Can’t sleep without weed? If you are like most regular users of marijuana who have stopped using, you have probably had difficulty falling asleep. Maybe you have had vivid, disturbing dreams since stopping weed, or worse yet, you haven’t been able to sleep at all.
Sleep disturbance is the hallmark of marijuana withdrawal and occurs in about 70% of regular users (Livine, Drug Alc Depend, 2019).
Because sleep is a vital physiologic function and time for the brain to recover from the events of the day, disruptions in sleep from marijuana withdrawal can be a source of major distress for people who are on already fatigued, on edge, or feeling down.
The biological and psychosocial factors that drive sleep changes in marijuana withdrawal are complex. Many individuals smoke before bed, and even infrequent users report subjective improvements in sleep quality after smoking, likening marijuana to a sleep aid.
Regular marijuana use, however, is actually disruptive to sleep, by interrupting normal sleep architecture, in part through its actions at the CB1 receptor (Kesner, Front Mol Neurosci, 2020).
In fact, sleep studies of people in the first week of marijuana withdrawal have shown changes in almost every phase of sleep, including longer time to fall asleep, decreased total sleep time, and poorer sleep efficiency. What’s more, increased time in REM sleep likely contributes to vivid and disturbing dreams (Gates, Subst Abus, 2016; Garcia, Am J Addict, 2015).
This again creates a vicious cycle: cannabis disrupts sleep and contributes to feelings of tiredness, which motivates users to smoke more due to the perception that they achieve better sleep.
Strategies to Improve Sleep During Weed Withdrawal
Finding strategies to compensate for sleep disruptions during withdrawal and improving the routines you have when it’s time for bed can be a major predictor of how likely you are to relapse (Angarita, Addiction Science & Clinical Practice, 2016).
Ensuring that you have a healthy routine surrounding sleep, or “sleep hygiene”, is vital to minimizing the sleep disturbances that may be exacerbated by marijuana withdrawal.
First, avoiding caffeine, large meals, or screen time immediately before bed can eliminate confusing signals to your body that it should stay awake. Regular exercise can also produce a healthy physical fatigue that helps promote sleep. Keep your bedroom environment reserved only for sleep and sex and ensure that lighting is low, and sound is minimized. Instituting a sleep-promoting routine—a warm bath, stretching, meditation, or reading—can help as well.
Other tips to practice excellent sleep hygiene: if you find yourself lying in bed for more than 20 minutes, get up and do something else until you feel sleepy again. Restricting the amount of time you spend in bed to only those moments when you feel sleepy helps your body associate your bed with tiredness, rather than the angst of not being able to fall asleep.
Finally, if you find yourself still struggling with poor quality sleep weeks to months after you’ve stopped using marijuana, just find comfort in the fact that this is still normal, and part of the process.
Leah Zuroff, M.D., M.S.
Dr. Zuroff completed medical school at the Perelman School of Medicine, where she concurrently received a Master of Science in Translational Research.
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i was diagnosed with CHS and im trying to stop using
Weed is not harmless. It has destroyed my sleep and many other things.
Being sleep deprived all the time SUCKS. I NEVER had sleep issues before I began weed.
I also NEVER had panic attacks before weed. I also never had anxiety issues before either.
The lack of sleep has caused me to develop depression as well.
Weed is not as dangerous as Cocain or heroine, but it causes health problems low key.
Smoking causes you to have insomnia. Insomnia and smoking causes your immune system to weaken. I caught a virus and it destroyed my hearing in my left ear. I now how to wear a hearing aid. Thanks weed.
Weed sucks, don’t believe the positive hype. It needs to be tested some more before we do it recreationally. Only doctors should prescribe it.
