Can Weed Help People Sleep?

People who use marijuana believe frequent use can help aid in sleep but the perception is being challenged by recent studies which look at the reality of sleep patterns for users of marijuana. Learn more about whether this is true and the ramifications.

Sleep Studies

The Journal of Addictive Diseases, coauthored by Michael Stein, found daily marijuana users actually scored higher on the Insomnia Severity Index (ISI) and on sleep-disturbance measures than people who did not use it every day. Three groups were studied: daily users, non-daily users and those who smoked at least one day of the past month up to five days a week. A control group participated who did not use the drug at all and most participants were in the early 20s.

Deeper Dive

As many as one-third of young adults, age 18 to 25 years old, complain of sleep problems. Study findings show while occasional marijuana does not disturb sleep, heavy users of marijuana may actually experience the opposite, or sleep difficulties and deficits. The effects of marijuana on sleep in intermittent users may be similar, in part, to people who drink where improvements in sleep were reported with intermittent use but daily users of the drug experience worse sleep patterns.

Looking at Data

The study which examined sleep patterns in the three adults found no significant differences in sleep characteristics of those who did not use marijuana daily compared to those who did not use at all. Daytime sleepiness did not differ among heavy, light and nonusers. Sleep disturbances are also common the 20-something young people but quite possibly did not seem to increase by non-daily use. Approximately 20 percent of nonsmokers met criteria for clinical insomnia but for daily users, it was 39 percent. Sleep disruption measures were worse for daily users than occasional users. Researchers noted daily marijuana users typically reported smoking marijuana day and night but less frequent users generally used it only at night.

Researchers discovered interesting aspects of use differences between men and women when it came to sleep patterns. Women reported sleep disturbance problems more than men although insomnia is more common for women than men. Marijuana use has shown to affect women’s performances on neurological tasks more than it affects men’s.

Overall, marijuana is one of the most commonly used drug in the United States, particularly among young adults 18 to 25. Many people report turning to the drug to alleviate a variety of medical and psychiatric symptoms, including pain, anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder. Young adults particularly cite turning to marijuana to deal with the biopsychosocial aspects of being young, finishing school, working and dealing with pressures of daily life.

The Villa provides support for individuals with a variety of substance use disorders, including marijuana addiction. If you or a loved one are struggling to quit marijuana, call us to find out how we can help you learn tools and get support for the journey.