Insomnia After Quitting Marijuana

Largely due to the fact it’s legal to recreationally use in more than 20 U.S. states, there’s a misconception in some circles that marijuana either isn’t truly addictive or doesn’t have health-threatening side effects. Unfortunately, neither of those claims is accurate.

About 1 in 10 marijuana users will become addicted at some point — and that addiction rate increases to 1 in 6 if they start using before the age of 18. Some of the adverse and long-term effects of marijuana use include diminished brain and mental health, cognitive impairment, increased heart rate, a higher chance of respiratory infections and pneumonia, and much more. Still, those who make the effort to stop using marijuana after long-term use are likely to face symptoms of withdrawal, including insomnia.

Why Does Marijuana Impact Sleep Patterns?

While it may not be the most painful marijuana withdrawal symptom, the insomnia many now-former users experience can be incredibly uncomfortable and frustrating. One of the most prominent reasons why this happens relates back to how users often resort to marijuana to suppress feelings of stress or anxiety. When someone quits marijuana, that escape is no longer an option — and there’s no more accessible time for stress and anxiety to creep into your head than when you’re in bed and trying to sleep.

Another reason why someone might be impacted by insomnia is due to a ritual of using marijuana prior to bed. Many people use the drug at night as a sleep aid and have become accustomed to the routine. Studies show that most people in the first week of marijuana withdrawal experience problems that run the entire sleep gamut. They take longer to fall asleep, sleep less time, and have poorer quality sleep. What makes matters worse is the resulting fatigue can lead someone to relapse and use marijuana again out of desperation for a good night’s rest.

While most withdrawal symptoms subside within two weeks of quitting, sleep disturbances can last for months if untreated. This includes vivid, life-like dreams that make it hard to return to sleep if you’ve woken up. Unfortunately, there’s no real way of knowing who will develop insomnia when they quit marijuana. However, we do know that someone who abuses marijuana and has done so for several years, along with those who use strains with the most potent THC levels, are the most likely to suffer from withdrawals.

Why is Sleep Important to Our Overall Health?

A night of tossing and turning here or there may be aggravating, but prolonged insomnia can significantly impact our overall health. According to the National Institutes of Health, “…sleep is as important for good health as diet and exercise.” Further, not getting enough of it puts us at serious risk of developing many different diseases and disorders.

As the Cleveland Clinic reports, insomnia can contribute to diabetes, driving accidents, injuries, falls, high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, mood disorders, weight gain, and obesity.

There’s also the importance of using sleep for repair and the body’s ability to recharge and replenish while at rest — something that obviously isn’t possible while awake. Failing to get an adequate amount of sleep can inhibit or disturb those repair processes.

How Do You Ease Marijuana Withdrawal-Related Insomnia?

You may be surprised to learn the steps involved with managing marijuana withdrawal-related insomnia is not unlike those required for any other kind of insomnia. In general, overcoming insomnia is about fine-tuning habits and behaviors. There is also considerable crossover in activities that support a generally healthy lifestyle and those that address insomnia.

For example, you should try to exercise several times per week. Exercise is an excellent way to both fight off any marijuana cravings and ensure the body is fatigued when it’s time to go to sleep. Just remember to avoid strenuously working out before bed as it can spike your body temperature and make it hard to fall asleep.

Similarly, a nutritious diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and lean proteins can help promote healthy sleep habits. Foods full of saturated fats and sugar can lead to discomfort and adrenaline spikes. If you have caffeine, aim to eliminate any intake in the late afternoon or early evening.

Whereas those are good routines to develop during the day, an established nighttime and sleep ritual is also vital for beating insomnia. In the hours before bed, wind down with a quiet activity like a book, crossword puzzle, or relaxing bath. During this period, do your best to avoid stimulating devices like the television, computer, and smartphone. Create a restful sleep environment through comfortable bedding, climate control in the bedroom, and window coverings that block out any ambient light outside. One other tip that many people find effective is to go to bed and wake up at the same time each day so that the body can get into a predictable rhythm.

While it’s undoubtedly easier said than done, you shouldn’t worry about not falling asleep or grow fearful that you’re in for another long night with little to no sleep. If you find that you still can’t sleep after 30 minutes, get out of bed and go into another room to read or engage in a different relaxing activity. That means you should stay off your phone and steer clear of the TV.

If needed, you can always try natural sleeping aids, like non-caffeinated “sleepytime tea,” melatonin, valerian root, and L-theanine, but consult your doctor before taking any supplements — even if they can be purchased over the counter.

Insomnia is Normal After Quitting Marijuana

As mentioned, insomnia is one of the most common withdrawal symptoms when someone quits marijuana. However, it’s not the only symptom, and it’s not something you have to navigate on your own. We recommend anyone undergoing detox from marijuana or any other drug do so in a detox center staffed by medical professionals like the one we have at Midwest Recovery Centers. Clients in our facility going through detox receive 24/7 medical care in a comfortable environment that feels like home. Following detox, they also have the opportunity to participate in our multi-phase treatment program.

Interested in learning more? Contact us today.


Reviewed and Assessed by
Taylor Brown, B.A.Com., CADC
Tim Coleman, M. of Ed.

Staffed 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

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