Does Smoking Weed Affect Sleep?
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- Marijuana decreases sleep quality, which then affects your
overall quality of life.
- Disturbances in sleep patterns can remain for up to five days
after use and normal sleep patterns may not return until after one
week. With chronic marijuana use, sleep may be disturbed on an
ongoing basis with relief only after longer term
- In research studies marijuana users have a disturbed sleep
pattern throughout the night and experience less REM or rapid eye
movement sleep as well as less SWS or slow wave
- Not getting enough sleep limits your cognitive and physical
- General information: The cannabis plant
contains over 60 cannabinoids. THC - Delta 9 Tetrahydrocannabinol -
is the constituent primarily responsible for the psychotropic
effects of marijuana. These psychotropic effects are mediated
mostly by cannabinoid CB-1 receptors, which can be found in high
concentrations in the frontal cortex, cerebellum, and basal
ganglia. CB-1 receptors activate a variety of signal transduction
pathways and interact with numerous neurotransmitters and
- Individual effects: Acute subjective marijuana
effects are highly variable. There may be contradictory effects
depending on the individual and condition. Marijuana can induce
mild euphoria, talkativeness, intensification of sensory
experiences, difficulty concentrating, altered time perception,
relaxation and drowsiness.
- The arousing effects of THC use may predominate initially but,
in time, THC decreases sleep latency, meaning one falls asleep more
easily (Chait, 1990; Tassinari, et al, 1976).
- Generally, THC use increases stage 4 sleep or Slow Wave Sleep
stage (SWS) in the first part of the sleep period (Nicholson, et
- Some studies have found an increase in stage 2 sleep though out
the sleep period with both single/naive and chronic use (Pranikoff,
1973; Tassinari, et al, 1976).
- THC consistently decreases total REM sleep and REM density
(Freemon, 1982). Moderate REM Rebound can occur upon withdrawal or abstinence
o REM rebound: REM Rebound effect means that
the amount of REM sleep shifts in the opposite direction to the
physiological changes induced by marijuana and even exceeds normal
levels once the acute effects of marijuana on the body are reduced
upon withdrawal or abstinence.
- Due to the slow elimination of THC, sedative
effects are sometimes still present the following morning and
beyond (Nicholson, et al., 2004).
o As it is fat soluble, it takes longer than a day for the
active ingredient -THC - to leave your system. Disturbances in
sleep patterns can remain for up to five days after use and normal
sleep patterns may not return until after one week or longer.Refer
to Marijuana and the Body graphics.
- Chronic and heavy marijuana use:
o Research suggests that some tolerance occurs to the sleep
inducing and SWS-enhancing effects of cannabis, but evidence is
conflicting (Pranikoff, et al., 1973).
o Recently abstinent MJ users showed differences in multiple
sleep measures compared to a drug-free control group: lower total
sleep times, and less slow wave sleep. They also showed worse sleep
efficiency, longer sleep onset and shorter REM latency than the
control group (Bolla, et al., 2008).
o A study of subjective changes of marijuana effects over the
years indicated that the desirable effects of marijuana upon sleep
are reported less frequently after years of use, compared to
initial ratings (Halikas, et al., 1982).
o People with substance related disorders often experience sleep
problems that persist for months after cessation of drug use
(Budney, et al., 2003).
In sum, there are five (5) main points to
(1) As a psychotropic with sedative effects, marijuana may help
one fall asleep more quickly.
(2) Smoking up compromises the cyclical balance of the stages of
sleep throughout the night
(3) Marijuana use affects the cycle of consistent and balanced
SWS (slow wave sleep) in Stages 3 & 4, which is the deep,
restful, and restorative part of the sleep cycle.
(4) Marijuana use suppresses the cycle of consistent and
adequate REM sleep and keeps you in stage 2 of sleep.
(5) Disturbances in sleep patterns can remain for up to five
days after use and normal sleep patterns may not return until after
one week. With chronic use, sleep may be disturbed on an ongoing
basis and even after one is abstinent.
General Effects and Motivations for
- Self medication: Some people use marijuana to decrease feelings
of stress, irritability, anxiety, insomnia, and depression although
this may not address underlying issues in the long run.
- For some people using marijuana can actually increase feeling
of anxiety, depression, stress, and insomnia; however, they may not
attribute these feeling to their marijuana use.
- Regular marijuana use can result in a lack of motivation and
lethargy. This makes it difficult to get to class, to maintain a
workout schedule, and socialize. This inactive lifestyle also can
impact ones quality of sleep.