The one major pitfall of medical marijuana

Each year, more and more states are legalizing marijuana—both for medicinal and recreational use…

For some, medicinal marijuana is a godsend—treating conditions such anxiety, glaucoma, and chronic pain, just to name a few.

But there’s one area of your health where medical marijuana may not be very beneficial: Sleep.

New research shows that long-term use of marijuana could interrupt important parts of your sleep—and, in turn, put your brain health at serious risk.

Today I’ll explain why marijuana negatively affects sleep—and how you can get restful shuteye without resorting to any drugs.  

Your brain on weed

Insomnia is one of the top reasons people seek out legal weed. And it’s true that THC—the psychoactive compound in marijuana—can make it easier for you to fall asleep.

However, according to a 2008 study, marijuana use may reduce the amount of REM sleep you get. And REM sleep is critical for cognitive function and memory formation.

Not only that, but according to a 2019 study out of Boston University, this deep stage of sleep is when your brain “rinses away” toxic proteins that can build up and lead to further neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s. More about that here.

What’s worse, a 2015 study from the American Journal of Psychiatry found that 76 percent of regular marijuana users reported diminished sleep quality after quitting. And an additional study showed that these sleep problems can last up to 45 days.

Though I believe medicinal marijuana truly has the potential to help people, using it for sleep doesn’t appear to be worth the long-term risks. So, if you’re having trouble sleeping, what can you do? I have a few simple solutions…

Sound solutions for sleep

Here are a few effective sleep solutions you can use to get the rest you need, without the risk of long-term side effects.

  • Try listening to “pink noise” at a low volume at bedtime. I detail how here.
  • Add a simple nightly deep breathing “sleep ritual.” Here’s an exercise to try.

If you’d like to deepen your sleep even further, you might be interested in trying my Sleep Now Audio Sedation Toolkit.

These audio tracks include relaxing rhythms that gradually slow and guide you into deep, quality sleep. Click here to learn more or to give it a listen today!


Effect of illicit recreational drugs upon sleep: cocaine, ecstasy and marijuana

Benson, K. (2019). Are We “Brain Washed” During Sleep? Boston University. Retrieved from:

Fultz, N. (2019). Coupled electrophysiological, hemodynamic, and cerebrospinal fluid oscillations in human sleep. Science. 366(6465): pp. 628 – 631. Retrieved from:

Review of the Validity and Significance of Cannabis Withdrawal Syndrome

The time course and significance of cannabis withdrawal

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About the author

Jim Donovan M.Ed., is a professional musician and educator. He's an Assistant Professor at Saint Francis University where he teaches music and how the power of sound can help you experience a healthier life.