How does weed affect your sleep?

How does weed affect your sleep?

The research on weed and sleep is still relatively new, and it is behind in some areas because weed is a controlled substance. This makes it difficult for researchers to obtain funding and approval for studies. However, there has been a growing interest in this research in recent years, and there are now a number of studies underway.
Especially with the legalization in more and more places in the world the interest in research grows, we can expect to learn more about the effects of cannabis (on sleep) in the coming years.

In this article we take a deep dive in the current available information about the effects of weed on sleep, and we will cover the following subjects:

-Exploring the potential benefits of cannabis for sleep

-What are the potential downsides of using cannabis for sleep?

-THC and CBD and the effects on sleep

-How to use weed for sleep safely.

-Personal view and experience


Exploring the potential benefits of cannabis for sleep

There is a growing body of research that suggests that cannabis may be effective in helping people sleep. Research has suggested that cannabinoids may improve sleep quality, reduce sleep disturbances, and speed up the time it takes to fall asleep (1). However, many of the studies were small, did not measure sleep directly, and focused on other medical conditions.

There are a few ways that cannabis may improve sleep. First, cannabis contains compounds called cannabinoids, which interact with the endocannabinoid system in the body. The endocannabinoid system plays a role in regulating sleep, so cannabinoids may help to improve sleep quality.

Second, cannabis can have a relaxing and calming effect, which can help people to fall asleep more easily. This is particularly useful for people who find their minds running before bed, or those who suffer insomnia.

Third, cannabis can reduce pain and inflammation, which can also help to improve sleep quality.

It is important to note that most research done so far is specifically about the short term use of cannabis and the effects of this on sleep. We do not know much about the long-term effects of weed on sleep, or how the effects of weed vary depending on the type of product used and the individual user.

Potential benefits cannabis sleep
What are the potential downsides of using cannabis for sleep?

While cannabis may be effective in helping some people sleep, it is important to be aware of the potential downsides of using cannabis for sleep.

One risk is that cannabis can impair cognitive function including memory, attention, and reaction time. This can make it difficult to wake up and function in the morning

Research has shown that cannabis can suppress REM sleep. Rapid eye movement (REM) sleep is a stage of sleep during which the eyes move rapidly back and forth. REM sleep is associated with dreaming, and it is also important for memory consolidation and emotional regulation.
People who use cannabis tend to spend less time in REM sleep than people who do not use cannabis. You have way less dreams, which is caused by the shorter amount of time and less frequent REM sleep state, caused by the use of cannabis. Quitting weed after a long period of frequent use can result in a rebound phase which can cause wild and vivid dreams for a while. After being deprived of a lot of REM sleep, your body catches up resulting in more frequent dreams.

Next to this, research has shown that people who use cannabis are 45% more likely to have insomnia than those who don't use cannabis. This risk increases with the frequency of use, with daily users being twice as likely to have insomnia as people who never or rarely use cannabis. Similar results were found for other sleep complaints (2).

Another downside is that cannabis can be addictive, and some people who use cannabis regularly may develop a dependence on it. This can make it difficult to stop using cannabis. Especially because when you stop using cannabis, your body needs time to adjust to the lack of cannabinoids in your system. This can lead to a number of sleep problems, including difficulty falling asleep, waking up frequently during the night, and as previous discussed having wild and vivid dreams which can include having nightmares.


THC and CBD and effects on sleep

THC and CBD are two of the most well-known cannabinoids found in cannabis. THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) is the psychoactive compound in cannabis that produces the "high" feeling. CBD (cannabidiol) is a non-psychoactive compound that has been shown to have a number of medicinal benefits, including improving sleep quality.

THC and CBD have different effects on sleep. THC can induce drowsiness and relaxation, potentially making it easier to fall asleep, particularly in individuals struggling with insomnia or anxiety. However, this is not the full picture, as it can also disrupt sleep later in the night by reducing the amount of time spent in REM sleep.

Conversely, CBD is non-psychoactive and often associated with promoting improved sleep. It does not make you feel high as THC does. Instead, CBD is known for its anxiolytic and analgesic properties, which can alleviate anxiety and pain—which are common causes for sleep problems. By addressing these underlying issues, CBD may indirectly support better sleep quality. Furthermore, CBD appears to interact with the endocannabinoid system, which plays a role in regulating the sleep-wake cycle, potentially aiding in the synchronization of one's circadian rhythms.

Some people find that using cannabis products that are high in CBD and low in THC can help them sleep better. However, it is important to note that the effects of both THC and CBD can differ a lot from person to person. The response of using both substances can vary based on a persons individual unique biology, the dose consumed, the tolerance of the person and also the method of consuming the substance. What could be beneficial for the sleep of one person, could harm the sleep of another person. Additionally, the long term effects of using THC and/or CBD for sleep need further research as it is a complex and evolving field.


How to use weed for sleep safely

If you are considering using cannabis to help you sleep, it is important to talk to your doctor first. They can help you weigh the risks and benefits of weed use, and make sure that it is safe for you to use.

If you do decide to use cannabis for sleep, it is important to start with a low dose and increase the dose gradually until you find what works best for you. This way you can find out what works best for you and it will help to minimize any side effects. You could also test products that are high in CBD and low in THC, as it seems that CBD has less potential downsides for sleep. Also for this it is important to start with a low dose.

Ideally you want to avoid using weed in the hours before bedtime, as it can disrupt sleep later in the night. This will ensure you get a full night of sleep in the long run.

Some additional tips related to sleep:
-Use a vaporizer in stead of smoking weed. Vaporizing cannabis is a healthier way of consuming as it reduces the exposure to harmful toxins.

-Create a sleep routine. Make sure to avoid screentime in the hour(s) before bedtime and do some activities which help you relax, such as taking a warm bath or reading a book.

-Create the ideal conditions in your bedroom for sleep. Your bedroom should be dark, cool and quiet for a optimal night of sleep.

-Avoid using caffeine and alcohol before going to bed. Both substances can harm your sleep.


Personal view and experience

At Open Your Mind, we stand for the use of cannabis in a balanced life. Personally, we don't think cannabis should be used daily to promote sleep. There are so many other things possible to improve your sleep that I personally have experienced better effects from than using cannabis.

Optimizing a sleep routine, a dark bedroom, no drinking coffee after morning, no screens the hours before bed have helped me much more to get a better night's sleep.

Additionally, I personally find that while going to sleep stoned can be nice and can result in a longer night's sleep, I personally experience a lot fewer dreams which would mean reduced REM sleep. I find that I wake up better rested when I don't blow in the hours before bed compared to immediately before bed.  In addition, I have found that stopping after a prolonged period of use results with me in worse sleep with lots of nightmares. Therefore, I personally find it nicer to use cannabis once, at most twice a week on weekends.


Disclaimer and source reference

This blog article is for educational purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Please consult with a qualified healthcare professional before making any decisions about your health.


  1. Kuhathasan, N., Dufort, A., MacKillop, J., Gottschalk, R., Minuzzi, L., & Frey, B. N. (2019). The use of cannabinoids for sleep: A critical review on clinical trials. Experimental and clinical psychopharmacology, 27(4), 383–401.
  2. Coelho, J., Montagni, I., Micoulaud‐Franchi, J., Plancoulaine, S., & Tzourio, C. (2023). Study of the association between cannabis use and sleep disturbances in a large sample of university students. Psychiatry Research, 322, 115096.
  3. Banner picture: Kimzy Nanney 
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