Higher cannabis use predicts lower sleep efficiency: study

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That said, using marijuana recreationally may be beneficial for sleep onset

U.S. research exploring the relationship between self-reported recreational cannabis use and sleep outcomes found consumers fell asleep faster than non-users but experienced more nighttime awakenings.

The idea was to see if objective and subjective measures — namely sleep efficiency (percentage of time spent asleep while in bed), sleep onset latency (time it takes to fall asleep) and the number of nighttime awakenings — differed between those who used recreational cannabis and those who did not.

Study findings show the amount of cannabis consumed daily, measured in grams, was inversely related to both sleep onset latency and sleep efficiency, but positively related to how many times subjects woke up over the course of the night.

After controlling for covariates, the study author noted that regression models were statistically significant for predicting the three sleep outcomes.

“Subjective sleep measures did not differ from cannabis users versus non-cannabis users,” the study states.

The study concludes that using weed recreationally may be beneficial for sleep onset, although “increased use does not aid in sleep maintenance.”

That said, recreational cannabis use “may be detrimental” when it comes to sleep efficiency since those reporting they used increased cannabis had more nighttime awakenings.

Australian research released last year showed administering a sublingual cannabinoid extract each night for two weeks was “well-tolerated and improves insomnia symptoms and sleep quality in individuals with chronic insomnia symptoms.”

A U.S. review article from 2020 found there are “potential benefits of acute cannabinoids for sleep improvement, but also the potential sleep-disruptive effects of withdrawal following chronic cannabinoid drug use.”

And findings out of the U.K. considered input from 11 frequent cannabis users and eight non-users who remained in their homes carrying out their normal, everyday routines over the course of the study.

“Participants gave dream reports in three awakenings, set at two-hourly intervals on each night, and once upon morning awakening, reporting dream content and subjective ratings of the dream’s bizarreness, emotionality and sensory experience,” study authors wrote.

“No differences were reported by participants in sleep quality, anxiety or memory between the two groups,” they noted.

That said, “cannabis users demonstrated significantly longer sleep latency and less REM sleep overall; no other differences occurred in objective sleep measures between groups.”

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