Does marijuana cause insomnia? Can weed lead to problems with sleep? The short answer is yes, marijuana does cause insomnia. Understanding how marijuana does cause this insomniac state is the more important factor.
Studies have concluded that marijuana exacerbates sleep disturbances that ultimately lead to insomnia. Though cannabis consumption may alleviate specified medical conditions, improving sleep patterns is not among the benefits.
This fact may come as a surprise to numerous medical and recreational consumers who cite sleeping disorders as their means for consumption. Let us help to identify why you are not getting the sleep you need, especially if you use marijuana frequently.
How Does Marijuana Cause Insomnia or Sleep Disturbances?
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Some studies find a definite correlation between higher cannabis use and higher rates of anxiety. Again, many use cannabis as a means to treat anxiety. However, some reports find that, while marijuana use may alleviate some areas, it exacerbates others.
There are numerous aspects of which cannabinoids affect the body’s anxiety levels. THC, the cannabinoid that induces feelings of euphoria, increases heart rate, which in turn causes disturbances in sleep patterns. Furthermore, many users with preexisting anxiety disorders could only worsen their anxiety symptoms.
Increased Sleep Disturbances upon Quitting
If you’ve quit using marijuana and think you are having difficulty sleeping as a result, it’s definitely possible. However, this is not because marijuana is helping you sleep. On the contrary, it is further proof that it is hindering your slumber.
Like all drugs, when marijuana use ends, there is a withdrawal period. The most common side-effect associated with abstaining from prolonged marijuana use can give you the false presumption that you sleep better when using the drug. Thus, not only does cannabis prevent REM sleep, but cannabis withdrawals can also frequently cause other sleep disturbances.
Reduced REM Sleep
REM (Rapid Eye Movement) is the deepest stage of sleep that induces a dream state. This stage of sleep is the most vital for your body. Without this final stage of sleep, you are only getting light sleep rather than the deep sleep your body needs. The increase in heart rate as a result of cannabis use, much like the previous point, trickles down to numerous sleep-preventing factors. REM sleep is no different.
Marijuana-Induced Repercussions of Deprived REM
Marijuana effects on REM bear both short-term and long-term domino effects on your health. Learning the health consequences of REM deprivation can help you learn the severity of the effects of cannabis use. By expunging cannabis from your routine, you can significantly lower and even eliminate the risk of exposure to physical and mental health conditions.
More Severe Health Problems
Continuous marijuana abuse has a negative domino effect on your body. Marijuana-induced loss of REM places you at high risk for heart and cardiovascular-related health issues. Some research further connects deprived REM with a greater risk of numerous cancers. Ending marijuana use ensures a significant reduction of the toll on your long-term health.
Yes, persistent lack of REM sleep can and will lead to depression. Sleep inhibitions and insomnia, in general, are directly related to increased symptoms of depression. Removing marijuana from your life, therefore, will not only increase the deep sleep you need but will also help you fend off depression.
Reduced Memory Retention
It is not just the marijuana “high” that induces momentary memory lapses. It is the after-effects of reduced REM sleep that can lead to long-term effects on memory loss. More specifically, marijuana use may reduce spatial memory, the mental storage responsible for learning a new task or recalling events. This is sure to have adverse effects on your work performance among other daily functions and activities.
Susceptibility to Obesity
Reduced REM is very prominent among obese individuals. Deprivation of REM has been tied to an increased risk of obesity, which in turn leads to a plethora of additional health risk factors. One study found that more calories are burned in the REM stage. It explains this is due to the increased brain activity in REM. This increased brain activity results in higher calories being burned in this dream state. Ironically, the lack of REM means fewer calories burned.
Research concluded that REM-deprived subjects experience a significant increase in bodily aches and pains. This study is further confirmed through NIH research that found pain magnification to be linked to reduced and disturbed sleep patterns. Ceasing marijuana use ensures more REM, which could put an end to all those random aches and pains.
