Does Cannabis Affect Sleep Quality? Examining the Evidence


The relationship between cannabis and sleep is complex and often misunderstood. While some studies suggest that cannabis, particularly its cannabinoid component CBD, might help with sleep, others indicate potential problems with long-term use. This article examines various aspects of this relationship, citing recent research and expert opinions.

A study involving individuals with insomnia indicated that administering 160 mg/day of CBD increased total sleep time and decreased the frequency of arousals during the night. However, it was also found that low doses of CBD might lead to increased wakefulness. This suggests that the effectiveness of CBD on sleep may depend on the dosage.

Conversely, chronic cannabis use appears linked with several sleep deficits. For instance, daily marijuana users report more sleep disturbances than those who use it less frequently or not at all. This contradicts the popular belief that cannabis effectively treats insomnia. A study from the Boston University School of Public Health supports this view, highlighting that regular cannabis use is associated with insomnia, lower sleep duration, sleep-quality issues, and longer sleep onset latency.

As the use of cannabis among older adults in the US increases, it’s important to understand its effects on sleep. A study in the Journal of the American Medical Association noted a rise in past-year cannabis use among adults aged 65 and older, from 2.4% in 2015 to 4.2% in 2018. This demographic shift warrants further investigation into how cannabis affects sleep in older populations.

Quitting cannabis can also impact sleep. Cannabis accounts for REM sleep suppression, leading to a rebound of REM sleep and possibly more intense dreams when cessation occurs. This phenomenon can affect individuals who have used cannabis to manage conditions like anxiety and ADHD.

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Withdrawal from cannabis can result in a range of symptoms, including aggression, anger, irritability, anxiety, insomnia, anorexia, depression, restlessness, headaches, vomiting, and abdominal pain. These symptoms illustrate the complexities involved in reducing or stopping cannabis use.

In the context of sleep aids, synthetic melatonin is often used. While it’s a popular supplement, some clinical trials suggest it may not be effective for treating insomnia. This raises questions about the efficacy of various sleep supplements, including those derived from cannabis.

Overall, more research is needed to fully understand how cannabis affects sleep. Current evidence points to a nuanced relationship, with potential benefits and drawbacks depending on usage patterns and individual factors.

Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania | Colorado Arts and Sciences Magazine | The Brink | Boston University | Harvard Health Blog | University of Michigan Psychiatry | Sleep Medicine Reviews | Harvard Health Blog | Harvard Health | Harvard Medical School

Does Cannabis Affect Sleep Quality? Examining the Evidence

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