Cannabis Science

Here’s Why You Can’t Sleep Without Weed

woman sleeping

For some people, weed is an excellent sleep aid. But you probably already know that. Let me guess, you’ve been using weed to get to sleep but you realize that now you can’t sleep without it? Maybe you just wanted to take a break from your bong but now you find yourself staring at the ceiling. You may have even quit smoking weed and realized you can’t sleep a wink. Both scenarios are pretty normal and problems many people face. Here’s why you can’t sleep without weed and what you can do about it. 

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Why You Can’t Sleep Without Weed 

If you’re currently having a weed tolerance break or quitting for good, you may experience insomnia.

Insomnia is a pretty common marijuana withdrawal symptom. According to a study, 49.6% of people who used to smoke say they had sleep disruption. 

Very Well Mind says that insomnia may last for days or as long as a couple of weeks. In addition to that, you may have occasional sleeplessness for months. 

You may even find yourself having nightmares or vivid dreams after you’ve stopped using marijuana. 

Very Well Mind says, “These frequent, vivid dreams typically begin about a week after quitting and can last for about a month before tapering off.”

So, why are you experiencing this?

The same tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) that may help you to fall asleep, can also be blamed for your dependence on weed and your withdrawal symptoms. 

The bottom line is that your body gets used to THC when you use it. This is commonly referred to as tolerance. When you supply less THC or none at all, the body goes through an adjustment. This adjustment leads to unpleasant symptoms such as insomnia. For some people, withdrawal symptoms cause them to use weed again to get rid of it. However, there are ways to detox from weed

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How to Sleep Without Weed

Vice referenced a study that states that 65% of former cannabis users said that poor sleep was the reason they relapsed. 

So yes, not being able to sleep is a problem. However, all hope isn’t lost and you don’t have to go back to weed if you don’t want to. 

There are many ways you can improve your sleep after taking a break from weed. 

Get to the Root of the Problem 

Deirdre Conroy, Clinical Director of Behavioral Sleep Medicine at the University of Michigan was quoted in Vice giving some practical solutions about getting to the root of the problem.

Conroy suggests getting help for any mental illness that you have tried to treat with weed. Weed works for some people who suffer from anxiety and depression. However, if you’re taking a break or quitting weed then you may have to look for other methods. 

Besides medication and therapy which can be inaccessible, Conroy suggests being more mindful. This means not doing work on your bed and setting strict working hours for yourself. In addition to that, Conroy suggests writing down your worries before bed so that they don’t keep you up. These actions should make it easier for you to sleep. 

Commit to a Wind-Down Period 

Many people can’t just lie in bed and fall asleep right after. 

According to Dr. Neil Stanley who was quoted in Vice, don’t do anything stimulating before bed. Yes, that includes using your phone. Forget about checking social media or binging just one more episode on Netflix. Put your phone on silent and put it away. 

As a matter of fact, Healthline suggests limiting your exposure to blue light (screens) during the evening. 

As you prepare for bed, make sure the lights are dim, noise is kept to a minimum, and that your room is at a comfortable temperature. All of those factors can help you to have a restful sleep. 

Avoid Horror Movies Before Bed

Vice reported on a journalist who was plagued by scary dreams after she quit weed. The reason why you may experience nightmares or vivid dreams is that your REM sleep is no longer being suppressed. 

Conroy said in Vice, “So, when you stop smoking, you will experience a rebound of REM sleep and may have more bizarre dreams.”

Vice suggested avoiding scary movies or anything that stresses you out before bed. That may help a bit with unpleasant dreams.

Take Melatonin

Studies show that melatonin, often dubbed the sleep hormone may be helpful with insomnia. There aren’t any well-known withdrawal symptoms of using melatonin so it’s become a popular sleep aid. 

If you can’t sleep without weed, melatonin may be great for you. It’s advised that you start with low doses. According to Healthline, “Take 1–5 mg around 30–60 minutes before heading to bed.”

Melatonin is pretty accessible to most. You can get melatonin online or in a pharmacy. 

However, as Healthline pointed out, melatonin can change your brain’s chemistry so always check with your doctor before you use it. 

Maintain a Routine 

A great sleep hack is going to bed and waking up at the same time every day. Many people can maintain this during the week when they have work. However, they may try to stay up on weekends. 

If you’re having troubling sleeping or have poor sleep quality, don’t snooze on the weekend either.

Healthline suggests using an alarm to wake up at the same time and eventually you may not even need the alarm anymore. Incorporating aerobic exercise into your routine can also help as it can make it easier to get to sleep and sleep better.


If you quit smoking weed and can’t sleep, that’s normal. Your body may have become dependent on weed and so taking it away will cause withdrawal symptoms. With your REM sleep not being suppressed anymore, you may even experience nightmares. While speaking to a professional is always great, there are some things you can try at home if you want. 

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About Trevann

Trevann is Stoner Rotation’s Jamaica-based lead writer for the Science section of our cannabis blog. She graduated with honors receiving her Bachelor of Science degree in Molecular Biology from the University of West Indies, Mona. For the last three years, she has covered some of the biggest questions around cannabis and health underpinned with research from supporting studies, medical journals and scholarly articles. Got something on your mind? You can reach her at [email protected].

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