Is Marijuana Addicting?
Many people deny the possibility of becoming addicted to or dependent on marijuana. Even your own peers and family may claim that it is not possible to develop a marijuana dependency. This couldn’t be farther from the truth. The authorization of marijuana for recreational and medical use in over 25 states has contributed to further substance dependency. The Alcohol & Drug Abuse Institute estimated over 22.2million over the age of 12 have partaken in the last 30 days. Research furthermore claims 30% of marijuana users suffer from a condition known as ‘marijuana use disorder’.
What is Cannabis Use Disorder?
Cannabis or marijuana use disorder is defined as the development of withdrawal symptoms as a result of prolonged use. These symptoms arise after a period of time of non-use. The onset of these symptoms varies by individual from within a few hours or days of refrained usage. Though among frequent users they are likely to be evident shortly after cessation. Observing some of the symptoms of marijuana abuse will help you determine whether you suffer from marijuana use disorder.
Symptoms of Cannabis Use Disorder
Inhibited Sleeping Patterns: The most common theme and symptom brought on by marijuana in both use and refrained usage is its disruptive nature to our sleep cycle. Shortly after quitting, many deepen their marijuana abuse because of the developed sleep issues acquired through withdrawal symptoms. But bear in mind, these short-term withdrawal effects are minimal in contrast to the sleep deprivation associated with continuous use. Sleep disruption is still far greater than REM sleep inhibitions.
Irritability: While marijuana is praised for its peaceful effects on mood, users may develop changes in mood the longer they go between uses. This is among the most common side effects of cannabis use and another bi-product of its addictive properties. Many notice their increased irritability while off the drug, therefore indulging more frequently to make themselves more tolerable to others and even themselves.
Reduced Motivation: Marijuana instills a desire to enjoy the pleasures of the ‘high’ rather than the pleasures of life. This decreased motivation often leads to a less productive lifestyle. If you find yourself desiring more to get high than to be active socially, you are likely suffering from this side effect.
Cravings: Marijuana also holds psychologically addictive properties that sway users to an unquenchable desire. Of all the symptoms, this is the most difficult for those seeking recovery.
How Do You Endure Withdrawal Symptoms?
From sleep disturbances to behavioral and mental withdrawals, your greatest aid in recovery is to never do it alone. The suggestions below are vital first steps in your recovery.
- Enter a detox program. Like all drugs, marijuana requires help outside of your own strength. Since marijuana does cause insomnia, depression, anxiety, and long-term health issues, the withdrawal symptoms can be overwhelming when going cold turkey. A detoxification center will help you manage those short-term withdrawals and save you from long-term bodily damage.
- Attend group therapy. Having the support of others relating to your personal struggles is an intricate piece of enduring withdrawal symptoms. Knowing you’re not alone can give you the extra boost you need to endure. With the help of a professional therapist in a group of individuals striving towards a common goal, your escape from your stronghold can be a group session away.
- Stay active. Pushing yourself to exercise or be active each day will help your body drive away those withdrawal symptoms. Exercise is known to naturally increase dopamine levels that can help you manage and overcome the depressive side effects of marijuana withdrawals.
Learn More About Free by the Sea’s Addiction Treatment
Though withdrawal symptoms may be difficult, they are a necessary alternative to withstand rather than long-term consequences of dependency. Long-term repercussions are permanent, while withdrawal symptoms are short-term in contrast. Free by the Sea is your anchoring support to a life free from your sleep disturbances and substance strongholds. Contact Free by the Sea now to start your road to a better life.
Dr. Richard Crabbe joined our team in 2019 as our psychiatrist and medical director. He attended the University of Ghana Medical School where he became a Medical Doctor in 1977. From 1978 through 1984, he was a medical officer in the Ghana Navy and provided a variety of services from general medicine to surgeries. He received his Certificate in General Psychology from the American Board of Psychology and Neurology in 2002.