Effects of cannabis on sleep

10 facts about the effects of cannabis on sleep

12 mins read

Getting a good night’s sleep is absolutely essential for both our physical and mental health. The problem is, as we get older, life throws more curveballs at us and makes doing this increasingly difficult. Whether it’s stress from work, family problems, or one of a plethora of other reasons, insomnia has bitten us all at one point or another. 

There are many cures for insomnia being thrown around various different parts of the medical community. One of the cures that have gained particular prominence in recent years is cannabis. Anybody who has ever smoked it can attest to the sleepy nature of it, and as such, it is being used more and more as a potential cure for those who cannot sleep. As a matter of fact, cannabis can have a lot of different effects on your sleep. 

Fact 1: Cannabis & Drowsiness

It is important to note that the effects of cannabis use vary greatly depending on individual susceptibility, strain, dosage, and setting. While one person may smoke a small junction with an Indica and feel relaxed and calm, another may feel anxious and uneasy. Understanding these differences can be key to the way you use marijuana.

Despite this, there is some compelling evidence that cannabis or, more specifically, THC, can help improve sleep. In 2008, various studies were presented that suggest that by activating CB1 receptors, THC can cause drowsiness, which, in turn, can lead to falling asleep.

Fact 2: It can help insomnia

A lot of research on the effect of cannabis for sleep purposes, as well as cannabis for insomnia, was done throughout the 1970s. One of these studies from Napa State Hospital, California, and the Boston State Department of Mental Health Hospital, examined the effects of THC on patients with insomnia. The study showed that cannabinoids, a prominent chemical found in cannabis, not only reduces the time that patients need to fall asleep but also increases the overall duration of sleep.

In addition, Dr. Rachna Patel, a medical marijuana expert from California, reported that many of her patients with insomnia or sleep apnea have found that cannabis for insomnia helps to fall asleep faster, sleep longer, and continue to sleep even if you are disturbed or woken up.

How CB1 receptor stimulation promotes sleep is not entirely understood. However, it is known that the endocannabinoid system is involved in a wide range of neurological processes. Further research in this area is likely to help reveal what exactly makes cannabis such a promising sedative for most patients.

Fact 3: The Medical effects of THC and sleep and CBD and sleep

It is important to note that “weed for sleep” is not a miraculous cure for these problems. Studies suggest that it can help people fall asleep quicker and sleep for longer. There is also some evidence, however, to suggest that it can reduce the amount of deep sleep a person has. 

Both CBD and THC can reduce the REM phase in patients, which will affect the overall quality of their sleep. There are also reports of some cannabis users suffering from sleeping issues, with many claiming that they experience vivid dreams. 

By suppressing the REM phase, compounds such as THC and CBD can actually reduce the quality of sleep that the patient receives. This can lead to patients feeling fatigued the following day. Some users may even experience hangover-like side effects, though, this is uncommon. 

One of the biggest reasons for the effects that marijuana has on our brains is that the active compounds in marijuana, cannabinoids, are similar to compounds found in brain tissue. This is also why there are so many uses for medical marijuana. A key function of our brains is to regulate sleep, and this is why cannabis can be so impactful in this area.

Fact 4: The difference classifications of cannabis

These are different types of cannabis you may be referred to, although in reality these are simply different variations of the same plant


Indica is the classification given to strains with bushier, shorter plants, broad leaves and traditionally associated with body-led effects


Sativa is the classification given to strains with taller, less broad leaves. These plants may have a longer flowering cycle and have been associated with head-led effects.


A third type – ruderalis – is also in existance. This is where we get autoflowering cannabis strains from, as ruderalis plants in nature have this ability and breeders bred this into the cannabis strains we know and love.

All of these differences will have different effects on a person, and it is often down to their personal preference which one to use. Each of these will have a different effect on an individual’s sleep.

Fact 5: Falling asleep quickly

Some of the early studies of cannabis demonstrated that the main psychoactive component of marijuana – THC – can significantly reduce the time it takes to fall asleep. The authors of a small scientific paper published in 1973 claimed that THC reduced the time to fall asleep in 9 subjects with insomnia by an average of one hour. Researchers also noted that taking too much can neutralize the positive effect.

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Fact 6: The total duration of sleep

Research has shown that there is a direct correlation between the length of your sleep and the amount of THC consumed. An evening intake of THC is likely to help you drift off to sleep much easier. 

That being said, there is a difficult balancing act to maintain. Higher doses of THC has shown to have some undesirable effects on some users. Too much THC can lead to feelings of drowsiness and feelings of inhibition the following day. 

Fact 7: Deep sleep phase lengthens

One of the most interesting effects that cannabis is capable of producing is its effect on the cyclical nature of sleep. It turns out that THC can increase the phase of slow sleep. This is a very useful benefit as it is believed that the slow stage of sleep can seriously aid in recovery. 

Moreover, experts are sure that some of the consequences of sleep deprivation are connected precisely with the absence of a slower phase. For example, the results of one observation showed that lack of deep sleep is one of the causes of hypertension in the elderly.

Fact 8: The effect of cannabis on our dreams 

One of the other areas of sleep that marijuana affects is the fast sleep phase. This is the stage of sleep where most people have dreams. As a result of this, many marijuana users will experience a lack of or even no dreams at all. 

The reasons behind the fast sleep phase and dreaming, in general, are still largely unknown. As a result, it is difficult to know whether or not this can truly be considered a negative effect. 

One side-effect, however, is that when people stop using weed, they can occasionally experience very vivid dreams, some of which can be anxiety-inducing and stressful. This can also lead to a feeling of tiredness the next day. 

Fact 9: Normalisation of respiration

One of the potentially biggest benefits of using cannabis is for those who suffer from sleep apnea. This is a condition that affects around 25% of the male population and around 9% of the female population. 

One of the biggest signs of sleep apnea is snoring. Snoring may seem innocent, but it is actually associated with many serious illnesses, including diabetes and heart problems. Unfortunately, the vast majority of people suffering from sleep apnea do not undergo any diagnosis or treatment. 

Some research has been done on the effects of marijuana for sleep and on snoring and respiration, and the early signs are looking quite positive. There is still a lot to learn right now, but there is an indication that marijuana could turn out to be very helpful for people with this condition. 

Fact 10: Using cannabis before bedtime

It is very important that you choose the right type of weed to consume before you go to bed. Indica weed is relaxing, while Sativa is stimulating. As we have already discussed, the amount of marijuana that is consumed is also going to have an effect on the quality of your sleep. 

Smoking or consuming weed before bed will have a number of effects on our sleep. Marijuana extends the duration of the third stage of slow delta sleep, during which our body completely relaxes, and the body rests, but at the same time shortens the fourth stage of the deepest delta sleep, when we have dreams, and the brain is renewed.

So, a joint before going to bed will help you better rest physically, but it may have effects on the mental side of your sleep. 

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There is no denying the fact that sleep is absolutely essential to maintaining a healthy mind and body. Sleep replenishes us and helps in keeping ourselves on track both mentally and physically. 

There is still plenty of research that is to be done when it comes to the effects of marijuana on your sleep. While there are lots of things that are agreed upon, like the fact that weed will help put you to sleep, the discussion on the impact of marijuana on dreams and how you feel the following day still continues. 

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