By / December 14, 2023

Using Cannabis in the Evening Leads to Better Sleep Quality

In recent years, we have observed an increasing interest in the impact of cannabis and alcohol on various aspects of daily life. Particular attention is paid to the way these psychoactive substances can affect sleep quality. Understanding this dynamic is becoming increasingly important, as both cannabis and alcohol are widely available and often used as stress-relieving and sleep-improving agents.

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Study Published in Drug and Alcohol Review

A study published in the journal Drug and Alcohol Review undertakes the important task of examining the impact of cannabis and alcohol – used separately or in combination – on sleep quality in individuals using cannabis to cope with anxiety. The goal is not only to understand the individual effects of each of these substances but also to analyze their mutual interactions and impact on sleep. The significance of this study is highlighted by the fact that sleep problems and anxiety disorders are common in the general population, meaning the results could have broad implications for public health.

The Context of Research on Psychoactive Substances

This study fits into the broader context of research on the impact of psychoactive substances on health and well-being. In the context of the growing legalization of cannabis and the prevalence of alcohol use, understanding their impact on sleep is crucial for developing effective strategies for treating sleep and anxiety disorders, as well as for informing public opinion and creating health policy.

Methodology of the Study

The study was conducted on a group of 347 individuals who reported symptoms of anxiety. Participants were recruited from the Boulder area in Colorado. Inclusion criteria included: age between 21 and 70 years, a score of at least 5 points on the Generalised Anxiety Scale, and previous use of cannabis with the intention of using it to alleviate anxiety. Participants could not simultaneously use other psychotropic drugs, antiviral drugs, or other psychoactive substances, which was confirmed through urine testing and blood alcohol content measurement.

Participant Diary and Cannabis Forms

After qualifying for the study, participants kept a diary for 30 days, in which they recorded their sleep quality and cannabis and alcohol use every day. Each participant could independently choose the form of cannabis (flowers or edible forms) to be used during the study. 

Participants were randomly assigned to groups using cannabis with a dominant content of THC, CBD, or a balanced THC/CBD content. The product for the study was purchased at a local dispensary. Diaries were filled out using the REDCap system, utilizing daily emails received over a 30-day period.

The Impact of Cannabis Use on Sleep Quality

The study results showed that sleep quality was better on days when participants used only cannabis, compared to days when they did not use any substance or when they used both cannabis and alcohol. Participants reported better sleep quality after days of using only cannabis and after days of co-using cannabis and alcohol (β: 0.342, p < 0.001), while no positive impact was observed on sleep quality on days of using only alcohol.

Frequency of Use and Sleep Quality

Additionally, an analysis was conducted to understand how the frequency of cannabis and alcohol use affects sleep quality. Results indicated that individuals who used cannabis more frequently experienced better sleep quality on days they used only this substance, compared to days when they did not use any substance. This finding suggests a possible habituation effect of cannabis, where regular use may lead to improved perceived sleep quality.

Interpretation of Results

The study results indicate significant differences in the impact of cannabis and alcohol on sleep quality. It was found that cannabis can have a positive impact on sleep, especially on days when it is used alone, in contrast to alcohol, which did not show a significant impact on improving sleep quality. Possible mechanisms for this phenomenon might include the relaxing properties of cannabis and its impact on reducing anxiety, which can contribute to better sleep quality. On the other hand, the lack of a positive impact of alcohol on sleep may be related to its general sleep-disrupting properties, such as the effect on REM sleep cycles and deep sleep.

Study Limitations

It is important to note the limitations of the study, which can affect the interpretation of results. One of these is the lack of detailed data on the quantity and timing of cannabis and alcohol use, which prevents a precise understanding of the dosage relationship on perceived sleep quality. Furthermore, sleep quality was subjectively assessed by participants, which can lead to various interpretations and subjective evaluations.

Implications for Future Research

In light of these results, it is important to conduct further research that considers precise dosages of cannabis and uses various methods of sleep measurement. Such studies could better clarify how the exact amount and type of cannabis and alcohol affect sleep, and would help determine which aspects of sleep are most susceptible to their influence. This would allow for a more detailed understanding of the role these substances play in sleep regulation, especially in individuals with anxiety disorders.

How Does Cannabis Use Affect Sleep Quality? – Summary

This study provides significant evidence that cannabis can improve sleep quality, particularly among individuals using it to cope with anxiety. The results indicate that days when

(Featured image by Zohre Nemati via Unsplash)

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