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Marijuana and Sleep, the Debate Rages On

A woman rests peacefully on black silken sheets and rests her head on a white pillow ebroidered with little black pot leaves.

Medical

Marijuana and Sleep, the Debate Rages On

Researchers at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania recently published a report on a potential link between marijuana and insomnia. Writers the world over ran with it. Articles titled “Marijuana Use Can Bring Sleepless Nights, Study Finds” by TIME and “Marijuana Could Turn you into a Nighttime “Walking-Dead” Zombie,” by the International Business Times were posted in record time, yet one thing the titles fail to convey – the study did not find a causality between marijuana and sleep disturbance.

The researchers, rather than navigating the immense hurdles created by the Drug Enforcement Administration to begin testing with actual marijuana, used previous data from a 2007-2008 National Health and Nutrition Examination survey. The survey collected information from participants ranging in age from 20 to 59, 1,811 of those reported a history of drug use.

The researchers analyzed this information against markers including the first age that the respondent used cannabis and the number of times respondents had used in the past month. Any participant noting more than 15 days of disturbed sleep were considered to have severe sleep problems. While the results do find a link between sleep problems and cannabis use, the writers of the publication were careful to note the results were “not determined to show causality.”

The lead author Dr. Michael Grandner, reiterated this point in an interview with The Daily Beast, “We cannot determine that [marijuana causes sleep problems.] Actually, all we could document was that the people who endorsed marijuana use also endorsed sleep problems, and they tended to go together, especially if age at first use was under 15 years, all we can say is that there is an overlap.”

While several academics note marijuana may reduce sleep quality by reducing allover REM and SWS sleep, most in depth clinical research on the subject has not been designed or replicated since the 1970s. Unfortunately, until such research on marijuana becomes more straightforward, through the loosening on federal regulation, concerns about sleep and other health issues as they relate to cannabis will be up for debate.

What do you think? Tell us in the comments.
27 Comments

27 Comments

  1. Tony

    August 7, 2014 at 9:52 am

    The problem with the way the survey was performed is that they do not know what type of Cannabis was used. As a result of prohibition, people are buying whatever is available to them. If they get a sativa based product it certainly will make sleep difficult for most consumers. I believe in a situation where people can be educated on the different strains, and have access to several medicinal quality strains, most people will be able to find some that help them sleep and some that wake them up.

  2. Elliot Hancock

    June 30, 2014 at 7:17 pm

    See this is a total pile of shit. I suffered with sleeping problems before I even smoked Marijuana. I remember my first decent nights sleep in almost 16 years was the night I first smoked marijuana. Because of the incredible effects it had I choose to have a joint every night before bed and I wake up feeling alive, happy and ready for my day ahead. MARIJUANA IS THE WONDER PLANT!

    • Dawne

      August 31, 2015 at 2:45 pm

      Hi, I have had insomnia for 25 years. started with a vape a couple months ago. is no longer working. I cannot get a specific strain. But get “supposedly” one that helps calm you. Any suggestions? I was so excited a first. Cookies were working amazing then stopped too.

  3. Shane Meeks

    June 28, 2014 at 7:37 am

    Yes several people can be affected in different ways by the same strain. I agree more research needs to be done. But until the Gov.gets there hands on all the revenue that legalization could generate that probably wont happen. I never had a problem sleeping no matter what i smoked but thats just me.

  4. Ron Kochheiser

    June 27, 2014 at 5:44 pm

    I use an indica for a good nights sleep, sativa is more of a go go for me.

  5. JAHMAN ROGER

    June 27, 2014 at 1:21 pm

    i will be 23yrs old on july 4 th i have been in dope since 13yrsb old so i noticed many things about mariguana first it is good and makes you think well also an over dose will cause a negative effect like giving you headache but after some times you gona feel again more better than before that headache
    it affect diferent people differently and even though it may ahave thesame affect but diff time of effect
    justb like a friend after smoking be4 school held one of the 3 of us accusing him of drugging him after a mental hazard in the class roomthis caused the dismisal of these two friends i was lucky that time of not being the same school with them
    i also fell thesame situation one day after school when iwent to fesh water withoutt eating that same friend called me to come have a dose calmly i went and after all my actions well slow as i went to lift up mmy bucket to go home i felt in my head some heat as if my brain was bubbling so it began to increase and i was liken fast in any action and any action seems repeatative it was at 4 pm and i only felt better around 9 pm that experience caused me to stop smoking and ask god to forgive me if that smoking was a bad thing and i promise god not to smoke againbut after some times when i left that town and travel to another town to school i met friends who were smoking and i joined them to smoke again even though it was too difficult start again but i did it
    so i will like to conclude that mariguana for reel is a good thing but before you take it makesure you study your ownself and see whether it is corresponding with you blood
    now i still take partially because i beleive it is strongly spiritual i.e it smell send away evil people
    it keeps you calm and gives you a room to reason better and gives you a good night even though it has an effect of slowining my reasoning i suspect it fatique the brain it ibrings peace and love
    SATIVA

  6. Marietta

    June 27, 2014 at 12:08 pm

    I have Rheumatoid Arthritis. and take my medical Marijuana mainly at night so I CAN & DO get a good nights rest. It puts the pain in the background, totally relaxes me, and allows me to get the rest my body needs to heal and start I start the next day refreshed. Soooo much better than sleeping pills!

  7. Derr

    June 27, 2014 at 6:47 am

    It’s true about the strains. Indica dominant strains help me sleep like a baby. They’re heavy and leave my whole body comfortable enough to sleep. Sativa dominant strains make me more productive and thought-full. I sometimes find myself cleaning and organizing with a good sativa dominant strain, and with a lot of focus. It’s definitely different for everyone. There are at least 85 different cannabinoids in cannabis, and how they work with our receptors vary from person to person. Again, a lot more research needs to be done on isolated cannabinoids before a blanket statement can be made about the entire genus of cannabis!

