Marijuana Can Cause Insomnia: Learn Why And Get Tips To Manage It

There is a common belief¹ among marijuana users that smoking induces sleep. Some people even use it precisely to prompt sleep. However, scientific research shows evidence that suggests otherwise.

In fact, research² shows that marijuana causes insomnia. The use of marijuana during adolescence may lead to insomnia that can carry on into young adulthood. 

Therefore, while marijuana has been known to relieve pain symptoms, it does not induce sleep but instead contributes to short- and long-term sleep problems, which can be detrimental to your health.

Have you considered clinical trials for Insomnia?

We make it easy for you to participate in a clinical trial for Insomnia, and get access to the latest treatments not yet widely available - and be a part of finding a cure.

How does marijuana cause sleep problems?

There is a wide range of explanations for how marijuana causes insomnia. Among them include the following:

Anxiety

While marijuana is known to relieve anxiety, it also has the opposite effect of inducing anxiety, paranoia, panic attacks, and psychosis. These opposing effects result from the predominant compounds in marijuana, which have contrasting actions. 

THC, one of the primary compounds, causes anxiety, while the other compound, CBD, reduces it. Still, the anxiety effects of THC are dosage-dependent, with certain doses said to reduce anxiety. The interactions between the various compounds in marijuana determine the outcome.

Therefore, if marijuana makes you anxious or paranoid, it is likely that this sense of worry or fear will cause insomnia.

Reduced rapid eye movement (REM) sleep

Studies³ show that marijuana reduces rapid eye movement (REM) during sleep. REM represents the deepest stage of sleep in your body; it is the time when you start dreaming.

REM is a vital stage for brain development and memory retention, as the brain stores information acquired during the day and stores it into long-term memory during the REM cycle. If you use marijuana, there is a likelihood that you will only get light sleep and will not achieve this stage.

Reduced REM can even have further health problems for you, including:

Depression

A lack of REM will likely cause depression in the long term as sleep inhibitions and insomnia have been shown to increase these symptoms.

Reduced memory retention

The process of memory retention takes place during deep sleep. When your mind is denied this sleep, you will likely experience problems remembering details or events. Spatial memory, which is responsible for learning, may also be adversely affected.

Obesity

You are at risk of obesity when your body is deprived of REM sleep. The body burns many calories at this stage of sleep due to increased brain activity in the dream state. A lack of this activity during light sleep induced by marijuana usage means that the body will burn fewer calories.

Withdrawal symptoms

There is a likelihood that you will experience difficulties falling asleep after quitting marijuana. If this happens, you should know that it is a withdrawal symptom and not evidence that marijuana helps you sleep. 

Other withdrawal symptoms such as anxiety, nervousness, and restlessness may also help explain your difficulties falling asleep after quitting marijuana.

You can endure the withdrawal symptoms by doing the following:

  • Enroll in a detox program that will help you manage the short-term withdrawal effects

  • Seek the support of others that relate to your struggles by attending group therapy

  • Stay active by involving yourself in activities that keep your mind off marijuana

What should you do when cannabis acts as a sleep disturbance

If marijuana causes insomnia or sleep disturbance, the most logical thing to do is to quit using it. Stopping marijuana will help you get on a path to recovery, although you may also experience withdrawal symptoms.

If you experience a lack of sleep even after quitting marijuana, you should try the following interventions to induce sleep:

Observe consistent bedtime

Establish regular sleeping hours. Having a consistent bedtime helps condition your mind to seek rest at the same time each night. Also, avoid naps during the day as this may result in difficulties sleeping at night.

Only go to bed when you feel sleepy

Lying in bed while you are still feeling awake and energetic may result in partial sleep deprivation. In addition to not consuming marijuana, stay off stimulants such as caffeine before going to bed since consuming caffeine can keep you alert.

Create an environment conducive to sleep

Ensure that you have a calm environment by keeping the room quiet and dark. Having a TV in your bedroom or a loud clock may only distract your sleep.

Relax

Trying out meditation and muscle relaxation activities may reduce anxiety and help you remain calm enough to fall asleep.

Stop worrying about it

Lastly, let go of the worry that you will not fall asleep, which may further exacerbate your situation. Instead, let go of the concern and let things take their course. Chances are you will fall asleep in no time.

The lowdown

Does weed cause insomnia? Despite popular belief in some quarters, the answer is yes. 

Scientific studies do reveal that marijuana can cause insomnia. These causes of wakefulness may result from anxiety induced by marijuana or the lack of REM sleep that results from its use. Insomnia may also be part of the withdrawal symptoms that you may experience after quitting marijuana. 

Still, insomnia resulting from marijuana use can be managed and eradicated by quitting it altogether and adopting behavioral strategies such as maintaining constant bedtime and a calm environment that favors sleep. 

If you are experiencing a challenging time after discontinuing marijuana, you could try taking up group therapy and engaging in activities that stimulate mental involvement to keep your brain off wanting marijuana. If you have tried all these and still suffer from insomnia, you should consult your doctor to help you create a plan tailored to your needs.

Have you considered clinical trials for Insomnia?

We make it easy for you to participate in a clinical trial for Insomnia, and get access to the latest treatments not yet widely available - and be a part of finding a cure.

Joining community groups and exercise programs for my condition made me feel empowered – but I want to be part of finding a cure.
Peter, 64


Join our email list

Want all the latest clinical trial and HealthMatch news in your inbox? We thought you might! Sign up below.