For decades, cannabis research has been blocked, slowed, and derailed due to federal restrictions on marijuana. However, we are now learning more about weed than we ever did before. Healthy debate is good for legal weed. Knowledge about the facts overturns old stereotypes. But that doesn’t mean that every study should be taken as fact. More like, opportunities for further research. And one recent study certainly has people talking. It’s a new report published by researchers at the University of Michigan. And what it has to say about how cannabis actually affects your sleep may surprise you.
New Study Says Cannabis Negatively Impacts Your Sleep
The phrase “midnight toker” has been around, well, forever. Or at least since the Steve Miller Band’s song “Joker” reached the Top 40. In general, a midnight toker is someone who puffs on a bit of weed right before bed, or who likes to rock a bong rip in the dark. The idea is that getting a little high before bedtime helps a person relax, unwind, and fall into a deep, rejuvenating sleep.
However, the University of Michigan study begs to differ. Are you a regular cannabis smoker or a dedicated midnight toker? You’re going to experience more sleep problems than people who smoke occasionally, or not at all, according to the study.
“Daily use of marijuana the most sleep disturbances,” Deirdre Conroy, associate professor of psychiatry at the University of Michigan, told the Huffington Post.
The study conducted a survey of 98 people representing a broad range of cannabis smoking habits. According to the findings, almost 40 percent of regular marijuana users reported symptoms of insomnia. On the other hand, just 10 percent of occasional cannabis users said they had sleep disturbances.
A full 20 percent of non-users reported sleeping issues, too. Ultimately, the study concluded that smoking marijuana before going to bed definitely helps you fall asleep faster. But it doesn’t give you the rest that your body actually needs.
Anxiety and Depression Make Insomnia Worse
There’s another interesting finding in the study. If a participant suffered from anxiety or depression, the sleep disturbances got worse. In fact, these factors accounted for major differences between the different groups.
“Marijuana may have different effects on your sleep depending on if you have symptoms of anxiety or depression,” Conroy explained. The study claims that people with anxiety or depression have higher risks of insomnia, especially if they smoke right before bed. Conroy says future studies will have to do a better job accounting for these emotional factors.
Rebuttal: Cannabis Can Actually Help With Insomnia
That last point is worth considering. There simply aren’t very many reliable studies linking cannabis use and sleep problems. In fact, other studies show the opposite of Conroy’s claims.
They claim that cannabis use can actually lengthen periods of deep sleep, known as REM sleep. And other studies say cannabis use makes a person bypass REM sleep altogether.
Then, there are the countless stories of individuals who have used cannabis to relieve insomnia. Currently, doctors regularly prescribe powerful and addictive pills to help patients with insomnia. Pharmaceuticals like Ambien and Lunesta dominate the market in sleep aids. The problem is that they can quickly lead to dependency.
The point is this: lots of different factors can lead to insomnia, and there are different strains of cannabis. Indica strains, for example, can help with some of those factors. Stress, hypertension, and chronic pain can make it hard for someone to sleep. And indica strains, which are very popular among medical cannabis patients, can effectively treat all of those symptoms.
Recreational users also regularly turn to indica strains for inducing and enhancing sleep. Ultimately, cannabis is much less habit forming than pharmaceutical alternatives. And this makes weed a safer tool for people suffering from sleep problems.