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Can’t Sleep Without Weed? Marijuana Withdrawal May Be to Blame

By January 15, 2021December 21st, 202114 Comments

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.

Would you mind answering a few questions (anonymously)?

Currently, little data exists on sleep difficulty and marijuana use. is collaborating with researchers to explore this topic and others. We have created a short, anonymous survey which we will use to focus our future research efforts.

Your participation is appreciated and completely anonymous. You may skip any questions that make you feel uncomfortable and you are free to withdraw at any time.

About is a free, web-based resource and community created by a team of healthcare professionals and researchers. We distill the facts about marijuana use and its effects into practical guidance for interested persons or for those who are thinking about or struggling to quit weed. Finding reliable, easy to understand information about marijuana should never be a struggle—that is why our core mission is to provide the most up to date information about marijuana use, abuse, addiction, and withdrawal. While we seek to empower individuals to have control over their use, we are not “anti-weed” and we support efforts to legalize adult marijuana use and study.


  • i was diagnosed with CHS and im trying to stop using

  • Emma says:

    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.

    • Kesha says:

      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.

  • hector arias says:

    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

  • héctor arias says:

    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.

    • Laz Rodriguez says:

      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.

  • Insomniac says:

    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.

  • Mr. Happy says:

    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!

    • Leafed says:

      Usually the night sweats last about a week or two for me. But after a week they no longer awake me. Vivid dreams, ive always had. Quitting made them come back again more intense (i enjoy them,im a vivid dreamer, and it a great escape).

      How long these might affect each of us is not known. Perhaps your really long time using will make this way more extended that other. (ive never gone more than 6 months using, before taking a break). And it can be related to your genetics, physical activity, diet, who know what else.

      Melatonin is a natural sleep inducer. Our body produces melatonin to regulate the circadian rythm. Ive had great experiences with it, and never had any side effects. However, i just take the minimal dose possible. (now i have 5mg pills. I take half or a third when i want to ensure ill fall asleep faster.. such as days that my mind is racing). However, this will help on falling asleep…. sweat, crazy dreams, and any other weed abstinence effect will annoy you just as much as without taking it.

      I just realized im answering a post from a year ago.. so, if you read this reply, let us know how are you now. Better ? Hopefully.

      • Elmo says:

        I also reply to this late post, because I seek answers. I’m in a similar position at the op, but less amounts per day – between 1 gram and 3 daily. It’s been over five weeks and I rarely get over 4 hours. I also physical activity, I job every day now. Still no help. I wont take any substance to help with sleep – that’s not gonna happen. I want complete independent of those things. Mood swings are the biggest issue besides the sleep itself; it goes way up then way down then up again. I now allow myself a short nap in the early afternoon, just to be able to work and do basic functioning, but many days are difficult to get by. No focus, mental exhaustion and nasty irritability. I’m lucky to have patient people in my life. Good luck to all of you quitting.

        • Leafed says:

          How long did you use those amounts ?

          The first time, i did about 18 months. It took close to 40 days to flush all the abstinence symptoms.
          Dont take anything to sleep. Most remedies will knock you out, and although it might look like you are sleeping, you are not resting. (I know, i tried almost all z-drugs before starting weed. They are even worse than weed abuse. i only take melatonin to fall asleep faster : ive always had this issue. It doesnt help to keep the sleep going).

          Hang in there. Your body will get to baseline. But the timing is completely different for each of us. e.g. : My nithgt sweats stopped at the 4th day. However, im still waking up between 3 to 5 hours into the sleep (and ive never been able to nap).

          Irritability, mental exhaustion come with lack of sleep. Meditation helps a lot to soothe those issues.

  • Bob Hines says:

    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.

  • Leafed says:

    Ive been using since 2019, once a week. since the pandemic (july 2020) ive been using daily (vaping and oil extraction). Ive quit a couple of times for a few months, and started again. Last time was this april.
    Now, this is particular to me (and perhaps to my sibling) but using it helps with sleeping. I started just out of curiosity, and after a few weeks of vaping just on friday nights, i realized my sleep patterns improved.
    Usually it took me hours to fall asleep. After a couple of times vaping (once a week), i started to fall asleep easier, and feeling rested the next day. (ive always had issues with sleep).

    So, for me, it worked to fix my sleep issues. However, when quitting these extended periods of using, its really uncomfortable for at least a week :
    – Takes longer to fell asleep (melatonin helps)
    – Wake up many times feeling hot or sweating, which interrups or dont allow sleep. This affects the next day, as im either tired, or with a headache.
    – Upset stomach

    Now im quitting again, and suffering the sweating at nights, and with a headache (right now).
    It sucks.

    So, my advice is : Its your decision if you want to use it or not. Just dont abuse it. (and it is really easy to abuse it)

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