Emerging research suggests that while cannabis might have short-term sleep benefits, chronic use could lead to sleep problems. An initial decrease in sleep onset latency and an increase in slow-wave sleep have been noted with cannabis use. However, this appears to be short-lived as a review of the literature indicates that with prolonged consumption, these sleep-inducing properties may diminish.
Furthermore, the use of cannabis, particularly when heavy and chronic, has been associated with cognitive impairments. Findings point to a decline in IQ and learning deficits, with more frequent use exacerbating these issues, as reported by Harvard Health. This could suggest a potential causative link between long-term cannabis use and cognitive decline.
Amid these findings, there is an intriguing trend: the increasing use of cannabis among older adults, with past-year use rising from 2.4% to 4.2% between 2015 and 2018. This data, highlighted by Harvard Health, calls into question the implications of this shift, especially concerning sleep and cognitive functions in this demographic.
Experts urge caution and further research to understand the full spectrum of cannabis’s effects on sleep. With THC’s complex relationship with stress at different doses — from easing anxiety at low doses to exacerbating it at higher ones, as noted by the University of Illinois at Chicago — it is clear that the interplay between cannabis, sleep, and cognition is far from straightforward.
For individuals attempting to cease cannabis use, the cessation could lead to a surge in REM sleep and vivid dreams, which can impact sleep quality, as per insights from the University of Michigan. Addressing sleep concerns among those reducing or quitting cannabis could be a crucial aspect of treatment and recovery.
While some contend that cannabis may aid sleep, the consensus leans towards caution, especially with habitual use. This underlines the necessity for a nuanced discussion with healthcare providers about cannabis’s impact on sleep, particularly for frequent users.