Heavy Marijuana Users Experience Sleep Disturbance

Armen Hareyan's picture

To determine if recently abstinent, heavy marijuana (MJ) users show differences in polysomnographic (PSG) measures compared with a drug-free control group.

A group of carefully selected heavy heavy marijuana users were chosen for study inclusion and matched to a drug-free control group. Questionnaire data were collected prior to cessation of MJ use. PSG studies were conducted during 2 consecutive nights after discontinuation of heavy marijuana use in our core sleep laboratory.

The wetting of sleep disturbance and Marijuana use was Baltimore Maryland, General Clinical Research Center (GCRC) core sleep lab.


Participants were the 17 heavy MJ users discontinuing heavy marijuana use and 14 drugfree controls. Men and women were studied, 18 to 30 years. The MJ users reported no other drug use and alcohol use was negligible in both groups. Urine was positive for metabolites of cannabis only.

The results demonstrated that the MJ users showed differences in PSG measures (lower total sleep times, and less slow wave sleep than the control group) on both nights; they also showed worse sleep efficiency, longer sleep onset, and shorter REM latency than the control group on Night 2. More sleep continuity parameters were significantly worse for the MJ group than the control group on Night 2 versus Night 1, indicating that sleep in the MJ group was relatively worse on Night 2 compared to Night 1. The MJ group did not show improved sleep after an adaptation night as expected. Withdrawal symptoms, craving, and depression did not appear to influence these findings.

During discontinuation of heavy heavy marijuana use, PSG measures of sleep disturbance were detected in heavy marijuana users compared with a drugfree control group. While this preliminary study cannot identify the extent to which these group differences were present before abstinence, poor sleep quality either prior to or after MJ discontinuation could result in treatment failure for MJ users.

Further investigation is necessary to determine the association between the use and cessation of MJ and sleep disturbance.


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I am a heavy smoker. I smoked about 5 - 10 times daily for months. During that time, I did not remember having dreamt once, and falling asleep always seemed almost impossible. I would take about 2 to 3 hours every night trying ot fall asleep. This is due to smoking not long before going to bed. It wires up your brain and makes your mind race and it becomes impossible to drift off to sleep easily. (small doses however are proven to have the opposite, calming affect) . I recently stopped smoking. Falling asleep became much easier and about 2 weeks after I stopped, I began dreaming VERY vivid dreams. Its strange because I have been smoking pot for years, and recently i realized that i hadnt dreamt for far to long. It felt like years had gone by since i remembered a dream. Now i dreams are extremely vivid and I remember almost all the details when i wake up.
I had been diagnosed with sleep apnea, and the doctors/salespeople fed me and my wife a lot of fear - much of it substantiated. Needless to say, the high sales pressure behind the CPAP easily sold it. The CPAP worked... very well. Unfortunately, it made it impossible for my wife to share the same bed. I'm not even forty, and this was horrible, something that I thought could only happen to old people. I read about some studies in journals referring to the efficacy of marijuana use for sleep apnea, and figured I'd rather try that than keep going the way it was. My wife HATES any illegal drugs, and I couldn't dare tell her I was taking anything like this. It ended up at least as good as the CPAP, and now before I go to bed, usually a little after my wife turns in with a book or the paper, I'll use a vaporiser for administration (I used to smoke it, but I have to hide this from my wife, even after four-plus years). It has been "highly" effective. My wife is convinced that my sleep apnea "just went away". I'll admit, maybe 3 nights a week I'll overindulge by a wide margin, but it doesn't change a good night's sleep. And I STILL have many wonderful dreams.
I smoke on a regular basis, about 1-3 times a day. If I smoke a large amount before sleep, it may take up to 2 1/2 hours before my mind is relaxed enough for sleep. A few hits, however, usually prove to be quite effective. Contrary to what many websites and other sources say, I usually feel very rested the next morning, moreso than if I had a sober night of sleep. I also think that this varies from person to person; my brother, for example, never feels like he got enough sleep if he goes to sleep high. It is likely that there are too many factors that have not been researched that would determine the effects of smoking on sleep for different people, so if you are wondering if it can help you sleep, I would reccommend that you would try it. I am not a doctor, but marijuana has been very helpful for my insomnia and there are no big risks in seeing how it would affect you.
I have a friend that smokes most the time and she has insomnia.She Never felt bad when she wakes up.She feels refreshed and ready to go.In her case,she said it is very helpful getting her to sleep at night.
I have been a regular smoker for more then 10 years now. About a bowl a night and full joint on the weekends. I decided to slow my roll so to speak and have had episodes of 4 straight nights with little to no sleep. I have been prescribed klonazapem at night and the sleep is still not good! I need help but don't know what to do? Dont want to smoke again for a few months but dont think I can make it