Sorry, but weed may be messing up your sleep schedule

A new study suggests that your smokable nightcap might not be the move.

paul gadd/The Image Bank/Getty Images
Originally Published: 

I am not always a good sleeper. Seven hours of sleep feels like a luxury, and eigth seems like an actual dream. My weed-loving friends are always telling me that I should try smoking weed before I go to bed if I want to sleep longer. Well, it turns out that they might be right — but they also might be wrong. New research suggests that cannabis may disrupt your sleep schedule.

According to a new study, published Monday in the journal BMJ, cannabis use may have a significant impact on the length of time people sleep, particularly for heavy users. The study analyzed the cannabis use and sleep habits of 21,729 Americans between the ages of 20 and 59. What they found was that heavy cannabis users — people who used 20 days or more a month — were 76% more likely to sleep longer than nine hours a night and 64% more likely to sleep less than 6 hours a night.

In other words, people who consumed weed routinely were likely to either sleep more or less than the eight hours generally recommended as the ideal, and their sleep wasn’t consistent. For context, that means that someone might sleep from ten pm to seven am one night, but only ten pm to four am the next. You can probably see how that might be disruptive.

People who were moderate users of cannabis — using less than 20 days a month — didn’t seem to have a problem with not getting enough sleep, but 47% of them reported sleeping nine hours or more a night, according to the study. Anyone who had used marijuana within 30 days of the study was more likely to talk to a doctor about sleep issues than people who had not.

The thing is that, while this study is really interesting in terms of how sleep and cannabis use may be related, it doesn’t actually establish a cause and effect relationship between the two. "The problem with our study is that we can't really say that it's causal, meaning we can't know for sure whether this was simply individuals who were having difficulty sleeping, and that's why they use the cannabis or the cannabis caused it,” Calvin Diep, who is resident in the department of anesthesiology and pain medicine at the University of Toronto and lead author on the study, told CNN.

Even if this research doesn’t give us any easy answers, it’s still important in helping us understand what has become a chronic health issue for many people. Fully one-third of Americans don’t get enough sleep, and more and more of us are turning to weed to help. Sleeping too much or sleeping too little can both lead to health problems, Diep told CNN, but we don’t exactly know how cannabis plays into how much sleep we get, yet. I guess I’ll stick to melatonin for now, but I look forward to a future of pre-rolled perfect 8 hour sleep nights.