As I wrote earlier this month, there was a time not so long ago when I relied on weed as a tool to help me fall asleep. However, concerned about my dependence, I gave it up for 50 days at the start of this year, and have since been sleeping more soundly and waking up feeling more like myself and less like a haggard French fry that fell under my car seat eight months ago.
But more than 50 days have passed since the dismal, depressing time period known as 2020 began, and while I like to think I have a healthier relationship with weed now than I did before, my taste for smoking phat blunts here and there has been restored. And like many people who are now bound to their homes (and couches) to help lessen the spread of the new coronavirus, I find myself yearning for the cozy sense of contentment that weed can provide.
Like toilet paper, weed sales have soared in recent times, with delivery services in particular experiencing a notable boom as people prepare to spend weeks or even months hunkering down in their homes, sending their boredom up in smoke and watching Joe Dirt on repeat.
Boredom aside, some folks are panicking and hoping that some delectable kush will cool their nerves enough to help them fall asleep, an alleged benefit of weed that many enthusiasts have long promoted. But as more and more people turn to cannabis during these tough times, we need to ask some important questions, one of which is, does weed interfere with sleep, similar to how alcohol does?
Put more simply: Is stoned sleep real sleep?
As I revealed earlier, I certainly seemed to wake up feeling more rested when I stopped smoking, and as far as modern science suggests, that was no coincidence. Some studies claim that weed can hamper our capacity to stay in the N3 sleep stage, a regenerative period where the body heals and repairs itself, which could explain why stoned sleep can feel like an ethereal experience of being half awake, half asleep and mostly like a baked potato.
What seems even more apparent is that weed withdrawals — which can happen after even a day or so of not smoking — cause sleep to really suffer, according to Deirdre Conroy, clinical director of the Behavioral Sleep Medicine Program at the University of Michigan, creator of Happy Healthy Rested health coaching and author of a 2014 study that concluded, “Daily marijuana users endorsed more sleep disturbance than non-daily users.” Furthermore, we know that weed hangovers can result in next-day grogginess, which obviously contributes to feeling less than invigorated after a night of sleep.
Nonetheless, Conroy notes, “Overall, more research is needed.” And what research often reveals is that weed has different effects on different people, making it especially difficult to nail down exactly how it impacts us on a large scale. In which case, if you smoke a lot of weed and have trouble sleeping, maybe try stopping for a while and see how it goes — but remember, withdrawal impacts your sleep, too, so expect to not sleep well for at least a few days before you experience any improvements. Then again, if you smoke a lot of weed and sleep just fine, I guess you have nothing to worry about.
One other thing worth mentioning while we all hot box our homes during quarantine is that, if you have the coronavirus or any other respiratory ailments, smoking can make your symptoms worse. Likewise, you’d be wise to stop sharing joints, bongs and other smoking apparatuses.
All that said, even if smoking does disrupt my sleep and make me feel foggy in the morning, my fear is growing, my boredom is immense and, man, I really need this joint right now. 420 blaze it, bros.