  8. Michelle

    June 27, 2014 at 2:29 am

    I am 47 years young and have been smoking since age 11 and still do and I have found that smoking before bed helps me sleep especially when I work graveyard shifts!
    Peace

  9. Cara

    June 26, 2014 at 7:19 pm

    Everyone reacts to any substance differently. One person can take Benadryl and pass out and another can become hyper. Personally, I cannot sleep without a toke.

  10. Michael

    June 26, 2014 at 6:16 pm

    So before I started smoking weed, I was too alert at night when I wanted to sleep. I worked graveyard for ten years. I first discovered that smoking weed made me sleep through the night. This was before all the hype. When I was 14 years old,everyone of my friends noticed that when I was high I stopped shaking in my hands. So yes weed does help sleep and calm nerves.

  11. dyke

    June 26, 2014 at 3:15 pm

    I usaully smoke before bed so i can sleep like a kid but since ever i have seen it as a problem

  12. Anthony

    June 26, 2014 at 2:40 pm

    Weed has helped me sleep and sometimes it stopped me from sleeping and I’ve been smoking since I was 8 so it depends on what kind of weed you smoke
    It could be sativa and any other kind so do some research on your marijuana reports because it’s invalid if not all the facts are there

  13. Austin

    June 26, 2014 at 2:21 pm

    Here I thought I was the only one who didn’t sleep well with cannabis lol. I use it for the head but can’t smoke before I lay down.

  14. Seth

    June 26, 2014 at 2:13 pm

    All I have to say is, is that whenever I smoke a blunt or rip my vape I can sleep like a baby. But, that is because most of the maruijana I get is Indica or Indica dominant which gives you a relaxed feeling while Sativa is what gives you that simulating head high. I guess each person reacts to it differently though.

  15. kayne

    June 26, 2014 at 2:02 pm

    I’ve been smoking for almost ten years now and I can’t sleep unless I’ve had a smoke just before bed

  16. Sandy Greenleaf

    June 26, 2014 at 2:02 pm

    Everyone knows that “weightless” feeling you get when you’re just dropping off to sleep, that “I can’t feel my body” feeling. Some strains of marijuana help me get to that state more quickly, some almost immediately. Other strains, not so much. It’s kind of like russian roulette.

  17. richard perkinson

    June 26, 2014 at 1:48 pm

    None of the results of those studies made sense to me. It was as if it was written by anti marijuana groups. I smoke a fatty and if I’m not out doing something fun, I lay down and take a peaceful nap. It has never caused me to have insomnia and I smoked my first joint at Easy Rider in 1969 and I am currently 60. Marijuana is the safest most helpful herb put on this earth. Let it be. This is not something for the government to be dabbling in and grubbing money from.

  18. jay

    June 26, 2014 at 1:47 pm

    Ive smoked it for over 7 years an have no problems sleeping if I was to smoke it all the time then have none for a week r what ever then I find it hard to sleep for the first few nights apart from that no problem sleeping while under the influence of it interesting article tho

  19. DontDoItMissSealy

    June 26, 2014 at 1:44 pm

    I had been on high doses of various sleeping pills over the years. Now that I smoke MJ, I smoke it in the evening and fall asleep just fine now. I don’t wake up in the middle of the night, and I don’t have a drugged, hangover feeling the next morning.

  20. Alyssa

    June 26, 2014 at 1:40 pm

    Well it all depends on what you smoke… im so tired of all of the mary j being put under the same category. Any one who knows anything about the lovely flower knows that each one does something different and helps different ailments

  21. Donna

    June 9, 2014 at 8:40 am

    I am a little confused by this article. What I take from it is that the University of Pennsylvania thinks that marijuana can cause insomnia. I don’t agree with that at all. I had insomnia for 14 years. I started using MMJ to help and I sleep anywhere from 7-10 hours a night. The type of strain of MMJ can make the difference as to weather I sleep 7 or 10 hours.

    • FERNANDO BEROT

      June 11, 2014 at 5:26 am

      certainly if u smoke indica this will not be good for sleep, au contraire if you smoke indica you will sleep like a baby in less than an hour…

  22. Rich Fiser

    June 8, 2014 at 6:52 pm

    A little weed and I sleep like a baby.

  23. Zara Axelrod

    June 8, 2014 at 6:50 pm

    Hey, great article. This kind of media distortion is a common problem in academia.

    My (admittedly limited) understanding of the sleep issue is that what works well for one person as a sleep aid might act as a stimulant in someone else (and we really need federal regs loosened to be able to study it properly). It’s not such a hard thing to believe, though: the same marijuana can make some people feel calm and content, and others feel paranoid. All that’s clear is the drug affects people somehow on the calm-paranoid spectrum. So why shouldn’t the same be true for alert-relaxed?

    But until laws are changed, it will be up to patients to self experiment. They’ll just have to hope that they’re making the right dice roll when they smoke an indica as a sleep aid that was recommended to them by some 19 year old budtender for promoting relaxedness. It is a pretty torturous thing to take a medication to fix a problem, and instead find it makes it worse.

    By the way, I have nothing against 19 year olds, just people who don’t know what they’re talking about.

  24. Nick

    June 8, 2014 at 1:17 pm

    Smoking for over 30yrs and can’t get anymore than 2hrs sleep a night !!

    • Zara Axelrod

      June 9, 2014 at 6:07 pm

      Crazy! I had a coworker who was the same way! It didn’t bother her, though. She wasn’t actually an insomniac, she just didn’t need sleep. Does it bother you?

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