Cannabis and Sleep: What You Didn’t Know

For centuries, cannabis has been used to enhance sleep and induce relaxation in numerous cultures. Chronic and acute sleeping problems, such as restless legs syndrome (RLS) and sleep apnoea, have been successfully treated with cannabis in both traditional and modern medical practices. Today, numerous people around the world use cannabis as a sleep aid, whether medically prescribed or otherwise.

The effects of marijuana on sleep can vary, from helping insomniacs fall asleep more quickly and improving their sleep quality to altering the amount and types of sleep. This article will explore the latest scientific research on the topic, from its primary effects to safety, potential therapeutic applications and future studies.

Primary Effects of Cannabis on Sleep

The main active chemicals in cannabis – tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabinal (CBD) – have been shown to have different effects on sleep. THC, the psychoactive chemical in marijuana, has sedative effects and can enhance the transition into sleep and reduce REM sleep. CBD, which is another compound found in cannabis, generally enhances sleep in various ways. Studies have shown it can reduce insomnia, treat RLS, improve sleep quality and increase sleep duration.

Most studies on cannabis and sleep had been carried out with healthy individuals using moderate levels of THC. People who struggle with sleep may not get the same results. The effects of cannabis on sleep seem to be dose-dependent.

For example, at lower doses, THC might be a helpful sleep aid, but at higher doses, it can make fostering good sleep nearly impossible. However, on the other hand, CBD appears to have no dose-dependence, meaning that it can help induce good sleep even at massive doses.

Safety of Using Cannabis as a Sleep Aid

Many people around the world use weed as a sleep aid, but its use is much more widespread in the United States than anywhere else. Numerous studies from the US indicate that cannabis use is associated with improved sleep, reduced insomnia and decreased difficulties falling asleep. However, caution is required when using cannabis as a sleeping aid.

Long-term cannabis use has been associated with a number of negative health effects, from dependence to liver and respiratory issues. This is largely down to the relatively high levels of THC, compared to CBD, used in many people’s cannabis preparations. When used in moderation, its side effects, such as confusion, drowsiness and impaired memory and motor skills, will be minimal. However, caution should always be exercised, and a health care provider should be consulted before using cannabis as a sleep aid.

Therapeutic Applications and Future Studies

There are potentially many therapeutic applications for marijuana in treating sleep disorders. Some studies have shown that THC has the potential to reduce or prevent nightmares. Anecdotal evidence also suggests can be beneficial in treating RLS. Moreover, CBD is being hailed as a potential way of reducing anxiety disorders, which can help improve sleep quality. Studies also show that CBD is a non-mind-altering substance, meaning that its long-term use won’t result in dependence or psychological addictions.

However, more research is still needed to better understand the therapeutic potential of cannabis for treating sleep disorders. Efforts should be made to examine its impact on specific sleep disorders, such as insomnia lead to significant medical benefits for the millions suffering from sleep problems.


Cannabis, particularly the chemicals THC and CBD, can have notable impacts on sleep, but its effects depend on the level of use and the particular strain of the plant being used. THC induces sedation, while CBD enhances sleep quality and quantity. 

By using cannabis in moderate amounts, it can be a potentially helpful way of improving sleep. However, greater health risks can arise from large and long duration cannabis use, so caution in its use is necessary. Future studies should focus on the potential therapeutic applications of weed for treating specific sleep disorders, in order to promote healthy sleep for as many people as possible.


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