Medical Marijuana and Sleep

Medical Marijuana and Sleep

Today, roughly four in ten people admitted to using cannabis, regardless of whether for medical or recreational purposes. While marijuana provides relief for chronic pain and treatment for psychological troubles, many turn to cannabis for improving sleep.


We have heard anecdotal evidence and personal testimonies before claiming cannabis improves sleep and sleep quality. But is there a truth behind these assertions?


Medwell Health will put that to the test through the lens of science. Read on to learn more about medical marijuana and sleep.


What makes cannabis good for sleep?


Medical cannabis contains over a hundred biologically active chemicals called cannabinoids. But three of them take the spotlight when it comes to inducing drug-like effects: tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), cannabidiol (CBD), and cannabinol (CBN).


Aside from the psychoactive effects, these are the same cannabinoids responsible for medical marijuana’s sleep-inducing prowess.


  • THC is the component responsible for the “high” feeling, but it also contains soothing effects on some people.
  • CBD is a psychoactive compound that alleviates anxiety by providing feelings of relaxation to the user
  • CBN acts as a sedative and pain reliever


That said, the relationship between medical marijuana and sleep has some merits. Consuming cannabis can impact rest by inducing feelings of sleepiness and relaxation. Furthermore, feeling less anxious and less pain helps promote a good snooze.


What does science say about medical marijuana and sleep?


Here’s the thing: the effect of medical marijuana on sleep varies from person to person.


While some may sleep like a baby after use, others may not.


A 2017 review found that CBD helps treat insomnia, a sleep disorder characterized by difficulty sleeping. On the other hand, THC helps promote sleep by decreasing sleep latency or the time it takes to fall asleep after lights out.


However, the review found mixed results across various studies and patients. Here are a few other results after combining medical marijuana and sleep:


  • Reduced nightmares
  • Improved sleep quality
  • Reduce instances of waking up at night
  • Increased deep sleep (the stage of sleep when the body gets to rest)
  • Decreased REM sleep (the part of sleep where the brain and eye is active)


While an old study, a group of researchers from 1986 found that medical marijuana increases the body’s melatonin levels. Melatonin is associated with sleep because it is a compound that prepares the body for sleeping.


It’s a different story when we talk about people suffering from pain. Through medical marijuana’s pain management effects, a study found that patients suffering from chronic pain experienced improved sleep. Cannabis-induced sleep was reportedly better compared to prescription pain medication.


In other words, medical marijuana and sleep have a longstanding harmonious relationship. But can medication cause sleeping problems? Let’s find out below.


Can cannabis cause sleeping problems?


Unfortunately, more research is required to answer this question fully.


One small study showed that heavy cannabis users might experience sleep disturbance after discontinuing usage. Another large-scale study found that people who used marijuana before the age of 15 experienced difficulties falling asleep and daytime sleepiness.


However, both topics talk about medical marijuana dependence and usage, now how cannabis can benefit sleep.


What happens when you sleep after cannabis medication?


The body undergoes several stages during sleep, called the sleep cycle. Typically, it takes 70 to 120 minutes to course through a cycle. After you complete the stages, your body begins another cycle.


With cannabis, you decrease sleep latency, which means you get to sleep quicker than average. More importantly, medication extends your deep sleep and reduces your REM sleep. That means your body gets to physically rest more by reducing brain activity as observed during the REM stage.


Although it’s important to note that REM is the stage where people dream, process information, and store memories. As such, not only deep sleep, but REM also remains an important part of holistic and healthy sleep.


Medical marijuana and sleep are more related than we know. Despite limited studies, existing research already points out the power of cannabis in promoting good sleep.


However, if we consider other scientific perspectives, moderation is essential to keep the body from being cannabis-dependent.


Finally, medical marijuana can affect your sleep differently from other people.


To be sure, it’s best to set up an appointment with an expert to see how cannabis can help with any sleep issues. Medwell Health and Wellness Centers offer medical marijuana consultations. Book an appointment now!

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About Aaron Bloom, Esq.

Aaron Bloom serves as the CEO, overseeing the mission and growth of DocMJ and Medwell Health and Wellness Centers. Aaron’s passion for improving patients’ lives comes from his background in health care. For more than 20 years, Aaron owned, operated, and represented traditional healthcare organizations. This experience created a passion for finding improved ways to relieve suffering. His goal as CEO is to work daily to relieve all patients who seek better health and wellness through the medicinal benefits of medical cannabis and evidence-based alternative medicines.