephone: 508-278-2818
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

With Rev. Rita Berkowitz Are you ready to become a professional medium and meet the criteria that would be required of you, ethically and practically? Are you ready to work with the public and...

Cost: $600 (Early Bird $550)

Where:
Women of Wisdom
118 Washington Street
North Easton, MA  02356
View map »


Sponsor: Women of Wisdom
Telephone: 508-230-3680
Contact Name: Women of Wisdom
Website »

More information

All are invited to the 2nd annual Lincoln, MA Holistic Wellness Fair on January 27. We are also seeking holistic practitioners from the locales of Lincoln, MA and surrounding towns, to participate...

Cost: Free

Where:
Bemis Hall
15 Bedford Rd
Lincoln, MA  01773
View map »


Sponsor: Lincoln Recreation
Telephone: 781-738-1920
Contact Name: Jai Kaur Annamaria

More information

Do you want to learn how to use the plants in your backyard to bring healing nourishment to your life? Is winter finding you hungry for wildflowers and tasty greens? If so, join Jenny Hauf,...

Cost: $15 for Trustees members and $25 for nonmembers

Where:
Francis William Bird Park
Polley Lane
East Walpole, MA  02032
View map »


Sponsor: The Trustees of Reservations
Telephone: 617-750-4329
Contact Name: Maura O’Gara
Website »

More information

Dates: Saturday, January 27 and Saturday, February 3. This two-day class is for those want to go deeper into their personal healing journey with the system of Reiki and who want to strengthen...

Cost: $275

Where:
Bancroft Doggone U
333 Shrewsbury Street
Worcester, MA  01604
View map »


Sponsor: Bancroft Doggone U
Telephone: 508-753-9757
Contact Name: Lisa Ruthig
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit Module Edit ModuleShow Tags