A new study from researchers at Boston University has found that cannabis use may inhibit sleep instead of helping it.
The study — published in this month’s issue of the Journal of Addictive Diseases — examined a diverse group of test subjects and found that those who smoked cannabis daily were almost twice as likely to experience insomnia than those who did not smoke at all.
“Study participants who didn’t smoke every day usually smoked in the evening,” explained the study’s lead author, Michael Stein, who a professor at BU’s School of Public Health. “But once you’re smoking multiple times a day, there’s a greater chance that you’ll report disturbed sleep. Only by stopping marijuana completely, and waiting some time without using it at all, will a person be able to determine how marijuana was affecting, or not affecting, his or her sleep.”
Of the 98 people examined within the study, 49 participants were registered as daily cannabis users, while 29 were classified as casual users and 20 were listed as non-users. The participants were mostly in their twenties, and a slight majority were caucasian and female.
No significant difference was discovered in the sleep patterns of casual users and non-users. However, 39 percent of daily cannabis users exhibited signs of clinical insomnia, while only 20 percent of non-smokers exhibited similar characteristics.
The study’s authors believe that the findings may cast doubt on the common belief by cannabis users that the substance may serve as an effective sleep aid.
“Better sleep is one of the positive effects that marijuana users swear by, but there has been relatively little careful research on this topic,” Stein said.
In fact, the study went even so far as to compare cannabis to alcohol, in that “while daily use results in the worsening of sleep,” those who use cannabis or alcohol intermittently have actually shown improvement in their sleep patterns.
The study placed an emphasis on the importance of future research, saying that more studies should look into the issue, especially in how it relates to the mood of the user at the time of sleep.
Yet while the study was conducted by researchers of repute, there are reasons to be skeptical of its findings. For one thing, the study does not distinguish between cannabis used for medicinal purposes and that used for recreation. As such, the researchers did not account for the dosages taken, the methods of delivery used to imbibe the substance, or the times of day in which the substance was taken.
The study also did not account the fundamental differences between strains of cannabis. Indicas and sativas, for example, offer fundamentally different reactions to those who use the substance, thus ostensibly rendering the BU study’s findings as being incomplete.
Stephen Calabria is a New York City-based journalist and a media advisor for nyvapeshop.com.