If you are like most individuals abstaining from cannabis use, you may have had difficulty falling asleep or maybe didn’t sleep at all. You are not alone. Sleep disturbance is one of the most common withdrawal symptoms associated with cannabis cessation, occurring in up to 68% of individuals who experience withdrawal1.
This is because many individuals smoke before bed, and even the most infrequent users report subjective improvement in sleep quality after smoking. However, in reality, sleep studies have shown that cannabis use actually disrupts the sleep cycle2.
This can create a vicious cycle: cannabis disrupts sleep and contributes to feelings of tiredness, which motivates users to smoke more because of the perception that they achieve better or deeper sleep. You can see how this is potentially problematic and leads to increasing use.
During withdrawal, your brain has to adjust to the absence of THC’s frequent stimulus—both on a neurochemical and behavioral level if smoking was part of your bedtime routine. Improving sleep quality should be aimed at improving “sleep hygiene”, or the routine you have surrounding sleep. For instance, a sleep-promoting routine could involve a warm bath, meditation, or reading, while also keeping your room cool, dark, and quiet. Try to avoid caffeine, large meals, and screen time close to bed, as these activities can signal to your body that it should stay awake. Regular exercise can also help with sleep.
Overall, if you can’t sleep, don’t force it, as this can lead to more distress and insomnia. Limit time in bed to only times when you feel tired and ready. Find comfort in the fact that this is all part of the process and a symptom experienced by many.
”Sleep disturbance is one of the most common withdrawal symptoms associated with cannabis cessation, occurring in up to 70% of individuals who experience withdrawal1.