Can you explain more on weed ruining your immune system? Are you sure that’s what causes you to get sick and lose your hearing? Im curious cause I’m a drug user and when I’m clean from all drugs I get sick easier it seems. I’m clean now but when I used opiates, I was never sick. Dope sick but not cough cough sick. Weird how our bodies work.
honestly try and not smoke too much i had no problem sleeping when i first started i would take a hit of my stiiizy and slump out only once tho when i ran out i was still able to return to my regular sleeping schedule. it can be difficult to cut down smoking but if u really can’t sleep try to only smoke once and make it at night that helped me
the first 3 days are most commonly the ones you won’t be able to sleep, working out and melatonin helps a lot. DO NOT TAKE MORE THEN 10 MG ON MELATONIN!!! it can cause side affects that rather disrupt ur sleep then actually help it. hope this helps you guys and remeber to stay strong nothings comes easy.
Thanks for the tip…Yea man. I just stopped weed 3 days ago after 4 years of smoking a joint or 2 per day.. i cant sleep for shit, and when i do fall asleep is not for more than 2-3 hour max . These past 3 days have not being easy but IM GONNA STAY STRONG le the my mind recover.
I’ve had an endless supply of weed as I used to grow. Smoking/vaping didn’t get me as high as I preferred, so I started making my own edibles with a rosin press. I am about to start my third day as I sit here with insomnia. Insomnia isn’t even the worst side effect. I’ve had hot and cold sweats, extreme depression comes and goes, and I can’t focus on anything. I would walk to get something and forget what I’m looking for 10 sec later. I have to ask my wife what I was looking for again. Haven’t had an appetite, but I forced myself to eat dinner tonight as I hadn’t had anything in roughly 48 hours. The reason I am stopping is I became completely dependent on weed. It consumed my thoughts. I couldn’t wait to get home from work so I could start my evening routine. I have young children and once I realized my use has had an effect on our relationship, I chose my kids over the weed. Hoping this helps someone to view the truly addictive side of weed and make life decisions accordingly.
It has been a month and almost a week that I stopped smoking weed. This after 25+ years of smoking … I don’t know, maybe around a half-quarter a day (3.5 grams) and due to the pandemic in the last two years even more. I’d say Bob Marley had nothing on me.
I stopped the last week of August (it is now October 2nd) and in the first week I had 3-4 nightmares a night; nasty ones. Now I am down to 3-4 nightmares a week but the vivid dreaming happens every night. The main issue now is that I can’t fall asleep. For example I went to bed tonight just before 9 o’clock. I read about an hour then, twisted and turned for about half an hour or so, gave up on sleep and here I am. I also wake-up at night sweating for no reason, as it is not hot where I am sleeping and I can’t go back to sleep. My sleep happens in bits and pieces now: one to two hours, or three hours and then, I am up and can’t go back to bed for 1 to 2 hours.
I read a few articles saying that after a couple of weeks, or 3 weeks the sleep improves. It didn’t, other than less nightmares. That should be cleared-up with people. I had no idea that weed does this to the body/mind but this just made me more determined not to smoke again. So, the struggle continues.
I do do physical activities, always have done but this just makes my body tired while my mind is flying when I am supposed to be falling asleep.
At this point, I will maybe have to give melatonin a try in a week or two if I am still struggling with falling asleep but I read up on the side effects of that and I am not impressed/inclined to jump into it. I really do not want to replace one drug with another.
Anyway, hope this helps others maybe! I am a pretty stubborn creature and will not go back to smoking. I quit cold turkey, had no problems with that. Sleep has been the only issue and maybe I am a little edgy but not sure if that’s because of crappy sleeping and/or my dopamine levels are going nuts. That’s about it.
All the best to everyone!
I’ve been using cannabis since my teens……on and off. I’m 63 now. I got into high potency edibles the last 12 years because of pain from a motorcycle lie accident. Eventually I had to use more to get the same effect. Then the anxiety started and psychosis hit hard. I finally gave it up. It’s been 6 weeks since I used and the insomnia is terrible.
I might not fall asleep until 5 am and sleep for 4 hours. Good thing I’m retired. If I get tired in the afternoon and I can get in a half hour nap. I’ve tried every over the counter sleep aid and nothing works. This sucks.
Good luck everyone.