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2023 Study: Large-scale Survey of Cannabis for Sleep

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Survey of Cannabis for Sleep

An October 2023 study entitled "A Large-scale Survey of Cannabis Use for Sleep: Preferred Products and Perceived Effects in Comparison to Over-the-counter and Prescription Sleep Aids" that was published in the journal Exploration of Medicine had the goal of examining "the products cannabis users prefer to use for sleep as well as their experiences with cannabis relative to more conventional sleep aids."

A woman sleeping.
Does cannabis help sleep?

The study reported that sleep problems are officially recognized as a public health epidemic by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It explained that 35 percent of U.S. adults report getting less than seven hours sleep each day and that 40 percent of adults report suffering insomnia. The commonality of insomnia and sleep disorders "has led to a surge in prescription sleep aid (PSA) use."

The cannabis for sleep survey involved 1,216 participants, 56 percent of whom were female and ranged in age from 18 to 77.

Survey of Cannabis for Sleep Results

Survey of Cannabis for Sleep. The majority of the survey participants reported difficulty falling asleep (82 percent), being tired the next day (68 percent), night walking (67 percent), difficulty going back to sleep (62 percent), and difficulty functioning the next day due to poor sleep (54 percent).

70% Used Cannabis for Sleep

In addition, 65 percent of participants reported that they have been suffering from their sleep disorders for more than five years, with 70 percent saying they used cannabis to help with sleep (for a minimum of one year) and 68 percent reporting use of cannabis each night as a sleep aid.

A woman wears an eye shade for sleep.
Cannabis may help sleep.

The majority of participants reported that cannabis helps them relax their mind (83 percent) and body (81 percent), while 56 percent said that it helps them achieve deeper sleep. Longer sleep periods were experienced by 42 percent of participants, while 36 percent noted that cannabis helped them get uninterrupted sleep.

"Most participants reported that cannabis helps them relax their mind (83%) and body (81%), while 56% said that it helps them achieve deeper sleep."

While most survey participants (82 percent) reported not using over the counter (OTC) medications for sleep disturbances, 61 percent noted that they had used them in the past. "Only four percent reported using cannabis in combination with OTC medications and eight percent reported using PSAs (prescription sleep aids) in combination with cannabis," reported the study.

The majority of the survey participants (63 percent) reported that they get the recommended six to eight hours of sleep each night using only cannabis, while less than 20 percent reported the same benefit from PSAs.

A woman smokes a cannabis joint.
Many report sleep benefits from pot.

Cannabis for Sleep Study Conclusions

Survey of Cannabis for Sleep. The study's authors made the following conclusions:

"Cannabis is commonly used to help with sleep. However, most previous studies on cannabis and sleep have not assessed which forms of cannabis are preferred to help with sleep or attempted to compare the perceived beneficial effects and side effects of cannabis compared to OTC sleep aids and PSAs. The results from this survey of respondents using cannabis to aid with sleep help to fill these gaps in the literature.

"Findings from the current study indicate that cannabis is perceived to help relax the mind and body, as well as help achieve deeper, longer, and more uninterrupted sleep. These findings are consistent with the broader literature demonstrating that cannabis is often reported to relieve stress and tension, as well as some empirical evidence suggesting that cannabis is effective in improving objective measures of sleep disturbances.

A woman holds her hands over her face in bed.
More research is needed.

"For instance, several placebo-controlled laboratory investigations have found that cannabis decreases objective sleep latency. A similar laboratory study found that middle-of-the-night awakenings decreased with cannabis administration.

"A laboratory study found that middle-of-the-night awakenings decreased with cannabis administration."

"Similarly, a daily sleep diary study found that using cannabis as a sleep aid was associated with longer sleep duration and shorter middle-of-the-night awakenings but was also associated with increased next-day fatigue. A separate cross-sectional survey of cannabis users and non-users found that cannabis use was associated with better overall sleep quality and reduced sleep latency.

"Finally, other recent work indicates that using cannabis closer to bedtime was associated with decreased sleep latency, but not with nighttime awakenings. Overall, the literature suggests that cannabis can be beneficial for some aspects of sleep, however, additional objective research is needed to determine which aspects of sleep are positively affected and which are negatively affected by cannabis."

View the original study.

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