Is Chronic Cannabis Use Linked to Sleep Deficits?


Cannabis has been a subject of ongoing discussions and research regarding its impacts on health, especially when it comes to sleep patterns and quality. A recent study from the Journal of the American Medical Association observed a rising trend in cannabis use among older adults in the United States, with past-year use increasing from 2.4% to 4.2% between 2015 and 2018. The study, which is in line with other research and reports, raises questions about how cannabis affects users, particularly in terms of sleep and cognitive functions.

Cannabis contains cannabidiol (CBD), a compound that may help alleviate anxiety. Nonetheless, the plant can also cause short-term issues with thinking, working memory, executive function, and psychomotor function. Furthermore, chronic cannabis use has been linked to sleep deficits. The immediate effects of acute, limited use of cannabis may aid sleep, but regular, heavy use is associated with insomnia, reduced sleep duration, sleep-quality issues, and more. This is particularly concerning given that individuals with anxiety might be using marijuana to mitigate sleep problems.

Stopping cannabis use after a prolonged period can lead to a rebound of REM sleep, resulting in more vivid and bizarre dreams. Long-term users have also been found to exhibit declines in IQ, as well as deficits in learning and processing speed. The extent of these cognitive impairments seems to correlate with the frequency of cannabis use, suggesting a potential causative link.

Sleep and Cannabis Use

The topic of cannabis and sleep requires further research for a clearer understanding, allowing healthcare providers to better communicate the potential effects to users. This is especially pertinent given marijuana’s status as one of the most commonly used drugs in the United States, particularly among young adults aged 18 to 25. However, it’s important to note that while there are preliminary studies suggesting CBD may improve sleep, the evidence is not yet conclusive, and individuals experiencing sleep issues should consult healthcare professionals or sleep specialists for personalized advice and treatment options.

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